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When buying land.... Should I make permaculure suit the site or pick a site to support permaculture

 
Cynthia Hobbs
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Hi I'm new (to this site and permaculture, will have to make an introduction soon!)

My hubby and I are looking at buying a block to live our dream... build an eco house and be as self sustainable as possible. We've been looking at blocks and we've found one that seems to tick all our boxes (lots of lovely native vegetation, not too far from town but feels like rural, as large as we can afford) HOWEVER the site is a steep slope, facing south! (We are in Australia so south is usually considered a bit of a no no) This is probably the only reason that we can afford it. Architecturally no problems my husband is a building designer But we have been wanting to produce a lot of our own food, especially fruits and veggies, implementing permaculture principles to nurture the site and our family. I am worried that the site will not have enough sun and we won't be able to grow anything. I've had daydreams of a little food forest surrounding our home. We like the gum trees and don't really want to get rid of heaps, but I'm sure we will need to clear some and hopefully utilise the resulting timber, but I have reservations about clearing a lot. If we do buy the land I am thinking of either employing a permaculture consultant to help us or doing a course myself! But should we even think about buying it or just keep looking? What do you lovely people think?

Thanks for your help
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9413
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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From my own point of view in a hot climate, a slope which faces away from the sun can allow plants to grow which prefer cooler, moister conditions, which in my climate is just about everything! But if you're in an area with cold winters you want a site that faces the sun, in my opinion.

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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YOur shady facing hillside would probably be good if you are in a late frost area, as a shade facing hill will generally prevent things from frosting as likely..cause things Most fruit and nut tree info says to plant on a shade facing hill to prevent frost damage..but if it is too steep you might want a swale below it to catch water and to give you a place to place a ladder for harvesting.
 
Ken Peavey
steward
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Location: FL
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Every site will support life. Life WANTS to rise up. Permaculture principles work everywhere, however, not every principle will work at every site. Wherever you land, there will be methods which are effective. Selecting a site with strong advantages gives you a head start. Facing the sun would be at the top of the list, hard to do much in constant shade, but it's not impossible, it just takes more effort.
 
Cynthia Hobbs
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Thanks for the replies
We are looking at buying nearish to Melbourne so the area would be cooler. Oops I forgot to mention that before!
Hmm it's a tough decision! I think we'll have to move much further out to afford sunnier more desirable block, which I'm not sure we want to do. Part of the appeal of this block is that it would be a bit of a challenge architecturally but we could make that work for us where a lot of people couldn't. Problem is the same architectural problems we could overcome also apply to the garden, and us not being green thumbs (yet) I don't know if we could overcome that. I would like to grow a lot of fruit trees because we eat a lot of fruit! And some veggies. We would like to incorporate the design of the garden into the design of the house, so that why we are thinking of this at this early stage. Why does land have to be so expensive?! it's so stressful!
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Many (most?) permies settle for 'less than perfect' sites. Usually, that is all we can afford.

Besides, there would be no challenge if we started with the perfect "Garden of Eden"

One of the beauties of permaculture is that you can make any site better.

 
Jeff Wesolowski
Posts: 38
Location: nw ohio
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Look at your site and see that it is telling you. Compare it to land sloped in different directions and see the different type of plants living there as compared to others. Sloped land poses other challenges, paths or roads are much more expensive to build, deeper wells when building on the higher elevations. The daily task of going up and down your site and dealing with how weather affects your abiltiy to get around on your site. I'm a flatlander and have no experience of what it is like to live a hill. Hope someone else how lives on one can tell you the pro's and con's that they have faced over the years.
 
Nicole Castle
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
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I would also look at what is growing there now. Some of it may be edible or useful in some other way, but if you see a lot of vegetation there then you know that the site supports life very well.
 
Rose Pinder
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Location: Otago, New Zealand
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I agree, looking at what grows in the areas in similar aspect is important, esp food plants! You could also ask at the Australian PRI forum for advice specific to the Melbourne area.

The downsides (ha ha) of a steep slope are that it is harder on your body. What happens as you age? Or have young kids? What will it be like harvesting? Do you have enough resources to landscape the slope so that it is easy to navigate? How easy/hard will it be to put in swales or other water harvesting strategies? How steep is steep? All those things are solvable with good design, but it may mean that you compromise in other areas.

What is your experience of permaculture so far? Can you do a PDC now, before you buy land? Can you get a Pc consultant to look at the land you want to buy and offer their opinion?

With the gum trees, is it an area that has restrictions on what trees you can remove? Again the PRI forum has locals who could advise about that.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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