This first phase covers the period from spring 2012 until we get title to the property, hopefully in 2013. It works within the limitations imposed by our lease from the Municipality. There is much we can do.
Some points in the plan got started during the PDC course and the implementation week following:
- hardy kiwi (a vine) was planted in a new lasagna bed along the backstop;
- swales were surveyed and digging begun on the south-facing slope;
- an herb spiral garden was started outside the kitchen door;
- fruit trees, bushes and supporting plants were planted at the edge of the woods behind the school;
- a mandala garden was started behind the kitchen.
Orange letters on diagram refer to items explained further down the page.
A. Wind break
The most damaging, coldest winds come from the northern sectors, and the property is unprotected there. A windbreak will create better growing conditions.
Along the road, plants will be kept fairly short to allow visibility. Along the border with the neighbour, we can grow tall trees. The corner is where a thick windbreak is most needed.
We will also need a source of coppicing wood for the future kachelofen, which uses small-diameter wood for fuel. Red maple would suit that purpose.
Ultimately we would like nut pines, which provide pine nuts, and sea buckthorn, a nitrogen-fixing, salt-tolerant species with a berry that is very rich in Vitamin C and other nutrients, in the windbreak. However, it will take us a while to grow these plants in sufficient quantity and size, so we will have to substitute readily-available local evergreens as protector plants while the desired species get established.
Species: Spruce, hemlock, pine, balsam fir, etc. temporarily, shrub willow along the ditch, red maple, butternut, hazelnut. Nut pines (purchase) and sea buckthorn (seeds on order).
- Obtain young trees from our own properties: spruce, hemlock, pine, balsam fir, red maple.
- Start with evergreens in north corner. Plant, sheetmulch and add companion species around.
- Pay attention to requirement for juglone-tolerant species around butternut.
- Purchase and plant nut pines a bit in front of local evergreens.
- Grow sea buckthorn from seed (need several people to share this task. Seeds on order.)
- Leave spaces for sea buckthorn.
- Plant windbreak/large trees to near corner with David Young’s property/path.
B. Fruit forest
Fruit tree guilds (pear and plum) have been started behind the school, including the old apple trees. Cover crop has been seeded. There is more planting to be done. Horseradish is coming for the guilds.
These fruit trees occupy a natural space at the edge of a forest, which in the wild would transition to a clearing through progressively smaller trees.
C. Cold frames transitioning to greenhouse
This is a sunny, sheltered location ideal for a greenhouse, which we have put in Phase 2. Meanwhile, we can take advantage of the microclimate using coldframes.
- Build coldframes next to the wall to provide some passive solar heating but with insulation between (because of the old chipping paint).
- Move composting toilet from this area to near the power pole. (Need: People, rollers, truck, rope.)
Beautify by building large planters next to the building for shrubs, veggies and flowers. Not vines at this time due to the old, flaky paint.
We may start this with pallets containing bags of soil, leaning up against the wall, adding transplants.
Make planters self-watering.
E. Chainlink fence
Planters, perhaps made of pallets, built along the fence would give plants something to climb. In winter it can become a coldframe by surrounding the planters with straw bales or bags of leaves held in place with a pallet structure, and covering with windows and/or plastic sheeting. Plant with vegetables for winter/early spring.
F. Compost and material dump station
An accessible and convenient place for material brought in by car or truck near the tool shed. A row of trees and bushes will help hide this area from the road and provide additional windbreak for the area behind the school.
Manure from Patty’s can be conveniently placed just to the left of her path.
This sunny spot which will eventually be even more sheltered is a good location for growing vegetables to be used in the kitchen, complementing the herb spiral. It needs to be completed:
- Level the central circular path (done)
- Dig keyhole paths so that they slope down away from main paths with low point at the end of keyhole. (done)
- Those keyhole paths with cardboard on them already have been finished. So put cardboard down on keyhole paths as they are properly dug. (done)
- Add more layers of cardboard, compost, leaves and manure to the beds (done for now but more layers can be added over time as we have materials, with attention to the annual vegetables planted there)
- Fill paths and keyholes with woodchips to the level of the beds and inoculate with mushrooms.
Surround humanure bin with woodchips 2 ft wide, 6-8 in. thick. Inoculate with winecap straphoria or king straphoria which are effective at removing fecal coliform.
H1. Depending on what happens with the old septic system, we could do mycoremediation there too. Swale below the septic, add woodchips and inoculate.
J. Incubator farm
The front lawn slope is the best place to grow vegetables. There is lots of sun there all year round, and lots of soil as you move further away from the swing set.
Build the garden area on swales. Complete the existing swale first (which has been seeded with a buckwheat mixture) and start the next ones. Bowls become the pathways. Bowls and berms are 1 m wide – wide enough to handle a wheelbarrow.
We could offer people a place to get started on a market garden until they get their own land ready. They could have the first year free if they dig the swales. By starting the next ones, it will show them where to dig.
K. Big mandala garden
- Ultimately this can be our collective community garden.
- It could be an incubator garden in the meantime if someone is interested (rent a petal).
- Paths are 18″ deep for collecting water. Fill with woodchips and inoculate with mushrooms.
- Beds can be sheetmulched to start building soil.
- Build far enough from the backstop that it isn’t shaded by the kiwis.
L. Nursery area
The gravel pad provides a good working surface plus sun and shade for setting up a nursery area to propagate plants for the project and to sell. Note: Permaculture plants are hard to find; local nurseries tend to be focused on ornamentals.
M. Living willow fence
- Start this along the drainage ditch below Patty’s path.
- Idea – make pools in drainage ditch for animals.
Other items on the To Do list:
- Continue building the Hugelkultur bed (read more about hugelkultur here)
- Start a vermiculture bathtub outside the kitchen door. Collect juice to spread on plants. (Patty may have a bathtub.)
- Build a drain adapter for the gym gutters to collect some rainwater
- Plant acid-loving guild around evergreens as swales are built there.
- Plant cultivated strawberries in low rectangular gravel bed near pond. (Heather has)
- Sheetmulch and covercrop field as necessary to achieve our half-acre under cultivation
- Picnic tables
- Labyrinth with medicinal herbs in big gravel bed (after relocating gravel)
- Animal tractors: we can’t keep livestock on the site this year, but chickens, for example, could live on Patty’s property and come for visits.
- Make triangular beds in the points of the star-shaped sandbox, leaving the middle one for playing. They could grow polebeans or cukes on tripods, or be coldframes in the winter with some clever carpentry. They need soil and structure.
- Clean out dogwood bed and make pretty
- Finish herb spiral – continue putting kitchen compost, leaves and manure in it – especially in the middle ring. Surround with woodchips. Plant some herbs in it, paying attention to their requirements for sun/shade and wet/dry.
- Pay attention to traditional medicinal plants on the property as we work. Many are good companion plants to fruit trees, anyway. Protect the diversity of plants on the site.
Encourage blackberries behind toolshed (with manure?)
- Make a sign by the road.
- Have a whiteboard at the entrance for what’s going on, etc.
- A monumental wood sculpture at the corner of the community park (swings) nearest the corner of the building to greet people when they come in and make a statement about the project.