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pond in city as an attractive nuisance  RSS feed

 
tom campbell
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I live in St. Louis, Missouri, and I am just starting to garden/steward a vacant lot leased from the city. I'm building hugelculture-ish raised beds on contour (with compost dumped at site for free from the city) where i'll be growing mostly sweet potatoes and winter squash. I'll be learning the art of vegetative propagation of perennials (autumn olive, peaches, black locust) to populate the slope leading down to the alley. and i want to play with learning how to make a natural pond- a small one, with just a shovel, and gleying it instead of using plastic or pigs (i'd use pigs if i had 'em). I want to have a pond for the practice of making one, to provide habitat for frogs, to maybe grow some azolla, and to just make the site wetter in general to cut down on the need to irrigate those raised beds.

but being in the city, on a lot without any fencing, i am supposed to worry about the possibility that little children might drown in something like a pond. i've learned it's a concept in law and insurance called attractive nuisance.

so my first thought is to put a fence around the pond, but something else to keep in mind is that this lot is in a pretty nice middle class neighborhood where the neighbors care about "eyesores". and while i personally don't think most things that people think of as eyesores are ugly, i do think it is less than elegant to have a fence around a pond.

i could fence the whole property but as this lease with the city is such that they can take it from me anytime with 30 days notice, I don't want to invest much money at all. I just want to play with the site on the cheap and learn what I can.

my next thought is to plant brambles around the pond, but i'm not sure how brambles would do with so much water or if that could be sufficient measures to keep kids out. or perhaps having thorny fruit bearing plants surrounding a pond is only stacking the attractive nuisances!

i hate that this culture is so controlled by fear of liability. it is the source of so much of the mediocrity and shittyness of our current situation. in a more ideal world, where my life was more integrated, the problem would be non-existent because people (including me) would always be somewhere nearby the pond and that attention would prevent any tragedies from happening. (this lot is next to my parents' house, so I will personally be around only a couple times a week, and my parents don't spend much time outside. the neighbors across the alley (with their backyards in full view running the length of this lot) do spend a lot of time outside. perhaps they can be recruited for the cause.)

so if anyone has any thoughts about a permaculture solution to the drowning child sector in my pond design I'm very open to hearing them. thank you!

(I posted this here because it is maybe an issue related to city repair (how to enact permaculture in populated areas. but perhaps its more a homesteading forum issue? or permaculture?)
 
Becky Pinaz
Posts: 69
Location: Maricopa, AZ
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Interesting problem. I wonder how the HOA's build all the artificial lakes around here without significant liability since none of them are fenced. It's not an issue to take lightly because there are so many child drownings every year.
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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My first step would be to talk to the City Attorney.  (S)he would probably be in the best position to determine the feasibility of the idea, as well as knowing what hoops you would have to jump through to make your pond a reality.
 
tom campbell
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Becky in AZ wrote:
Interesting problem. I wonder how the HOA's build all the artificial lakes around here without significant liability since none of them are fenced. It's not an issue to take lightly because there are so many child drownings every year.

yes, it seems like perhaps they might simply buy insurance policies for such instances. i don't know.
John Polk wrote:
My first step would be to talk to the City Attorney.  (S)he would probably be in the best position to determine the feasibility of the idea, as well as knowing what hoops you would have to jump through to make your pond a reality.

maybe that is true. i am reluctant to get entangled with bureaucracy as i imagine that if i ask to do anything, the answer is probably going to be no. or yes, but you need to pay for a permit.
i think i will ask the neighbors their opinions as a first step, since they live there and know the realities of the site better than i do, and go from there.

 
                                      
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Is it possible to create something less pond like and more...marsh like?  Would a reedy marsh area serve the same purpose?  If a marsh is too shallow, keep the pond less than 12" deep and keep lots of plants in it.  I'm thinking reeds, again, and lillies and cattails.  Things that make it look less like a place to splash and swim.

If none of that appeals, embrace the 'nuisance' and be a local attraction!  It's good to have kids around and maybe you could share a few things about food growing and pond-life, like a free summer course for local kiddos.
 
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