If only one existed.
What does it say about our society that a video touting a prefab root cellar built by a trendy Dutch designer has been viewed 1.8 million times? That people are more paranoid about the coming apocalypse than they let on in everyday conversation? Or just that they want to get back to their roots, pun intended, by growing food and preserving it without the use of an electricity-guzzling refrigerator?
The Groundfridge, a product dreamed up by a guy in the Netherlands named Floris Schoonderbeek who has brought the world a variety of exquisitely designed products for the earth conscious (like the Dutchtub, a $6,000 outdoor wood-fired bathtub), first broke the Internet back in 2015. But it has been a gift that keeps on giving for eco-content mills like TreeHugger.com and Inhabitat.com. It’s a fiberglass sphere that’s about the size of a small bathroom, with a set of stairs leading down to it. Hire a guy with an excavator to dig a big hole, drop it in place and cover it with soil and, bang, you’re done. The insulating effect of the earth maintains the temperature at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, perfect for fruits, vegetables, cheeses and wines.
The Groundfridge continues to resurface four years later, including on the aforementioned video by Cheddar.com, which went oddly viral for a root cellar video. Odder still is that you still can’t buy a Groundfridge four years later. A number of prototypes have been installed, but Schoonderbeek’s website says it still isn’t available for purchase (it continues to be “coming soon”). Hopefully, it will come before the apocalypse does.
In the meantime, those who are apocalypse savvy have been busy devising DIY knockoffs. Mother Earth News offers free plans for repurposing a prefab concrete septic tank (unused, of course) into a root cellar. Prepper sites are full of similar ideas, including root cellars made from buried shipping containers, old school buses, boats and cisterns.
A traditional wood-beam-and-stone root cellar takes quite a bit of skill and time to build, but any watertight object with sufficient structural integrity to support a few tons of earth piled on top makes a worthy, though not as quaint, alternative. It could even double as a nuclear fallout shelter for SHTF (when the s*** hits the fan, in doomsday prepper-speak). According to one prepper website, hunkering down under two feet of earth will protect you from 99 percent of the radiation. At least you’ll have something to eat while you plot your future life in the nuclear holocaust.
Rather than SHTF, I prefer “when the biomass hits the wind turbine.” Your choice.
It is a good thing, since it is a terrible idea. Much like the Designer Rocket Stoves, this seems to have been dreamed up for Koool, not for function. There are three critical factors to root cellaring: temperature, ventilation, and humidity. Traditionally, humidity is moderate with naturally absorptive materials, like wood shelving, sand floors, and dirt walls. A fibreglass sphere is asking for mold and rotting vegetables. The Groundfridge also bills itself as “actively cooled”. This may be a translation error, but in English that typically means you have to plug it in, and it has moving parts—which I guess… Read more »