From the Crawl Space: Eating Local Produce in February

Written by Kailea Pedley, Off-Grid Farmer at Patchwood Farm, Piper’s Glen, Cape Breton It’s February and I’m thinking about that question for food-lovers in northern climes: how do we continue to eat healthy, local food through the winter months? I’ve … Continue reading

Local Food Workshop with Community Food Mentors

From April 16th to 18th this year the Town of Riverview New Brunswick hosted “Sustaina-palooza” – a three-day action-packed event to share community success stories, generate a dialogue about sustainability and ignite ideas for building resilient and prosperous communities. Our Food Southeast New Brunswick … Continue reading

Root Cellar Tour: Nov 26

You’re going to be hearing a lot about root cellars here at “Adventures in Local Food” over the next while. Root cellars are the next big adventure. I feel like I have a good handle on cooking and canning, but root cellars are still relatively new to me.

Fortunately, we have a wonderful community of root cellar enthusiasts to draw on. And some of those wonderful people are opening up their homes and cellars to us on Saturday, November 26.

Yes, it’s root cellar tour time again! If you missed last year’s tour, or even if you didn’t, now’s your chance to check out some root cellars in the Halifax area.

On November 26, starting at 3 pm sharp, we’ll be visiting 3 different root cellars – two in private homes, and the newly built root cellar at the Ecology Action Centre. At the end of the tour, we’ll gather at the Ecology Action Centre for a potluck. (Bring your favourite root vegetable dish!)

The event is free, but pre-registration is required as space is limited. To register, visit our website. We’ll be carpooling from site to site, so please indicate on your registration form if you have a car and are able to take some passengers.

Show us your root cellar

Join the Underground Movement! Be a part of the Root Cellar Tour!

The Food Action Committee at the Ecology Action Centre is planning a root cellar tour. We will be visiting a number of community and private root cellars throughout Nova Scotia. We are looking for interested people to host a short tour of their root cellar as well as share their experiences and tips. The tour will be happening on a Saturday or Sunday in mid to late November. If you are interested in showing off your hard work or for more information, please contact Marla MacLeod at foodaction@ecologyaction or 442-1077.

You can check out photos from last year’s tour here.

Root Cellar Workshop: Day One

This weekend, we built a root cellar! Building a root cellar at the Ecology Action Centre office has been an idea that we’ve been kicking around for years. It went from the idea stage to the reality stage when we received some funding from the Spirit NS Local Food Fund last fall. After the excitement of receiving the funding, the next big question was: So, how do we actually build this?

With the help of Zak Miller of Full Cycle Builders, and a team of amazing volunteers, we turned a dark corner of the basement into a food storage room.

Here’s the before picture:

We picked the northeast corner of the building because it had a small window, it already had three walls, and the north side of a building is generally colder than the south. Some of the best root cellar advice I received was to think like a root vegetable. Root vegetables grow underground where it is cool, dark and damp. You want your root cellar to mimic those conditions.

A couple years ago, we had put down a vapour barrier and clay floor in that area of the basement to reduce the humidity, so the first thing we had to do was to take up the floor in that area.  In the picture below you can see the tan clay next to the brick and gravel.  This is what had to go.

Next step: Build a wall.

Zak started us off with a demonstration how to safely use the circular saw.  A nice excuse to take a break from the dusty basement!

We framed in the wall and covered it in old acoustical tiles and leftover drywall.

Check back tomorrow to see the natural plasters we put on the wall, the ventilation system and more…

And here are some past posts on root cellaring:

Root Cellar Basics

Root Cellar Tour

Simple cold storage ideas

My Sunday Spent Underground

On Sunday, November 21st, a group of strangers gathered together at the Ecology Action Centre at an unholy hour (okay, it was 10am) and then set out on a root cellar road trip! The tour would include three root cellars – first, an above ground root cellar in a barn on a farm; second, a dome-shaped underground root cellar in a suburban backyard; and finally, a closest-sized cold room turned root cellar in an urban home. Our convoy travelled along, enjoying the beautiful landscape and one another’s company, and daydreaming of shelves stocked with carrots, potatoes, apples and parnsips. We were a group of about twenty – gaining a few country folk along the way. There were children and grandparents, students and young professionals, farmers and even a reporter or two.



Let’s start at the beginning (seems like a good place to start). Our first stop was in Belmont. Here we saw an above ground root cellar built into a barn. The root cellar had a gravel pit in the centre of the floor and a very large fan attached to the ceiling. The root cellar owner, Alex, discussed the importance of humidity as well as ventalization.

We were also invited to nose around a bit as well, enjoying the incredible warmth of the greenhouse, visiting the noisy ducks and viewing the beautiful natural building walls of the house. The children were well-amused by the farm dog who seemed to love small, pink mittens!

All that talk about local carrots, potatoes and parnsips left many of us hungry. Luckily, our next stop was lunch! We piled back into our assigned carpool seats and set our sights on the JustUs! Cafe (and Museum) in Grand Pre where soup and sandwiches – and of course fair trade coffee – awaited us. Mmmmmmm………………. (I must have been distracted as I don’t have any photos of lunch.)

After sipping our coffee and slurping our soup, we were back on the road. Next stop: New Minas. Here, tucked away in a suburban backyard, was a magical dome-shaped underground root cellar – a root cellar worth drooling over! While the adults aborsbed the details of the making of this magnificant root cellar, the children climbed the mound and declared their plans to have a similar root cellar when they grew up. On this stop, a number of root cellar experts joined us to share their knowledge. Throughout the day, expert after expert insisted that experimenting was the best way to learn about root cellars – from burying a container of food in your backyard to building a community-size, underground root cellar. If you are interested in some well-tested tips from two experienced root cellar builders and users, check out Bonnie and Sylvan’s blog at http://thegreenlifefarm.wordpress.com. Our visit to this suburban root cellar also included a live musical preformance – inspiring songs for the underground movement!



Now it was time to head back towards the big city – but not without a quick stop at a farm market (I mean what is a trip to the Valley without a stop at a farm market?). With our trucks heavy with root vegetables, squash and delicious Valley apples, we made the trip to Bedford where we stopped in on our final root cellar – a family-sized cold room turned root cellar in the basement of a beautiful older home.

Sylvia, the welcoming owner and operator of this root cellar explained that the temperature is controlled by a vent. You can see the square vent in the upper corner of the above photo (in the ceiling). The vent can be opened or closed depending. Sylvia keeps a glass jar filled with water in the root cellar, knowing that if the water in the jar freezes it is time to adjust the temperature (via the vent). To prevent small creatures from using the vent as their own private entrance, Sylvia keeps the outer face of the vent covered with chicken wire – take a look:

With that, our root cellar tour came to a close. We said our goodbyes, thanked our gracious final host, and went on our seperate ways. Max, a reporter for the King’s College newspaper, the ” Halifax Commoner”, made the front page with his excellent account of the day. You can check it out at http://thecommoner.kingsjournalism.com/?p=4507.

Yours in food, Keltie