July 12, 2013
With the furvor of spring behind us, we have started to settle into the relaxed routine of the summer. In the heat of summer, our tasks are often divided between maintaining and supporting the life we have already brought into existence, and working on projects that expand and/or improve our capacity to steward and simply enjoy life.
This summer we have started what will be a several year endeavor of transforming the area closest to the community kitchen. The community kitchen serves as a centralizing hub for activity around Windward. However, over the years, much of the energy devoted to establishing growing spaces and animal infrastructure has been focused several hundred feet away from the kitchen, leaving the space immediately surrounding the kitchen with very little TLC.
In permaculture-speak this area closest to the home is called "zone 1." For a villagestead the scale and relative locations of the zones are slightly different than they are for a homestead. Arguably, Windward's zone 1 is quite well developed with gardens, fruit trees, spaces for pigs, chickens, goats and sheep. However, the space within 200 feet of the central community building needs some more attention for it to fulfill its optimal potential.
So with the enthusiasm and energy of the interns, we have started to give this space its needed attention. The overarching plan in to create a patio space directly outside of the kitchen that can be home to hammocks, chairs and a picnic table to encourage gathering outside during the pleasant-weather months. The patio will, with time, serve as a home for plants to create shade, attract beneficial birds, butterflies and insects, as well as provide food for the kitchen, and beauty and solace for the human soul. This project inovles quite a bit of earth works, moving soil to level out the slope that naturally exists in front of the kitchen, and then building a retaining wall with large stone harvested from around the property. Walt and Opalyn, along with Aaron, and various pieces of large equipment are helping to bring this to life.
Extending beyond the patio space to the southwest we are creating a large herb garden for culinary and medicinal herbs. The herb garden will also contain an inviting sitting space under a spreading oak tree. The herb garden is intended to be a highly productive space, as well as a healing and relaxing space in which to enjoy breakfast, watch the birds, or read a book. To minimize irrigation needs and create a diversity of microclimates in the garden, we are building a series of hugelkultur beds on contour that will serve as the primary growing space. With time these hopefully will also reduce surface runnoff, increasing the overall soil moisture in the immediate area, making it easier to grow fruit trees down hill without notable irrigation.
The final large feature of this redesign involves the area SSE of the kitchen. Currently this space is open, slightly sloped, with few trees, and directly uphill from our main forest garden and annual garden. We have yet to finalize the plans for this area and are still exchanging ideas. We are ever inspired by the works of Sepp Holzer and so one enticing idea is to build a pond. This would enable a greater diveristy of plant and animal life, increase soil moisure downhill of the pond, and create an attractive landscape feature close to home. We'll keep you posted on what we decide!