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PCD project in SF Bay Area

Posts: 100
Location: Napa CA
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Hi Folks- I am working on my PCD project in Toby Hemenway's class in Petaluma, and was looking for some advice. The land dedicated to the project is about 5 acres. A few women including one in our class bought the property in cooperation with a neighborhood alliance who had previously fought a developer from purchasing the land. There is a large fairly steep hillside that slopes down into a creek. The creek contains a spring that supposedly puts out two and half gallons per minute, and they supposedly own the water rights to that. The women mostly want to concentrate on food crops such as fruit and nut tress and they have a lot of connection with local non profits and county officials to put in a farmers market in conjunction with the produce from this property. So most of my questions at this point are in regard to the trees, the water for them and how to deal with the hillside

. We believe we need to get some measurements in terms of the grade or slope of the hillside. We have a topo map, so I am not clear if a formula could be gotten from that or some additional on site measurements to get the grade need to take place. Or whether eyeballing an estimate is sufficient. We have been taught about key line in class, though my understanding remains limited. I really would like to see some photographs of the process, but have no found that so far. I did see the link here which had the terracing with lumber fences, and that looked very cool but I would assume terracing like that takes a lot of time and resources. We are also aware to some degree of swales. I was curious if a series of downhill facing keyhole configurations with corresponding swales adjacent to downhill facing side of the keyhole's perimeter makes any sense

In regard to the spring, if you enclosed it couldn't you use the pressure of the spring to force the water up the hill?. Like in a big pipe or something?

I have few picky questions that I do not necessarily answer, but want to at least throw them out. One is whether we can use any specific formula's to get a feel for our water needs for the fruit tress. Toby gave a ballpark ten gallons of water per fruit tree when they are getting established. Perhaps someone can estimate a requirement as they become established.Average rainfall is about 25 inches. I assume up to four months little additional water would be necessary but obviously some monitoring of rainfall and the need to have a backup water distribution system would be necessary for these months as well. In trying to establish a formula for all of this, the ability of the ground to hold moisture is going to be an obvious important component. There are signs of hard-pack with some areas with large cracking. Sheet mulching will commence early on, and that the soils ability to hold moisture will improve. So my question is, is there a way to quantify any of this? It may sound reductionistic to some, but it also seems that such quantitative analysis may eventually lead to an individual having a more intuitive capability to surmise the site Perhaps all of this information would only deal with a few important facts. How often to water outside of the times the rainfall would be sufficient. And how much to water as soil conditions improve


Posts: 1233
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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I'm not a farmer or permaculturist but I have worked with many types of building plans on many different types of construction sites. Projects or plans involving many details, inputs, resources and people have certain things in common. Repeated experience has shown that failure to actually check at the site the values, claims, assumptions that _your_ work depends on is playing russian roulette. Many subcontractors have gone bankrupt because they took the blueprint for gospel. Additionally it's necessary to verify to your satisfaction any promised or expected resources which your work depends on, including material, labor, access, prerequisite work completed - again there always seem to be sink holes into which these things disappear. It sounds from your wording that you may have your basic caution already in place and that's good. <g>

Re. topos: Most topo maps were made based on data from 5 to 50 years old and the scale is often not helpful for "small" planning. That by itself would seem to flag the site for as full and accurate a survey as you can arrange. Did the developer that was interested in purchase have any surveys done, either for himself or by local requirement? If so possible they could be available publicly or the developer might be willing to sell them or authorize their release from the surveyor he used (assuming it was not too long ago and those records were kept). If there was a court fight perhaps engineers reports are on public record. Possibly the people previously in control of the land have records or know of information that might be available on the property. Eg. county violations, contracted work (w/or w/out permit), neighbor relations or court cases, any federal or Coast Commision interest etc.

Sounds like lots of fun in a beautiful area. <g>



Posts: 244
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I need to shut up when i know nothing but here goes.

I think perhaps the biggest problem is erosion. watch some of those vids on the property in the Alps, they have quite a grade there and deal with it in the most beautiful way. ...sepp vids yes that is his name.
Posts: 3107
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
forest garden solar
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You will have to plant the trees in fall. that way the roots have a longer growing season to tap the underground water in the summer.
Yes root slowly grow in the winter until the soil freezes.

Does the property have lot of runoff in the wet season if it doesnot I would not worry too much about earthworks.
Will you have access to earthwork machine.

Using daikon radishes with 3ft roots will improve infiltration.
I would plant about 15lbs of seed. and harvest and sell 1/2 of them.
You will also need a good biomass plant like rye and wheat, for winter and corn for summer
Seeing as though you have low rainfall you dont have to worry about nutrient accumulator too much
You can try some strawberry plants too. You will get a harvest the 1st year
String beans also seem like a good nitro-fixer.
Most things in the mint and onion family is good.
Here is a source of low rainfall cultivars of vegetables http://shop.nativeseeds.org/
Then there is almond, apricot, figs, jelly palm, hazelnut, pomegranate, jujube, passionfruit.
Here is a list of other fruit/nut trees http://www.onegreenworld.com//index.php?cPath=1

I would put 8-5 terrace per hundred feet.
Tell me which other fruit/nut trees you want to plant.

Posts: 156
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If you want a better understaning of Keyline, these videos are good (kind of hard to see when he is working in the shadows, but overall really excellent).
You should be able to use some of the info, especially if you have a spring!
I think this info is most of the key points from Water fro Every Farm.
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