Overview - Our major focus for this season will be long term benefits of our operation, with less emphasis on short term profits. This includes more energy put towards design and implementation, soils, long term food systems, infrastructure and buildings –much based and tied to permaculture practice and theory. This diversity will provide those interested in learning a diverse array of skills needed for starting or joining a new farming/permaculture operation. Many of these projects will be created, and developed by those involved (see "Apprentice / Job Description").
Annuals - While it is hard for me to admit, our annual crop production will be much smaller than in years past. Most of our no-till gardens will be heavily mulched (lasagna style!), cover cropped, and bordered with perennials. For commercial production we will grow ginger, garlic, strawberries, nightshades and do some seed saving. While the scale will be small we will still be using the same techniques as we would on a larger scale, though just be doing them for less time.
Rice – This will occupy much of our energy for the season as we continue to work on our multi-acre integrated lowland rice system. We will grow 1/8 acre of rice in two paddies. There will be between 10-20 different varieties trialed as well as different methodologies. The rice will be grown in a polyculture with Azolla and ducks and maybe fish. The other 7 paddies will get various means of fertilization, both dry and wet, which could include livestock integration, cover cropping, mulching, etc. This area is about 1 acre. The rest of the system will get a lot of care and attention this season. This includes ponds uphill, an acre of berms amongst the paddies, and an acre downhill, between the paddies and our ephemeral creek. In these areas we will work on swales, trenches, perennials, mesic and hydric food forest, mulching and earthworks and forestry work. This system will be gravity-fed and definitely one of a kind! There will a lot of planning and design in the spring for this project.
Perennials – On top of the rice operation, we will be developing more perennial zones, among the annual plots. Depending on other projects and time this area will range from 1-3 acres and will include, native pasture restoration and woody perennials, nursery work, grafting, aquatic polycultures, guild development, site prep and maintenance of existing perennials. In total, we will be working with over 50 different species of perennials, many of which we plan to grow at a large enough scale for production. We have a medicinal circle garden and hope to expand upon that as well. Again a lot of planning and design in the spring.
Livestock – Ducks for sure and depending on apprentices’ personal projects (see "Job Opening"), and our implementation plan for the rice and food forests maybe chickens, goats and/or sheep.
Infrastructure - 1) Install a solar powered irrigation system, 2) Develop and implement a grant driven forestry plan 3) Build a bike powered water pump 4) Build a sauna/solar dehydrator 5) Build a timber frame barn to dry the rice, 6) working with cob, 7) carpentry and art on existing areas 8) developing a trail system. We will have some help from professional builders and architects on the projects, who are eager to work with and teach motivated individuals.