Hog Heaven: Earthbarns for the 21st Century

| 6/13/2011 6:19:32 AM

The Earthbarn - a sustainable, patented design by Charlie Partin.
Sculptor and architect Charlie Partin has created a revolutionary design for an earth-sheltered barn that may bring a much-needed wave of sustainability, energy efficiency, health and beauty to farms as they raise swine and poultry to feed the world.


Partin says his simple, elegant and energy-efficient design can be erected quickly and economically, with basic costs as low as $50 per square foot. That's well below typical construction expenses. Over time, he asserts, with reduced energy and maintenance needs, savings will mount substantially.

Partin has the talent, training and track record to give weight to his assertions. Now somebody needs to step forward and give him a chance to prove what the Earthbarn can do. It's time to move the barn from blueprint conception into the field as a working prototype that can be measured, studied and emulated. The need is great.

In modern agriculture, the CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations), which raise animals for meat, have created staggering environmental and health concerns. As reported in the The New York Times on Sunday, June 12, animals raised on a mass, industrial scale for human consumption are often held in barns which are unsanitary and can lead to profound health problems, including MRSA which is now widespread in hog barns and among people who deal with hogs.

The Earthbarn is a working building in natural concert with its surroundings, as evident from its both its structural profile, and from its actual above-ground enmeshment with the Earth and the forces of nature. Situated above-ground by design, the Earthbarn is buttressed literally, visually, and metaphysically through berms of soil which surround it, keeping it high, dry, solid and sleek against whirling winds.

By working with the natural forces of the earth, rather than against them, the barns provide low-cost, energy-efficient, light-filled and secure shelter for livestock. The barns could make a profound difference on farms not just in rural areas, but also in suburban and urban communities where so many sustainable food initiatives -- from CSA to urban ag -- are underway in the USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, and in hundreds of other places around the globe.

Steven McFadden_1
6/18/2011 7:51:57 AM

Hi Dave - When I interviewed Charlie Partin he did speak of an filtration system for dealing with smells, as well as many other technical details. Since I was writing for a general audience, I didn't really get into those details. But if you want to know you can always write to Charlie through his website www.partinstudios.com

Nebraska Dave
6/17/2011 5:32:21 PM

Steven, I hope that Charlie Partin gets his chance to test out his hog confinement design. The natural light diffusers are great. Our hogs just run the pasture. One thing I learned about hogs is that they will find the weakness of a fence and figure out a way to take advantage of it. I can see the wisdom of the hog confinement method but it just doesn't seem that they would get the proper exercise for healthy hogs. Then again I only had 30 hogs. I imagine this design is for much more than that. Have they figured out a way to reduce the smell factor for hog confinement yet? It certainly can be an issue with the neighbors. As usual you have posted an informative article that addresses issues of concern for the times we are in. Food including pork will definitely become more expensive in the future as gas prices rise, more corn is used for vehicle fuel, and more government intervention happens. Thank you so much for keeping us informed about alternative methods of growing food. Have a great day.

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