I have 23 acres in the hills due west of Stanford University in Northern California. I thought that only a small portion was usable until I read Sepp Holzer's book. Now I'm convinced I can use practically every square foot of it (and there's even a 20 foot waterfall on one edge of the property)! I'm so excited to get started but I find it tough to find a permaculture designer with livestock experience (cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, etc) to help with an overall site plan. The property is in such disrepair that I almost want to bull-doze and start from scratch, but I sense that a great permaculture design would be far better! Any ideas? I'd like to get started on renovating the land in early October in time for the big rains expected this winter.
Well, for those of us way far north of you, that's Bay Area, rather than northern CA! And wow....I did not think property like that was even to be had that close to everything! And with a waterfall no less! Is it year-round?
There are, of course, no end of permaculture designers and teachers right in your area, and then again you are right in concluding that not many of them will have a lot of knowledge/experience with animals beyond a few chickens. You might check out what's being done at Green Friends Farm at the Amma center near San Ramon. I think they are working with cows there on the Allan Savory/Holistic Management program. Nice orchard too. I did a workshop with Geoff Lawton there a couple years ago.
Unless you're a pretty experienced designer and permaculturist, as well as at least somewhat familiar with the bioregion and ecosystem, it's always a good idea to devote several months, if not an entire year, mostly to observation and research. What's growing? On what soil? In what climate? With what critters, bugs, fungi, etc.? What did people preceding you there do, and succeed at, or fail at? What do the neighbors do? And so on.
And of course, anywhere in CA, design should start first with thinking about two things....water and fire. A lot of permaculture design globally focuses on water-based design, and design for fire issues can sometimes challenge/contradict this (such as the placement of forests and other dense plantings downhill or near buildings).....so just be aware of that....
posted 5 years ago
We actually lived on the property for about 6 years, then have been off for the last 2. Prior to that, the previous owners had horses on there for 30 years. Since we did not, the land became an overgrown mess. No time or energy to take care of the property before - our huge mistake. Now, however, we are excited to turn it into a wonderful sustaining habitat. There are many places that offer courses, but I need a bit of a jumpstart to at least get the basic design in place.
Are you looking to pay someone to do a professional design or just looking to get some ideas from people with more experience than you?
If you're looking for a professional design there should be a few people in your area that can do what you're looking for but I know it's hard to go to a phone book and look up permaculture designers. I've added this thread to the Southwest US regional forum as well to see if anyone there might be able to help. If you really can't find anyone I might be able to make a trip down there but it's quite a way away from Mt. Shasta.
If, on the other hand, you're just looking for ideas then it would be good to post more info about the property along with some pictures I'm sure there's plenty of people here with great ideas that would love to share their knowledge.
"Instead of Pay It Forward I prefer Plant It Forward" ~Howard Story / "God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools." ~John Muir
yes, I'm looking for a professional design. What's especially challenging is finding someone with experience incorporating all the livestock. I don't have the resources to implement everything right away, but I want to start prepping and seeding the land before the rains (crossing fingers!).
I am very interested to talk to you about goat and sheep farming.
I live in San jose,Ca.Have been looking for a property araund bay area to purchase.I wold like to raise dairy goats and sheep.
For more detail information please give me a call at
Are you still looking for a designer? If so, my partner and I would love to help out. We are currently implementing one of our designs in San Diego and wrapping up an internship, both of which should be done by the end of the summer. You can check out our info and contact us through earthrepairalliance.org if you're interested!
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit