I'm helping out at a CSA with a flooding problem, and several of us are trying to come up with solutions to get as much productivity out of the land as we can. We've been throwing around some ideas, but are looking for some outside thoughts as well. Your ideas would be appreciated.
I'm attaching a picture to this post below, and I'll be describing the elements of the site based on that photo.
The flooded area is surrounded by higher land to the north, east, and west.
To the south the land is a bit lower, and there is a small pond (in red) and a marshy wetlands (in blue) in that direction.
It receives rainfall from the higher surrounding areas, but also some runoff from the nearby road via a pipe. Although there are dryer periods when this is not an issue, flooding is something that happens on and off when rainfall is significant. The water moves from this area toward the pond slowly.
The area the CSA has to work with is limited and this area is important for getting around the property, so letting it be entirely marshy or turning it into a pond is not an option.
Ideally we'd like to come up with something that allows for people and tractors to move through the area while taking advantage of the water to increase productivity. Our budget is fairly limited, but we have access to manpower, earth, rocks, basic materials and hand tools, etc.
The path the tractors use to come through is in yellow. This spot often gets muddy and makes moving the tractor through a challenge. A way needs to be found to firm this area up.
Inside the area highlighted in green, we've got pallets laid down so people can walk over some wet terrain. To the left of the pallets is a prospective strawberry patch.
Between the yellow and green areas the land is slightly higher and slightly less flood prone, but flooding is still and issue here.
1) Place some sort of culvert under the tractor path and raise it up with earth and the many rocks we've got dug up around the property.
2) In the area to the left of the tractor path, to plant hugelkultur beds and/or swales and berms with pipes through them and or gaps w/spillways to allow the water to flow downward toward the pond. The berms and/or hugelkutur beds would have to be significantly elevated to ensure that they don't become too waterlogged for crops. However, our concern is that the beds and/or swales, particularly if they're placed on contour or nearly on contour, would end up blocking the flow of water toward the pond and making things more swampy.
My thought is that swales wound not be good way to move things along because they amount to digging a deeper ditch in an already too low area. However, one idea was to expect that this would be swamps and and plan to span the swale/swampy areas with pallettes or something else to allow access to the HK beds.
What thoughts do you guys have for working with this piece of land?
I had to dig "soak aways' around my entire gardens because of this very thing. I read about these first in John Seymour's The Self-Sufficient Gardener, they mimic french drains but use ditches backfilled with rocks to create a low pressure drain space instead of buying gravel and drain piping. Dig them entirely around the N,E,W corners and then funnel them towards your pond or a hugel bed (the way I did it because my land drains into a road and I wanted to try and "save" the water for Aug drought. This worked beautifully and haven't had a problem since. Prior I was accused of building rice patties by my family, or raised beds with moats to protect them