Jay and Annie Warmke welcome visitors to their home and the Blue Rock Station
How does one end up living in an “Earth Ship?” Well, if you are Jay and Annie Warmke, it starts with the impending birth of your grandchild. In 1993, the Warmkes purchased 38 acres in Muskingum County, in the foothills of the central Appalachian mountains to develop a retreat for their extended family. After the land purchase, Annie was listening to a radio show and heard the words of architect Michael Reynolds outlining the Earth Ship house concept. Their Earth Ship is a house built of waste products such as old tires and bottles, as well as what nature provides with straw, clay and mud. Annie became a contractor and project manager for what is now their home and a tourist attraction, called Blue Rock Station which hosts 20,000 visitors a year. Annie likes to tell tour visitors how she arranged for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to haul in 1200 tires from an illegal dump to create the foundation and walls of their family abode and other buildings on their property. The outer wall of the Earth Ship is buried, well, under the earth, and the walls are made of tires and bottles covered with mud. All the Blue Rock Station buildings are named, painted and decorated by interns who help build and decorate these structures, sleep in tiny tire, straw bales and mud adobe-like cottages and use solar heated showers. The Warmke’s dream was to create the premier green living center in Ohio. They do this with a composting outhouse with a magnificent view of a ravine; water collected in rain barrels and cisterns; and a plastic bottle greenhouse made of some 1500 two-liter plastic bottles that sits on a rammed earth tire foundation. The property is shared with chickens, goats, at least one dog, cats and several llamas that are charged with protecting them. Blue Rock Station provides educational seminars to teach others how to build their own Earth Ships. Jay debuted his new book earlier this year, entitled “When the Biomass Hits the Wind Turbine.” His book traces the history of energy from 1491 to today and argues that society is now at a tipping point where renewal energy sources are now cheaper than fossil fuels. Annie offers equally intriguing insights about the use of animals in such publications as the “Naturally Healthy Goats Reference Guide.” Currently she’s working on a tome deciphering the mysteries of composting toilets. Visit Blue Rock Station, tours held monthly 1190 Virginia Ridge Rd Philo, OH 43771 (740) 674-4300