UNCIVILISATION: The Dark Mountain Network

A space for conversations in a time of global disruption

Yea, it's fun to indulge in doom-n-gloom.

 

But I say, "Run toward the light, not away from the dark," although it's good to keep an eye on the rear-view mirror to monitor how fast the dark approaches.

 

To that end, we're working toward establishing a collaborative Permaculture farm on an island in SW BC. So far, we've got a small flock of goats, and have set up a herd-share arrangement by which we are supplying over 40 people with raw dairy products. We also do a modest amount of eggs, and have a struggling market garden and an un-constructed large greenhouse. We're growing enough for subsistence, but are hoping to help feed the surrounding community.

 

This fall, we're planning to start a food forest, based on twenty blight-resistant American Chestnut trees. (Feel free to get me going on the American Chestnut! I'm convinced that the chestnut blight was the underlying energetic/trophic cause of the Great Depression.)

 

Anyone want to come join in the fun? We could use some help!

Tags: Permaculture, help, subsistence

Views: 133

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Jan,

What you are doing in BC sounds like exactly the right thing.  I live on Vashon Island in  Puget Sound near Seattle.  We are working with the Transition Network to get our community to address the coming crisis.  We have about 30 small farms producing for our local market(not anywhere near enough to provide for our needs), and a number of groups working to make our community more self reliant and resilient.  Our most difficult task is convincing a majority of us that the fossil fuel age is over.  It is really hard to give up those perks and conveniences that fossil fuels have made possible.  Denial is the first stage of grief, and I'd say most of us are there.

As to the blight resistant Chestnut trees,  I planted an American Chestnut about 25 years ago.  I don't know if it was blight resistant.  I always figured that the blight had not made it out here yet.  The tree was healthy and flowered well, but never produced a nut.  I had a Chinese Chestnut nearby, but it appears that pollination never occurred.  You may notice that I've been speaking in past tense.  I cut the tree down this spring in favor of important garden space which is  a premium here on our wooded shady land.  I have not gotten any answers as to why it didn't pollinate, and have to confess that I didn't really spend a lot of time looking for the answers.   We're thinking food forest as well.  Hazelnuts are native here, but don't produce a very big nut nor very many of them.  Filberts, though, are closely related and grow prolific large nuts.  We have a friend with a filbert orchard that has been providing us with nuts for many years.  We intend to clear a few more trees and interplant Filberts.  Please let us know how the Chestnuts work out.

We also have a garden, some chickens, bees, and, soon, some goats.

 

Terry Sullivan said:

I live on Vashon Island in  Puget Sound near Seattle... Our most difficult task is convincing a majority of us that the fossil fuel age is over.

It doesn't take a majority; all it takes is a "critical mass," which could be as little as 10% or so!

As to the blight resistant Chestnut trees,  I planted an American Chestnut about 25 years ago...  The tree was healthy and flowered well, but never produced a nut.  I had a Chinese Chestnut nearby, but it appears that pollination never occurred.

Sorry to hear of your bad experiences with chestnuts. My experience is with one (Chinese) on our family farm that still produces bushels of nuts.

We're thinking food forest as well. Hazelnuts are native here...  Filberts, though, are closely related and grow prolific large nuts.  We have a friend with a filbert orchard that has been providing us with nuts for many years.

Interesting... I'd always thought "filbert" and "hazelnut" were synonymous.

Keep in mind that either filberts or hazelnuts are, at best, bushes, and not canopy trees. To have a true "food forest," you'll need some "standards" to provide an upper canopy.

Jan,

You're right, we only need a critical mass.  We may be close to 10% now, but we don't have much focus, and that is what I would like to work on next.  

I'm not down on chestuts; I'd love to get a producing tree.  I will probably try again.  Hazelnuts and filberts are very close, but the filberts are about 50-100% bigger.  They can be trained into a tree as my friend's orchard is,  but they are only about 20' or so, not exactly a canopy.  the native hazelnuts now occupy that middle level in our forest.  My friend's orchard is in full sun.  I'm hoping to use the filberts as an edge planting where more sun might encourage  more nuts.

Jan Steinman said:

Terry Sullivan said:

I live on Vashon Island in  Puget Sound near Seattle... Our most difficult task is convincing a majority of us that the fossil fuel age is over.

It doesn't take a majority; all it takes is a "critical mass," which could be as little as 10% or so!

As to the blight resistant Chestnut trees,  I planted an American Chestnut about 25 years ago...  The tree was healthy and flowered well, but never produced a nut.  I had a Chinese Chestnut nearby, but it appears that pollination never occurred.

Sorry to hear of your bad experiences with chestnuts. My experience is with one (Chinese) on our family farm that still produces bushels of nuts.

We're thinking food forest as well. Hazelnuts are native here...  Filberts, though, are closely related and grow prolific large nuts.  We have a friend with a filbert orchard that has been providing us with nuts for many years.

Interesting... I'd always thought "filbert" and "hazelnut" were synonymous.

Keep in mind that either filberts or hazelnuts are, at best, bushes, and not canopy trees. To have a true "food forest," you'll need some "standards" to provide an upper canopy.

We are starting a vineyard here in our little bit of sun drenched paradise; organic, small so far, but a concern for me is our water situation. I just this summer completed our solar pumping system which will provide adequate water (drip irrigation) as long as the sun shines and the pump don't break; I am saving for a backup. Integrated dryland agricultural system is my challenge - think Dune, but with some rainfall. So much to learn; so little time....

 

I am curious as to whether anyone has dryland experience here. Our advantage is that there is a low population level and inexpensive land; the disadvantage is that there is a low population level here, and things like peak oil are a totally foreign concept. That is changing, though, along with concepts like Anthropomorphic Climate Modification.

 

Longer term is to get the winery (small) going - again, organic approach, or close - but that is another ball of wax. I find myself hoping for the collapse of regulatory systems as I look at the pile of documents to file. Can't wait for that, though. Sigh.

We're in a cool Mediterranean climate, so we have to deal with dryland issues half the year... and flooding the other half!

Do you have any terrain, or is it flat? Can you do a dugout of some kind?

Don't mess with the regulatory system. Have small needs, and be a small target. We make perry (pear cider) and discretely distribute it to friends and neighbours.

Not messing with the regulatory system would be my very first choice; we shall see.

 

We have a bench against a basalt wall, with lots of sandy loam and loamy sand. A dugout is way high on my list for our accommodations and for our processing areas. Root cellar deluxe, I am planning towards. We have an interesting particular spot which faces towards the north and to the south; a peninsula if it were wet and 600 feet lower. I suppose our physiographic regime is technically high Sonoran desert; part of the inner steppe reaching up along the Okanagan valley into BC and south into Oregon and California - a 5b or some such according to the USDA and Sunset magazine. We have so many microclimates in our general area with serious variation to them that such a number is incomplete. To the north a few miles we have pine tree slopes, and to the south just above us, plateaus with major wheat farming - dryland and irrigated both.

Medium to longer term, I doubt there will be a regulatory system that will affect us, and friends, family and our neighbors will be it.

Ugh. Sandy loam. Nice for root crops, but terrible for a reservoir.

Do you have any clay available? A dugout will just be a dry hole in sandy loam without a clay liner.

Trade you some clay for some loam! :-)

How many tons do you want? ;)  You can have all you want.UPS? USPS? They really need the money....

Our carrots really are nice. Sugar beets are grown further down the Columbia, on the Oregon Washington border, along with killer (as in tasty) grapes.

Our land is an ancient beach slope from the days of glacial Lake Missoula. I find snail shells and small (very small) rounded agate and argillaceous pebbles from western Montana, with layers of sand and gravels. Looking in the near distance you can pick out the old lake levels. Attached is the view towards the Columbia River.

 

We won't try for  a reservoir any time soon, until I come up with some clever lining system. I REALLY would rather avoid plastic liners, although that is what communities around here use for their sewage reservoirs. Concrete tanks for larger water storage is the norm,and plastic for smaller - I did find a 2000 gallon (6500+ liter) tank for 200 dollars which will feed the drip system. Plastic - concrete. Can you think of any higher energy requiring systems? Steel? Ah, well, intent versus reality is the essence of conflict, eh?

Attachments:

Although UPS and USPS are unrealistic, I was only partially joking about a trade.

 

We're too far away, but for the price of a round-trip dump-truck load, I'll bet you could find someone willing to trade clay for loam, somewhere not too far away.

 

I'd look for nearby mountains, and the fluvial deposits just below them. How far are you from the Blues? The Wallowas? They should have clay at their base -- and farmers who fight with it who might be willing to swap a truckload. You probably only need to go 50 miles north or south to get out of the Lake Missoula basin, no?

 

The thing about plastic is that you'll need civilization to maintain it. Whereas clay will still be able to be found a long day on a horse away. And when you get the massive amounts down for your basic liner, you'll only need small amounts to maintain it in the future.

There are some ash and clay deposits nearby (USGS and Soil Conservation Service maps) so your idea is not out of the question at all. I will keep you posted.

I now officially have (24/7/until the system fails) flowing water; bootstrapping takes time and patience.

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