Sheltered: Underground and Off the Grid

This article and documentary film are about building an underground complex that is far from being a natural building project. But I am posting this because I think that there are worthwhile things that can be learned.

Sheltered: Underground and Off the Grid is a full-length documentary that chronicles the building of the largest underground and off-the-grid farm on the planet. Adam Bearup turned the job down four times and on the fifth request from the homeowner he decided to build it. The owner told him that if he took the project, it would change his life and It did.

The same day that he chose to be the project leader on this project in Michigan, he got the idea to film it. He bought some video equipment; his plan was to film every single day of the project without realizing that it would take just under three years.

After the project started, he set up the camera every day, sometimes to film exact sequences and other times to just let the camera run for a few hours to capture what they were doing. This project started in 2009, which was still a bit before many other people were uploading videos online for viewing. He chose Vimeo as the host site for his weekly to bi-weekly videos and had great viewership from all over the world. Those videos are still available on Vimeo.

Then he started to think about making a documentary. Viewers of the online videos would tell him that he was way ahead of the curve in building and that they had never seen anything like what they were building. I would read the comments each week to the crew and it seemed to be a motivator for them as I lead them through the most extreme weather conditions.

Ric Mixter signed on to create the documentary. Ric has made many documentaries for major television networks and is known around the world for his video and documentary work. Ric had the daunting task of taking the almost three years of video that was shot (with a decent camera and no real training) and assembling it into a documentary that has toured the world with the U.S. Green Building Council’s traveling film festival. They sold countless copies of this documentary to people all over the country and have even had a version of it air on PBS.

Then he had the idea to offer this documentary through Mother Earth News simply to let people watch this feat that many have called amazing. He dedicates this documentary to anyone who wonders what is over the next hill, those people, like him, who thrive on a challenge.

You can watch the full length film at

You can read the original article at

5 thoughts on “Sheltered: Underground and Off the Grid”

  1. Hi Kelly and everyone,

    Thank you for sharing and watching our documentary!

    Maybe we could do an interview to answer questions about this project…or I will create a video blog covering f.a.q.’s about this project and send you the link.

    To address the question about whatever happened to this place, what I can say (I had to agree to non-disclose certain aspects of the project) is that as of Labor Day of 2012, my role on the project ended. Sources tell me that the community is thriving there and I am happy to hear that…

    Motivation has always been one of the first factors that I discuss with clients and then we figure out what materials to use on the project and what resources that we have on the site…i.e. southern exposure, stream, etc etc.

    Thank you again and great job with your blog!

    Adam Bearup

    • That would be wonderful, Adam, if you create a video blog covering f.a.q.’s about this project and send us the link. I’m sure there would be a lot of interest in this.

  2. Do you know what happened after the house was completed? I find it strange that I can find no mention of the house after the building phase. Maybe I’m not great at Google searches, or is there more to the story?


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