Welcome to the Freeville Earthship, located outside of Ithaca, NY! Please feel free to explore our site for thousands of pictures and in-depth posts about our process building an earthship.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

8th Tire Course... POUNDED!

     Do we really only have ONE course left on our back tire wall?!  Today Tiffany, Jacob, Chad, and I worked hard on the 8th course, finishing it by the end of the day.  My friend Bryan came over with his two awesome younger sisters who always work their butts off!  Amber and Julie sorted through our last pile of tires, brought them over to the tire wall, set them in place, and stuffed them with cardboard to prepare them to be pounded.  Then Bryan, Amber, and Julie pounded a few tires!  Thank you all!

Tire sorting

The girls working hard

Bryan finally came and pounded a tire

working hard on the wing

Monday, July 30, 2012

First Workday

     Today was our first workday with our two adopted crew members.  Chad and Tiffany went through our building materials to make sure that everything is correct/there, and along with Jacob, (I had to work at school today), the three of them began pounding the 8th tire course.

Tiffany, Jacob, and Chad
     Another highlight of today was a visit from documentary filmmaker Ben Evans.  He, his wife Julie, and his friend Mark decided "to explore every state in America (the good, the bad...and the weird) in search of the extraordinary innovators and citizens who are tackling humanity's greatest environmental crises" in their documentary, YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip.
Chad and Ben

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Last-Minute Decision... 2 Crew members!

     To make sure we finish all of the tire work by the time the Earthship Crew comes August 13th, the crew decided to send out two members early to work for a week.  Though at first both ends thought this would be August 6-11, they emailed us Saturday (July 28th) asking if it was okay for them to drive straight from their build in Vermont for Freeville "tomorrow morning."  Whew!  So we stopped pounding tires and ran home to prepare their lodging!
     Tiffany and Jacob arrived Sunday afternoon in Mike's truck with a U-Haul full of tools!  They were impressed with our 7-course tire wall thus far, and having them here before the rest of the crew and interns come proved really helpful as Tiffany and I discussed accommodations for the crew, lunch ideas, and Jacob looked over the plans.

Friday, July 27, 2012

More Visitors helping us finish the 7th Course!

Today we got a visit from Lynn and Suzanne.  They built their own straw bale house in Freeville, and Suzanne produced a local documentary ("Empowered") about the way people are using renewable energy in our area.  Suzanne brought her sister Catherine and her two sons Duncan and Rory, as well as Suzanne's cute-as-can-be granddaughter Esme.

Best buds, Koda and Esme

Rory tamps and Duncan shovels dirt while Lynn looks on

Thursday, July 19, 2012

4th tier of insulation wall, 7th course of tires!

     Today our friends James and Anna Doroghazi (brother and sister) visited from Illinois and Connecticut, respectively.  James and his wife Heidi and 2 girls used to be our next door neighbors, but we've both moved since then!  (On a side note, for anyone in or near Illinois, you should definitely take advantage of Heidi Doroghazi's awesome photography skills!  Just look at how beautiful her photos are! http://www.heididoroghazi.com/)
     We finished pounding several tires on the eastern entryway wall, and then James and Anna helped us put up our 4th tier of insulation wall near the cisterns!  Thanks so much for all of your help James and Anna!

It's a balance of holding up the insulation as you try to add dirt from both sides to keep it standing straight

     After they left, Chad and I laid out a straight line of our 7th course of tires, and filled them with dirt without pounding them yet.  At the end of the evening it started to sprinkle, so we covered the tires with insulation boards and retreated to our temporary home for a late dinner.  Here's a pic from a distance of our earthship as of tonight:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


     This week we've been spending a little more time on the tire walls near the 2 entryway/exits of the house.  We also needed to search around for a few rare tires we needed more of!  (235-70or75-R15... have any laying around?  Please let us know!)

     Today, one of Chad's previous students stopped over to check out the site and help pound tires.  Quinn has traveled to Taos to see the original earthships himself and is very interested in them.  Thanks for your help Quinn!

Quinn pounding tires on the western entryway

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saturday Visitors

We had heard from a couple of different people who had heard about our earthship and wanted to come help out and learn about it.  Eldar, Oleg, and Mike arrived together after driving from New Jersey.  They are really interested in this type of building, and are planning on helping a friend build an earthship hut in the Catskills.  They came prepared with work clothes, drinks, paper towels, and even a tent!  After working on the wing wall at our entryway, we pointed them in the direction of Taughannock Park for swimming, and the Commons for some food, shopping, and hanging out.  They came back late and stayed in their tent on the earthship site.  Thanks so much for your help guys!

Mike, Eldar, and Oleg

 Meanwhile, Mike and his wife Jody, and three of their children stopped in to check it out.  Mike had heard of an earthship and thought about building one someday, and when he found out there's one being built near him, brought his family over to show them what it's all about!  Thanks for your help!

Mike got right to work experiencing filling and pounding a few tires full
While Eadin and Breanna were pretty excited that I said they could bury their compostable cups in our backfill!

Breanna burying her cup

Then they all joined their dad in filling the tires with dirt

Our dog Koda cooling off in the brush

Friday, July 13, 2012


Tonight our 45 vigas arrived on a large truck from New Mexico!  The vigas are large logs that hold the ceiling and roof up!  Here's a pic of another earthship, to show you what they will look like in the house:

And here are some pictures of our 3 hours of unloading them!

I'm not on the back just for the fun of it... the tractor was lifting up in the back from the weight of each viga!

3 hours later!

View from the barn loft as we put the tarp over them.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

In the News

Simon from The Ithaca Journal came to visit the earthship this week and took many pictures and some video.  He posted some really great pictures in a news gallery here

Entryway and Visiting Master Teachers

Along with our Camp Earthship crew of Groton students Tristan, Luke and John, Chad's dad Gary came to the site again today and cleared out our entryway quite a bit.  It looks so much more open and inviting now!

This afternoon, we had many visitors as a large group from the Bioenergy and Bioproducts Education Program's Master Teacher Workshop taking place at Cornell this week stopped by to check out the barn, the earthship plans, and the earthship build itself.  A group of science teachers from around the state (and beyond) interested in our earthship... it was great speaking with them!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Garbage Warriors

Day 3 at Camp Earthship was exciting!  The Ithaca Journal came and took lots of picture and video, while Chad, Tristan, Luke, and John and I worked on the tires in the 6th course.  We also got a lot of bottle bricks washed and taped today, and put together two purchased wheelbarrows for when the crew comes.

tamper... pick-ax... shovel... sledgehammer... with our powers combined we are GARBAGE WARRIORS!

Bottle bricks organized into boxes by color

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 2 of Camp Earthship!

     Today Luke, Tristan and John were in the groove at Camp Earthship.  They each pounded a few tires, beginning our 6th course!  John also spent time at the bottle bricks station finding buddies to tape together.  A reporter from The Ithaca Journal stopped by to ask if he could do a story on the earthship!

     Later, friends Eric and Erica and ther baby Grace stopped over to see the site.  When Eric asked me how long it takes to finish just one tire, and I told him "between 30-45 minutes," I believe the G-rated version of his response was "You guys are really insane!"

The Plans

Here is a picture of our personal house plans, designed by architect ("biotect") Michael Reynolds (http://earthship.com).  So exciting!

One story- no basement, no attic

Groton Youth: Camp Earthship!

The Groton Youth director made our project a camp, and three lucky boys signed up to come this week and learn about the build!  Yesterday they got a tour and learned some background information, helped with making bottle bricks, and even pounded a tire each! Way to go Luke, John, and Tristan!

Soaking the cut bottles in a bleach-water cleaning solution

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tiles tiles tiles!

Today I took a break from pounding tires to sort through the piles and piles of tiles donated to us by Rochester's Best Tile (www.besttile.com) and Freeville's Tile Tec International (www.tile-tec.com).  I spent time organizing them by size and color.  I can't wait to see how we can use them in the finish work of the house!


More tile!

As a side note, here is a tree mosaic I've worked on here and there to be placed on the wall in the earthship!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Workday Sunday 7/8/12

Today we had a lot of traffic at the site!  Friends Julie and Paul pounded tires, along with Chad's cousin Jon and his partner Neyda.  My coworker Nancy stopped over with her daughter Eliesha, visiting from Columbia!  She works with Columbia Eco Travel (www.columbiaecotravel.com) and hopes to build her own self-sustainable house with her husband there.  Later, Sean from Utica visited and worked in hopes of learning more about earthships to build his own someday.  Our friend Dave and his baby Natasha stopped over to see it too.  Meanwhile, I was presenting our project at the Freeville Picnic, and brought over community members afterwords to check it out!  Thanks everyone for the energy put into pounding on this hot day, and thanks to the Freeville community for donating the picnic's cans and extra water!  5th course is pretty much finished!

Julie, Neyda, and Jon put in a lot of hard work!

Nancy and her daughter Eliesha

Eliesha and Julie discuss how to tell when a tire is done

Sean visits from Utica

Evidence of hard work!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The DeVoes

Most of the time it's just me (Courtney) and Chad working on the tire wall.  Our friend Alex stopped in for a bit and helped us bring some more tires over to the wall to line them up on the 5th course.

A view of the wall, 5 courses high

This is all that's left of our dirt pile!  It used to take up the whole length of this picture!

The DeVoes

Earthship from 2nd floor of barn

Artistic shot out the barn loft door

Monday, July 2, 2012

Workday Sunday 7/1/12

This week's Workday Sunday brought a few helpers to the Freeville Earthship!  Stoph and Shawn, owners and builders of the earthship in Brooktondale, stopped over to let nostalgia set in as they pounded a few tires and lent us some experienced advice.  Also, Groton community members Sandy and her two sons Kyle and Brock came back for their second time working.  What hard workers they are!  My mom, visiting from Rochester, stayed halfway through Sunday to see through to her goal of the 5th tire course being started.

Shawn and Stoph

Brock, Kyle, and Sandy

5th course of tires in place, ready to be filled with dirt

The wall's getting tall!