We had a big meeting and now we have a plan…
It’s been 2 years and 8 months since we moved to our new farm, and after many many hours of backbreaking labor and gallons of sweat and tears, we now have a slightly better idea of the overall pattern of our plans for the land. We have raised hundreds of animals in different configurations, a ton of vegetables, planted some perennial fruit and nut trees and a shrubs, and created numerous experimental berms and swales to learn all we can about the flow of water and what works for us. We’ve tried growing mushrooms and learned how to get a tractor or skidsteer stuck in a field or marsh.
There are so many aspects to one piece of land, whether it is 1 acre or 100 acres, that it is hard to get a handle on the totality of what is going on. It took us a couple years to even understand the weather patterns to some degree, and one lost hoophouse plastic covering to understand the power of the wind. This spring we are understanding so much more about the precipitation, and our need to channel this powerful element to reservoirs like ponds and swales and away from roads and paths.
We had snow on May 1st which demonstrated that climate change is happening and we need to make some serious plans to deal with the consequences.
We have lived long enough here to also understand the landscape, soil, flora and fauna, and our own patterns over the landscape as well. Now, with this knowledge in our heads, we start to go forward with a comprehensive permaculture design for the whole landscape. One thing to remember is that a permaculture design isn’t all about landscaping: planting fruit trees, sheet mulching strawberries, and herb spirals. No, it is very much about our human place in this world, and that includes our businesses and our personal lives.
Our ongoing plans include using the Keyline approach to landscaping our farm and creating pocket ponds that water our animals and perennial crops, which will integrate together as a regenerative system. We will be investing in the future with many nut trees & shrubs and an orchard. One of our main focuses will be on developing the fertility of the soil; the organic matter and humus, thus the cation exchange capacity, and overall nutrient availability of our soils, using such tools as a subsoil plow, intensive mob – grazing, and mineral supplements for animals.
As we go forward in this climate, we acknowledge the importance of pastured meat. We live in the Northern Climates, where annual vegetables have a pretty hard time overall because of the climate. There are many grazing animals that can provide an amazing and nutritious food and protein source (as well as other functions), and to disregard this will be to out detriment in the near future. Meanwhile, there are many hardy nut trees and shrubs that can also form the backbone of a complete diet, on a perennial woody plant that never needs tillage or cultivation, in a 3-dimensional vertical space. With pastured animals and nut trees we can re-organize a diet based on regeneration.
We will be posting updates as we continue forward on this path of creating and implementing the next steps of our permaculture design. We are super stoked and looking forward to taking the next steps in our regenerative agriculture enterprises! Meanwhile we are also excited to visit Mark Shepard on his New Forest Farm on Friday to see real life examples of what we are aiming towards!