Hi everyone, I'm new here, so I apologize if this thread is in the wrong place.
I live in Switzerland, and I would like to invest into a long-term permaculture project, learning and inching towards self-sufficiency over years and decades...
Now I am at a fork in the road: my father's family side owns a couple of hectares of beautiful, unused grassland (it gets cut once a year for some horses) in the mountains. They live about 3 hours from where we do and we won't be able to relocate for a long time. What we CAN do is spend there 2-3 days every 2 weeks and work on the place during that time.
I'm new at all this, I have been reading and learning about techniques etcetera but I don't have a good feeling of the amount of labor needed and how it is distributed. Can one do meaningful work with chunks of 2-3 days at a time, a couple of times a month? In particular: if you have a very long-term optic of preparing/improving the place over the course of 20 years and maybe move there once the right moment comes... what would you do?
The alternative is to look for land around where we live and work, but that choice depends on my question above...
Welcome to permies!
Yes, you can do a project that way!
I'd plant trees and shrubs. They don't need a lot of work, but they do want a good amount of growing time. Great way to start!
Look up "swales" here, and see how to make them, and decide if you need them, if so, putting them in before trees might be good.
It will also get you out there, looking closely at it, and you'll have time to think about what your next project needs to be.
That's an exciting opportunity. Considering the long scope you're looking at I'd say its totally feasible to do some productive work. Given the time frame you have I would personally start with observational "camping" trips out there. Walk around, explore, sleep in different parts of the property, try to catch different weather systems, etc...
From those trips (could spend a whole year doing that to really see what a cycle looks like and you could add in road/path construction and maintenance, basic brush clearing, etc..) I would make a plan for the whole property and then move on to earthworks. Could be sealed, hugelkultur mounds, terraces, stone walls, ponds, etc... Lots of those projects could be accomplished or advanced with a concerted 2 or 3 day effort. If you had extensive earth shaping goals and did it all by hand that could occupy another couple of years.
Then I would move on to trees and perennial shrubs and such. Any structure creation you wanted to do too. With a timeline of a decade or two and a dozen or two work sessions a year, you could definitely build a paradise to move to.
Good luck and please keep us updated if you do embark on the journey
I too think this is a great oportunity if you are equipped with the necessary pacience to see your project grow!
Since your land is in the mountains, you may want to check out Sepp Holzer. He works in a similar climatic setting in the austrian alps.
Importan: Watch out for regulations (I am Swiss too ...): In which territorial planning zone is your land, and what are the local/cantonal restrictions for the location? If it is steep, you can get govt subsidies under certain circumstances (you have to be a certified farmer). There are bureaucratic hurdles to cut down trees, specially if you have a real forest on parts of your land. If constructing swales, remember you may need a construction permit (different for each municipality). If you are in the agricultural zone, you cannot build anything to live in.
You can find out a lot about the regulatory framework and general information on https://map.geo.admin.ch/ (that is, forest zones, geology, soil classifications, natural hazards etc)
Then there are the cantonal geoportals. I used to work with this kind of information, feel free to message me where your plot is and I can do some research.
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