In an update to a story we first brought you back in November 2012, Dirt Merchant Farms, which sells organic foods like fresh farm eggs, meats and vegetables in Stagecoach, has continued to build what are known as “Earthships” on their property.
An earthship is a self-sustaining building made out of recyclable materials, like tires and glass bottles.
He says they’re more durable than traditional homes made out of wood.
“Most stick-based buildings take a lot of time to build,” Alexander said. “They take a lot of money to buy. They’re around $200,000 for your mortgage nowadays, depending on what type of building you want, and you end up taking most of your time fixing the building as it’s going. Whereas, my earthship, as I build it, it’s created with mostly concrete, plaster, metal and things like that.”
On Sunday, I got to take a tour of the different earthships he’s building. Since first talking to him last November, he’s been working on two storage buildings, a greenhouse and a shelter for his pigs.
“Different farms are coming out that are using the different earthship technologies to help keep the temperature for our buildings, and help keep our greenhouses warm,” Alexander said. “Whereas, we don’t have to use fossil fuels, or woods or coals.”
One of the techniques he’s using to control the temperature inside an earthship used as a storage space is building dirt mounds around the structure.
“It’s packed around all sides, except for the south-facing side with dirt,” he said. “So, you use the earth berm to keep the building cool and warm, depending on what you want and what season.”
One of the storage spaces is set to be completed in the next several weeks.
Alexander says his neighbors have responded well to the construction of these earthships. Some, like the Litsingers, have also stepped in and helped.
“He won’t need anything to back up heat or cool,” said Marcia Litsinger. “It’s going to be perfect. Even his own water system will basically be within the earthship. I love it.”
“When he finishes it, it’s going to be great for him, for the environment, and for Lyon County, so that we can show that we are more progressive than we have been in the past,” said Steve Litsinger.
Alexander wants to show that anybody can make their home out of the recyclable materials, and help the environment in the future.
After receiving hundreds of tires from many northern Nevadans since November 2012, he says he now needs any used building materials like old doors, sheet metal and fencing. He also needs about 2,000 uncrushed cans.
If you’d like to help or have questions about his earthships, you can find Dirt Merchant Farms on Facebook. You can also e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at (775) 450-8218.
Written by Adam Varahachaikol