Jason and Misty Rathay are emu and poultry farmers in Bronson, Florida but they are getting a lot of attention for something else. The pair have started working on something new. They call it the “Earthship Project” and their goal is to find new uses for the used tires that were piling up in the local landfill.
According to WUFT, the farmers plan to use the use tires they are able to collect and turn them into building materials that can be used to construct a wide variety of structures and products. They plan to fill the used tires with mud and then put them together to create new walls, fences and whatever else people have a need for.
Jason says that his first plan for the used tired will be to create a sound proof wall to be placed around his farm. He wants it to block out the noise from State Road 24. He then plans to build the pens for his animals. The Rathays run an emu and poultry farm, called Bronson’s Hot Chicks, but they also have rabbits, goats and pigs. In terms of birds, they have 17 emus, turkeys, ducks, quails and chickens. He says he plans to build an animal playground and is considering constructing a house from the used tires. He has collected about 1,500 tires for his project.
“Itandrsquo;s not trash, thatandrsquo;s for sure,” said Jason. Making a pun out of his “Earthship Project,” Jason continued by saying, “We want to build our own ship right here. Noah had his ark. It was a massive ship. Why not build our own right here?”
Jason says he got his idea for tire recycling back in the 1970s. Recently he went online to start his project and began traveling around Levy County looking for used tires from individuals and families. He even took to Facebook groups to look for tire donations. In one night, he received about one thousand tires.
Typically, when people have that many tires on their property, the county requires them to get a permit but the local officials have declined to take any action against the Rathays because the tires are going to be recycled and used. Officials say that because they are not profiting from the tires, they do not feel the need to step in.
Moving forward, the Rathays have been working with Earthship Biotecture. That in a company in New Mexico that helps people and organizations design and build structures and other products from recycled sources. They have also been helped by Dustin Seale, the owner of Levy Boys Tire Recycling. He contacted the Florida Department of Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and after receiving the green light from them, he donated about 600 tires for the Earthship Project.
The only concern that was raised by the DEP was that used tires can be great areas for rain water to collect and this can be a good place for mosquitoes to breed. With mosquito borne illnesses like the Zika Virus on everyone’s mind, they were concerned about this. Jason says that he is paying attention to this and that he has a number of animals on his farm that eat mosquitoes.
“We have over 200 ducks, [and] that naturally takes care of all bugs and pests,” said Jason. “The animals themselves are their own pest control.”
The Rathays say that after they have completed the construction of the structures they need on their farm, they hope to build a community garden on two acres of their pasture property. The goal is to get more people in the area out to grow their own vegetables and fruits, leading to a healthier county.
Research on charity and volunteerism has shown that when people see others doing good things for others, they are more likely to do something good for someone else as well. The Rathays say they hope that their example will lead other to pay attention to what they eat and how they treat the environment.
“It just takes the time and effort for someone to be able to do it,” Jason said.
There are some tire recycling programs through different tire companies but none have the personal impact that this one is making.