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Daron Williams
pollinator
Posts: 231
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
33
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Hello all,

I just wanted to introduce myself and say hello! I have been reading posts on permies for a while now and studying permaculture using books and web sources for a number of years but I'm new to being a part of this community. My wife and I recently purchased our first (hopefully last!) home just outside of Olympia, WA and we are planning on developing it to produce food for our own use while creating habitat for wildlife - permaculture seems a great fit for this. Our home is small by American's standards (1,056 square feet) and sits on 2.86 acres. Most of the land is an old hayfield that features a gulley that connects a wetland to the north of the property to a wetland to the south of the property. In both cases, my property is outside the wetland buffer area but the gulley does feature wetland plants that makes me think there is a high water table.

I currently work for a local Land Trust doing restoration and outreach work in Thurston and Mason counties but much of my career has focused on working to protect the waters of the Western United States. I worked for the USGS, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and a number of non-profits. I also had the opportunity to do environmental work and study for a year in England and for a bit in Fiji - my time in Fiji focused on climate change and its impact on small communities while my time in England focused on pond restoration and local resiliency. Beyond this work I have also worked on a number of political campaigns ranging from local to national races but currently, I'm more focused on improving local policies to make it easier to implement environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional methods.

Water is my passion but I love growing food - growing up my family and I grew about half of our yearly vegetables in the backyard of a suburban home using traditional but organic methods. My hope is to combine both of my passions on my property to create a lush oasis that produces yields for my family and local wildlife using permaculture principles. The gulley on my property has a seasonal stream that luckily is not registered on any official documents - I'm currently designing a series of large ponds to retain water within the gulley while allowing the stream to continue flowing towards a wetland, then a larger creek and finally into the Puget Sound. WA State officials have told me that I don't need a permit from them for the ponds so now I just need to talk to the county but it should be a simple formality since there is no documented streams, wetlands or critical areas on my property. To the state and local officials my property is just an old hayfield, but to me it can be much more than that. I want to be very transparent as I work on my property because my hope is to use my property as a demonstration area to help teach others and potentially influence local policies for the better.

I'm working on a new website so I can post information about what I'm doing and the lessons I learn along the way so please watch for it over the next month or so. It may take me a bit to be fully engaged with this community but hopefully, I won't be a stranger for long!

Thanks for reading this and for all the great topics that I have read over the years! I have learned a lot from this site and its members and I look forward to chatting with you all and I know I will need some feedback as I move forward!

Cheers,

Daron
 
Roberto pokachinni
pollinator
Posts: 1505
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
104
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Hi Daron,

Welcome to the posting side of Permies.

It seems like you have a lot of great practical knowledge and experience.  I think you will be a great asset, not only this site, but to your land.  Congratulations on landing your property!  Olympia is a great place, with plenty of community oriented folks.  I'm sure you will find plenty of knowledge locally to help you along the way. 

You should definitely consider a visit to the Bullock Brother's place on nearby Orcas Island, if you have a chance.  Call ahead, and make a weekend of it, if it suits you and the brothers.

Since you already have some experience with the site, I will only direct you to the Universal Welcome Page

If you have further questions or queries about the workings of the site, be sure to ask, or if you have suggestions on site improvements, then post in Tinkering with this site.    
 
Jocelyn Campbell
master steward
Posts: 4283
Location: Missoula, MT
420
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Welcome Daron! Good on Roberto for the nice welcome, too.

Daron Williams wrote:
I'm working on a new website so I can post information about what I'm doing and the lessons I learn along the way so please watch for it over the next month or so. It may take me a bit to be fully engaged with this community but hopefully, I won't be a stranger for long!

Posting summaries and pics from your website out at the projects forum would be cool, too, once you're at that stage.

Glad you won't be a stranger as much here, now! Good luck with the new property!
 
John Weiland
Posts: 966
Location: RRV of da Nort
50
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@Daron W:  "I'm currently designing a series of large ponds to retain water within the gulley while allowing the stream to continue flowing towards a wetland, then a larger creek and finally into the Puget Sound. ..... I want to be very transparent as I work on my property because my hope is to use my property as a demonstration area to help teach others and potentially influence local policies for the better.....It may take me a bit to be fully engaged with this community but hopefully, I won't be a stranger for long!"

Welcome, Daron, and it sounds like you are off to a good start.  Just thinking as I read the excerpted lines above that you may wish to consider involving some aspect of the students and curriculum at The Evergreen State College (TESC).  Don't know what your current employment or career affiliation situation is at the moment, but it may even be possible down the road, probably somewhat dependent upon your academic background, to become a mentor or some sort of adjunct educator through TESC for environmental/organic farming studies.  And this may as a bonus fast-track some of the local community connections you may wish to make, as well as serve as a conduit for demonstrating some of your ideas.

See also

http://evergreen.edu/mes/

http://evergreen.edu/organicfarm/
 
Daron Williams
pollinator
Posts: 231
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
33
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Thank you Roberto, Jocelyn and John for the warm welcome! Also, thanks for the heads up about the welcome page and the projects page!

John Weiland wrote: Welcome, Daron, and it sounds like you are off to a good start.  Just thinking as I read the excerpted lines above that you may wish to consider involving some aspect of the students and curriculum at The Evergreen State College (TESC).  Don't know what your current employment or career affiliation situation is at the moment, but it may even be possible down the road, probably somewhat dependent upon your academic background, to become a mentor or some sort of adjunct educator through TESC for environmental/organic farming studies.  And this may as a bonus fast-track some of the local community connections you may wish to make, as well as serve as a conduit for demonstrating some of your ideas.


I just graduated from the MES program at TESC in June - I would love to do more with the MES program and TESC. For my current job I actually have an event planned with the MES Student Association tomorrow and later in December I have a panel discussion event planned in conjunction with a group I'm on the board of to talk to the MES students about estuary restoration. But I will admit that I'm not sure the best way to move forward in regards to what I'm doing at my own place. It would be great to have MES students help with the work and especially help me actually document and measure the effectiveness/impact that my work has on the land. My thesis focused on how working lands, specifically clear-cuts, could be managed using earthworks such as swales for increased water retention through the reduction of surface water flow and a corresponding increase in groundwater levels. The goal of this was to explore the use of earthworks on existing working lands as an alternative to the diminishing mountain snow packs. The work I want to do on my own property will build on my thesis work.

@John - do you have any ideas of the best way to engage TESC/MES students on the work I'm wanting to do?

Thanks all!
 
John Weiland
Posts: 966
Location: RRV of da Nort
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Daron,

Congrats on the degree!  I spent my freshman year at TESC..."back in the day" (1979) but transferred back to Wisconsin for family reasons.  Also did a short stint with the USFS assisting in the testing various plants/shrubs for resilience at mine reclamation sites across southern Idaho.  You mentioned two emphases in your OP--(1) hydrology work for remediation of damaged lands and waterways and (2) your passion for growing food.  So you may be able to tap into either in the involvement of students on your property and in your efforts to educate others about healthier living through healthier ecosystems.  First and foremost is the concept of treatment/trial replication with which you will be familiar from your own Master's degree as well as your previous work.  What you may wish to do is envision some approach to your swale/hydrology projects and/or your organic gardening project that you may wish to test.  Then, with the approval of a TESC faculty member who is advising an undergraduate or graduate-level independent study student, see if they wish to replicate the same study at a different location. (You may wish to start by approaching either the head of a department to see which faculty member might be most interested in the type of research you are proposing, but alternatively might be able to find this information through faculty profiles at TESC's website. Once this is done, usually an introductory eMail to them is all it takes to get the ball rolling.) The faculty mentor will likely weigh in on the design study....this may or may not be to your liking, but it will be your call.  If approved, the faculty mentor and student will set up a similar design at one or more locations in the lower Puget Sound area in addition to your own location as experimental replicates.  They will need to be able to take the measurements needed at your location as well as their other sites so that they can combine the data to see what works best across all locations versus what seems to be more site specific versus what does not seem to work at all.  Same thing holds true for an organic food producing study.....you may want to try some type of soil-amendment study at your place that would be replicated at TESC's Organic Farm and probably one or two additional locations.  Again, with the assistance of faculty and students from the college, you are co-educating the students while getting more bang for your buck with researching what works on your own property as you will be privy to the research results at the end of the study as a co-investigator.  Just some possible angles that may work.....even better as you already have some familiarity with the college, the campus culture, and the faculty there.
 
Daron Williams
pollinator
Posts: 231
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
33
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Thanks John for the response! I got a lot to think about and I appreciate your thoughts!
 
It would give a normal human mental abilities to rival mine. To think it is just a tiny ad:
Permaculture Playing Cards by Paul Wheaton and Alexander Ojeda
https://permies.com/wiki/57503/digital-market/digital-market/Permaculture-Playing-Cards-Paul-Wheaton
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