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The Benefits of a Root Cellar

The Benefits of a Root Cellar


Before the days of refrigeration, folks had root cellars to preserve the vegetables they grew in their gardens through the winter. My Dad remembered his parents had one on their small farm. If the electric grid goes down, a root cellar is a perfect answer for long term food storage. A root cellar is worth considering. – Shorty Dawkins

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We have been reading and planning and saving for a root cellar for years now.  This has been an important part of our long-range plan for food security.  About a week ago, we finally broke ground on it and we are really looking forward to its completion.  (The kids are most excited about the huge mounds of dirt and the presence of a Porta-Potty on our property!).  In case you’ve never considered a root cellar, I thought I’d list some of the benefits.

Why we are building a root cellar

Being that this is a preparedness blog, you probably expect this has something to do with our penchant for storing up for uncertain times.  And you would be right-  that is part of it.  We firmly believe that everyone should do what they can to set aside food during this time of comparatively cheap and plentiful food.   Food prices may be steadily rising, but exorbitant prices could be lurking around the corner as the cost of oil goes up and weather anomalies wipe out crops.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a year round mini-supermarket in your backyard and the ability to store the food throughout the winter?

In addition, with the exception of a few places, right now people are mostly allowed to produce much of their own food.  Anything that is surplus can be put aside for the winter.  Root cellars are stars at providing the right temperatures and humidity to preserve the life and nutrients of your fresh food. I’m glad I have pressure canning as a choice in “putting up” food for later, but my food will be most nutritious if not exposed to high heat and pressure.  Raw food provides health benefits that cooked just can’t sometimes.

Another reason why we are really looking forward to this root cellar is that we like to know what goes in the food we eat year-round.  In order to do that, we either need to grow the food ourselves or do careful research to find out the growing methods used by the farmers.

There are some things we have not yet been able to produce in bulk for ourselves yet.  For example, we have planted an orchard several times now.  Each time, our goats have gotten to the trees and stunted or killed them (bye-bye, goats!).  Fortunately, we are members of a bulk food co-operative that often places fruit orders from low- or no-spray farms.  Not many families can use a bushel of apples before they would go bad in the kitchen (nor do they have room in the fridge).  A root cellar is the perfect place to store them and enjoy them over several months.

Not just for “root vegetables.”

We have been working on our stockpiles of food, medicine, tools, etc for quite a few years now.  While that gives us a sense of comfort, it is also quite literally crowding us.  Under every bed and in every drawer and cabinet in this old house with little built-in storage, we have our “preps.”  Some bookshelves have a row of things behind all the books.  The “china cabinet” is stuffed with homemade soup, jam, and applesauce and is clearly visible to anyone who looked in the windows (not good OPSEC!).  And with all those spaces filled, we are beginning to literally have stacks of things with nowhere to put them.


Shorty Dawkins