Permaculture Project Case Study: Tulley Family Project Springville, UT Edit

Location and description Edit

Springville Utah, in the foothills, not far from Hobble Creek Canyon

.77 acres with a house on one lot, an a future food forest on the other.

Site characteristics Edit

Lots of canyon wind with exceptional wind bursts in 70-90 mph occasionally. Dry, low-fertility soils that were once a flood plain for a small nearby canyon. Lack of fertility is mainly due to the removal of the topsoil by previous land owners as described below

Short History Edit

We built on this property three years ago. It consists of two urban lots combined together, with the house on the east-most lot and an empty field on the west-most. This area was once rich pastureland, but the developer (as is a common practice) pulled out and sold all top soil more than a decade ago before selling the lots. Natural weeds and foliage has started to reclaim the soils, but there is still a noticeable lack of fertility in places. Very rocky soil, but it is a mix of different soil types not atypical in foothills / previous flood plains.

Two years ago, we landscaped our main house lot, putting in Kentucky Blue Grass and a dozen or so trees. Mostly fruit trees. We then prepared and sprayed Sheep Fescue grass seed onto our east lot, hoping it was a low-maintenance solution to the "weed problem" there. Then shortly after that, I learned what Permaculture was.

Current Project status Edit

I went gung-ho on Permaculture before thoroughly studying it. I built out one swale that goes about 30-40 feet. Not complete yet so as to facilitate access by heavy machinery to build a planned pond. After digging 1/3 of the pond, my backhoe died. This turned out to be a good thing since in the meantime I've had the opportunity to enroll in Geoff Lawton's 2015 PDC course, and have learned so many things I did not know. (Like, for instance, putting in a keyway on a pond!) So, the design is currently on hold pending me learning a lot more and designing 2-3 other properties, then returning and designing my own.

What has worked for me so far Edit

I made a realization the other day that the absolute largest grass weeds were right above and below my on-contour swale. They were about 4 times the size of any others in the entire yard. Some of this is surely due to the increased mulching around the swales, but even other heavily-mulched areas do not exhibit such high growth.

What has not worked for me Edit

Trying to do too much without enough real knowledge. Though, I also value the experimentation.

What I am trying next Edit

Besides working on a comprehensive design, I am planning on doing the following soon:

  • Setting aside an area for a nursery to start growing some plants to be ready for when the design is finished. This is partially done, since I had to have a place to put some of the trees and herbs I got from Chris French when his property was unfortunately sold out from under him
  • Doing a food-forest in the miniature around my two small pecan trees. This will be using Geoff Lawton's method described in his course of planting dense cover crops, fast, medium, and slow growing nitrogen fixing plants, and then chopping and dropping each of them down in that order as they grow up. I am currently investigating what plants should be involved in this.
  • Chickens! (Or, possibly, ducks)

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