Matt Ferrall

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since Dec 26, 2008
We are an Agroforestry Project located in the North Cascade Mountains.  

We have been pioneering new lifeways in harmony with our environment since Fall of 1997.

We take our inspiration from the likes of Masanobu Fukuoka, Sepp Holzer, Mark Shepard, and Martin Crawford, as well as the indigenous tribes of the area.  Through long-term observation, we are developing food production models devoid of outside inputs.  Our goal is to create a highly productive agroforestry food system that also provides the
ecological functions of a forest.  We believe horticultural societies provided the most diversity and thus represent a peak in the human experience and its relationship to the natural world.

Not domesticated, but not fully wild... we aim for a middle path.
Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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Recent posts by Matt Ferrall

Good info in this thread! I buried my graft unions but doubt its neccesary.  Two of my medlars have fallen over in my sandy soil. Where the branches touched the ground, I buried them and they rooted, forming dense hedges and totally suppressing all undergrowth. With their twisted branches ,it makes for a wonderful secret hideaway inside these dense hedges. The trees continue to spread this way and insure that graft issues will never be a problem.
Medlar seeds are truly double dormant so one must wait two years after planting seed to see results. That, and the slow growing nature of the young seedlings does not lend itself to their use as a rootstock. Whereas fruiting quince is easy and reliable from seed and grows more rapidly.
The wild forms get the best reviews here on the farm and blett with 100% consistancy making them a better candidate for food processing.  The largest forms can break down various ways so each one must be tested if using in quantity in a recipe.  This added effort has a tendency to offset the gains made in breeding for size if used in that application. The wild forms do have spines and stay upright instead of slouching.
8 months ago
I'm planting them as a niche crop because I believe they are highly marketable. I serviced a high end restaurant for 5 years and made upwards of $800 a year on the good years FROM MY ONE YIELDING TREE(pear form).
8 months ago
I have 80 seedlings of the pear form growing. The apple form has not recovered from it's late Frost damage so is likely not a pollinator. Some are 5 years old. I will get back to you all in 10 years with my observations 😁
8 months ago
I have had good luck starting seeds directly onto humus filled pots. Like most seeds of fruiting trees or shrubs, I never dry them out. I take a paste of the smashed fruit and spread it around.  Half an inch of potting soil on top. Each fruit only has one or two seeds in my experience.
2 years ago
Here is a link to the Feral Farm website.

www.feralfarmagroforestry.com
8 years ago
Andrew:Wow,gotta say Im impressed with the length of your response.Kinda exhausted at this point.My original community was mainly just me because I couldnt find anyone fanatical enough to go along.The only point I would question in your above response is that having no one own the land does little to alter feelings of ownership.Ive seen folks feel ownership for others land if they have utilized it for any period of time.Ive seen land trust communities that publicly disavow land ownership have obvious feelings of ownership as a group which I find to be identical to the usual ownership model even if they cant see it or wont admit it.The litimus test being they dont move on and tend to protect it from outside intrusion.It seems if someone were to come and do whatever they please on this land these folks would feel some sense of entitlement to deciding to allow it or not.Is there a plan in place should someone from outside this community start to intrude?It seems feelings of ownership might naturaly occur in a defensive role as well.
8 years ago
Thanks for filling in some of the backstory.My own journey has found me feeling a sense of ownership over a landscape when I have put effort into its management.Since this group effort is to be a progression,how do you overcome the feelings of ownership/resposibility that might come up while practicing the horticultural compromise?It seems that management is THE direct lead into hierarchy.The video is interesting in that is uses horticulture to defend HG with no mention of the social structure his clients formed as a result of their extensive investment is setting this up?As for 'work',I dont do any 'work' because I enjoy what I do but I stay active all day.I think this is somewhat what Fukuoka was talking about with his 'no work' method.Landscapes are not stagnant so once established,will require management or it will revert to far less productivity.I have always found this video confusing in that everything he is talking about is horticultural(modern genetics,fences and domestic animals) but he uses HG statistics.Still though I guess I can see your point of idealising HG lifestyle while actually practicing horticultural.I hope you succeed!
8 years ago
Sorry for any confusion.In my mind permaculture = horticulture and HG = non horticulture.Of course you will understand my confusion when horticulture is associated with hierarchy while simultaniously being advocated to be used in a non hierarchical focused group.I thought permaculture implied using intention in the landscape so it seems an odd way to achieve the HG ideals of non intention(taking what you want and than moving on).Olso,there is a word to describe what the above posts claim to aim for:horticulturist.The indigenous here focussed mainly on hunting,fishing,and gathering but also created other modified enviroments to enjoy greater diversity and yield so are classified as horticulturists.As you can see,its all abit confusing.
8 years ago
I agree that its less than ideal to be combative but what did you all expect on a permies forum where the majority of folks and discussions revolove around management.The factors you can learn from that led to my giving up on that project 1- if you want to be a hunter gatherer you need to be in a place condusive to that.The tropics or subtropics seem to be where most examples come from.You dont need surpluss and even housing is unneeded.I tried being one in an area where humans probably have probably never lived as hunter gatherers as it is not really condusive to that.Steep impassable terrain and harsh winters mean no nomadic behavior.100 inches of rain makes life without solid shelter impossible.Long winters mean a strong focus on hording surpluss.Survival requires non hunter gatherer behavior.Being closer to the ocean would have helped as those folks lead an easier life in a more moderate climate.I cant say I didnt try hard to ideologically eat but really 2-I should have been the right genetics.My stomach just cant take living off of tree cambium and highly fiberous perennial un managed roots.3-I should have been rich so I could spend all my time on lots of paid off land trying to survive and 4-I should have maintained my ideological rigidity longer.Clearly when all of the above was killing me,I should have ignored all my native friends advise about management,ignored the fact that great tasting more edible genetics were easily available to me,ignored that everyone I know who is successfully making it in a rural location is making a ton of compromises to survive and ignored the path of least resistance longer and harder and continued to swim upstream.
As for the James Scott(Im assuming The Art of Not Being Governed)references,might I recommend chapter 6 subtitled 'the culture and agriculture of escape'.Not that Im that into annuals but freedom from hierarchy,at least in the form of the state,can sometimes be found in activities we would generally associate with hierarchical organization.
8 years ago
We have no oaks here,two species of pine but neither being used by the indigenous for food due to very small seeds.Im not a beginer at this.Like I said,I came to these conclusions through growing up homesteading here and ultimately heading out and trying it(i.e. Living out hunter gatherer ideals).Yes,you have berries but only some suitable for winter storage.Crab apples were a major winter food of the peoples here but,like I said,are in major decline here due to lack of management.The low percentage of food plants here is well documented.Even the creation story of the indigenous tribe here is that humans were only allowed in by the gaurdian beaver if they acted like the beaver(i.e. Managed the ecosystem to their advantage which even animals like beaver do(not sure on their social structure?))Thus the management but my point has been made so I wont harp.I wish you luck and suggest finding an ecosystem naturaly condusive to living your ideals.I have planted edible oaks from around the world so acorns will be part of my future.
8 years ago