Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Permaculture Design for the Homestead -- Finally!

Since I last posted -- over a year, gasp! -- some progress has been made but not as much as I'd like. I am discovering that my goals --maximizing the food and medicinal herb production of the property -- is a very ambitious goal for someone with no previous actual gardening or livestock tending experience. I realize now, after 3 years of struggle, that homesteading is not for the faint of heart! Do I regret starting this adventure? No way! Do I want to throw in the towel and retire my farm girl hat? Are you crazy?!

No, I am in this adventure for the long haul. I just realize that I have a lot to learn and most of those lessons are going to be learned the hard way -- trial and error.In permaculture, there is an adage that says "Observe, observe, observe". It is by observing nature and what is happening day-by-day on the homestead that I will learn and develop as a farm girl. The Sages of permaculture also say that you should do 100 things. Only 2 will work but you don't know which 2 until you do it. That gives "permies" the right to try a lot of things that fail. I'm trying to learn to go with that flow.

But, I also realize that I need a plan. I need to step back and observe my property and develop an plan for where the main features -- those things you don't want to relocate after they are installed -- are best located and then a more generalized plan for using the rest of the property to it's best productivity. To do this, I need a hero -- an individual trained in Permaculture Design who will help me formulate said plan and save me from some major mistakes.

With that in mind, I put out to the Permie world a call for help. And the answer came from "Joe from the Carolinas" a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) graduate and host of "Grow Your Own, The Budding Revolution" internet radio program. Joe is walking me through the process of creating a workable permaculture design plan for my homestead. Putting a plan together will not prevent a continuing process of trial and error but will, hopefully, prevent to many regrets from putting permanent features (or those that are just hard to relocate) in the wrong location.

The first step was to make a map of the property including the locations of all buildings, trees, garden beds, fences, water lines, power lines, and anything else that must be considered in future plans. I was able to use Google Earth  to get a sketch of the property to scale (by tracing over the image on the computer screen) and then scale up from there. Here is what I ended up with:

The upper right corner is North.

I still need to incorporate a Sun/Shade study, notations of slope (yeah, even a "flat" property has some elevation changes), a Sector Study, and to get soil testing done.

The goals remain the same: maximize the food and herb production using permaculture techniques. I won’t get there by 2016 as my original goal aimed for. It is a goal and vision that will take much longer than that but by 2019 (Lord willing) I hope to be producing a good amount of food and medicinal herbs.

I'm Not Quite There Yet ... and the journey is going to take longer than expected ... but we are on our way! (And, learning a lot along the way.)