Class Day 5: Site Design Considerations For Your Mini-Farm

Matt Drewno dropped some gems on the 2 month interns today from his garden design experience over the years and currently in Mendocino. The central theme that came through was that you really need to get to know YOUR site.  Climate, water, soil, etc. can all be generalized from local reports but there is absolutely no substitute for really intimating the specifics of how your site system behaves.

Matt lead us off with some key concepts to keep in mind with site design:
  • Start small and with the most important things.
  • Nature is a template that is already there so take care to understand it.
  • Focus not just on your different areas but the interaction between them as well
  • Understand the land use history and patterns is invaluable.
  • Know your hardiness zones but realize they may change in different parts of the site and that the hardiness zones themselves are changing.
  • Try to observe with an open mind – don’t force your predispositions/objectives on what’s happening on your site.
Then Matt went into resource analysis and began by simply defining a resource as “something we could use.”  Further, that a “wasted resource is waste and that pollution is wasted waste.”  He then gave us this comprehensive checklist of items to understand and consider in your design:
  1. Topography – slope, elevation, aspect orientation
  2. Soil tests – texture, structure, minerals, nutrients, geology
  3. Water –  larger rhythms, management (swales, etc.), quality, dependability, infrastructure needed, potential pollution sources
  4. Temperature – highs and lows, know your own micro-climate
  5. Wind – how it affects the weather, seed and pollen movement, micro-climates
  6. Sun – path, shade pattern, how to store and harness
  7. Sector & Zone analysis – from permaculture design
  8. Legal Issues – zoning, building permits, water laws, planting regulations
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