When we first moved onto our little acerage, the property came with ample land for our needs and a sad little garden plot. Years of overhauling and dedication turned our patch into a highly prolific garden, which meant we were now faced with a new issue. Where to store our root vegetables, preserves and canned goods. As it happened our home came with no basement and vertually no hilled areas. After much careful consideration my husband suggested "why don't we build our own cold storage basement"? Our home has a crawl-space under the main level, which meant no equipment and lots of manual labor. We started very simply by digging a square, several feet from the concrete foundation, and hauling the soil away in buckets. It was a slow process but eventually we were rewarded with a space roughly 10'Lx8'Wx6'H directly under our bootroom. My husband, being a 'jack of all trades', began the process of building concrete forms for the concrete walls, with my son and I helping to tie rebar. Because of the scope of this job we elected to hire a local cement contractor, who delivered the load onto a tarp directly on our driveway. Then the hussle began as bucket after bucket was passed down thru the opening and the forms were filled (quickly to prevent the cement from curing). Once we were able to take the forms off the walls we began to prep the floor (more rebar tying!) and hand mixed our own cement. The finished result was amazing! What had been an idea became a reality with a bit of hard work and know-how. We wasted no time building stairs down from the hatch and framing from the top of the concrete wall to the bottom of the existing floor joists. We even went as far as to finish it with drywall, a light fixture and a hatch door that leads out under the crawl space...just incase. My father came up from B.C that fall and helped build custom shelving to complete it just in time for harvest! All in all this took my family about a year (from planning, thru winter freeze delays and spring thaw, to a fully functoning cellar) but my goodness was it worth it. I get excited each year filling it, like a squierrel making it's stash. I know my family will benefit from this project for years to come.
For anyone considering building their own cold storage (or really anything homestead related), I strongly suggest getting your hands on a wonderful book called Back to Basics, published by Reader's Digest (ours is the 1989 edition but man is it insightful!). The section on food storage provides a variety of 'cellar' options and basic guidelines for year round food storage.
If you have any questions, stories to share of your own cold-storage journeys, or pictures you'd like to share, please head on over to our Forum and join the discussion.