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Crescent City Food Forest

 
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Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
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The Crescent City Food Forest is a project I have been helping work on since June 2017. We are far from done, but this thread will share our progress so far. I welcome feedback, ideas and hopefully getting the word out here will facilitate connections with other permies in our region and beyond. I came into the project a couple years in and did not make the original design or do the hard work of acquiring grant funding, and in general all credit for our progress should be shared with many partners on this project.

Those deserving credit include the Tolowa Dee-ni Nation for getting the grant and sharing their land; our local Community Food Council, and the Family Resource Center of the Redwoods and it’s employees for managing the grant and getting many great things going in this community and on this site; The College of the Redwoods for hosting and accommodating many of the site’s projects and partners; and, the Youth Training Academy, including its staff and participants.

When I came onto the project it was initially for 5 weeks in the summer of 2017 to just help lead the Youth Training Academy Food Forest program, technically as a part time faculty member for the College of the Redwoods. I was invited to apply to do so after leading a hugelkulture potluck workshop at the Crescent City Family Resource Center kids garden. This is a good example of how it can pay off to volunteer and engage with our community.

The previous attempts to plant trees on the 1.5 acre food forest site had failed due primarily to immense hardscape runoff from above the site compounding poor drainage on the site and its compacted, leached and generally abused soil. We had less than .5% organic matter and the topsoil had been stripped and a stream diverted off the site decades before in using the site as a landing pad for heavy equipment to build the College and adjacent Del Norte High School. Obviously, this was not an ideal place to grow most fruit trees or proceed as they had initially planned. However, it’s location is adjacent to the schools and therefore is a great opportunity to engage the students, faculty and our community. It's problems also present a fairly extreme example of many of the challenges people face in gardening in this region, and therefore a template to demonstrate solutions and show how we can work with the nature of a sight.

My first reaction to the surveying the site was, “wow this soil has been beat up, and it really wants to be a wetland again.” The 14acres of hardscape running 386,000gal of water per inch of rain onto the site indicated this to be nature’s inclination as well. This had also caused leaching of any water soluble nutrients (N, Ph, Ca) and left a toxic level of Magnesium in the subsoil. While it would clearly be easier to grow a food forest on a more ideal site, I also saw a place in dire need of restoration. In trying to respect and harness the wetland nature of the site while achieving the goals of the clients, my thoughts turned to chinampas. We could utilize the immense amounts of woody debris around the area to build hugelkulture beds above grade, and have paths upon trenches filled with woody debris, or seasonal water features below the water table. This water table could get up above 40-50% of the sight during winter, and within 2ft of highest parts of the intended planting area.  A hugel-chinampas approach had worked well at my property with some similar challenges to the site, but on a smaller scale and with a lot more organic matter and trees to start with. I also could keep animals at my place much more easily than at this site, where it has not been an option so far but it is a goal. Anyhow, I met with all the people in charge I could, who were many and from various organizations, and asked what the wanted and what their resources were. I drew up a design plan to overlay on their initial plans that had not worked thus far to be able to come up with a course curriculum for the YTA class I was going to teach. This of course has had to be adapted and melded with others' ideas, budgets, schedules, and the reality on the ground.

When I came on to the project, the site had just been ripped and limed, and a fence just put in. This was done against my advice but it was not my decision to make at the time. The fence was built well but simply done at a subideal stage in the process, and was not tall enough to prevent deer. It has functioned well as a trellis but also impeded earthworks and transport of materials. I guess I can't complain, as I have been paid for many hours of going around that fence. I also have learned even more clearly about the importance of planning for accessibility. As for the ripping, it was just done without fully utilizing the use of machinery to key-line and we were not prepared to compost-inoculate, mulch or seed the site right after. So I broadcast a few large bags of wild bird seed to get something reestablished that spring and try to reinoculate the site with wildlife, a la Bill Mollison.

We got very lucky with a great team of YTA interns that first summer I was on the project (2017). First we had to finish the irrigation pipe trench, and I was able to get approval to make it more multifunctional by [very close to] leveling it out with a slight slope towards the low point in the middle of the field, laying 4" drain tile/pipe, stuffing the trench with woody debris, and topping it with woodchips for a path. After this, we got a proper cover crop mix and straw mulch on the entire sight. Then we built a key-hole hugel bed. Around the fence-line we planted native, edible and other useful vining plants for a hedge row. We also spread voluminous amounts of compost and woodchips, primarily focusing on the higher points to weep fertility downhill. We also planted strawberries, beans, and greens on the hugel beds. All the while interns were learning about the academic and theoretical background reasoning for what we were doing in the classroom. Volunteers also independently built an outdoor gathering area with shade and seating.

Over the winter, I was employed part time with the help of interns and volunteers, we built another hugelkulture bed and started one more large one, planted garlic, potatoes and other winter veggies, spread at least 100cubic yds of woodchips, established trails, improved the stability of our drainage points into the downhill stream for habitat and erosion control, planted a 35-40 species cover crop mix in spring, and prepared for the 2018 YTA program that summer.

Last summer (2018) we continued to work on improving the soil and preparing the sight for tree planting. We finished a large (1000sq ft) hugel bed. We also filled in and finished planting the hedgerow. We installed drip irrigation in strategic locations around the sight (mostly at high points with compost around them to weep tea downhill). Unfortunately we had to also weed over an acre of glandweed that most likely came in on straw mulch. We helped with the completion of the 1200sq ft hoop house on the site. We also got the adjacent school to stop spraying roundup again (they'd stopped for years and did it only once, but it was right during the YTA training around the kids).
We also spread 40cu yds of compost and at least an equal volume of woodchips. After lessons on companion planting and garden design, the interns planted out the hugel beds with squash, beans, sunflowers, corn, greens, herbs, and flowers. Many of these thrived beyond my expectation, and even the sickly tomatoes donated to us potbound  and planted in July even grew well. We have harvested many large and small squash, beans and greens through the fall.

This fall I came onto the project full time as the primary design and implementation person, and we dove into necessary earthworks to balance the wetland nature of the sight with the clients/grant's goal of planting non-wetland trees. We finished a hugel bed around the gathering space with a trellis/arbor, and planted it with greens, peas, blueberries, thimbleberries, salmonberries, and kiwis. We planted 25 fruit trees, 40 or so blue berries, and a couple dozen grapes and currants. We had an excavator dig out a hardscape water diversion trench at a minimal grade (to function something like a swale but in a constrained location), which ends in a basin wetland area with a level sill that leads into the adjacent pine-spruce forest. We have filled this back in with woody debris to slow/spread, aerate, filter and establish other beneficial biological functions before the water runs off. On the berm we planted as 40+ species mix of pacific nw wildflowers, the HSU erosion control mix, peaceful valley soil building mix, and wild bird seed. We also dug a woody debris filled french drain around the hoophouse and ran this trench out as far as we feasibly could on contour to function something like a keyline. We then spent a few weeks gathering free and donated woody debris for more hugelkulture beds (about 4000sq ft of bed's worth), as well as 50+ cu yds more wood chips to spread. Finally, just before Thanksgiving, I decided to run the excavator myself (I have done this before for the NPS and am competent, but the previous work was near a city water main in tight quarters that I wanted a full time driver on), and we got from 25%-90% done on the next 4000sq ft of hugel beds, which are in suntrap crescents that also correlate with our drainage management strategy. We then cover cropped anything bare, and mulched our tails off in the first, unseasonably late, heavy rain. Most of this fall's cover crop has came up much better than previous seasons, and the soil is clearly getting much better. We are also getting at least a dozen mushroom species popping up, especially around the wood filled trench. This fall I have also been working on balancing our drainage with water holding by making it travel and slow down strategically with woody debris and stone gabbions and level sills.

I will attempt below to put together a timeline of pictures and videos of what we have done so far:


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Just started, June 2017
 
Ben Zumeta
pollinator
Posts: 898
Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
220
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Timeline, June 2017-December 2017
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Getting water to the site, putting in PVC, drain tlle, woody debris, woodchips on top
Getting water to the site, putting in PVC, drain tlle, woody debris, woodchips on top
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YTA Interns learning to install and troubleshoot plumbing
YTA Interns learning to install and troubleshoot plumbing
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Mulched field after cover crop
Mulched field after cover crop
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hugelkulture keyhole
hugelkulture keyhole
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hugelkulture keyhole
hugelkulture keyhole
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Edible and native hedgerow planting
Edible and native hedgerow planting
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Gathering space
Gathering space
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YTA 2017 Crew
YTA 2017 Crew
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Cover crop popping up
Cover crop popping up
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Map Sketch North Side
Map Sketch North Side
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Map Sketch South Side
Map Sketch South Side
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Flooding from hardscape runoff
Flooding from hardscape runoff
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Runoff downstream before imrpovements
Runoff downstream before imrpovements
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Mulch Mulch Mulch
Mulch Mulch Mulch
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Another hugel
Another hugel
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Drainage protection, level sills for cascade with less erosion, better aeration
Drainage protection, level sills for cascade with less erosion, better aeration
 
Ben Zumeta
pollinator
Posts: 898
Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
220
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hugelkultur dog forest garden solar wood heat homestead
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Timeline 2018:
IMG_1106.jpg
Rockwork
Rockwork
IMG_1111.jpg
Rockwork
Rockwork
IMG_1447.jpg
Hugel-arbor around gathering area
Hugel-arbor around gathering area
IMG_1451.jpg
woody debris french drain-keyline
woody debris french drain-keyline
IMG_1473.jpg
woody debris french drain-keyline
woody debris french drain-keyline
IMG_1479.png
Site contour map Early 2018
Site contour map Early 2018
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Site contour map Early 2018
Site contour map Early 2018
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Site contour map Early 2018
Site contour map Early 2018
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Site contour map Early 2018
Site contour map Early 2018
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New hugel bed squash (a type of zucchini)
New hugel bed squash (a type of zucchini)
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Volunteers and FRC employees planting trees
Volunteers and FRC employees planting trees
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Drainage trench, filled with large woody debris
Drainage trench, filled with large woody debris
IMG_1598.jpg
Drainage basin
Drainage basin
IMG_1678.jpg
gravel access drive
gravel access drive
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culvert and drain rock causeway
culvert and drain rock causeway
IMG_1680.jpg
Food Forest entry
Food Forest entry
IMG_1683.jpg
another hugel
another hugel
IMG_1707.jpg
November 2018
November 2018
 
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Posts: 27
Location: Herefordshire, England, UK
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Hi Ben,

this sounds like a fantastic project. Congratulations for getting it off the ground in challenging conditions! Food forests can make such a big difference in urban neighboruhoods. I look forward to hearing more about your project as you progress.

Following from what you write I have a couple more questions: who are the projected end users of the food forest, what do they want to get out of it, and do you have strategies for getting them invovled from the start? In my experience that is probably the most important aspect to get right for the long term success of a food forest.

best wishes
Tomas Remiarz

https://forestgardeninginpractice.com/
 
Ben Zumeta
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Following from what you write I have a couple more questions: who are the projected end users of the food forest, what do they want to get out of it, and do you have strategies for getting them invovled from the start? In my experience that is probably the most important aspect to get right for the long term success of a food forest.




Great question! It took awhile to get an idea of what the answer was, and I just recently have seen the budget up close. My understanding of the goal of the grant is to improve access to fresh foods in this regional "food desert," and by doing so improve health outcomes like obesity and diabetes rates etc. Therefore the intended recipients of food would be our local food pantries serving those in need of food assistance, the adjacent College of the Redwoods and Del Norte High School students, as well as volunteers and interns as much as possible. Educational opportunities have been welcomed to be developed by the college, and I am trying to cultivate more partnerships with other local schools. We have monthly volunteer days and have been able to employ a couple interns year round part time. I also hope to teach a PDC at the site and teach more for the college as my schedule allows in order to cultivate more home grown support for the project. My master's is in Adventure Education with a focus on Wilderness Service Learning, but I have never led a project quite like this before and am finding the gardening of gardeners and architect of a design curriculum to be as important and challenging as the plants, fungi and earthworks.
 
Ben Zumeta
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Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
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Just finished a week with a 5ton excavator. Got about 2500 sq ft of 4-6ft tall hugel beds done and a similar amount of swale/path and four smallish (500-2000gal) ponds.Oh and it was one handsome pup’s birthday!

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Ben Zumeta
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Now I’m actually done with the excavator, as I was able to squeeze in 3 more hours than I thought I’d get this morning. Got another hugel bed done.
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Ben Zumeta
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Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
220
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A nice example of broadcast polyculture on a first year hugel bed and what does well with less than 2” of compost added (sunflowers, squash, poppies, leafy greens, radishes, beans and peas):
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Ben Zumeta
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Thanks to Grant from the Smith River Alliance for sending this photo he took of me in front of a hugel bed built by local youth in 2018. Behind that in the background is another 5000sq ft of hugels that were all finished in the last year. Grant was on a tour I gave of the site during our Food Forest Grand Opening Harvest Festival. Thanks to the many volunteers and several amazing colleagues, it went very well from my perspective. We had at least 150 attendees, I took about 50 people on tours and many seemed interested in applying principles of what we have done at home. We also had a petting zoo (the pallet and lattice fence I built with mostly scrap materials in just 3hrs held up well and looks pretty good. The food was mostly from the site or it was very locally grown, and apple cider pressing was a big hit and will provide us with a lot of seedstock for starting locally adapted apples the Sepp Holzer way. The band was also very nice to hear as people bustled about and it seemed a good time was had by all.  It had a lot going on and several people put in long hours making it happen, but I am glad we did it!

Thanks to all who came and especially to those who helped! For further involvement, come on out to the Crescent City Food Forest — Taa-‘at-dvn Chee-ne’ Tetlh-tvm’ — at the College of the Redwoods Campus (@Washington & Arlington) on Monday’s from 2-5pm for the Permaculture Garden Club or the 4th Friday of the month for seasonally themed volunteer projects and workshops.
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Ben Zumeta
pollinator
Posts: 898
Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
220
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hugelkultur dog forest garden solar wood heat homestead
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Just finished updating my as-built site maps with Google Earth:
Filename: Crescent-City-Food-Forest-Infrastructure-Map.pdf
File size: 6 megabytes
Filename: Crescent-City-Food-Forest-Plant-Map-(North).pdf
File size: 4 megabytes
Filename: Crescent-City-Food-Forest-Plant-Map-(Middle).pdf
File size: 3 megabytes
Filename: Crescent-City-Food-Forest-Plant-Map-(South).pdf
File size: 3 megabytes
 
Ben Zumeta
pollinator
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Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
220
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hugelkultur dog forest garden solar wood heat homestead
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I was walking along the bottom drainage basin and noticed at least a dozen of these (Pacific Tree frog?) eggs on submerged willows and woody debris. We had thousands of tadpoles last year, but an abnormally dry March-April made it seem the right thing to do to transport them to the nearby creek (in an eddy) before it went dry.
Frog-Eggs-1.jpg
Frog-Eggs-1
Frog-Eggs-1
Frog-Eggs-2.jpg
Frog-Eggs-2
Frog-Eggs-2
Frog-Eggs-3.jpg
Frog-Eggs-3
Frog-Eggs-3
 
Ben Zumeta
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Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
220
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We just had a great pair of work parties on the food forest. In two partial afternoons, we:
- constructed interpretive sign structures (signs to be printed this week). I would have preferred to use all non-PT wood, but it was already used throughout the site for the fence prior to my management and the cost for redwood was an issue.
- sanded, and "eco-wood" (food safe, OMRI approved) treated/weatherized the outdoor sink/wash station
- spread around 5cu yds of wood chip mulch on hugel beds
- pounded in over a dozen posts for signs marking each hugel bed for reference to a map based sign that will describe what plants/bed are ready for harvest/need water/weeding
- cut, sanded and painted cedar signs for the beds
- weeded and prepped hugels for garlic planting (finished this week)

We also had an apple pressing event and a seed saving workshop this past month (spread that around my property Sepp Holzer style). Thanks for all the help Wild Rivers Permaculture Guildarians, Food forest volunteers, and my DNATL Food Council colleagues!
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Apple mash spreading on my property, for site selected, tough trees. This is my worst soil (there is some under that rock;) They will be left exposed for the rain to get some better soil contact, then get 4
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Sunflower seed saving from food forest site (2 quarts from 2hrs work)
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Family pressing at event
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Community Food Council crew cranking apple press
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Our deer friend, who visits when the gate gets left open
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Finishing sink (then moved back in place)
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Educational sign construction
 
Ben Zumeta
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Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
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I am happy to announce a job opportunity as Food Forest Program Manager for the Del Norte and Adjacent Tribal Lands Community Food Council. I will be moving on to focus on my own 25acre property and design consulting, but will be available to train my successor and support them and the site however I can. We have at least one great candidate from our local Wild Rivers Permaculture Guild, so please apply only if serious, qualified, and willing to commit to this place and the wonderful people involved with the food forest. The formal job description is in the attachment below:

Food Forest Program Manager
Job Description
Location: Crescent City, California
Employed By: Family Resource Center of the Redwoods
Reports To: Food Program Director
Time Commitment: 40 hours per week including some evening and weekend  hours. This is a temporary position funded through December 31, 2021.  Extended  employment in this position beyond that date will depend on additional funding and  is not guaranteed.  
Compensation: $20.50 an hour, plus monthly health and wellness stipend,  retirement benefits, and paid vacation/sick leave.  
Application Deadline: This position will remain open until filled. The first  review of applications and interviews will begin on January 11th with a  desired start date of January 25th.
Area Overview
The Del Norte and Tribal Lands Community Food Council (DNATL CFC) is seeking an  energetic, collaborative, passionate, and experienced Food Forest Program Manager.  This is an exciting opportunity to work as part of a team in increasing health, well being, and  access  to  food  and  farming  knowledge through projects  in one  of  California’s most beautiful, isolated, and socioeconomically disadvantaged regions.
This position will be headquartered in Del Norte County, the breathtaking northern  corner  of  coastal  California.  This  region  is  home  to  Redwood  National  and  State  Parks, the Wild and Scenic Smith River, miles of rugged Pacific Ocean beaches, and  four  federally  recognized  Tribes.  There  are  abundant  opportunities  for  hiking,  camping, surfing, and kayaking.  
About the DNATL Food Council  
The DNATL Community Food Council works to build a vibrant local food system that  provides healthy, affordable food to all DNATL families. Our programs are organized  around  four primary  objectives:  ensuring  food  security,  growing  our  local  food  economy,  shifting  DNATL’s  resident  food  culture  towards  healthful  foods,  and  establishing a resilient regional  food system. The DNATL Community Food Council  is  housed  within  the  Family  Resource  Center  of  the  Redwoods  (FRC) and  works  closely with many government, Tribal, and non-profit community partners.
DNATL  is  one  of  14  communities  within  The  California  Endowment’s  Building  Healthy  Communities  (BHC)  initiative:  a  ten-year,  place-based,  equity-focused  program  aimed  at  improving  health  outcomes  for  all  residents.  The  DNATL  Community Food Council was  founded with a BHC grant in 2010  to bring  together  all area food systems stakeholders to advance healthy food access and consumption
for Del Norte and surrounding tribal lands residents. Due to an extension, 2021 will  be the final year of the BHC initiative. The following are examples of current DNATL  CFC work:
• Convening the Del Norte Food Security Taskforce comprised of over a dozen  collaborating  organizations, meeting  regularly  to address  food insecurity in  the County.
• Designing  and  carrying-out  summer  Food  and  Farm  Academy  and  Camp  at  the Taa-‘at-dvn Chee-ne’ Tetlh-tvm’ Food Forest in Crescent City. • Maintaining  the  County’s  only choice-based  food  pantry;  sourcing  locally  grown food items; and expanding food bank programing.
• Collaborating with the Office of Emergency Services and partners in Humbolt  County to design a resilient regional food system and ensure emergency food  preparedness for regional residents.
• Executing a CalRecycle Food Rescue project, currently having recovered and  redistributed  over  75,000 pounds  of  food  that  would  otherwise  have  gone  into the landfill.
• Working  with  the  Nature  Rights  Council  and  Yurok  Food  Sovereignty  Division Manager to support and further food security and food sovereignty  initiatives for the Yurok Tribe.
Job Description
The  Food  Forest  Program  Manager will play  the  lead role  in designing,  implementing,  maintaining,  and  ensuring  the  longevity  and  programming  of  the  60,000 sq. ft. Taa-‘at-dvn Chee-ne’ Tetlh-tvm’ Food Forest  located at the College of  the Redwoods Del Norte in Crescent City. She or he will work closely with the Food  Program Director through  strategy  consultation  and  program  design,  carrying-out  the following essential job duties:
• Lead a community visioning process for the site, fostering buy-in and  establishing a steering committee that will be integral in ensuring the vision  comes to fruition and is sustained into the future.
• Establish and maintain collaborative relationships with the agriculture  teachers and other pertinent partners at Del Norte and Sunset high schools  and CR to design and implement a student farmer program at the site.
• Recruit and supervise volunteers to help maintain the site, including  interns/crews from the Yurok Tribe Youth at Risk Program, and the Del  Norte Unified School District’s Transition Partnership Program (TPP) and  WorkAbility I—which provide comprehensive employment services to youth  with challenges, impairments, and/or disabilities.
• Plan, execute, and oversee all site production and maintenance including  ordering and starting seeds, using and maintaining tools and irrigation  system, planting, harvesting, composting, pruning, weeding, etc.  
• Collaborate closely with the Director of the College of the Redwoods to  compose an acceptable MOU and Land Control Agreement for the site.
• Establish a functioning farm stand run by youth in the student farmer  program.
• Design, lead, oversee, and supervise summer Food and Farm Academy and  Food and Farm Camps.
• Plan and carrying-out logistics for workshops, trainings, field trips, and events at the site.  
• Carefully track data and budget relevant to the programs and operations of  the site.
• Be willing and able to assume new/unspecified duties as necessitated by  being a team member of the DNATL CFC, and as the food work grows and  evolves.  
Minimum Qualifications:
• At least two years of demonstrated skills and abilities in stakeholder  collaboration, community organizing, and building and maintaining effective  partnerships.
• Adept at creative problem solving and able to produce desired results  independently with little supervision.
• At least two years of experience working in a food production capacity. • At least two years of experience in a supervisory and/or leadership role. • Passionate about building sustainable food systems.
• Proven ability to work effectively as a member of a team of diverse  individuals.  
• At least two years of experience designing and managing programs or  curriculum in an educational setting.
Preferred Qualifications:
• Experience working effectively with Tribal nations, populations of low socio economic status, youth, people with disabilities, and in rural communities. • Bachelors or professional degree or certification in food systems, sustainable  
agriculture, education, program management, community organizing, or  related field.
• Experience working in or managing a farm education or summer program.
To Apply: Email a cover letter and resume to ahixson@frcredwoods.org,  with  “Food Forest Program Manager” in the subject line.
Questions: Contact Amanda Hixson at 707-464-0955 ext. 2116, or email  ahixson@frcredwoods.org.
Equal Employment Opportunity/Reasonable Accommodation:
The FRC is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of  race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, marital  status, or  other  non-merit  factors  in  its  hiring  practices,  including  the
process of recruitment, selection, promotion or other conditions of employment. In  accordance  with  the  Americans  with  Disabilities  Act,  we will  make  reasonable  efforts during  the interview process  to accommodate people with distinct physical  or  mental  requirements.  If  special  accommodations  are  necessary,  please  contact  the  FRC  (email ahixson@frcredwoods.org  or  call  707.954.0955 ext.  2116)  prior  to  your interview date.
IMG_4146.jpg
Looking North past main entrance, on College of the Redwoods' Crescent City Campus
Looking North past main entrance, on College of the Redwoods' Crescent City Campus
IMG_4155.jpg
Looking south from Washington Blvd
Looking south from Washington Blvd
Filename: Food-Forest-Program-Manager-Job-Description.pdf
File size: 76 Kbytes
Filename: 36inx48in-Color-Sign-Magnetic-Mount.pdf
File size: 1 megabytes
 
Ben Zumeta
pollinator
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Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
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hugelkultur dog forest garden solar wood heat homestead
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Congratulations and welcome to Angela Gray! She started as Food Forest Program Manager this week, my last day is this Friday.
 
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I was just at this amazing place last week and week before, visiting as a local WOOFER with members of this group. Great job, and great people.
Hoping to relocate somehow to that area, and I'd love to be part of this. Seeking out of the boxes living situation. Planting seeds to make connections.
 
You don't know me, but I've been looking all over the world for. Thanks to the help from this tiny ad:
Rocket Mass Heater Plans - now free for a while
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