Home Do it Yourself (DIY) 7 Simple DIY Root Cellars – Keep Your Food Fresh With No...

7 Simple DIY Root Cellars – Keep Your Food Fresh With No Electricity


As you dig into the earth, you will find that the soil becomes increasingly cool. This is because the sun’s hot light is unable to penetrate the lower depths of our earth.

Indigenous and primitive people were able to keep their food fresh by using the cooling properties found deep in Mother Earth. Today, you can dry herbs, store root crops, and keep your canned goods in small or large underground shelters called Root Cellars.

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The growing off-grid movement has brought us composting toilets, tiny homes, and now a resurgence of these simple rooms designed specifically for food.

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If you live on a small property, or just want to test a few off-grid techniques, you can start small with these simple DIY root cellars.

Buried Freezer

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This deep freezer is unplugged and dropped into the ground. Notice they added PVC ventilation pipes so that your food can have air circulation. If you add this feature, make sure to add a bug screen so critters don’t get in.

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Make sure you do not place this in an area with direct sunlight!

Trash Can Root Cellar

For a deeper, yet super simple root cellar, you can bury a trashcan!

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I do feel concerned that the metal in the trashcan could transfer heat down toward the food. Has anyone tested this?  I would love to hear how it worked.

Wood Box Root Cellar

If you are feeling super crafty, You can create your own wooden box

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. My concern is how the wood will react to rain!

On to the bigger root cellars. If you are looking for a more serious survival / family size root cellar, you might want to go bigger than a deep freezer or trashcan so you can keep enough for your intended use.

Here are a few ways you can create your own walk-in root cellar.

School Bus Cellar

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Some people have tried creative ideas like burying a school bus underground to turn into a root cellar! I have heard stories of buried storage container caving in from the weight of the soil, so please make sure you are mathematically secure in the load baring capacity of such a structure.

This one is not buried significantly deep, so the chances of the external pressure from the soil causing a cave in. But the glass windows might be an issue.  Have any of our reader tried this method?

Underground Structure

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I actually thought this image was a school bus when I first saw it online. This root cellar was made with wood support beams and rock overlay.

Cinder Block Cellar

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This root cellar is a hole in the ground lined with cinder blocks with a wood framed roof.

Hobbit House

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if you wanted to go all out, you could make your own root cellar hobbit house.

Please comment with photos of your DIY root cellar!

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7 years ago

Help! I burried a very large 102 qt stockpot for cellaring. Everytime it rains it pushes the pot up from the ground which forces the surrounding patio pavers up as well. Ideas on how to permanently weight it down, or keep it down in place?

Keith Donovan
Keith Donovan
5 years ago
Reply to  Megan

The water needs somewhere to go, so you need drainage. Try putting a deep layer of gravel lined with soil cloth under the pot. You may even need a drainage trench leading away from the buried pot depending on how permeable your soil is to water. Do some research on drainage for houses and you will see what you need to do.

1 year ago
Reply to  Megan

You could try laying a couple of boards across it topped with a bird bath or some type of statuary. Since it won’t be opened that often, maybe it won’t be too inconvenient to get to.

Keith Donovan
Keith Donovan
5 years ago

The picture with the stone arch roof under construction does not have wooden roof support beams under it. That is the form to hold the shape of the arch, once the keystone is in place the forms are removed and just stone is remaining. This is how people in ancient times, such as the Romans, built stone arches. It is incredibly strong and will last thousands of years. No need to take up space with wooden supports.

Miecislau Dolata
Miecislau Dolata
5 years ago

Faltou a original e antiga igual como na casa de Hassan Fathy.