I'm looking at buying land in Western North Carolina (anywhere from 40-90 acres within an hour of Asheville). The goal would be to slowly (I'm relatively young) as much of it as I can to food forest, while using select few areas (relatively insignificant amounts) for garden/market garden.
I'm from Minnesota, with flat land, black soil, and farm runoff aplenty. I'm in love with the mountains, but recognize that it's quite a different environment to do permaculture in.
It seems that for the mountain climate, the first major task (apart from access roads) is soil building to improve the capacity for planting and erosion control.
My first inclination is to introduce some ruminants (goats come to mind), paddocking with GPS electric fencing collars to cover as much ground with the least human work. Any ideas on other animals that would do well in the mountainous forested environment? Any problems you see with this idea?
Since most of the relatively cheap large acreage is mostly forested, do you think it's worth scattering any seed to improve this process? If so, what cheap plant seed would you suggest, and could any animals help with the process. Pigs come to mind, but I'm not sure if that would backfire and do more damage to soil structure than help.
As far as terracing specific areas goes, hugel terracing seems like a safe way to start to accomplish multiple goals. If I wanted to do terraces/possibly swales with a bobcat or tractor, would I want to wait until more soil is built up, or could I go right ahead and build soil on top of the terraces?
Also, are there any things I would do well to keep in mind when planning water management earthworks like swales in a mountain forest environment? I want to be able to slow down/capture water, but also want to make sure that I don't negatively impact the land in doing so.
Lastly, it seems obvious that I would want property on a south-facing slope. I'm curious though, can you imagine any advantages of a north-facing slope (the problem is the solution and all that jazz kool-aid)?