Long story short. A few months ago I suddenly & unexpectedly became steward of some land. Roughly 35 acres. The part of concern here is the green zone. There is 2 or 3 acres of mowed area. Tree shadows hide it a little. The "lawn" is larger than it appears to be & extends out along the driveway. It gets plenty of sunshine & often a gentle breeze. The ground slopes away (from the buildings) in all directions & water ultimately goes into the trees in the SW corner. That's basically a giant bowl. Very little runs off this property. The small barn is in good shape but no animals there now. Cows stay in the red zone. They have a barn & hay fields not specifically shown in this old picture. The black outlines are some hastily prepared veggie gardens started a few months ago. Drew in the coop because it's hiding under the trees. Currently have 5 chickens but it's built for 50-ish birds. There is decent fencing around the perimeter but would need reinforcement for goats or pigs, etc. I keep a few bees on site & intend to greatly increase those next season. Have more bees elsewhere. Some mature nut trees. Many maple trees. Wild berries & other edibles. There is a wide variety of game but I have much bigger & better hunting grounds higher in the mountains. All the wild critters have safe refuge here. We even like the fox, hawks, & other predators. We just don't like them eating chickens. We want more turkey & deer. There's a duck pond just begging to be filled. Have good water collection in place near the garden but generally don't need it. Rains are reasonable here.
Been contemplating various options & how best to proceed. Getting very close to official retirement age. I can retire NOW if I want. I almost NEED to. The green zone is basically a blank slate for anything. The only restriction is we don't want a lot of underbrush near the buildings for fire safety reasons. Not clearing a bunch of trees either. I enjoy growing as much different food as possible but have no desire to be a farmer in the traditional sense. Maybe some farmers market or CSA action but no large scale monocrop anything. Want to add a small greenhouse next year. Definitely will add some more fruit trees & maybe start a small nursery. I have limited experience raising small farm animals other than chickens but want to pursue that further. A small amount of goats, rabbits, pigs, different birds, etc. I want to become a better cheese maker. Pretty good with leather craft. Don't want to be 100% completely tied to the land or animals. Want to travel some, especially during winter. There is some limited help available for vacations. I'm not doing this to make money as much as to care for the land & provide for several people. Bartering potential seems as good as market potential around here. No objections to making a cash profit though. If it just breaks even & there is plenty of food & habitat for all creatures concerned it's a winner in my book.
I need a solid plan before end of winter. We want quality food, clean air, & clean water. I need something productive & useful to do. I feel obligated to take care of the earth & all it's inhabitants. Step one is improving the soil & that is already underway. (thank you for the excellent soil series Dr. Redhawk!!!) Wouldn't mind employing a few folks if it develops into that. I certainly don't need lawn. Of course I have my own ideas but I'd like some input from fellow permies before proceeding. What would you do in this situation? The replies to similar posts are always impressive. Help me jump start this beast.
Argue for your limitations and they are yours forever.
The first things that come to my mind are:
-what do I like to eat that could grow in my area?
-what could I grow in this area that is considered a delicacy in my region(as delicacy or rare foods would make a lot of money?
-what grows in my area easily (so that I have a surplus to trade with others to get other foods that grow better in other people's property)?
I would focus on just the 1 to 2 acres of land directly around the house.
2) Soil Carbon - Mulch/Woodchip/Straw/BioChar/Compost
3) Soil Life - Compost Tea/Mushroom Slurries
4) Nitrogen Fixers - 25% to 90% legumes (adler, alfalfa, dutch clover, etc)
5) Vegetable Garden - Herbs, Vegetables, Mushroom (oyster/winecap/etc)
6) Fruit Trees -
7) Bee Hive
9) Fish Pond 10) After a few years of harvester the pasture to make compost/mushroom/soil fertility on the 1-2 acres, you might get some milk/red meat animals on the rest of the 35 acres
I like the idea of nuts being my main calories vs desert grass seed (wheat, oats, corn, rye, etc). They are way more nutrient dense. I would fill the rest of my plate with greens and fruits (dried and fresh) and meat.