Posts tagged permaculture
Joya: forest garden
Joya: forest garden

Joya: forest garden

 

We only have to see the Extinction Rebellion movement growing around the world and the Greta Thunberg phenomenon, embarrassing the politicians, and realise that the campaign is making an impact. And here at Joya: arte + ecología, we support all climate activists. Banning plastic straws is clearly not enough and we feel a groundswell of discontent, especially amongst youth, and the need to change from the polarised old left and right.

The desire for perpetual growth is outstripping the resources the planet contains and to access those finite resources we are destroying the environment and the bio-diversity contained within it. Gross Domestic Product has never been an accurate measure of the quality of the human experience and yet the World Bank wants a 3% annual growth. That means in 24 years they expect to have doubled GDP! Where do they think it is all coming from? The atmosphere is already full of carbon as a result of this expectation.

However there are things we can do to sequester the carbon already in the atmosphere and here at Joya: arte + ecología this is something we have been doing for the past 12 years. In annual phases we are planting a forest garden. We wont go into too much detail right now. If you would like to know more we are planning on doing a weekly blog on this (and other subjects), so please follow our progress.

We have created a physical permaculture system (you can also call it a traditional Spanish dry farming system) at Los Gázquez (home of Joya: AiR). It consists of a series of large swales (ditches) built on contour and the spoil (called a berm) is built on the lower side of the swale. This is a water catchment system which in time will accumulate ground water and provide a resource for the trees we are planting within the system. Initially we have installed a drip line irrigation system, but this is only for the first three years to get the trees established in the hard dry clay we are built upon.

In addition, we do not use insecticides and have opted to experiment with a biological solution to pest insects. We have used the swales to evolve an insectary. The idea is, by using and encouraging the diversity of wild plantlife, we can create an environment beneficial to the insects that prey on the pest insects. This is complex, obviously, but with years of trial and error we hope to perfect a balanced system. We do expect to lose edible produce to insects and this system is designed to yield for our needs and to some degree the insects that also benefit from the food resource. We want a co-evolutive arrangement with the wild flora and fauna around us.

We are currently averaging around 35 trees a year as the system expands incrementally. These trees will not only supply us with food in the form of olives, almonds, apricots, persimmon, medlar, hazel nuts, walnuts, chestnuts and pistachio, they will help to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Couple this with Joya: AiR´s zero carbon emissions and we are building a powerful example of how we can all, in one form or another, make efforts towards climate change solutions.

Simon Beckmann

Joya: ecology systems / swale construction / (part one)
 

Here at Joya: AiR (Cortijada Los Gázquez) we have initiated a long held plan to start restoring the agricultural land that we own within the Parque Natural Sierra María Los Vélez.

This starts with the construction of two concentric 'swales' and 'berms' around the residency built on perfect contour...

 
 

To build a swale and a berm big enough to achieve its aims in this alpine desert climate we are estimating that the construction needs to be 1 m deep by 2 m wide. The berm is just under a meter high. To build on contour we use an A frame with a spirit level attached...

 

We marked with canes each step of the A frame keeping the two legs at all times level. There were idiosyncrasies with the line for irregular bums but these were ironed out afterwards. To check the level of the line we used an altimeter set to a very fine setting to confirm the accuracy of our circles...

A frame in action...

A frame in action...

 

The next step is to bring in a heavy excavator to dig the hard clay and sedimentary limestone. As the excavator proceeded along the line we had mapped we also checked the accuracy of the excavation with the A frame (you can see it in the image).

checking the accuracy of the contoured excavation with the A frame...

checking the accuracy of the contoured excavation with the A frame...

 

The purpose of the swale and berm is to put the brakes on any water run off, capturing the water in the swale, creating a small underground water resource...

 

The next steps are to finish the swales with a rake and hoe, checking the levels all the time. After this they are to be seeded with native plants such as aromatics, grasses and perennials to hold on to the earth structure avoiding erosion.

Will be back soon with an update...