I have a 10.6 acre piece of land near Hendersonville, NC. I am in the early stages of planning out what i want to do with it. It slopes east southeast, I think it has good solar exposure. Probably around 6-7 acres are open pasture, I pay a neighbor to brush hog a few times yearly to keep it open. Mostly seems to be clover and orchard grass. My future ambitions include some fruittrees, berry patches, and a large garden. Also hoping to graze some cattle and pigs at some point. What do y'all think?
Thanks for the post, Perry! I, too, am in a similar situation southwest of Bryson City. I've found a few WNC permies here that are very open to sharing. There is great potential for expanding our network.
You may hear recommendations for "Swales On Contour" as an initial project for your hillside pasture. A search through the Earthworks Forum & Growies Forum (for fruit trees) should be beneficial.
I have a steeper hillside where I hired an Excavator to build two (2) terraces last month. Now I must build soil for raised beds on red clay.
You're off to a great start! Good luck! We are all in this together.
Nantahala Mountains - Wesser, North Carolina
Zone 6b / 7a | Elevation: 2500' | Annual Rainfall ~ 40"
For me, the most helpful thing was to look at other people's designs, though they're kind of hard to find. The design for Geoff Lawton's farm is very informative, because you can see how everything is designed on contour and how the water harvesting structures are put in first, then the area around the house developed, then other areas developed moving outward from the house area (Zone 1). Realizing I should put everything closer to the house was the biggest "ah ha" moment for me in working on our place. Taking a good long time to really understand how the land interacts with water, wind, sunshine, animal pathways, etc, is important. Also, I wish I had made all my animal housing moveable, not permanent.
Southeast slope is ideal because it gets morning sun when you want to warm up but less direct sun in late afternoon when it tends to get too hot in the summer. Can you locate your zone 1 up in the North west where it is protected by the trees from winter wind and hot afternoon sun? What is the availability of water, wells in the area and surface collection? There seems to be a bare area in the NW corner is that suitable for a water storage tank. Geoff Lawton has a video where a whole farm is irrigated from water tanks at the highest point that are filled during the winter. So determining whether Surface collection is essential or if well water is not too deep will indicate the priority of earth works. In either case a steady even if small pumping of water by wind/solar to a high tank is a source of water security.
In my case just giving the blackberries that were already there good structure has given me one of my principle staples. So take note of what is already producing on the land.
I just watched a presentation on mapping the shadows morning noon and evening. for planing your planting areas. If you get that maped now and mid summer and fall you can plan your sun harvest accordingly.
Planing your livestock rotation depends on whether you contour the land for water harvest which would lend itself to a serpentine path down the slope or if the current grade is maintained a grid pattern of adjustable paddocks may be more practical. You have started a project journal here so as you post pictures and observations you will have a record to learn from both for yourself and others taking the path. I am currently trying to locate lost pictures and records to document my project Qberry Farm.
Hi ! I am not from the area ( from Kuwait ) , but visiting this March to visit friends in NC ..
I looked closely at the area & I would recommend starting with wind barriers.
then identify zones on the site. mapping current patterns of activity , which can later be re designed for efficiency . plan where your building , if any , will be ; which then is called zone 0 . and what goes closer to it , zones 1 , 2,3 etc Zone 1 would have the most gardening . Zone 2 would perhaps have soft fruit trees , small animals etc. maybe zone 3 will be a commercial production area , and orchards .
A study of areas more prone to flooding , areas prone to frost , can also help indicate the structure of the buildings and zones .
Keep working with plant diversity or plant guilds . it won't be cheap but at least start somewhere .
Best of luck to you !
Bash from The Mull Farm - Kuwait
posted 3 years ago
Thanks for the feedback! Sharp eyes Hans, the NW corner is indeed open, the previous owners had graded that entire corner flat in anticipation of building a house there. Currently, it's been overrun with small pines which I'm leaving in place to prevent erosion and invasive species until I figure out what I want to build, and where. There is also a small decrepit horse shelter towards the northeast corner. There is no current water source on the land except for a small stream running along the southern boundary. It is too small and too far down in a gully to be of much use, so my plan is to drill a well as one of the first major projects. I'm thinking of locating it up somewhere along the northeastern boundary to allow for gravity feeding to most of the rest of the property. Bash, good idea with the windbreaks, I was thinking of putting in some taller-growing fruit and nut trees like pecans and persimmons along the northern edge, as this is where most of my wind comes from. Thanks very much for the feedback everyone, keep the great ideas coming!
Ask your local well driller about depth to water. It is often more economical to pump the water up the hill than pay the extra depth of the well especially if your electrical service is near to the well. The same pipes that take the water up can bring it back down for use.
I'm in WNC also, Macon County, over 2200 feet elevation. Pecans will grow here, but late spring frosts kill any producing buds and I've not known anyone to get a crop. Hickory trees or Hickan (hybrid pecan and hickory) do ok. Even the cold hardy pecans rarely have many nuts. The wild persimmons do well, but the domestic varieties have a difficult time, and have a lot of die back and winter kill some years. I grow Nanking cherry (no pruning, not much caretaking). They are sweet when totally ripe and produce after the first year. I grow figs in a protected corner south side of a building, but they winter kill all the way back to the ground when it gets -7F, then takes a couple of years to recover. I go to the extra trouble for figs because they are a favorite. They need a deep mulch to protect the shallow roots from drying or excessive cold. Arctic kiwi does well and so do Concord or muscadine or scuppernong grapes, highbush blueberries, raspberries, pears, apples. Peaches not so good, but about every 8 years when we don't get a late killing frost and have a dry fall (very unusual here), we get a good crop. I grow them because they are so easy and grow so quickly, but don't get my hopes up. Then, in years when there is a bumper crop, I can all the surplus I can't use fresh.
Look at what grows wild here: black walnuts, American elderberry, wild blackberry, fox grapes or wild Concord. Ginseng formerly did but has been poached almost to extinction. Shiitake mushrooms have the perfect habitat here near streams and under mountain laurel or other deep shade. There are plenty of free classes available through the county extension agents on growing shiitake mushrooms.
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