Tate Smith

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since Aug 29, 2011
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hugelkultur forest garden trees greening the desert
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Recent posts by Tate Smith

The Regenerative Rancher webinar is going to be taking place soon. We are still scheduling dates and finalizing the presentation. We will be working through Hemenway's 10 design principles and how they can be applied in a traditional, conventional broadacre context (American ranches). Here's the webpage with a little more info and the sign up form! We will notify out by Facebook (www.facebook.com/regenstewardship) and to email subscribers when more details come about!

6 years ago
Thinking more about this. What if a inventory of polycultures was set up. Strictly an inventory. Observers could inventory agricultural or wild polycultures and submit them to a "Region Administrator". That person would validate and QA/QC the information (just to keep data clean and standardized). The region administrators would be a network of individuals that would compile and organize the data. From the standardized data you could start running statistics and identify the best combinations of plants for any specific ecotype. But what about guilding?

Well, administrators (or observors) would record and cross reference existing databases (of which there are many) for plant use. Medicinal, nitrogen fixing, fruiting, fodder etc. (I'm specifically referring to the really good one in I think Gaia's Garden.

So then you could get together with a slick programmer person that could run logic out of the database and create a simple program that would have the inputs of your location's variables (soil, temperature, latitude etc) and then also have logic that inputs your goals (fodder dominated, wild dominated, fruiting dominated, or something to that effect) and then query against the crowdsourced data. The maturity part of the form below could be used for similar systems to show difference over time and through succession. So your output could be a "plant it this way for this late seral composition, but expect these early and mid seral compositions along the way". Giving you the option to maybe adjust the succesional composition from there and really tweak in your development strategy.

Here is an example of the most basic google forms that could inventory the data: https://goo.gl/mWeQ5Y

What started this thought is that we know a lot about individual plants. We know a lot about inventorying ecological systems. We don't know a lot about ecological SYSTEMS. So put two and two together is where I'm coming from. A lot of work has been done in the inventorying realm on natural systems. A lot of work has been done on conventional agriculture systems. We need to just do the same work on polyculture systems. The base methodology model is there, it just needs to be expanded and executed in the permaculture way.

That's as far as I got with the thought. Discussion?
6 years ago
Here is the link to that PDF: https://goo.gl/jxFcQm

Description of Occular Reconnaissance Method specificall developed for a Wyoming state agency for grazing lease assessment. The fundamentals on the first few pages would be totally applicable to this situation.
6 years ago
Awesome Neil!! I love where you are headed with this.

One resource to help along the way would be Ecological Site Descriptions. The feds have done a lot of the leg work for us here in the States. We just have to adapt and improve upon that work. ESD's can be queried here: https://esis.sc.egov.usda.gov/Welcome/pgReportLocation.aspx?type=ESD , anyone who would like help querying data, please PM me and I'd be glad to help.

Also, I think standardizing a descriptive methodology would be good. One existing method that comes to mind would be Ocular Reconnaissance Inventory Method. It's primarily a rangeland inventory method. I can't find any documents online, but have it in hard copy. I'll get it scanned into Google Drive and share a link, I think a brain like yours could certainly use it as a launching pad to develop something really awesome for this.

As I've been typing, I think that I will take your idea and apply it this summer. In Wyoming we have a lot of food forests at what were homesteads. I will try an do a couple descriptive analysis of one or two of these to hone in what exactly is making it work!

Thanks again Neil!
6 years ago
That's awesome Tyler! If you ever want to chat one on one about your projects. Just shoot me an email on permies or on the website and we can email back and forth or whatever. It's always great to brainstorm with different people.
7 years ago
I thought I'd my two cents into the mix here. Got to the thread in a very odd round about through a Dailyish. So I know everybody is moved on three years later but...

We've done this. We are making an emphemeral (runs when it rains) arroyo turn into a intermittent (runs for a period of time after it rains) system, moving to perennial flow (should happen within next two years).

Slow the water down, encourage the species you want, graze correctly. That's it.

Check it out: http://tatesmith11.wix.com/regenstewardship#!portfolio/znxwd

We've done a lot of work in our 14" precip zone in Southern Colorado and have made water come from "nowhere".

The question came up multiple times in the thread from somebody who got grey labeled, "Where does the water come from" and everybody's answers were right, water does fall from the sky! COOL!

But water also comes up from the ground. It's not just deep aquifers. There is a retention in the soil. So, as paul alluded to with his sponge metaphor, when you over soak the sponge, the water dribbles out.

By slowing the water using Hydraulic Energy Dispersion methodology (the politically correct way of saying planting water), you hydrate the sponge. You do this long enough and the sponge stays wet and dribbles. The infrastructure you built sustains the dribble through drought because soil holds a lot of water!!

Oh wait, that's where grazing comes in. As all of us know, increase the OM, increase water holding capacity. Proper vegetation management furthers the effectiveness of HED projects. Otherwise, eventually your soil profile dries up again and you have start over with 7 years of energy dispersing in order to get your sponge rehydrated and dribbling. If you have effective HED infrastructure in place, and proper veg management on top of the HED infrastructure. You can withstand any drought. Or at least bounce back quickly when the rains do come.

It's possible, our once intermittent stream now runs 8 months out of the year, 2014 it ran 5 months, in a few years it will run year round for the length of our property.

We can make creeks run again and make new ones show up. Eden is never that far away, you just have to take the first step to get there.
7 years ago

What are your plans for the site? Looking at your aerial photo and with the slope that you have on your site, maybe it would be better suited to doing something other than swales. Or maybe doing as Tyler suggested (I think it was Tyler), put in one retention structure mid slope with swales catching to it.

I think with the slope you have, designing an access road would be best suited to maybe zigzag across the site. You would also need this in order to be friendly on your machines and your back when coming back up with a load of harvest! So maybe an option here is to map out a zig zag road and since it is going to be used so infrequently by vehicle traffic, you can make a broad foot path that barely fits your machine. Maybe a bulldozer could come grade it in for you a little bit. I would drop the road zig zagging down the hill side on like a 1:400 or 1:300 slope, maybe a little steeper (Tyler do you have a suggestion here?) So on this path you can build rolling berms or "water bars" that redirect the flow of water down the road back into the hill side or maybe off of the the road down hill into a orchard with a small ditch system, or wherever.

What I'm getting at here is make your access road that you want into your snaking water retention system! Could have a lot of potential for the site.
7 years ago
Read, read, read. The permies staff have created an immense library of the best of the best for all facets of permaculture and beyond. You may have seen it, it is here: https://permies.com/t/31762/books/Book-Review-Grid The worse thing to do is to set off into a new adventure without some sort of indication of where to go.

Sounds like you may need to get out of the city, I would keep a close eye on the intentional community threads. There is always some sort of cool opportunity shuffling through there.

I would also check out the regional threads. Pick a spot to go on vacation this year that has always interested you, jump on and research the heck out of what is going on in that area in the regional threads, throw out some replies on the posts that may be looking for help. Great way to see if the reality of all this is really for you and an idyllic dream.

If you have the time or an extended vacation, you could always look into WOOFER stuff. Or attend a extended workshop. They are doing something that sounds really cool at Wheaton Labs in MT right now: https://permies.com/t/52318//PEA-Workshops-Permaculture-Experience-Ava

I think the main thing is to get educated as much as possible. Get on permies everyday and read. Watch all the videos. Listen to all the podcasts. All the while explore outside of permies too. This is a great launching pad resource to find even more cool things in the interweb!

Good luck, I hope you find your serenity in all of this!!
7 years ago
I know its black not blue and done in paint. But what about just a simple swivel line with a seedling on top of the mound. Would something really simple like this translate well to the bumper sticker style for the swale sticker?

Logged in, on the main forums page tried to search and the "Submit" button

Also doesn't work logged out on the main forums page. Also, that is way down at the bottom. Maybe move that up to the top of the side nav? Would help with new folks who want to search for something there interested in right away.