The Groundfridge is a high-tech hole in the ground. The modern-day root cellar needs a fair-sized garden to accommodate it, but you'll need a fair-sized garden to use it anyway, because the Groundfridge is designed to store the excess bounty from your home-grown harvest.
Made from fiberglass, the Groundfridge forms a thin skin between the soil it's buried in, and the cool air it encapsulates. Out of the ground, it looks like an oversized boiling flask from a science lab. Once buried, it becomes a flight of steps leading into a spherical, shelf-lined chamber, with a rubber-seal on the door to keep out rain and bugs.
The Groundfridge is made in the Netherlands and is meant for people with vegetable gardens who need to store a glut of produce. Its chamber is 20 times bigger than your refrigerator, which isn't really designed for long-term storage anyway.
"It combines temperature from the air outside with the temperature of the soil in a ideal cellar temperature inside the Groundfridge," Akke Bink, one of its creators, told Co.Exist. Like a regular root cellar, it stays at a constant 50˚-54˚F temperature all year long.
To keep the air moving, a fan is required, but, says Akke, a solar panel can take care of that. If you live in a warmer climate, you may not even need this part.
The Groundfridge isn't just for storing veggies, though. Anything that is happy in a cool, dry environment is good down there. Akke suggests cheese, wine, or beer storage—a kind of DIY wine cellar, if you will. The fridge is also good for people living off-grid, for restaurants in remote areas, and for self-supported living.
Installation is the biggest hurdle. Akke recommends digging with an excavator. "[Doing it] manually is a lot of work, but it is possible," he says.
"The difficulty of installing depends on the location, the type of soil, and water level," he says, "every place is different and requires special attention." The Groundfridge can, however, be customized to fit your needs.
Right now the $10,000 Groundfridge is only available in the Netherlands—exporting to the U.S. would rather negate its environmental benefits. But the team is working on U.S. manufacture for the future.