The Page below was written some time ago. I have kept it on here to avoid having to break links to it from within other posts. It is still useful to get a basic idea of what the Project is working towards, but there is a much more detailed design in one of the Diploma pages. If you put your cursor over the Permaculture Diploma tab at the top of the page, a menu drops down. The second tab down is The Wolds Woodland Farming Project page, and it is the most recent, and detailed design. Alternatively just use this link The Wolds Woodland Farming Project.
This page is to give people who haven’t visited, an overview of what the property is like, and what my plans for it are: My intention is to work on it over time, and add detail to show how the ideas, design, and plans manifest in reality. So it will be worth visiting on a regular basis, to see what’s been added.
The picture below gives a simplified plan of the property.
If the detail isn’t clear, the scale line is 50 meters long. The green lines are the existing hedges and shelterbelts. Single black lines are fences, and the black rectangles are buildings. Clockwise from top left they are: Wooden stable (currently used as potting shed, wormery and compost tea brewing space). Kennels, shed, brick stables (currently used for storage), and finally the house.
The highest point is the North East corner, and the land slopes down to the South and West.
I want the property to provide Food, Fuel, and Shelter, but above all, it had to provide forage for my bees. To that end, almost everything that is planted has to provide bee forage as well as it’s main purpose. This fits in well with the Permaculture principle of ‘Every element should perform more than one function’. The picture below is a rough schematic showing the elements that I have decided to incorporate into my design.
There is an existing orchard, around which I have wrapped a multi purpose coppice, a Forest Garden, which is due to be started in the next few days (mid November 2010), two vegetable growing areas, and an open space for friends to camp in. There is also an open space close to the house for parties, and there will be an area primarily for bee forage (Nectary), consisting of ornamental trees, shrubs and plants. These will be profuse sources of nectar, and plants that provide bee forage throughout the year.
To appreciate what I’m trying to do, you need to look at patterning in general, and my pattern in detail. There’s quite a lot of overlap between some of the Permaculture Principles, and to me the concept of patterning is often glossed over, or badly explained. Perhaps that’s a bit harsh, and is probably as much to do with my own view of patterning, as it is with the explanations. There seems to be two strands to the topic. The first is that we should look to nature for appropriate patterns to use in our designs. As nature has probably had to evolve a solution to a problem already, we can use those solutions for ourselves. One example of that is paths/axis. If you look at the veins in leaves, our own circulatory sytem, and the patterns made by river systems, you will see how similar they are. These are all patterns that have evolved for the efficient movement of materials from or to a central point. By copying the pattern when designing access ways, paths, roads, etc. we utilise an efficient pattern designed to efficiently move materials, and it doesn’t really matter whether the material is sap,or wheelbarrow loads of compost. The second strand of patterning is that we are told to ‘design from pattern to detail’. (Another permaculture principle). I think that this can be used in at least two ways. Firstly, simply that you start with the general (big scale, wholes), and then work down to the specifics. I think that this can also be interpreted as choose your pattern first, and then use it to create the elements within your design.
I am using a pattern which Patrick Whitefield called a Woodland Glade, in his Forest Garden book. It is an interpretation of something seen in nature. If you have a narrow clearing in a forest which runs East to West, most of it is still shaded and therefore little different than the rest of the forest. However, if the clearing is aligned North to South. The Northern end gets full sunlight, and is sheltered from extremes of climate by the trees all around it. This creates a sheltered micro climate, and is also creates a large area of ‘edge’ between the wooded and the open. The pattern also features in Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway, and is depicted in Permaculture Two, as a pattern for cold climates. The diagram below is a rough version of the pattern.
Patterning at The Sustainable Smallholding
If you take another look at the first picture on this page, you will see that the property is surrounded by hedging. This is mature hedging, fairly tall. The property is aligned roughly North to South,and when taken in conjunction with the external hedges suggested the use of the Woodland Glade pattern to me. I am using the pattern right the way through all of the elements of the design, and at all scales. The first example of that is the design for my Forest Garden.
If you take another quick look at the first two pictures on the page, the first shows the external hedging, and a section of shelterbelt along the bottom of the fence dividing the two fields. Related to the schematic that follows it, that’s between the Coppice and the Forest Garden. If you now look at the schematic below, that same shelterbelt is being extended up to the top of the field. This then creates the same woodland glade pattern for the Forest Garden, and for the Coppice.
Within the Forest Garden, I am repeating the pattern again, by creating a series of glades below three of the swales. So the patterning works at three scales here, whole property, whole element, and within the element.
The pattern that I am using is also helping to create a ‘lumpy’ texture, as advocated by Jacke and Toensmeier in Volume 2 of Edible Forest Gardens. If you imagine taller trees immediately below the swales, sloping down and ending before reaching the swale below, they will form a sort of wave pattern up and down the slope. If you then think about the glades running across the slopes, there will be a similar wave pattern. Overall I am aiming for an effect like the peaks and troughs that you get when the waves from two sets of ripples cross. This will help to maximise the wildlife value of the planting by providing the biggest variety of habitats. Factor in the extra habitats provided by the pond(s), swales (moisture retentive), and swale banks (free draining), and the open spaces immediately above each swale, and this should be a really diverse space.
Coppice and Orchard
The majority of the planting for this was done Winter 2009/2010. The schematic below is not to scale, and is designed to show the use of patterning again. As well as the whole property, and the whole element showing the woodland glade pattern, within the element the coppice wraps around the orchard, along with the shelter belt below, repeating the pattern.
The coppice trees themselves are laid out in an elongated version of the same pattern. Not only does this create a sheltered micro climate, but it also creates maximum edge within the design. I intend to use this to plant nectar producing plants within the glades, maximising my bee forage.
The remaining elements within the overall design are all laid out using the same pattern at the element scale, but I have yet to finalise the detail within the pattern.
I hope that those of you who have read this find it useful.