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Anyone from Coachella Valley trying to green the desert?

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Hi Andrew,

Thanks for your input, I quite like the contemporary metal+wood+rock look and I have spoken to Indio Planning and they are agreeable. I am a long way from building ., but it was nice to know that the style wouldn't be an obstacle.

As for planting, I am not aiming for 100% self-sustainable year around. therefore growing wheat, corn, rice, cattle, pig etc aren't on the table. I would like it if I can have vegetable, fruit and herb etc., Love to have nice tree as wind breakers and some fruit trees for consumption and give away. For veges, I am thinking of aquaponic (vege+shrimp+fish). A few days ago, I visited this farm in the SF Bay Area: http://www.ouroborosfarms.com/produce-gallery.html Their entire operation's in a greenhouse of 15000ft2, including showroom, class room and storage. 70% of their harvest supplies 6 restaurants, including Ritz Carlton hotel. 30% to markets. I like your idea of shade house for the desert, with 1000ft2 of shade house and grow beds, I can probably feed a few neighbors. According to the manager of Ourboros, their vege use less water than soil grown and their lettuce takes half the time to grow.

By the way, that Ritz-Carlton was quite grand, and their salad didn't taste 'fishy'
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Oasisforming in the upper Coachella Valley is my retirement project.  

I've got 10 acres of habitat about 10 minutes east of Desert Hot Springs over the hot water aquifer zone at about 1080-1100'.  The parcel has power and water utilities on site and is legally accessible 1300' from a paved road.  There are several neighbors within a few hundred feet.

My first steps are to get the parcel certified as compliant by Riverside County, a process underway, to fence it in, drill the well, and begin to clear some creosote, plant nitrogen fixing cover crops and date palms to start the grove with well irrigation.  The margins of the property will be planted with Blue Palo Verde and both Screwbean and Honey mesquite, also well irrigated.  

The soil type is Carsitas which is sand and gravel.  So I'll need to do work to build up, compost and incorporate biomass.  I'm not sure if I can do the vegetable garden in the gravely sand soil, at least not at first, might have to build raised beds.  And keeping critters, rabbits and squirrels, at bay will be a challenge.

My plan is to remove creosote is to hack the limbs down with a chainsaw, use a hand torch to scorch the crown, and then to cover the crown with black plastic to deny the crown sunlight.  I'd like to leave the root system in the soil.

As the dates begin to take and grow, then I'll plant the fruit forest in the protection of the grove.  Well irrigation expands the range of possibility.  In order to irrigate using CVWD water, you've got to pay $11K per acre and then pay their high water rates.

I'll be getting a chipper shredder and plowing all organic matter back into the system as compost.  The Flying Disc ranch in Thermal shows how this can be done:


Riverside County planning are not pushovers.  The range of the possible is quite constrained as far as what can be built and how.  I see daylight, though, on building a house.  I am looking for crescent or C shaped houses so that we can point it to the west and have a space in the lee of the wind to grow bananas and other wind-weary tropicals.  The last phase is taking advantage of the zoning for guest ranches to set up a hot water hospitality business.  

Another rub with this parcel is that there is a desert wash running through that is a FEMA "A" flood zone. County flood control has been quite helpful in providing exhibits for a FEMA application to constrain the flood risk into the wash so that any mortgage financed building on the majority of the parcel does not require flood insurance. Negotiating that federal bureaucracy has certainly been an eye opener.

But the watercourse is a feature not a bug, the intent is to preserve as much of the landscape as habitat as possible.  There are burrowing owls adjacent to the land and we'll need to take care to ensure that we don't remove any creosote bushes that shelter desert tortoises.

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