After lunch, Tao and Abel gave us a tour of Aprovecho and explained how the property’s mission had grown and changed over the years. Tao and Abel were both very good at explaining permaculture concepts and Aprovecho’s philosophy. They were very good guides/teachers.
This area is at the bottom of their one acre garden. It was very mushy and always had a good amount of standing water. Rather than trying to drain and garden it, they let it remain swampy and mushy and it has grown into this great wetlands zone all by itself. Permaculture theory is interested in where zones meet, as that is where there is the most diversity in species. Whereas some growers would grumble about the loss of land, they are happy to let the land do what it wants to do.
They have a very large chicken run that extends down one whole side of their garden. The chickens (and ducks) thus form a barrier on one side of the garden for insects that might wander through. Also, during the winter, the chickens and ducks are allowed to roam through the garden where they eat a lot of insect eggs and also their droppings fertilize the garden.
Another view of the chicken/duck run.
The chicken house is also designed with multiple doors. The raspberries are planted near the chicken house and a solar fence can be put out around them so that the chickens can come out an alternate door and scratch in the raspberries. Abel reports that this has improved their raspberry crop a lot.
We enjoyed the chickens a lot, though we were very city folk and kept not closing the gate to the run.
Abel and Tao didn’t mind too much.
Here Abel is talking about planting things with an eye toward multiple uses, which is another Permaculture principle. Here is a filbert bush. In commercial growing, filberts (a.k.a. hazelnuts) are trained into a tree-like structure for ease of harvesting. At Aprovecho, they have let them grow into its natural form, because then they can not only harvest the nuts, but also can cut and use the branches for items such as fences.
This is one of their milling areas. When it comes time to cut trees, they are cut with a two-man crosscut saw. Then the logs are pulled to the milling site by horses. A portable sawmill comes and cuts the lengths needed. Then they are dried in the solar dryer.
Here are some logs inoculated with mushroom spores. Once the plugs are inserted, they can grow mushrooms for a year or two.
In discussing the layers during the weekend, I realized I have not been paying attention to the fungal layer at all in my own Permaculture design. I’ll have to remedy that.
More Aprovecho to follow.