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Bratshome Farm, Ann Arbor, MI

Posts: 39
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Hi, I think I may have found the right forum to post about my project and sub-projects. Last year, we began redeveloping 20 acres of mostly previously-farmed (soy, corn, grain). We've lived here 28 years but just were able to purchase more than our original 7 acres, and also I retired from my professional career, so it's on! We planted 1,400+ trees, some transplanted and some purchased. This year is exploration—what can I grow and harvest, in a way that fits what I want for the third-third of my life's lifestyle. Then we decide what to focus on. It's a great piece of land, with a south-facing slope of 34 feet elevation decline over 1,330 feet. We get to use about 10 acres of water runoff from the fields to the north, otherwise we are at the top of the watershed. Bonus: We are not wealthy, but can live okay without farm-based revenues.

Projects now, or at least this year:
  • Building temporary hardwood cuttings beds— yesterday I took 25 Dawn Redwood cuttings and set them into one of the beds. Today I am heading for my jumbo-nut producing Black Walnut (bigger than tennis balls) tree to take cuttings.
  • Positioning and planting the 421 fruit and nut trees we ordered for this spring. And the ~400 more identified already for transplanting, mostly Red Cedar and Shagbark Hickory.
  • Tapping Black Walnut (20 taps this year; 60 possible) starting this weekend! I also have Sugar Maple, but my neighbor's doing his, so I am leaving mine alone for this year.
  • Making up tea bags with a small amount Oswego tea (wild Bergamot) that I harvested and dried last year. Hoping it's a reliable product. Try to sell it to the local tea shop.
  • Inoculating logs with various fungi—planning to test, for example, how well that works on Common and Glossy Buckthorn logs.
  • Creating of a mile+ of swales and berms.
  • Grafting that special Black Walnut onto volunteer field stock.
  • Building of hugelkultur fences, especially trying them with different wood inside. We have enough Ash, Box Elder, Ailanthus, Buckthorn, and more to work with here. We want to build identical hugels but with different wood inside, and plant the same things, to see what works best over time, with what wood.
  • Planting of annual crops at the base of Autumn Olive that I have pruned so that the centers are open to sunlight and the growth is all on the long stems. Can we take advantage of that nitrogen?
  • What other products can we get from Black Walnut: Pickled or candied green Black Walnuts, possibly even deep-fried; apparently, before the shell starts getting hard inside, the entire nut/fruit is edible. Who knew?
  • Wood products—standing timber, blocks for turning from trees I take down (Box Elder, Buckthorn).
  • What kinds of funding are available through the USDA's EQIP and other organizations?
  • Designing, mapping, and clearing the 27-hole Frisbee golf course that will wind throughout; already have 3/4 of a mile of walking/jogging path.

  • Phew! Partial list

    Posts: 1592
    Location: Fennville MI
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    Sounds like enough to keep you busy for a little while
    I agree. Here's the link:
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