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food fortress concept

                                


Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 20
My current concept for permaculture is what I am describing as a food fortress. Fortress becuase security is a big priority. I would immediately start a dense perimeter of osage and nettles and wild rose and anything thorny. it would be a safe and abundant place that I could leave untended for 2 or 3 years at a time, once it is established. Sound doable so far? I have a few friends who want to contribute, all line cooks (like me) or ex line cooks. when the economy is good we can earn on the outside, and when things get bad we can return to the food fortress and wait things out. The thing is a subsistence or barter farm, managed by hand, hopefully the only money we would need would be a pittance for property tax. Can I do this without financing or a mortgage? I have about 7K in precious metals, not including the contribution of the other partners. I'm expecting 2 K a piece, not much more.

I intend to buy 3-5 acres of hilly zone 7 land. Preferably on the eastern side of the country, it wouldn't have any permanent structures on it in the beginning, I would squat or camp in teepees until there was money enough to build something professional.

For the first few years it would be a waste prevention operation, taking money and bio waste from the outside world, while the fruit trees and perimeter get established. Since there's no living space, I wouldn't develop from the inside out, I would create several nodes of food forest that (hopefully) would foster diversity and spread out if left unattended. I can't speak on exactly what I would grow, I guess whatever takes best on the property in the first years, and once it was occupied I could have more difficult annual crops.

Why doesn't the fukuoka philosphy of do-nothing-management work for everyone? What kind of critical mass would I need for the forest to fill in and become complex of its own momentum? Please, snap me out of my fantasy and give me the cold hard facts about what I'm trying to do. Right now I have Sepp's book, Toby Hemmingway's book, and a book about buying rural land.
Michael Radelut


Joined: Jan 21, 2011
Posts: 194
Location: Germany, 7b-ish
Two things:

Thorny things probably won't keep the deer away from the trees, especially at the beginning.
Perhaps you could erect a tall fence and then plant fast growing shrubs and trees like Robinia very close to it, so that they'll gradually form a barrier together with the mesh, and support it after a few years, even if the poles rot away.

And then: How about finding a local to care for the land and allow him to grow and harvest on it while you're away ? He'd be allowed to sell everything he produces until you return, and from then on be an equal stakeholder.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
How does the sharing ethic fit into your "food fortress"  idea of permaculture?


"It is only when others feel secure that we need not guard our environments, so the very best preparation for security is to teach others the strategies, ethics, and practices of resource management, and to extend aid and education wherever possible."  Bill Mollison


Idle dreamer

Kirk Hutchison


Joined: Feb 05, 2010
Posts: 418
Location: Los Angeles, CA
I've always felt like I'd like to get a large parcel of land in a small rural community (say 100 acres) and then plant a forest garden bigger than I could ever possibly use. Than I could let the neighbors harvest stuff for a small fee (so that it would be cheaper than grocery store produce) and I wouldn't have to worry about thieves. And if TEOTWAKI comes, I wouldn't have to worry about people stealing my food, because I would have so much I could practically feed the entire community. Although I have also toyed with the food fortress idea myself.


Paleo Gardener Blog
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I like your first idea better, Paleo. 
Terri Matthews


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 409
Location: Eastern Kansas
    
    3
Osage orange is invasive. I would not plant it.

Can you establish perrenial potatos or sweet potatos? Here in zone 5 we sometimes get volenteer white potatos, and since you are in zone 7 you might be able to have a permanant patch.

If there is a creek, asparagus can be established on the bank: I have done it on my land.

Lastly, I got some conservation grade American Plums from the state Forestry department department this spring, and those little trees have taken hold very strongly indeed!
Kay Bee


Joined: Oct 10, 2009
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
Paleo Gardener wrote:
I've always felt like I'd like to get a large parcel of land in a small rural community (say 100 acres) and then plant a forest garden bigger than I could ever possibly use. Than I could let the neighbors harvest stuff for a small fee (so that it would be cheaper than grocery store produce) and I wouldn't have to worry about thieves. And if TEOTWAKI comes, I wouldn't have to worry about people stealing my food, because I would have so much I could practically feed the entire community. Although I have also toyed with the food fortress idea myself.

Head north to Oregon, Paleo Gardener, and you can put that dream in to action.

We've got 80 acres plus adjoining 800 or so acres of BLM land = massive food forest.  Got the first acres in this year...


"Limitation is the mother of good management", Michael Evanari

Location: Southwestern Oregon (Jackson County), Zone 7
Kirk Hutchison


Joined: Feb 05, 2010
Posts: 418
Location: Los Angeles, CA
How much does land cost up there?
Kay Bee


Joined: Oct 10, 2009
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
a lot of variables in the equation for a parcel.  Cheaper the farther out away from main cities and more hills you encounter.  Pretty expensive for flatter land with deep alluvial soils.

We paid $2500 an acre for our piece.  We're about 20 miles from a decent sized town and up in the hill country.  Nice little local community of a few thousand folks.
                                


Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 20
Two things:  The thorny things aren't just for deer. I was hoping to deter squatters and scavengers. I would provide for any and all wildlife. I like meat.

I don't know, if this local had values in line with mine and wanted to practice the kind of stable forestry that I had planned, i would consider it. I certainly wouldn't want him mismanaging my tract, or selling off all my biomass at market. I was watching an interview with Joel Salatan, in which he said anytime you take something to market you get less money than you would have saved just eating it yourself. The windfall fruits and excess produce could just go back into the land right? It wouldn't hurt anything to just let them rot on the ground like they would in nature.


Sharing: If somebody has something to contribute, like bio waste, knowledge, seeds, food, money, then of course I will share. Really anything can be traded in an honorable interdependant society. Yes once I feel secure and I actually have that abundance I might change my tune. Right now I am planning to do this by my bootstraps and the skin of my teeth, and figuring out how to give it all away is not so high on my list. I envision tough times in the future.

Osage invasive: Maybe there is a complimentary barrier I could put along side it. If it is so invasive that it will choke out all the land, I guess I should think twice. If it will become a thick healthy mass of thorns with no effort, I could see it being very useful. I want tons of diversity however I needs to get it. Asparagus, tomatoes, potatoes, ducks, I would want these things to go semi-feral. Think thats possible, terri?
Amedean Messan
pollinator

Joined: Nov 11, 2010
Posts: 803
Location: Burlington, NC - Woodland, Clay - Zone 7
    
  26
So I can give you my own biowaste  and you will give me vegetables - hell yes my shit does pay!


Those who hammer their swords into plows will plow for those who don't!
Kirk Hutchison


Joined: Feb 05, 2010
Posts: 418
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Tomatos can definitely go feral, but expect them all to be cherries when you get back (after a while, all feral domesticated plants start to resemble their wild ancestors).
William Roan


Joined: May 24, 2011
Posts: 40
Hi Chefconner
With these uncertain times, I think a lot of us are looking for ways to feed ourselves. I have 20 acres of land in Arkansas and I’m trying to keep the locals out, while establishing a food fortress. I’m trying to grow Osage to make hedgerows, but they haven’t proven to be invasive enough. So my next attempt has been to plant running bamboo as a perimeter, but it’s to dry and have no signs of any running.
Where I did have success was planting the bamboo in an old septic tank and in two years it covered the backyard. I hired a backhoe man to dig it out. But it came back. Then I started cutting it to the ground and now I have no problems. The roots are adding biomass to my sandy soil, I have bamboo sticks for the garden, fireplace or if chopped the compost pile. The bamboo attracts and supplies a home for birds and animals. Geoff Lawton has a video where the bamboo is cut and feed to the cows. The leaves fall throughout the year and add more biomass to the soil, while keeping the weeds down. Chiggers and ticks don’t seem to be attracted to the stand, or it could be the birds are doing their job.
Summer nights the bamboo stand acts like a dew sail, collecting moisture from the air and watering the soil below. For my needs the running bamboo will ultimately provide the best barrier for a food fortress.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
My neighbors ("the locals" I consider  friends and part of our local community, so I'm not worried about having to protect my resources from them.  We already share resources.   
                                


Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 20
The world was not safe for common people in argentina and russia after economic collapse. In Mexico and El Salvador, where times are tough right now, the maphia takes a cut of everything your business earns. People will break into your house for some rusty tools. The price of food is going up, civil unrest is going up, unemployment is going up, a storm is brewing. Farmers will enjoy increased status in the near future and I want to hook up with my neighbors. People under foreclosure are squatting in their homes, and after that ends they will squat somewhere else.

I read people like Naomi Wolfe, Lindsay Williams, Michael Ruppert, who have some seriously dire predictions about the near future. I'm talking about an exodus out of the cities, a big cost-of-living crunch. Really its happening right now, all around us. I intend to be aggressive about security, if things don't turn out that bad, I can cut down the osage and throw open my doors. But I would rather have security in place then have to come up with something on the fly.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
it might work

I would do some johnney appleseed planting, get in your fruit trees..I'd do the outside edges not just with roses and stuff although they are fine, but also put in some bramble berries, as they will protect from people walking in quite well ..you will want acess though so hide that if you want it secret

one way to hide your entrance would be to plant rows of jerusalem artichokes..they grow absolutely humongeous and are edible.

these can form a hedge around your fruit trees and you can find a sunny spot  in the most isolated are to put in your perennial crops such as rhubarb, asparagus, etc..

you might put some vines up and over a fence or arbor if you have a place for one ..as well..maybe some kiwi or grapes..

good luck with it all


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
chefconnor wrote:

I read people like Naomi Wolfe, Lindsay Williams, Michael Ruppert, who have some seriously dire predictions about the near future.


Oh, I'm definitely a doomer, but that doesn't mean I hate and fear my neighbors ("the locals" or feel the need to protect "my resources" from them. 

If you want to protect your food I suggest planting a food garden which doesn't look like one, which looks like a weed patch because it is a weed patch.  Then nobody will care about it.    Put a big hedge or fence around it and you'll be advertising "Precious stuff inside!"

                                


Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 20
Okay, well how do you feel about the notion of starting with nodes, putting in some raised beds around those nodes, and stepping back? Would it fill out in zone 7 in the eastern half of the country?

What do you think about my budget? 10,000 dollars for 3-5 acres? Realistic?
Guy De Pompignac


Joined: Nov 16, 2010
Posts: 188
Location: SW of France
You should put some beehives, it would deter the curious (and maybe deers too ?)

For deers, you can plant some species not attacked by them (pawpaw, hazels, figs ...)

I suggest some semi-wild planting of tubers (jerusalem artichokes, apios americana ... ) cause i think you want some winter starchs


Follow our design (in french) on our 3 acres property in SW France.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20

Here's a list of perennial vegetables for your conditions which might help:  http://perennialvegetables.org/perennial-vegetables-for-each-climate-type/cold-temperate-east-midwest-and-mountain-west/

I concur with permaguy, if you're serious about survival you'll want to plant plenty of roots and tubers for calories, also because they are not readily identified as food by humans and other critters.  If you have live water on your place, cattails and duck potatoes would be good additions.
                    


Joined: Feb 02, 2010
Posts: 21
In the scenario you envision you're going to need a high quality fence.  Someone starving with kids to feed would make short work of any organic matter separating them and a bushel of apples.  10k for 3-5 acres is going to be hard to find.  Unless your ok with it being pretty remote.  If that's the case how do you manage land so far away? 

I have about an acre that I'm creating as a sort of food safety net for my family.  The land is 2 hours away which makes my management of it tricky at times.  Often when I am there I think about the what if's of the future.  The only way I can envision keeping my landscape secure is with neighbors buying into it.  If you give your neighbors some of the harvest or let them pick on occasion, they immediately become shareholders in your edible landscape.  They would then have a vested interest in keeping away any would be thieves.  Of course the flip side is what happens when they tell all their friends and extended family about their access to your land .

                                


Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 20
Fences, Neighbors: A wild tangle of plants is definitely what I had in mind. In Latin America they often use broken glass as a barrier. I would also throw some razor wire into the mix, it would be a very unpleasant place. Maybe if I wanted to share the love I wouldn't put the barrier on the perimeter of the property, but leave some land on the outside of the barrier for deer or neighbors to scrounge. Neighbors can do more than just steal your food. They can also complain to the local authorities that you are living in an uninspected building or contaminating your groundwater, making an eyesore, your chickens are getting onto their land... possibly getting you evicted in the process?? I want to be pretty remote, me and my syndicate would take turns squatting on the land while the others earn on the outside.

Commuting and living: How do I manage land far away? Well I had imagined squatting in a tent. I would build a pavillion or big tent for things like drying timber, storing equipment, and maybe I would sleep in there on rough nights. Other than that I would have a teepee, and move it every few weeks. I would go to the bathroom in the ground and bury it, and plant a guild there, and move on. So each camp site would become a node where vegetation is lush.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
With only 3-5 acres, your neighbors are probably going to be able to come right up to your property line and see pretty much everything you're doing.  They will certainly see a tent and know you're squatting.  They may think you've got a meth lab set up there or something, especially if they go to check it out and encounter razor wire.  Not to mention finding that small an acreage in a remote location might be hard.  Generally, remote land is sold in large parcels.  Finding a tiny parcel with live water on it may be even more difficult.

Personally I feel 20 acres is about the minimum for privacy, even if densely wooded.  But that's just my perspective as someone who lives in the country.    If you can find a place where you know you won't have any neighbors on the adjacent parcels, 5 acres might be ok.  3 is too small for a bugout place in my opinion, unless you plan to develop all of it pretty intensively, which will eliminate the ability to leave dense vegetation (most food plants need a good amount of sun).

Not trying to be discouraging, just sharing my own thoughts of the matter from the perspective of someone who has thought about this kind of thing for many years.  And of course from a very different perspective philosophically. 

If your syndicate could all put in enough to each buy 5 acres you might have a better chance of finding an ideal place.  My husband and I were originally going to buy 5 acres but quickly learned  20 acres wasn't that much more expensive (at the time) and was in a better location (like, not right next to the neighbors' airconditioner and dogs). Now I'm so glad we didn't waste our money on the 5 acres.  As imperfect as our place is, at least we have privacy!  And we're fortunate to be surrounded by either distant or friendly neighbors.

For more ideas from folks who've thought about this topic a lot and/or who are currently developing their own homesteads or bugout camps, you might try this messageboard:  http://forums.sustainablecountry.com/forums/forum.php
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
i have the list from Eric T's book, but most of them are difficult to find sources for seeds or plants..I would really love to try some of them.

I have several growing here, but the ones I don't I would like to try..

Also if you are in the area I will part with some Jerusalem Artichoke roots if you come and help dig them, and will also give you malva seeds, they grow really well here and also remember one thing about Malva, the deer totally love it..but they don't kill the plants, just cause them to be bushy (like if you were to pinch them back)..I allow the deer to eat on them here.
                                


Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 20
Meth lab is an excellent point. I can't believe I never thought of that.

I used the term squatting, but thats prolly not the right term since I would own the land. How does the law decide if I am residing in an uninspected building that is not up do code, or just camping? Can I technically camp in a teepee and live next to a "shed" that I don't technically sleep in? If I don't rent an apartment or own a house in town? Really, I do not consider my neighbors a threat. I'm sure I will need them if they are willing to tolerate my company. Unlike the problem of theft of land pirates, I actually know people in the real world who have been evicted for living in unsafe buildings. Or accused of making a mess or noise by their neighbors and the neighbors sick municipal authorities on them. It seems like a more immanent threat, so

I'm more concerned about the government, followed by roaming hoards of desperate dangerous people. Anybod
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
We camped on our land a number of times before we moved here.  Unless your land is zoned or specifically deed-restricted against camping there is no law, to my knowledge, against camping on your own land.  A tent, teepee, wigwam, chikee or yurt is not a "building" and so is not subject to the same regulations  as a permanent structure.    Anything on wheels or that can be taken apart and moved is temporary.  Any kind of foundation is permanent.

Impermanent tents and sheds are not taxable but put up a permanent shed and *bam!* your taxes will likely be raised unless your county is very lackadaisical about taxation.  You might want to look into areas where land has timber valuation, which can help keep your taxes low.  Here in Texas we have Wildlife Management valuation, but you can only get it if you've previously qualified for Agricultural valuation.  I don't know if any other state has something like Wildlife Management tax status.  Here it can easily cut your property taxes by half or more.

To avoid folks flying over (in airplane or satellite) and seeing everything you're up to, tents, yurts and such should be under trees.  But you know that. 
                                


Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 20
Why do such tax breaks exist? If I buy land that has valuable timber on it, the state charges me less property tax... is this because they assume that I will sell this timber and they'll get taxes off of that later transaction?
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6498
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
133
The tax laws vary from state to state.  Many states have lower RE taxes on Ag lands. 

An example is Tennessee.  Ag land is taxes at the same rate as a single family family dwelling, BUT to keep urban sprawl from 'destroying' the state, they have a "Green Belt" exemption that can drastically reduce property taxes.  To qualify, you either need 15 acres that is in crops (and produces $1500 per year in crop sales), or timberland (no minimum size stated, but don't expect to qualify with a 5A plot).  The timberland must be inspected by a forestry 'expert', who will lay out a 'sustainable harvest plan', which you must comply with.

The concept behind the law is that if you continue to use your land in an Ag/forestry industry, you are exempting it from the developer's greedy hand, and thus providing a scenic landscape for all to enjoy.  If you do sell or develop it, the exempted taxes you received for the previous 3 years will all become payable now.

A point to remember about this Green Belt law is that only the land value is taxed lower, not the improvements.  If you buy a $25,000 plot and build a $million Mc Mansion on it, you will pay reduced taxes on the land itself, but that mansion will be taxed at the full rate.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
John Polk wrote:

A point to remember about this Green Belt law is that only the land value is taxed lower, not the improvements.  If you buy a $25,000 plot and build a $million Mc Mansion on it, you will pay reduced taxes on the land itself, but that mansion will be taxed at the full rate.


Same with the Texas Open Space Valuation (Agricultural valuation for folks who don't make a living as farmers).  Taxes on Open Space, Ag, and Wildlife land are low, but taxes on improvements are very high. Tax breaks on land use exist to preserve the land, in my state anyway, to some extent.  The rollback penalty for taking land out of these special uses to develop it are 5 years of back taxes. 
                                


Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 20
But I could camp indefinitely. I would avoid the increased property taxes and bunk in a swank yurt or something. The natural screen is still good, if its discreet and my valuable food could look wild. So I am on the cheap and stealth. My main security would be camoflage, and since there's no ultimate fence or security, my thorn fence is just a deterrent. Thanks for helping me understand. And any old ladies or children who wander onto the property can have some food. They are not necessarily KOS.

John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6498
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
133
Good fences make good neighbors.  Anything beyond that might just pique their curiosity.  A thorny hedgerow can be very effective.
Judith Thompson


Joined: May 01, 2014
Posts: 10
Than I could let the neighbors harvest stuff for a small fee (so that it would be cheaper than grocery store produce) and I wouldn't have to worry about thieves

Great idea, but I want to share with you from experience. Our urban ministry had a community garden. The object was to give away the produce to the neighbors at NO COST. Amazingly enough, people still came in the middle of the night to harvest. (We don't call it stealing because how can you steal what would be given to you free anyhow?) Typically, they chose the vegetables they were familiar with and ignored those that we new to them. Rule of thumb for other community gardens in our city: Don't plant anywhere there is not a more or less continuous caretaker presence (such as a community center.)
*sigh*
 
 
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