If you recycle bottles and tires, perhaps you should try to use them to build something. Some of the possibilities are quite surprising.
Just ask Jan and Annie Warmke at Blue Rock Station south of Philo, where you can find their Earthship or “House of Trash” as some call it. They had an intense passion to use whatever they could find to build their home in the country. All of their buildings are composed of recycled materials and pieces of nature.
Annie, the Mother of Creativity, guides the tour of her dream come to fruition. She served as both creator and contractor of Blue Rock Station. With the help of a few interns, mostly college students, projects are designed and completed during the summer months.
Interns are encouraged by Annie to let their minds expand while they try new things, even if they fail. “If you haven’t screwed up at least once, you’re not thinking hard enough.”
A greenhouse built of plastic two liter bottles provides a place to start plants and grow food throughout the year. Over one thousand plastic bottles used to construct it will never need replaced since they don’t decompose.
Cottages provide housing for overnight guests and/or interns. Made of bales of straw, they’re covered with “earth plaster”. This adobe-like covering consists of mud, straw, milk, salt, flour and linseed oil – so it won’t crack. Pickle jars placed in the ceiling gather outdoor light. Bottle bottoms create beautiful window substitutes.
An outdoor patio makes the perfect place to relax under the shade of the trees. Nearby is one of two composting outdoor toilets, as well as the garden since both need to be in close proximity to the main house, Earthship. Needless to say, pesticides are not used.
Annie has tea prepared for the group inside Earthship. A few mint leaves dropped in the ice tea make it extra refreshing on a very hot day. In addition, salted cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, sandwiches and cookies complete the back to nature table setting. There Annie sits in a comfortable swing, while answering questions from the group.
Tires, bottles, cans, plastic two liter bottles and milk jugs form the walls of the house. Then this core material is covered with earth plaster and a coat of lime paint to brighten it. With help from old barns being torn down and pressed tin for the ceiling, the house becomes a showplace.
A unique brick oven in one corner contained guard rails, pipe and even metal rods from old campaign signs for the grill of the oven. On a cold winter day, Annie sometimes wraps in a blanket and curls up on the brick wall to relax, read, or nap.
Due to window placement for maximum use of winter sun, and wall structure which absorbs and releases heat, temperature in the house never goes below 55 degres…with no stove needed, although sometimes used! Rooms are U-shaped, which holds heat extra well. It seems very similar to living in a cave
All roofs collect water into a cistern from which they get water for basic use, but not for drinking. Over the year they collect over 150,000 gallons of water from their rooftops.
Something I know works from experience is a solar shower. Water, in a black plastic bag on the roof, gathers heat from the sun. A switch on the end of the bag opens the shower head and produces a nice warm, sometimes hot, shower. However, Annie wants to add a bathtub very soon.
As experiments continue, new ideas come to the forefront that they perhaps wish they would have known about a few years back. Their newest project is solar energy installation. A solar panel with a wind turbine gathers energy in one place, while the house has a small solar panel. More will be installed shortly.
Reservations must be made in advance so either call 740-674-4300 or visit their website at http://www.bluerockstation.com.
Take a drive along the Muskingum River and visit this unusual “House of Trash” or Earthship, as they feel more correctly describes it. Peace abounds at Blue Rock Station with only nice voices, open hearts, and inquiring minds desired. Perhaps it will inspire you to be more creative with your natural resources…and your trash.
Earthship can easily be reached traveling along the Muskingum River on Route 60. Cross over the Muskingum River to the west on Route 66, North Street. At the stop sign turn left on Old River Road. In less than a mile you will come to a hill with a fork in the road. There is a Blue Rock Station sign pointing toward the right on Virginia Ridge Road. From then on, follow the Blue Rock Station signs until you reach the gate of the property.