Thursday, July 17, 2014

On The Permie Road 1

My permie design biz partner Tim DeLorey and I have hit the road for a 2 month exploration of all things permaculture in the Pacific NW including the Gulf Islands off Vancouver. Networking is a permie art. Two days out and the connections are coming fast. We are currently in Paso Robles staying at Franklin Hot Springs (funkified!) where the owner, Norm Franklin, has just taken steps to lease his barn to a compost tea maker. His daughter is going to chefs school and wants to start a farm to table restaurant on the land. Cal Poly is helping work out some possible aquaponics using fresh water shrimp.

Way funky pump at the hot springs.

Yesterday we visited Ambeyth Certified Biodynamic Vineyard and learned about "dry farming". No irrigation. The harvest depends solely on the rains. This kind of drought training drives the grape roots down deep to find water (they can go down 100 feet!) and intensifies the flavor and nutritional value of the fruit. They age the wine in clay amphori imported from Italy. Thanks to owners Mary and Phillip for taking the time to show us around! Later that day we bought a watermelon that had been dry farmed. It was incredibly delicious with an edible rind.

clay amphora for aging biodynamic wine

Today we met Jim Coles who helped start Oak Commons Co-housing, teaches a PDC course and is a founding member of the local Transition Initiative. We compared notes on what it takes to launch and maintain a Transition Initiative. The Commons includes a 10 acre, Blue Oak woodland. Jim has started a discussion with the other co-housing members about using permaculture techniques to jump start the "succession" process of the woodland - the natural process by which nature builds bio-diversity. The correct kind of grazing could help with this. He's considering turkeys.

Take-aways for the desert:

Investigate water harvesting techniques to aid in dry farming.

Grape varieties from the Rhone valley are well adapted to dry conditions.

Try dry farming some Klondike water melons under the grapes.


1 comment:

  1. When will you be in Vancouver? I'll be up there second week of August and I have a friend up there who is deep into natural building who I contacted about showing me some projects while I'm there. Let me know if you want her contact info.
    Is Aprovecho on your list? And the Cob Cottage Company?