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Aquarius Farms: commercial Hugelkultur/Polyculture

 
Thomas West
Posts: 39
Location: Pablo, MT
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Hello fellow Permies! We would like to introduce ourselves as a brand new commercial vegetable farm based on Permaculture/Polyculture principles located just up the road from Mr. Wheaton in Ronan, MT.

Please check us out at www.facebook.com/aquariusfarms

We are a brand new operation as of the spring of 2013 and are keenly interested in what the community has to say about our little sustainable agriculture experiment.

We welcome any and all feedback/communication and look forward to broader engagement with the Permaculture movement as we ramp up our operation.

Thanks and please don't hesitate to contact us! Also if you happen to be in our area please reach out to us - we love to give tours.
 
Hanley Kale-Grinder
Posts: 112
Location: Mountain West of USA, Salt Lake City
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lookin, good! what is your expected market? are you going to put it into perennials, annuals or a mix?
 
Thomas West
Posts: 39
Location: Pablo, MT
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This year is annuals although we are replanting a huge crop of feral raspberry canes and currant bushes that spread from an old berry patch on our farm that was removed a few years ago. Luckily our ditch was absolutely packed with them.

Plan next year is the same size enclosure just to the north of the existing one dedicated to a mix of perinneal and annual fruit crops. Things like kiwiberries, strawberries, grapes, currants, raspberries and relatives, etc.

Stage 3 assuming we are still in business is to start parking out the rest of the property in perennial food bearing plants such as nuts, fruit trees, vines, etc and then running free range animals such as pigs, goats, sheep, etc - they will keep the fruit from rotting on the ground and taste all that much better for it. I am seriously investigating importing some pound pears from europe as they are supposed to make fantastic animal feed. That and its just fun to show someone a 3 pound pear.

We are going for an hybrid model of intensive cultivation of annuals combined with a larger space dedicated to longer term permaculture features. Basically the heavy emphasis on annuals this year is due to the fact that we need to become profitable on a time scale that is not supported by the use of perennial crops right away.

This is soo much fun! Also incredibly scary! Please keep the feedback coming and thank you for checking us out!


Hanley Kale-Grinder wrote:lookin, good! what is your expected market? are you going to put it into perennials, annuals or a mix?
 
Thomas West
Posts: 39
Location: Pablo, MT
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We are planning on moving most of our product through a local growers cooperative serving Northwest Montana in addition to running our own local farmers market and participating in several others that are nearby. We are trying to keep as short a supply chain as possible while staying profitable as a step in the right direction from a sustainability standpoint. We shall see - basically at this point I will sell to anyone who will help us move our product and stay in business but I have a very strong preference to keep it as local as possible.

Hanley Kale-Grinder wrote:lookin, good! what is your expected market? are you going to put it into perennials, annuals or a mix?
 
Ray South
Posts: 51
Location: Northern Tablelands, NSW, Australia
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Looks excellent. Nice video coverage. Will be exciting to follow the progress.
 
Mary James
Posts: 145
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
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Tom,
Nice to see you here.We still need to make an effort to get down and have enough time to swing by for a tour. Got kids that live down there.. Any chance you may be marketing to individuals.The son goes to Missoula for the big market every Saturday to buy his weeks worth of veges...But he works in Pablo at the skc...He may be interested in having a closer to home market for some of his foods.
You talked on the phone with James
Have a good one
Mary and James
 
Lisa Allen
Posts: 221
Location: San Diego, CA USA
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What GREAT news! Congratulations, I look forward to keeping up with your progress!

I hope you make an appearance at the Permaculture and the Herb Gatherings in the area to get the word around of your existence. With the moderator's permission, you might want to link this particular thread to the "regional" section of the forums since people may not see your existence. I would suggest the "Rockies" and depending on whether you will work with Missoula, maybe there http://www.permies.com/forums

Hot Springs, Montana in July: http://montanaherbgathering.org

Near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho in September: http://www.inlandnorthwestpermaculture.com/content/2013-inland-nw-permaculture-convergence
(Last autumn they had it in Missoula).
 
Thomas West
Posts: 39
Location: Pablo, MT
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Sure - we would love to talk to him - send us an email at aquariusfarms@gmail.com with his contact information and we will give him a buzz and see what we can work out. We will be doing the Ronan, Polson, and Missoula Farmers Markets and always welcome more customeers. We are actually planning on offering a "pick your own farmers market" where you can just come by the farm, get a short tour, and pick and purchase exactly what you want on the spot. So yes we will sell to anyone and everyone - feel free to inform anyone you like that we (in about 2 weeks) will be offering a "pick your own produce" experience on our farm. To be honest the name is misleading - for the most part you are going to point and one of the guys will pick - hugelbeds take some getting used to and we dont want anyone hurting themselves.


Mary James wrote:Tom,
Nice to see you here.We still need to make an effort to get down and have enough time to swing by for a tour. Got kids that live down there.. Any chance you may be marketing to individuals.The son goes to Missoula for the big market every Saturday to buy his weeks worth of veges...But he works in Pablo at the skc...He may be interested in having a closer to home market for some of his foods.
You talked on the phone with James
Have a good one
Mary and James
 
Thomas West
Posts: 39
Location: Pablo, MT
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Ok so how do I get Adrien or another moderator to bless linking in the regional forums? Thanks for the advice - definitely going to be making the rounds - as a first year operation we have been drowning in work all spring and had limited time to do the face to face networking we need to do.

Thanks again!!!

Lisa Allen wrote:What GREAT news! Congratulations, I look forward to keeping up with your progress!

I hope you make an appearance at the Permaculture and the Herb Gatherings in the area to get the word around of your existence. With the moderator's permission, you might want to link this particular thread to the "regional" section of the forums since people may not see your existence. I would suggest the "Rockies" and depending on whether you will work with Missoula, maybe there http://www.permies.com/forums

Hot Springs, Montana in July: http://montanaherbgathering.org

Near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho in September: http://www.inlandnorthwestpermaculture.com/content/2013-inland-nw-permaculture-convergence
(Last autumn they had it in Missoula).
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
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Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
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Thomas West wrote:Ok so how do I get Adrien or another moderator to bless linking in the regional forums? Thanks for the advice - definitely going to be making the rounds - as a first year operation we have been drowning in work all spring and had limited time to do the face to face networking we need to do.

Thanks again!!!



Post away - just choose the most relevant regional forum rather than spamming the whole lot of them. If you feel you need the same post in more than one, PM one of the staff and ask if they can fix it so it shows in more boards (and if you PM me you'd better specify which ones, as my knowledge of US geography is rather limited...) We don't object to posting links so long as they are relevant and you don't make multiple identical posts.
 
James Colbert
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Looking good Thomas! I would love to see those beds all filled out, don't forget to show us how it looks mid and late season It's great to see someone experimenting with Hugelculture on a commercial scale. your experiences are very valuable to the permaculture community keep up the good work.
 
Thomas West
Posts: 39
Location: Pablo, MT
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James Colbert wrote:Looking good Thomas! I would love to see those beds all filled out, don't forget to show us how it looks mid and late season It's great to see someone experimenting with Hugelculture on a commercial scale. your experiences are very valuable to the permaculture community keep up the good work.


Thanks James! We will be posting some updates to our page here in the next day or so. We got so busy planting that I have been delinquent in posting updates as frequently as I probably should. If you like us on Facebook you should get your timeline autopopulated with our updates.

I strongly encourage anyone who wants to contact us for any reason to not hesitate to do so. Also if you find yourself in or around Ronan, MT (zip 59864) please contact us and we can show you around!

Thanks!

Tom
 
Mary James
Posts: 145
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
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Tom,
Dropped my son an e-mail will be down with him this weekend..I am not sure if he does the more local (Ronan & Polson) farmers markets because he has not always been impressed with the selections,,LOL Mom spoiled him through the years with what to expect I guess.He found the Farmers Market in Missoula and fell in love about 10 or so years ago when mom was no longer close enough with her garden for him to raid..He just does not have the time to grow his own and as he has found out the bears where he lives can make it more challenging then usual if your all organic...
The pick your own is something he is good at or used to be after growing up having to help harvest all kinds of weird things in the gardens and on mountain tops,,

Thanks , looking forward to meeting you sometime..
Mary
 
Thomas West
Posts: 39
Location: Pablo, MT
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A bit off topic - but we used black locust in post form in our VA garden and had no issues - seems to be more of a problem when the wood is chip to sawdust size - possibly because it leaches more compounds faster due to increased surface area and water permeability.

Black Locust is known as "hillbilly teak" out East due to the fact that it basically will not rot - even in a very humid climate like mid-atlantic and southern portions of the country. A friend of mine pulled up a fence post from his property to demonstrate how rot resistant the wood is. Even after 125+ years in the ground when cut in half the wood looked fresh-cut past the first 1/4" or so of weathered exterior. Has a pukey green color but nice grain so the right eco-friendly stain turns it into the worlds most sustainable patio furniture - no exotic tropical hardwoods and can be coppiced and produced sustainably.

There are a lot of reasons to like Black Locust - mulch, unfortunately, is not one of them.

 
Mary James
Posts: 145
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
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We have a grove of Purple robe black locust growing in the landscape that is very pretty and blooming right now,Have never used it for mulch I am hoping to grow it large enough for some of my art wood work pieces,In the meantime it looks nice other then sending out a crazy amount of runners when the main tree was blown partially over.Which is typical for its reproduction,,LOL,,Just not fond of some of the places it is showing up,,like next to the fire pit and in my mixed herbal/flower beds ..
 
Thomas West
Posts: 39
Location: Pablo, MT
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Ray South wrote:Looks excellent. Nice video coverage. Will be exciting to follow the progress.


Hi Fellow Permies!

We have posted some new videos to our Facebook page and YouTube channel showing the gardens progression over the last 5 weeks since our last vlog. We got so busy with farmers market and garden maintenance that I have been remiss in posting updates.

Anyhow visit either of the following links for a few short videos showing the garden filling out - interplanted hugelbeds are stunning visually. +1 for a cool looking, non-flat, garden!

www.facebook.com/aquariusfarms

www.youtube.com/TheAquariusFarm

Please post on the thread and let us know how you think we are doing! Also if you would like us to cover a specific topic or video something of particular interest to you we are more than happy to satisfy your curiosity.

Thanks!

The Aquarius Farms Team!
 
Emil Spoerri
pollinator
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Are there any perennial forages that are good both for livestock forage and human consumption in the hugelcultures and cover crops?. The best livestock forages nutritionally for production are high in sugar, many pasture plants from New Zealand have been bred specifically for high brix levels. Oats, wheat, rye, speltz could be pressed into juice. Chicories and turnups make great salads, turnup Clovers are even edible as well as bocking 4 comfrey and stinging nettles and sweet potatoes make a vine and root crop animals will eat. Also Sunchokes and kiwis.
 
Logan Simmering
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Id be very interested to hear what kind of yields you get.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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