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Any Permies near Bryson City, NC?  RSS feed

 
C.K. Williams
Posts: 30
Location: NantaHaven, Swain County, North Carolina
3
forest garden woodworking
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I'm looking for collaborative consulting on permaculture design solutions for a 6-acre "homestead".

I'm in the early stages of the design process and have a sketchup model of the terrain with contour lines I can share. Basically the property sits smack dab in the middle of a watershed so I'd like to capture as much of the rain runoff as possible in a series of small ponds. In addition, the property is blessed with several springs and seeps feeding a seasonal brook / branch (this year's rainfall has fully charged the water table). I plan to redirect two (2) other seasonal brooks running off the property's edge boundary back to the main drainage to slow, store and soak a future forest garden.

Being a freshman permaculture student I'm interested in the feasibility of swales on contour for my narrow, 25% - 32% grade hillside (former pasture) nestled between secondary ridges below a 3200' mountain. The primary 5-acre lot ranges from 2500' to 2700' with a lower 1-acre narrow sliver of land running from 2400' up to 2500'.

I'm an IT geek so I was wondering if remote consulting using jpeg, pdf, png and skp files is doable? I'd obviously prefer onsite walkabouts to get the lay of the land to start.

By the way, I found a great source for Comfrey near Nantahala!

Thanks for your feedback.

 
M Foti
Posts: 171
Location: western n.c.
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Hey buddy, we run a pretty nice new farm over in murphy. Maybe one day we can get together and share some knowledge! Sounds like you have some really steep land. We in addition to our large commercial stuff, have started doing gardens on our hillsides. We have terraced them all off by hand and this winter will be building retaining walls to hold the organic matter in place. This worked like a champ, while everyone else's garden in the area drowned and rotted from all the rain this summer ours did great. So, this turned our disadvantage into an advantage. Once you start it isn't nearly as hard as you would think, of course it does help to have a tractor plow and break everything up first so you can actually do the work with a shovel.

I'm definitely free to talk over the internet some at night, and I'm sure we can find some time to get together. We host wwoofers all spring-fall so right now we're really enjoying having the farm to ourselves.

- Ajila Ama Farm
 
Deborah Denmark
Posts: 6
Location: Cullowhee, NC
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C.K. I am very close to you, I am over in Cullowhee. Don't have any 'formal' permaculture education but I do have BS in Natural Resources Management from WCU and a pretty good grasp on permaculture.
 
C.K. Williams
Posts: 30
Location: NantaHaven, Swain County, North Carolina
3
forest garden woodworking
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Deborah Denmark wrote:C.K. I am very close to you, I am over in Cullowhee. Don't have any 'formal' permaculture education but I do have BS in Natural Resources Management from WCU and a pretty good grasp on permaculture.


Welcome to Permies, Deborah, and thanks for the response to my post. I'm still figuring things out here at NantaHaven. This month we initiated a Sun Scoop Garden Project by clear-cutting White Pines to open the hillside to the southern sun. We installed the first Hugelkultur Bed, too, but much work is still to be done. The real challenge is terracing... If you'd like to check out some photos of the "excavation" just click here:

Sun Scoop Garden Project

There is another permaculture site down the road that just launched with the purchase of USA Raft's property. I hear there is an intentional community in Whittier also practicing permaculture. I think WNC is an excellent location for growing a permaculture community.

Natural Resources Management is a weakness of mine so I am curious as to what you might recommend.

Thanks for your feedback,

Chuck
 
Deborah Denmark
Posts: 6
Location: Cullowhee, NC
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Hi Chuck,
I am a little rusty on my tree ID so couldn't really see what you were leaving on the hillside. I did look at your aerial picture of your property and you originally mentioned wondering if swales would be doable or a good idea. I think you have a lot of potential on the property for swales and some nice pond sites as well.

What do you plan for the hillside where you took out the pines? Is that where the hugelkulture bed went in?
 
C.K. Williams
Posts: 30
Location: NantaHaven, Swain County, North Carolina
3
forest garden woodworking
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Deborah Denmark wrote:Hi Chuck,
I am a little rusty on my tree ID so couldn't really see what you were leaving on the hillside. I did look at your aerial picture of your property and you originally mentioned wondering if swales would be doable or a good idea. I think you have a lot of potential on the property for swales and some nice pond sites as well.

What do you plan for the hillside where you took out the pines? Is that where the hugelkulture bed went in?


We have a mixture of oaks, maples, beech or elm (I'm not sure) and sourwood. Yes, the hugelkultur bed is at the top of the new hillside garden spot:

1st Hugelkultur Bed

The planting plan is not yet complete but I'm thinking of fruit trees, berry bushes and comfrey to start but first a cover crop of clover and hairy vetch. Do you know of a local source for the vetch?
 
Deborah Denmark
Posts: 6
Location: Cullowhee, NC
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I have never used vetch and don't know a local supply. I always start with my community store, ours carries a lot of farm stuff, next I check Bryson's Farm Supply in Sylva and then as a last resort I go to Country Roads out on 441. they are only the last resort because they are a good drive away from me. I don't know how comfrey will do with the hugelkultur bed. I am thinking of the deep roots of the comfrey and if you need to harvest some seems like a little strange, but what do I know about hugelkultur? nada. Definitely put comfrey around your fruit trees and bushes, make good living mulch and pulls up so much from deep in the soil for the other plants. If you plant red clover you have an excellent herbal tea source. Looks like you are doing a great job with your place. Have fun making all those plans, that is my favorite part sometimes.
 
C.K. Williams
Posts: 30
Location: NantaHaven, Swain County, North Carolina
3
forest garden woodworking
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Deborah Denmark wrote:I have never used vetch and don't know a local supply. I always start with my community store, ours carries a lot of farm stuff, next I check Bryson's Farm Supply in Sylva and then as a last resort I go to Country Roads out on 441. they are only the last resort because they are a good drive away from me. I don't know how comfrey will do with the hugelkultur bed. I am thinking of the deep roots of the comfrey and if you need to harvest some seems like a little strange, but what do I know about hugelkultur? nada. Definitely put comfrey around your fruit trees and bushes, make good living mulch and pulls up so much from deep in the soil for the other plants. If you plant red clover you have an excellent herbal tea source. Looks like you are doing a great job with your place. Have fun making all those plans, that is my favorite part sometimes.


Vetch is new to me also but I'm curious to try it as a green manure. My biggest challenge is soil-building...converting dirt to rich soil. I'm looking for a good source for manure but so far most places keep it & use all they have.

I've seen Bryson's Farm Supply in Sylva but never stopped in. I'll check them out the next time I'm in Sylva. I had already made a mental note as Bryson's looks very interesting from the highway... I have been to Country Roads a couple of times but have not checked with them for seed. My neighbor is a Master Gardner and recommends Fedco and Johnny's Selected Seed online plus a few others. I have not yet found a good source for farm supply in Bryson City (yet).

I think you're right about Comfrey not being suitable for Hugelkultur since their long tap root would probably hit the waste wood before the wood had time to rot. I imaging the root would be discouraged with wood instead of dirt. I planted fifteen (15) Comfrey plants in August 2013 on a dirt clay bank top with the idea that over the years of chop & drop mulching plus tons of manure (that I do not yet have) the dirt patch would become a very nice garden bed. It receives full sun and is south-facing. I hope to reproduce the Comfrey via cuttings in the new hillside garden area as soon as my plants mature. If I recall correctly the Comfrey vendor recommended a minimum of three (3) years before propagating bit I'll need to confirm.

What sort of projects are you working in Cullowee, Deborah? Perhaps there is enough interest in PermaCulture in WNC to establish a network of local practitioners to cross-pollinate and expand PermaCulture education in WNC. Maybe we could have our own thread on Permies,com?

 
C.K. Williams
Posts: 30
Location: NantaHaven, Swain County, North Carolina
3
forest garden woodworking
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Check out my PermaCulture projects and experiments in NantaHaven
 
Deborah Denmark
Posts: 6
Location: Cullowhee, NC
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I noticed how red your soil is. You are right to be looking for manure. There is a horse farm out here in my community that sells composted horse manure pretty cheap and also there is the casino compost and mulch facility much closer to you. I have heard good things about their compost and I have got some of their mulch. I am doing the Back To Eden method for the garden, basically sheet mulch with cardboard or newspaper and cover with as much chipper mulch as you can get up to 4 inches first year, then never till that in, just add compost or manure on top, the rain washes it into the soil, pull back the mulch and plant IN THE SOIL, very important not to plant in the mulch by mistake and very important to never till it in. It will begin to form mycorrizal network the first year and over time you will have deep black rich soil.

I have used Fedco, low prices but I had moderate to low germination on too much stuff, Johnny's is good and I love Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Victory Seeds and Bountiful Gardens. I planted comfrey here in 2003 in one spot only, it has gotten huge over the years and the last time I had the garden plowed (before this new mulch system) I think some roots got drug to the other corner of the garden as I soon after had new comfrey pop up. It is so easy to grow from just a piece of root, amazing plant on all counts. How much did you give for your starts?

I have huge plans but no monies so I do what I can each year. Planning a fruit orchard on the hill above the garden, expand the garden a little more each year, love growing gourds and a huge variety of veggies, hope to do some seed saving this year via hand isolation and pollination of select varieties, try to stay with only heirloom seed but every now and then I see something hybrid I just can't resist, my favorite from a couple of years ago was winterbor kale, that stuff was amazing, especially for overwintering. And hope to get these things called flower sprouts from Johnny's this year. They are a cross of brussel sprouts and kale. My daughter had bought some for me at the farmer's market last winter, they were so tasty, I loved them and all she knew was the guy said they were called flowers. I figured he had something cross and this was the result and he was selling this volunteer odd thing. Then I ran across them in Johnny's catalog. So tickled to find them.

A local permie group sounds like it could be fun. I have potential for some ponds and swales but no equipment to make it happen. I do plan on building a cob/strawbale hybrid house eventually so who knows, maybe get some earthwork done then.
 
C.K. Williams
Posts: 30
Location: NantaHaven, Swain County, North Carolina
3
forest garden woodworking
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My neighbor & I split an order of Comfrey Crowns from Coe's. I believe we split 25 (10 & 15) for $44.00. The proprietor is a very interesting individual and shares much info.

Casino Compost & Mulch Facility? I'll check that out. I read recently where someone was mixing spent beer mash (grain) and wood chips to form a foundation for composting. I am checking with NBC to see if they may have extra. Who knows? Maybe there's an opportunity here for producing enough compost to share?

I understand the big plans / no monies situation. I have "champagne ideas on a beer budget." But step by step, day by day - I've been working towards my vision for over nine (9) years now.

I appreciate your willingness to "talk shop".
 
Deborah Denmark
Posts: 6
Location: Cullowhee, NC
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Love talking shop, haha.

I have heard about the beer mash stuff, supposed to be pretty good.

sounds like I should start producing comfrey starts at that price. so easy and the deer don't mess with it oddly enough

sorry such a short reply, pretty tired at the moment
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 3155
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Hau, C.K., Sounds like you have a good start on your place. Comfrey will work just fine on hugels. In fact, the deep roots will be of benefit to the mound. Hairy vetch is good for chop and drop use on a hugel and anywhere else. Buckwheat is also a good chop and drop, as are any of the clovers (I use a lot of crimson clover, buckwheat, cereal rye and comfrey).

My land is fairly steep, similar to yours. I have both north and south facing slopes, I am building swales and berms on the south slope, which will fill in to create some nice terraces over the long run. My north slope is all hard woods and is where I will be growing some sang for future funds. We are going to end up with chickens, rabbits, goats, pigs, guinea hens and ducks for most of our meat needs. We have an orchard that continually gets new fruit trees as we can afford them, grape and muscadine vines will be going on the swaled south slope along with straw berries, blue berries and Huckleberries. We also do a lot of growing in straw bales, squash, beans, peas, cucumbers, kales, spinach, lettuce mostly go in the bales while celery, beats, rutabaga, carrots sweet potato and potatoes go into raised ground beds. The straw bales become compost after three years of use as growing medium.

I'm sort of like you, we are building our retirement farm, (I'm 63 now and the wife thinks I'm crazy to be doing this). We are on year 2 of a five year plan and so far, we are ahead of the initial schedule. Unfortunately for me, the wife keeps wanting to get it all done faster, so we keep plugging along with changes in the timing of different projects.

I've been in the field of permaculture/ sustainable farming/ polyculture/ remedial restoration since the 1970's. I am usually around here and am happy to give my thoughts on anything permaculture.

 
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