This is my first time posting. I hope I've appropriately placed this post. I was very glad to find a forum with so many like minds.
My husband and I are planning on buying land in the Pacific Northwest. Specifically, we are looking at acreage on the Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington. We are moving from Arizona, where we've already started to see some of the very disturbing drying and heating trends from global warming. I have some specific questions, but if anyone has any general thoughts on living off the grid in the lowlands of the Pacific NW, please feel free to share them. We are trying to learn as much as humanly possible about the area and the projections decades down the road from now.
From what I've learned, the Pacific NW seems like one of the best locations (in the US) for insulation against the ravages of climate change. Also, coming from Flagstaff, AZ (an extreme climate), I'm impressed with how long (relative to my climate) its growing season is.
I've been looking at lots of properties, and while I had envisioned reshaping via Bill Mollison's design strategies a degraded or overgrazed pasture area, I'm finding that much of the land in the area that I'm interested in is pretty heavily forested as it is. I see this from two angles: I want to put energy into improving land that is degraded and needs improving, but an already-forested property doesn't really need me to improve it. So I don't see it as much of a contribution back into the larger ecosystem. On the other hand, an already forested property could be very easy to work with as the soils are undoubtedly already in pretty good shape (I assume?) and it could make turning it into a productive food forest quite easy.
Does anyone familiar with the general ecosystem(s) of the Pacific NW have any opinion as to whether I should be looking for forested vs non-forested property (if a combo, what ratio?)? Is it less valuable to the local ecologically to transform a forest rather than more degraded grazing land? (for a bit more background, we plan on establishing a food forest as well as raising goats, chickens and fish on-site in whatever numbers are best for the acreage that we eventually buy). Any thoughts on these questions would be welcome! (or anything related to permaculture in the Pacific NW)
Awesome the PNW is a wonderful place. I grew up in the PNW, but spent 4 yrs in AZ at Arcosanti. It is a dramatic difference.
A bit of advice about moving from AZ to WA, you are going to get sick of the rain (especially on the Peninsula which gets more than other parts). Plan accordingly by building or buying a place with a garage, large overhangs, covered porch, a mud room, etc to help you acclimate.
As for forest vs pasture land. Think of how long it takes to grow a tree, vs the ability to remove trees and turn them into structures. I would always suggest going with forested land and if you need more open space then clearing timbers out to create open space.
The one draw back of food foresting in the PNW is the native evergreens don't tend to lend themselves to the typical food forest designs. As well as some of the pines don't play well with other pants, creating "pine deserts" is something some are concerned about. However if you look around some of the forests there is a lot of biodiversity in the undergrowth of PNW forests. Including a lot of edible plants and mushrooms. So a PNW food forest would not be impossible, just not something that seems top have been worked on much to integrate the native forests and the edibles from the area.
"Where will you drive your own picket stake? Where will you choose to make your stand? Give me a threshold, a specific point at which you will finally stop running, at which you will finally fight back." (Derrick Jensen)
I've never been to the Olympic Peninsula, and only briefly to the Pacific Northwest in general, but as someone who's done a lot of research into climates and weather patterns across the U.S. I've learned about the olympic rain shadow, reports are that the small part of the peninsula that is in this rain shadow not only gets a lot less rain, but gets much more sun than Seattle, this website goes into it more fully.
PNW weather is very wet. However it is a great place to grow plants. I have citrus trees growing, however I do have to put them in the greenhouse in winter. I grow olive trees outdoors. Goji berry grows great! And they take root incredibly quick and easy. Strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, elderberry, huckleberry, wild rose, apples, peaches, pears, plums, hazelnuts, walnuts, pine nuts. You can grow most things here. Although you may have to plan it out if you want to enjoy tropical plants year round it is possible. We enjoy having some citrus inside in the winter. It can brighten a dreary rainy gray day to walk into a room filled with bright lights and orange blossoms just starting to open. Coming from Az you might enjoy it too. I have heard depression can be a real problem for people when they move here. I love the rain, I like being in it. It feels like home. Get a good waterproof coat, pants and boots. (Or two)😋
Good luck! It is wonderful here.