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Looking for accountability partner and/or mentor for the creation of a permaculture orchard

 
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My husband and I just bought a mostly wooded property (hobby farm) and are very excited to start our dream of being more self-sufficient by building an organic permaculture fruit orchard.  We appreciate all methods and especially Stefan Sobkowiak's method, but tweaked to fit our vision and property. We are looking for an accountability partner we can share ideas and concepts with and/or an experienced mentor who can guide us through the process of designing, building and maintaining an orchard and provide us with some wise lessons learned.

I am currently following the free online university lessons by Dr. Will Hooker and reading the book "Building your Permaculture Property to Design and Develop Land" by Rob Avis, Michelle Avis and Takota Coen.  We have successfully grown 2000 sq foot of vegetable gardens in summer 2020. This year we start our new life on this amazing property.

Hoping to start the work in July/Aug. We just want to do this right, the first time.

 
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When you say "permaculture orchad" do you acutually mean a food forest?
I highly recommend "Edible Forest Gardens" by Dave Jacke and  Eric Toensmeier.
It is heavy stuff, but i pays off in the long run.

Also there is a chapter that helps you identifying your goals,
which is what i would start with in your situation.

Only if you clearly write down what you want (and WHY you want it), you
can get adequate help to get there.

When looking for people to help you it is useful to mention where exactly you are located.
 
Stephanie Cheney
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Yes! A food forest is what im looking to grow. Thank you very much for the suggestion. I added the 2 volumes to my amazing cart for my next book purchases. The book I'm currently reading does discuss "clarifying your vision, values and resources" on paper and I am currently working on that as we speak. So the "why" I want to do this is definitely included in this exercise.  Our new property (as of July 20th) will be in zone 5b (Ontario). I feel bad to have a need to clear a good amount of cedar trees to make room for the food forest/orchard but we can build and expand the fencing on the property with that wood.
 
R. Han
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Stephanie Cheney wrote:I feel bad to have a need to clear a good amount of cedar trees to make room for the food forest/orchard but we can build and expand the fencing on the property with that wood.



I strongly suggest you not to cut any trees, before you have your final plan.

Furthermore, wahtever you do, do not make a clear cut where you want your food forest.
Because,
1) The existing trees feed the soil food web and create a forest soil condition (fungi dominate)
2) Many of your fruit tree seedlings prefer some shade when they are young

It is better to remove existing unwanted trees as the new seedlings grow and take up more space.
 
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Location: Cévennes, South of France, an hour and a half north of Montpellier, zone 9a
forest garden trees earthworks
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Hallo Stephanie,
congratulations with your new land and project!
I started an orchard. 3 years ago we planted the first few trees and this winter we added a whole bunch. Just now I have cut some of them back for the first time. Not because they are too big but because I am learning that the growth of the tree will be supported if shaped in a certain way.
I was and mostly am totally ignorant of tree and garden lore. I have learnt some in the past years and I have a lot more to learn!
We are not in the same climate zone. I am in zone 9a, mediterranean climate and trees that can deal with drought are important to me.
But we can still share some information.
The garden and the trees are a wonderful adventure with lots of new challenges and discoveries.

The book of MArtin Crawford on forest gardens is very good too. I also have a lovely book just on how to take care of Fruit trees, it's called The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips. He has many video's on YouTube too.
I wonder if your soil got a bit acid because cedars have been growing in it?  How will you get the stumps out after cutting them?
I also have a piece of land that has a lot of green oaks that I want to cut to do some thing else there. A neighbour said that he could take out the stumps with his
mini-excavator. I was happy to hear that!
I am looking for a book on how to grow nut trees without pesticides etc.

My goals for the trees are to start a forest garden, to have harvest of fruit and nuts to feed the people here. I am on a beginning eco-community for yogic lifestyle. We have a retreat centre too and volunteers, which is a great help.Another goal is to learn about trees and gardening and to regenerate the soil.
In hte books it always says that you have to deal with the water first. I found that it is god to observe and for me reading, talking to others and observing on the land go hand in hand. At first I did not know what to look for when observing. I didn't dare to take a bug off a plant because I did not like the way it looked. I lived in the city most of my life. But in the 2nd year I took the bugs off without problem. LOvely learning curve!

I am very excited about creating a water plan. I have some swales that work well, a little channel across a path that channels rain into a field when there is a strong rain. I have rain barrels too. But I feel my water plan needs more additions. I want 3 more channels across the path. The first one I just dug through the sand and there is another one that can be done like that but it has to be longer and wider. And I wonder how it can stay like that as cars are passing. We will need to put big stone tubes cut in half in to maintain that channel.
I am going to get the gray water system going. We have mostly dry toilets and are happy with them.

Well I just described some features of the projets that I am working with. I am happy to exchange with you. I am not sure if I would be the ideal accountability partner as I am in a different climate. Also sometimes I am quite available and then I am much less present for some weeks, when I am teaching or doing something else. OR not doing anything. But it is fun to exchange!
All the best,
Sat Atma


 
Stephanie Cheney
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R.Han : Sorry for the late response. No of course I would not clear cut the entire area for the orchard/food forest. I agree with you that some trees need to stay. But I still feel bad for cutting some just to plant others.  Cedars grow so close together and we have very little areas to create this closer to the house. I would say the orchard would be in zone 2/3 from the house.  We also have low/wet boggy areas near the future food forest that we will need to manage. My biggest worry is the soil being too acidic due to the cedars that are growing there. I don't want to kill the trees I plant. I'm looking for inexpensive organic soil amendments to help the new trees.  Would you happen to have any suggestions? Thank you very much for your comments and suggestions!
 
Stephanie Cheney
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Hi Sat Atma,  

Must be so nice to be in the Mediterranean! You get to grow things we can only dream of growing here in 5B Ontario Canada (olives!!)

Thank you for the book suggestions. I'll add them to my Amazon cart for future purchases. I too am concerned about the acidity of the soil die to the cedars. We have no other place to put the orchard/food forest so I'm looking at ways to make it work.  I have more reading and research to do. We plan on renting an excavator for a weekend to remove the stumps and do swales and other work we need. Glad you're able to get someone to come in to do that for you.

How is it like in a community like yours? Do you rent a place? Or you own a piece of the land? What happens if not everyone is on the same page with how things are done? Who sets the rules?

Your water plans seem ambitious. I hope you find the right solution your needs. Unfortunately I'm not experienced or have enough knowledge to offer suggestions on this subject.

Here's to a great future food forest!

Steph
 
R. Han
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Stephanie Cheney wrote:We plan on renting an excavator for a weekend to remove the stumps and do swales and other work we need.



An excavator can do a lot during one weekend...but also a lot of damage.
Take your time, do your research, and live on the land for some while before doing major earthworks.

I know it is tempting to just get some fruit trees in there, but earthworks come first, and those
need careful preparing and a lot of understanding.

Also consider doing a local PDC, this way you might also find a local designer who can help/sped up the process for you.
 
Stephanie Cheney
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I just want to start something once we move considering how many years it takes for trees to start producing.  However we're prepared to start small and grow through the years. The part nearest the house, garden and barn are cleared so I can start some plantings there. What is a PDC? We'll have lots to do with the maple trees to tap, the chickens and ducks, etc so the orchard will not be our only project to tackle.
 
R. Han
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Stephanie Cheney wrote:I just want to start something once we move considering how many years it takes for trees to start producing.



Yeah i know this part is tempting, but sometimes its better to not plant, than to plant and than having
to pull it out because earth moving has to happen there.

Earthworks are long term investements, that will be in the landscape for hundrets of years,
so i strongly recommend not planting the trees yet, but to first do the earthworks.

PDC= Permaculture design course
 
master pollinator
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Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
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Take a look at Dr. Redhawk's Epic Spil Series. Take care if the soil, and it will feed your plants well.
 
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How goes the orchard?
My husband and I are also learning lots from Stefan’s videos and looking for land to start a food forest and orchard currently. Excited to hear more about how it goes for you. One interesting story we discovered this week was about Tom Brown, an apple hunter in North Carolina who finds lost apple varieties to propagate.
I’m originally from Ontario too, probably lots of lost apple varieties to preserve in that region.
 
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