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Quick question about buying ANY LAND - a land that is mountainous

 
tony phamm
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I was wondering if ANY land would be good to purchase and make into an oasis eventually with permaculture tech. I'm new to this but I have a tendency to jump right into things and learn as I go. Here's the listing I was interested in:
http://www.landandfarm.com/property/Privacy_on_20_Acres_Water_District_In_Area_-1710891/

I wanted to know if there were alot of huge rocks, as in boulders, if I can still do permaculture. Or is it best to find flatter land?

And what about weather? Here it's pretty much a desert with little rainfall, but I think the point of permaculture is to have a good root system in place so even with the little water that is dropped, the soil will still retain water to last a whole year.

Please let me know of any other aspects or any links that may help me decide better. I mean my goal is to find the cheapest land and also I wanted to find out if permaculture can be applied to ANY land. That's the point of permaculture right?
 
Shawn Harper
Posts: 360
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
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I suppose I depends on what you want. Almost any land can be transformed with permaculture, but it doesn't mean it can be transformed into exactly what your looking for. ALSO I don't know about Californias water laws and how restrictive they are, that could be a potential handicap.
 
tony phamm
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Well, I don't know what I'm looking for lol. I'm new to this so I have no idea what the pros and cons are to using a land that is rocky and sandy.

If it's not THAT MUCH more work, I'd like to create an oasis in the middle of the desert so that I can just see that anything is possible. I mean if I were to do permaculture in the middle of Costa Rica where it's mostly tropical rainforest anyways, then it's not much of a contrast and not that much of a wow factor. I just want to surprise myself and others that greenery can be done in the middle of a desert (not really desert here, it's just inland where the weather is hotter). And most importantly, I want to tell others and know myself that very little maintenance is done on the land after the initial work. Let me know if you guys have any literature about this for beginners.
 
John Wolfram
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Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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With enough time and money, I suppose you could transform anything. However, even though certain land may be cheap to buy, if the total costs to finish the project are high then you'd probably be better off buying more expensive land. An extreme example would be getting land in Antarctica. You could probably go out and claim several thousand acres for free and no one would care. Of course, the cost to change that land into a food forest would probably be in the billions of dollars.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Hello Tony, Have you walked the property? The first thing I would do is ask the realtor if I could drive up there and spend the day walking around. Take some pictures of the plants that are there and post them here. If you can identify what grows there now it would help you to know what kinds of plants you could introduce. Especially trees. Take a shovel and dig a few holes here and there to see what the soil is like. If you see any of the neighbors around , strike up a conversation , ask them what their plans are, find out if they are gardening. Find out how they are getting water.

After taking a look at the land on google maps it looks as though there are lots of shrubs or trees amongs the rocks. There may be some dew forming on those rocks that adds moisture to the soil. They will also provide some shade and moderate the climate .

It looks like you would have lots of building materiels with all of those rocks. Rock walls and maybe small buildings? A swale system along the boundery between the rocks and the flatter ground might catch some water too. This looks like pretty dry country. How much rain does it get? Are you allowed to harvest rain from a roof? Find out if there is an HOA or other community association and find out what their rules are. Any covenents in place ? Are there any places locally where you might be able to collect wood chips, branches and logs, manures or other organic materiels?

 
Ann Torrence
steward
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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tony phamm wrote:Well, I don't know what I'm looking for lol. I'm new to this so I have no idea what the pros and cons are to using a land that is rocky and sandy.

If it's not THAT MUCH more work, I'd like to create an oasis in the middle of the desert so that I can just see that anything is possible.

It is THAT MUCH work to get started. And a big part of the work is in the design, which means having design goals. One of your goals can be little maintenance

If you are a reader, read the Permaculture Design Manual. Add to the threads already at permies from last year's read-along.
If you are not a reader, take a PDC. Are you not in Larry Santoyo's neck of the woods? I'd do his PDC in a heartbeat if I were close enough.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau, Tony,

Ann brings up good points, as does Miles.
My wife and I are right now one year into building our retirement homestead farm, we are just now able to see the day we will be living there full time, it is two months of work away (rains have slowed us down since December of 2014)
At the same time we started our journey (June first 2013), a friend of mine started the same journey, he has now abandoned the work, opting for a more normal, less time consuming modality of living.


What you are looking at here is Un-Developed Land, the one thing really going for it is there is water available if you are willing to pay for said water.
You will most likely find that having that water available is necessary in the beginning of this adventure.

Some things to contemplate: how are you going to move enough rocks for 1: a road into the property home site. 2: to build the home out of the rocks or as a foundation.
what types of structures are you wanting to build besides a house?
do you want to have a self sufficient homestead with gardens and animals for food supply? On grid, or Off grid?
Since I can guarantee that you will have injuries occur during the process, are you prepared to get healed up and continue?
along with getting injured, you will need a way to get help and so survive the injury. Spoken from experience, many times.
While a big bank account is not necessary, being able to pay for expected and unexpected items is helpful to your sanity.
you will want to have a stash of cash for unexpected expenditures, they will happen more frequently than wanted, this is also guaranteed and spoken from experience.

While heavy equipment is always nice, we are getting our place done with none of the larger cool tools (tractor, riding mower, backhoe, etc.)
we are working on our place on weekends, which involves work all week at job, pack up and leave city Friday evening, bust butt until 3pm Sunday, pack up and head back to city for showers sleep and work week. Repeat every week, Vacation is working on the land.
If this sounds like your plan, Welcome to the most rewarding adventure ever! you will look forward to the work week so you can rest up for the next go round.

The property is very acceptable (I love it actually) for doing all of the above, especially in the permaculture methodology. It will however, take a lot of work, I mean a LOT of WORK.

Commitment is going to be key to achieving your goals, regardless of the location, some locals are just tougher than others.
 
Andrew Parker
pollinator
Posts: 514
Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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As has been mentioned already, what you propose may be doable but it will take a lot of hard work and a fair amount of risk.

I would recommend working with the land, rather than conquering it. Don't try to lay out a conventional farmstead. You won"t have the water for it anyway. Water, sun, heat and wind are going to be among your biggest challenges. Examine the microclimates on your land and design small plots that maximize them. Those big boulders can be used, as they stand, for shade, windbreaks, heat sinks, etc.

You should map out a water harvesting scheme, but don't count on things being the same from one year to another. Plan to maximize the plentiful years, but also have a strategy in place to preserve critical plantings during droughts, which can span many years. Also, as you probably already know, quite often, when it rains it pours. Here in Utah, many desert agricultural settlements were ended by floods rather than drought. Make sure you plan for too much water.

Make sure your structures are not in natural or artificial drainages, and make them fireproof. That area is prone to fast moving wildfires.

HOAs can be a major hurdle to land use. Also, in that area, there is a strong anti-development sentiment that is leveraged through federal, state, county and municipal laws and regulations. Don't buy land that is locked up by preservation restrictions. There is a lot of it in Riverside County. Do your homework.

Good luck and keep us informed of your progress.
 
Devin Lavign
pollinator
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Location: Pac Northwest
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Something I didn't see anyone mention yet, is not only will it take plenty of effort to transform land into an oasis, but it also takes a lot of time.

You would not be able to just get some marginal land, and expect to have some wonderful oasis after a years worth of work. It will takes 5-10 years to really start showing some improvements. The time it takes for trees, and bushes and other plants to grow and take root. As well as the time it will take to have swales and other water catchment to help boost and refill the water table. Not to mention the time it takes for beneficial fungus to explore the soil and really get things going, which will only happen after the soil gets moist enough to support the fungus.

Any marginal land, I would not expect to get any amazing results for a decade or so. And during that time I would expect plenty of disappointments. Tress and other plantings dying either from drought or too much water or wild animals getting at them. Swales blowing out due to not enough roots getting established and getting a hard long rain. And so many other set backs.

When trying to bring marginal lands back into productive healthy land, it takes a lot of time and patience. While you can bring some pretty desolate land that seems good for nothing back to a healthy productive state, you have to expect it to take plenty of time as well as effort.
 
Ed Colmar
Posts: 47
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Watch geoff lawton's property purchase checklist.

www.geofflawton.com
 
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