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How to choose location for my South Florida food forest?

 
Rawbert Fulop
Posts: 8
Location: Naples, FL
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Hey guys,

I'm planning my move to south FL to start my own permaculture fruit forest!!!
I just started to look for land and I could use some advice

My questions:

1. How many acres to buy? I was thinking min. 5 acres (~2 hectares) preferably in an area where there is more land available around me so I can expand later or maybe other fruity friends could buy land around me

For now I need sufficient fruit for myself and than to sell some to pay electric/internet, taxes and other minor expenses.

2. Where to buy? I pretty much narrowed it down already to Naples area where you can get 5 acres for around $20-30000. East coast is too crowded and expensive.

I'm planning to go down there soon to take a look around.
What should I look for?

Naked land is better, or land with trees, bushes and other vegetation?

Next to water or no? When I say water I mean the water canals they made to drain the swamp.. I don't think there's any springs down there

3. Animals and bugs...

When I tell people I'm moving to S. FL this is the first thing they bring up (ok, maybe second after hurricanes).. They say S.FL in infested with alligators, snakes, fire ants, etc. should I be concerned about them?

Thank you in advance!
 
hannah ransom
Posts: 81
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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811er? 

I don't think you need 5 acres, but i'm sure it'd be a nice amount to have if you can afford it.

Personally, I wouldn't want to get naked land because I would be afraid it isn't so fertile.

Is there possibility of flooding from the swamp drainage?

I think bugs are a significant issue in s. fl, because it is VERY hard to find much organic around there. hopefully implementing permaculture correctly it shouldn't be an issue for you?

and yeah, living in s. fl if you are planning on growing your own food/basing your livelihood on that you should be very worried about hurricanes and other catastrophic weather. stuff will happen all the time wiping out all of the bananas, etc.

 
Jonathan Byron
Posts: 225
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I think the dearth of organic produce is more related to low demand, not to insects. Yes, there are insects, but I grow many things without pesticides. Weeds are more of a problem, especially for shorter plants and annuals. For trees, not so big deal to keep it mowed around the tree for a while, then the tree takes off.

But if you are new to an area, expect some trial and error. Things that were easy to grow elsewhere might be difficult here.

Fire ants are the biggest hazard among those you listed. Easy to fall on a mound of them and get enough stings to go into the hospital if not careful. On the other hand, having lived in Florida for 15 years, I have not been stung so often - one or two bites every so often, not a big deal. Heat is an even bigger risk for outdoor occupations... I get heat exhaustion or sickness every year, have not had true heat stroke (with loss of consciousness, high risk of death).

We had a rather large alligator in the yard once. Have only seen non-poisonous snakes, although there are others known to be around. Your mileage will vary with the property in question.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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look for a place with as much diversity as possible. i.e trees and no trees, flat spots and non flat spots, wet spots and dry spots, etc... the more diverse the property. the more diverse your plantings can be.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9421
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Definitely review the section in the "esigners Manual" about hurricane housing and tropical gardens.  Lot of helpful information there!

 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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I am over on the east coast, in Martin County, not as cheap as elsewhere, but not as expensive as further south.  I am not sure land differs all that much down here - water or trees make the microclimate, otherwise, it's all flat and sandy, with some ground water that you can dig to with a shovel.

5 acres is a lot... definitely more than enough to feed yourself.  IMO, that is a whole lot of jungle to restrain...got goats?

Agree that a mix of some trees and some open space makes sense.  Saw palmetto, florida pine and live oak are nice.  You'll appreciate shade. Trees here grow quick.  Avocados, mangos, loquats, moringa oleifera are quick to grow from seed...With mangos and avos sometimes you'll get good fruit, or you can graft specific cultivars later. 

Row cropping makes sense with something like pigeon pea that can give some shade for veggies that will otherwise bolt or wilt in the heat.  There are a few organic CSA's over this way.  Most farms here shut down in summer, because the familiar veg can't handle the sun.  Permaculture works great...the understory of my little patio food forest is thriving while the farms are almost deserts. 

Forest or ranchland, the soil will mostly be sand.  You can build it up, but a lot of the nutrients will leach away.  It's okay.  With all the sun and rain, stuff just grows. 

Wouldn't worry too much about water, as the water table is not too deep anywhere.  Trees will find it.  Flooding is a concern, as is fire, and hurricanes can take their toll. 

Fire ants are a major PITA. 

If I am still around here when you get down this way, let me know and I'll help you out with some seeds or cuttings.  You can grow amazing stuff down here, and it grows quick.
 
Ben Sunil
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I know this is an old thread but we just came across it. We are also planning to buy a property around Naples, FL to start our fruit forest. Rawbert - Have you bought the property over there? I would love to know your experiences down there. Or if there are any other permies out there in that area, I would love hear from you guys. We are most concerned about the soil and worried if we will be able to grow tropical fruits.
 
Rawbert Fulop
Posts: 8
Location: Naples, FL
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Ben Sunil wrote:I know this is an old thread but we just came across it. We are also planning to buy a property around Naples, FL to start our fruit forest. Rawbert - Have you bought the property over there? I would love to know your experiences down there. Or if there are any other permies out there in that area, I would love hear from you guys. We are most concerned about the soil and worried if we will be able to grow tropical fruits.


Hey Ben!
I did buy a 5 acre lot in Naples, I'm still waiting for closing, it's a bank owned foreclosure and paperwork takes forever..
I'll be moving down there in a few months, I'll post updates and send you an email too.
 
Rawbert Fulop
Posts: 8
Location: Naples, FL
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Thank you guys for all the useful tips!
I'm moving down there in about 3 months, will post updates later.

@Hannah, yes 811er and love it! You too?

@Yukkuri, I'd love that, thank you!
 
                                      
Posts: 21
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Lot's of Florida fruit growers on this forum:

http://tropicalfruitforum.com/

You should check it out while you're waiting for closing.....
 
George Hayduke
Posts: 46
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You are going to be able to grow a ton of stuff on five acres in the Naples area. I live in Florida, and given the amount of sun and water we receive, an acre is plenty to provide food for a small family. Soil quality varies quite a bit, and in sandy areas you will need to add organic material as a soil amendment to boost soil nutrients and retain water. This could be a huge job on a five-acre plot. I'd start with an acre or less and see how it goes. I am currently building a permaculture 'complex' on a single acre in North Florida and believe that size is adequate for a family of four. I need to produce on the average about 10,000 calories per day. Half of the acre is an orchard planted in pasture grass. I can get about 35 fruit and nut trees on that half acre (planted on 20' centers). I also graze Gulf Coast native sheep between the trees. (They provide meat, wool, and milk.) The other half acre is chicken coops, raised bed gardens, tilapia tanks, a residential structure, etc. Trust me: You can stay busy producing food on an acre.

Think about growing some energy-dense vegetables as a base for your caloric production. Sweet potatoes work particularly well in Florida for this purpose.

Snakes and alligators are not a problem. I mean, they exist but the chance of them harming you are very small. On our farm I've seen two species of rattlesnakes, coral snakes, and water moccasins. Never an issue with them. The fire ants are a bitch and will be an ongoing issue.

Good luck!
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9421
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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George Hayduke wrote:
Think about growing some energy-dense vegetables as a base for your caloric production. Sweet potatoes work particularly well in Florida for this purpose.


You might also want to try yams: http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Dioscorea+batatas
 
C Hopper
Posts: 24
Location: Southwest Florida, Zone 10a, Elevation 12ft, 52in precipitation, tropical wet and dry savanna type
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Educational Concerns For Hunger(ECHO) based in Fort Myers has an awesome demonstration farm/seed bank/nursery. Find them at echonet.org I really enjoy visiting and taking the farm tours.
 
Robbie Guggenheim
Posts: 3
Location: Gainesville, fl
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I would love it if people of Florida and even others, would join this new Facebook group so we can easily share pics, ideas, successes and failures! I love food forests, and we are trying to put our first public one in Gainesville, FL.

Florida group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/FloridaFoodForests/
G'ville's official Page
https://www.facebook.com/FoodForestsGainesville
 
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