Monday, 5 August 2013

Organic Cherry Farming

I have been asked to join the design team for a 11.9 hectare farming project here in Bulgaria. The project is most unusual in that it will be a fusion of three very different types of systems on one adjoined piece of land.  These are : a conventional cherry orchard, an organic cherry orchard designed by  The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)  and a forest garden with cherry featuring as the dominant upper anopy specie. My role is to design the forest garden area ,as well as looking into the rainwater harvesting potential of the site.

The Site - Looking South

This project presents a great opportunity to compare, yields, costs, labour requirements and the ecological impact of the different systems. 

I am very fortunate to have 1yr to make the essential observations on the site that will provide me with the necessary information to come up with a solid design.

Satellite image of the Site - Boundaries represented by Green Line

My design for the Forest Garden will include
  • Site Survey - Existing vegetation, Land History, Water flow, Seasonal observations 
  • Irrigation plan - Swale placement, pond placement (if required), irrigation schedule.
  • Fertility plan - Compost, Biomass plants, fertility crops, vermicomposting, Humanure   
  • Planting plan - Productive perennial guild designs, Productive annual guild designs, Plant list (species, cultivars and source of plants), Wildlife guild designs.  
  • Yield forecast - Forecasts for yields Year 1, Year 5, Year 10, Year 25     
  • Management plan - Maintenance schedule, Harvesting schedule,  Estimated labor (hrs per week)       
  • Implementation plan - Order of works schedule. 
  • Costs report - a breakdown of the estimated costs for implementation (land works, materials, plants, tools, labor)
  • Base map.
  • Design proposal map 
I will be recording the development of the design process on this blog. 

Upcoming Forest Garden Courses 

If you would like to create a forest garden and gain some practical hands-on experience come and join us for our Design and Build a Forest Garden Course. We'll be covering site surveying, landscape design software, installing access, beds, irrigation channels, planting tree, shrub, herb and ground layers, and wildlife ponds. All in 3 days! And plenty of follow up material to take away with you to digest slowly.

Design and Build - Forest Garden Course  - Regenerative Landscape Design Course

Registration for our course is now open with a 15% discount on accommodation and food fees when you register as a group (2 or more). You can also take advantage of early booking discounts if you book 3 months before the course starts.


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Our project grows with our desire to provide better quality information. Our overheads and demands on our time also grow along with our development and this presents a challenge for us to maintain the project and activities. We do not receive any government, institutional or NGO funding for our project and rely on revenue from sales of our courses, plants, consultancy, and design work along with the support of our amazing volunteers to develop and manage the gardens and are very grateful for this. So please consider joining us for a course or event, purchasing products and services from our online store or plants from our bio nursery, participating in our online educational platforms and support the project while we support you. Feeling super generous today? You can also support us directly with a one-time donation or become a sponsor of our project providing monthly support. With your support, we will continue to improve on producing quality information and data for the community, building a world-class demonstration landscape and progress on our mission to develop and promote practices that can produce food and other resources for humans while enhancing biodiversity.


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Would you like to be involved in the project next season?  1-6 month placements on our polyculture study are now open. 

Permaculture and Regenerative Design Internships


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