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High Desert forest garden

 
Ed Colmar
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Here is a link to my forest garden (in progress) in NM at 6000 feet. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

You can view all of the plants, and turn on/off layers at the following link:

Silver City Forest Garden on plant life

 
Ed Colmar
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When I moved here, the land was dead. Here is a "before" pic. This is actually the neighbor's yard, but same difference.



What did manage to grow was immediately eaten by roaming packs of deer.

The first year I lived here, I did not do anything really, just observed, and took note of the existing systems.

The first change I made was to enclose the property in 6 foot wire fence. After many blisters and 400 feet of wire fence, I was able to start thinking about plants and irrigation.

I dug a swale, which fills up nicely during the summer monsoons. Additional irrigation is fed from tap (city well), or rainwater catchment.

After that, it was design and implementation time. I split the property roughly in half, with the permaculture design nearest the house, and an annual bed away from the house. Ultimately, the annual area will become a forest garden as well, but I wanted to go one step at a time.











 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Beautiful! Impressive change.

 
laura sharpe
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nice work

have any animals?
 
Paul Gutches
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Ed Colmar wrote:When I moved here, the land was dead. Here is a "before" pic. This is actually the neighbor's yard, but same difference.


very nice!

I live up in Taos.

How long did it take to get to the current condition?

Those trees look reasonably mature.
 
Paul Gutches
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Location: Taos, New Mexico
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Also, I'm curious as to how close or far you are to your average rainfall for 2012.

We were well below ours.
 
Marcella Rose
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Location: Central Texas, it is dry here.
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Would you be so kind as to list the major resources that you have used to put this together? Your work is just beautiful, I am very, very impressed!
 
Andrew Parker
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Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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What is the secret to keeping deer out with only a 6 foot fence?
 
Mark Shepard
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These pics look BEAUTIFUL!.... Be sure to check out the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute... Jerome Osentowski has one of the most mature sites on the continent... 8000 ft!

http://www.crmpi.org/CRMPI/Home.html

 
Jonathan Simpkins
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Location: Illinois River Valley, Oregon
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Hello all,
Right now I am considering the possibility of relocating to high desert region myself, likely either northern New Mexico or Southwestern Colorado. I have put significant thought into this, ever since my first exposure to permaculture (which was the Greening the Desert video) and my PDC 4 years ago, which really activated my excitement about water catchment systems, land regeneration, food forests/forest gardens, and limitless possibilities. I am also attracted to high elevation climates because they keep you young and hardy health-wise, and amplify the effects of conditioning. On top of all that, land is quite cheap in many high desert areas of the SW United States, and seclusion makes it easy to work around or avoid zoning restrictions and building codes and such. I can buy a 40 acre parcel with cash outright, and slowly transition onto the land as I build infrastructure and shelter.

My long term plan is to buy around 40 acres with cash, spend a good amount of time with the land and designing, then work on large scale earthworks and infrastructure, followed by small personal residential house and long term plantings, and next adding a larger central building for workshops and training. I want to design the land as a sort of eco-village, dividing it into 10-12 plots of around 3 acres each, with 4-6 acres of common space. I may also drill a deep well that could provide for some of the water needs of the entire properties future residents.. After some basic infrastructure is in place, and maybe i'll even put tiny cabins on each plot for a starter shelter, I will slowly transition to living full time on the land on my own 3 acre plot with my family, and bring around ten other individuals/couples/families onto their own plots to live, for a small price (like around 5-10k) and flexible terms of payment. These are folks I have met and discussed this with over the years who share similar ideas about health and natural living as me, have extensive training in martial arts and/or other physical health disciplines, and have dreams of living at the very edge of peak human performance and interconnectivity with our living spaces. Then the plan would be to start utilizing the common area as a mecca for those wishing to perform as human beings at an elite level (specifically targeting martial artists)by holding workshops, in-residence training programs, courses, etc. All the start-up funds will be paid in cash so the community never assumes any debt. That way, the income (or at least part of it) can be directly utilized to expand the community. The deal with living as part of the community is each plot-owner must be informally approved as a good fit as a contributing member, and you can never sell your plot of land. You can leave or you can give it away to another person who must be approved, but you can never sell. I think this will aid in shifting the paradigm of thinking to one of abundance. Eventually, plots won't need to be purchased at all, and their occupiers shall be simply invited into the community. All improvements are the fiscal responsibility of the plot owner, although of course community members will take part in implementation (at each person's discretion). Does this sound crazy?

I only hope we can get enough water and grow an abundance of food. I trust that we can. In my opinion small groups (family size) of people tending small plots (no more than 3 acres) of land will result in the greatest yield of benefits for all, and allow for specialization within the community rather than the approach of "we're a community, so we do everything together and thats why we're sick of each other" approach i have experienced all too often. Living in close quarters and sharing all daily tasks and meals and such with those other than your most intimate relations may work for some people, for me however it does not. Learning to work synergistically and interdependently with your family is difficult enough!

I will be purchasing the land probably at the end of this year or beginning of next year, and will be relocating from beautiful southern Oregon to probably Albuquerque or thereabouts to start with. It will be crucial for the first few years that I have a metro area as a home base for financing and to continue training and learning. Any thoughts criticisms or suggestions are warmly appreciated.
 
Leila Rich
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Great stuff Ed!
OT, but worth mentioning I think..congratulations on getting 'before' pics: I've got a really bad habit of forgetting, and having no comparison photos
 
Devon Olsen
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awesome thread. please do share any more progress you have, and i like the design link for its layers feature
 
Paul Gutches
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Location: Taos, New Mexico
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Jonathan Simpkins wrote:Hello all,
Right now I am considering the possibility of relocating to high desert region myself, likely either northern New Mexico or Southwestern Colorado.

I am also attracted to high elevation climates because they keep you young and hardy health-wise, and amplify the effects of conditioning. On top of all that, land is quite cheap in many high desert areas of the SW United States, and seclusion makes it easy to work around or avoid zoning restrictions and building codes and such. I can buy a 40 acre parcel with cash outright, and slowly transition onto the land as I build infrastructure and shelter..


I live in north central nm. I can tell you a lot about the area and I even know someone who sells large parcels of off grid land on the cheap.

While the county encourages alternative building methods, they have been red tagging more, even in areas often considered green land, as the roads to these areas have been recently improved.

That said, there are still large swaths that are far enough out of the way that they are still under the radar.

Any specific areas you are considering?

Jonathan Simpkins wrote:
My long term plan is to buy around 40 acres with cash, spend a good amount of time with the land and designing, then work on large scale earthworks and infrastructure, followed by small personal residential house and long term plantings, and next adding a larger central building for workshops and training. I want to design the land as a sort of eco-village, dividing it into 10-12 plots of around 3 acres each, with 4-6 acres of common space. I may also drill a deep well that could provide for some of the water needs of the entire properties future residents..


That's cool. Of course, even before the earthworks, you'd probably need some sort of shelter and storage area on your land to get you out from under the high UV, wind, lightning storms, etc. when you need to. First thing I built on mine was a shed I could sit in and relax. Kept water, tools, and cement and such in there. It's really tough going without that.

If you are planning to drill in northern nm, and you want 40 acres on the cheap, I'd be looking at the sunshine valley area. The water table up there is much closer to the surface than in other areas.

Jonathan Simpkins wrote:
and you can never sell your plot of land. You can leave or you can give it away to another person who must be approved, but you can never sell. I think this will aid in shifting the paradigm of thinking to one of abundance. Eventually, plots won't need to be purchased at all, and their occupiers shall be simply invited into the community. All improvements are the fiscal responsibility of the plot owner, although of course community members will take part in implementation (at each person's discretion). Does this sound crazy?.


Not crazy, but perhaps you should approach the project more openly in steps and see what happens. We can be surprised by how our expectations and visions don't always match what can actually be done. And you may change a lot in the course of the project.

Jonathan Simpkins wrote:
I only hope we can get enough water and grow an abundance of food. I trust that we can. In my opinion small groups (family size) of people tending small plots (no more than 3 acres) of land will result in the greatest yield of benefits for all, and allow for specialization within the community rather than the approach of "we're a community, so we do everything together and thats why we're sick of each other" approach i have experienced all too often. Living in close quarters and sharing all daily tasks and meals and such with those other than your most intimate relations may work for some people, for me however it does not. Learning to work synergistically and interdependently with your family is difficult enough!


This sounds like a wise approach. It's good that you are asking yourself why intentional communities fail so often.
Here, in north central nm and sw colorado... your probably not going to get enough natural rainfall to grow a food forest anywhere but on mountain land.
My strategy is to divert runoff. A well is not an option for me.

Jonathan Simpkins wrote:
I will be purchasing the land probably at the end of this year or beginning of next year, and will be relocating from beautiful southern Oregon to probably Albuquerque or thereabouts to start with. It will be crucial for the first few years that I have a metro area as a home base for financing and to continue training and learning. Any thoughts criticisms or suggestions are warmly appreciated.


I trust you have already visited and spent a good amount of time in the areas where you are considering buying? If not, I would do that well before you find yourself in Albuquerque.
It is a world and a half to two worlds of difference from Southern Oregon. It's beautiful here, but challenging.

Best wishes

Paul
 
Jonathan Simpkins
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Location: Illinois River Valley, Oregon
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Wow thanks a lot. I appreciate your feedback. My plan is very loose at the moment, so I am open and flexible as to how it plays out. I haven't been to Albuquerque at all actually, I just know that between there, Santa Fe, and Taos it should be easy to connect with at least some people and also enjoy the benefits of a metro area. I love southern Oregon but I am about 6 hours away from any major metro area in any direction (Portland to the north and SF Bay to the south) and it is really difficult for me. I like to participate in courses and community functions of wide diversity and they are limited here. Some people are homesteading it but the community isn't unified. There are many people who are retired and/or wealthy, and there are many who are dead poor and unemployed. You can have a million dollar home next to a shanty meth property, another rampant problem in the area. I am becoming more serious about my martial arts, yoga, and fitness disciplines and there are very limited outlets for that here. Plus it is difficult to attract enough interested persons to teach consistently.

As far as specific areas, I'd like to be within at least 2 hours of a city like Albuquerque or even Santa Fe. I think that being [somewhat] near a metro area will be pretty essential to attracting people to the land and for a place to hustle and market our goods and services. what do you see as the specific disadvantages of living in Albuquerque or northern NM in general? What do you see as the best approach to water harvesting in an area with so little rainfall? With swales, terraces, roof collection, earthen dams (don't know if those would work there), small ponds and such, would that be enough? I'd love to hear any of your thoughts about water, that is my biggest concern really.

I admit one thing that attracted me there is the fact that Jackson's MMA is there, one of the best martial arts training centers on the continent.
 
Paul Gutches
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Jonathan Simpkins wrote:As far as specific areas, I'd like to be within at least 2 hours of a city like Albuquerque or even Santa Fe. I think that being [somewhat] near a metro area will be pretty essential to attracting people to the land and for a place to hustle and market our goods and services. what do you see as the specific disadvantages of living in Albuquerque or northern NM in general? What do you see as the best approach to water harvesting in an area with so little rainfall? With swales, terraces, roof collection, earthen dams (don't know if those would work there), small ponds and such, would that be enough? I'd love to hear any of your thoughts about water, that is my biggest concern really.

I admit one thing that attracted me there is the fact that Jackson's MMA is there, one of the best martial arts training centers on the continent.


There are a lot of interesting areas within a 2 hour range of ABQ. In addition to Santa Fe, and Taos, look at the west to southwest portion of the state. There are areas there that get relatively substantial rainfall, and are warmer. See this map:
New Mexico precipitation map

Taos is a good 2 hardiness zones colder than Santa Fe, and you go through both of those in a very short space. There's a 2000 ft elevation difference. Lots of people grow food down in Dixon and Velarde which is down off the mesa just south of Taos, but not very cheap. Would be hard to find 40 acres there. I've driven my motorcycle down there at night and the temp difference is quite noticeable. A heat pocket formed by the rock walls of the gorge and protection from wind. There are also nice farm areas in Penasco and Truchas and Trampas areas. Tooley's trees is a nice fruit tree nursery in Truchas, but he has some acequia irrigation rights.

Biggest disadvantages here are rainfall, drought, wind, and fires (in forested areas). If you are getting 40 acres, you would do well to ensure it comes with lots of different microclimates. Not just 1 big flat exposed area, and there are lots of parcels for sale like that here. The west/southwest area has land like that. Part up a slope, some trees, etc. If you don't drill a well, you'll want to take advantage of runoff.

Carson, NM is tucked around a bend from me just 8 miles away and is apparently a zone warmer than me. I am on the cusp. A bit more exposed. Carson has lots of south-facing slopes and rock out croppings, and not far from US 285 which would dump you into SF and ABQ

Then there's the east side of the rockies, which is a whole different world. more moisture. more tornadoes as well.

So, water solutions will depend on location and terrain. Rainfall, runoff, streams, acequias, springs, and wells are all potential options depending on where you buy.

Hope this helps
 
Andrew Parker
pollinator
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Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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Jonathan,

You might want to visit Safe Haven villages near Ephraim, Utah in the Sanpete Valley. They located near a small state college, which brings several advantages, and they are within 2 hours of Salt Lake City.

You would significantly increase your potential sites if you widened your circle to 3+ hours and considered smaller cities, like Farmington, Durango, Cortez, Moab, Grand Junction, etc.

Rural land in the arid West is often priced based on availability of water. Really inexpensive land may not have access to water, even well water. Also, a lot of rural counties are very restrictive about codes so do your homework before getting too far along in the process.

Good luck.
 
Paul Gutches
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Location: Taos, New Mexico
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also, very important Jonathan...

the state of Colorado prohibits rain catchment and storage.

Yes, as hard as it is to believe. At least, I haven't heard of that policy changing.

So, you can't legally catch the rain off a roof or any other surface and put it in a tank. You need to let it go directly to ground.

The law is because Colorado owes Texas a certain amount of flow from the Rio Grande.

New Mexico does not have such a restriction
 
Andrew Parker
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As of 2009, it is possible to harvest rainwater in Colorado if you meet certain requirements. You can read an explanation of Colorado's rainwater collection law here. Utah also allows limited collection of rainwater. Read about it here.

Some counties require you to have a working well before they will grant a habitation permit. Years ago, a homestead in western Iron County, here in Utah, was ordered to be bulldozed because the owner did not have a well, but instead had water delivered to a large cistern (as is permitted, I think, in all or part of New Mexico and Arizona).

I have wondered how water regulations would affect development of dry or closed watersheds for runoff irrigation.
 
Brett Andrzejewski
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Impressive transformation Ed! Seeing the before and after pictures inspires me to continue working on my skills and continue working on my 'greening of the desert' project in Albuquerque.
 
lyla moore
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Hi Johnathan, My group will be meeting near Taos, NM. next month. We are planning on looking at land 2+ hours west of Abuquerque, near a town called Ramah. Would be glad to let you know what we find. Hope to post pics. After much searching thru www.landwatch.com and several other websites we feel that northern New Mexico might be just what we are looking for. We are forming a sustainable, permaculture, off grid, farm. If interested you can email me at lylamoore56@yahoo.com or Frank Escalante at gonacopo1946@hotmail.com. We would love to have like-minded neighbors. Good Luck Lyla
 
Robbie Asay
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cat dog forest garden greening the desert solar tiny house
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I was wondering if there were any updates to this thread.  I'd love to see the pics if they still exist on your hard drive.  Paul if you are still in the area I'd like to learn more from you as well.  Right now I'm looking at property just north of the land scam area but I'll consider anything at this point as long as I can eventually get hooked up to the fiber optic.
 
Paul Gutches
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Location: Taos, New Mexico
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Hi Robbie

Check with Kit Carson Coop and Taos Net for their broadband coverage and plans.

I'm currently using line of site with Taos Net and it's doing the job.  I don't think I have their max bandwidth option.

Do you have a budget and a min acreage target in mind?


Robbie Asay wrote:I was wondering if there were any updates to this thread.  I'd love to see the pics if they still exist on your hard drive.  Paul if you are still in the area I'd like to learn more from you as well.  Right now I'm looking at property just north of the land scam area but I'll consider anything at this point as long as I can eventually get hooked up to the fiber optic.
 
Robbie Asay
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cat dog forest garden greening the desert solar tiny house
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Paul Gutches wrote:Do you have a budget and a min acreage target in mind?


Hi Paul!  If you don't mind I answered you here(I forgot about my thread!):

http://www.permies.com/t/54845/real-estate/seasons-land-permies
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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