Friday, March 28, 2014

Proposed Land & Garden Evolution


Existing conditions:


1) New Veg Garden is located in sunniest/warmest microclimate on the land.  Also below water catchment for easiest gravity feed irrigation.  & in Zone 1 of proposed winterized Cabins.

2) Existing Garden becomes more perennially focused -- medicinal herbs, berries, perennial vegs -- requiring less irrigation.

3) Workshop & Solar Array do not reflect our only placement options.  (See Master Plan map & Solar posts below).

4) Forest Garden/Terraces ought best be established with earth moving equipment -- minimizing up front labor & saving us years of labor down the line.

5) Pond is proposed -- & in a separate watershed than the septic. (See Water Catchment post below)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Master Plan Discussions

The purpose of this post is to familiarize the Destiny Community with the concept of Master Planning.  It is hoped that a Master Plan for Faerie Camp Destiny will ultimately assist the community in reaching consensus with some long term goals and priorities for future improvements and buildings projects.

It has long been assumed that future improvements would occur within the circumference of the cleared area where the new kitchen is located.  The selective clearing of the post-agricultural forest has opened up wonderful vistas and now allows abundant sunlight and air circulation to refresh and rejuvenate the land and the life it supports. 

Aerial photo taken October 2012. Due north is at top of the page. Shadows indicate the time of day to be close to noon.

Two weekend workshops took place this winter in an effort to evaluate and clarify the direction of future improvements on the land at Destiny.  The basis of these discussions were recommendations made by Land Use Planet, the newly formed Design Comet, and input from broader Destiny Community which was voiced at the More Than Annual Meeting in December 2013.

Under discussion in no particular order are:

  • Solar power through photovoltaic array
  • Enclosed dining hall adjoining the kitchen to replace the current dining canopy
  • Workshop/storage building to facilitate future construction projects and provide shelter during the shoulder seasons
  • Housing for a number of year-round residents/stewards
  • Cabins for elder shelter during the gathering season
  • Bath house with sauna
  • Firewood storage shed
Following are several examples which hopefully demonstrate how the visual tools of a Master Plan "exercise" can be used to foster ideas, dialogue and understanding amongst members of the Destiny Community, to glean support from outside the community, and to ultimately seek funding and permitting necessary to the success of any such endeavor.  As of this writing it is a work in progress, an idea, an exercise that requires further study, community insights and support.

Scheme A above depicts possible locations for proposed improvements with focus on locating the Workshop.  It favors a close proximity to the proposed Dining Hall for the ease of moving building materials from the Workshop to the site of the Dining Hall while it is under construction.  This assumes that the method of construction for the Dining Hall would benefit from having an on-site, enclosed workspace.
Scheme B above orients the Workshop away from the Dining Hall, opening up the yard area behind the Kitchen and orienting the long side of the Workshop toward a more southerly exposure, without sacrificing much in the way of proximity to the Dining Hall construction site.

Scheme C above opens up even more space north of the Kitchen, moving the Workshop out the direct sight line of people walking or driving along the approach road, and still offering a more southerly exposure along the length of the building.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Water Catchment at Destiny

'But Destiny is so wet!! Why would we want to catch more water at Destiny?'

Water is our lifeblood & the lifeblood of the land. It's the lubricant that allows the life forces of the place to flourish & move. It's presence is cooling, refreshing, productive, & restorative. Usually, when water is felt to be 'too much' on a landscape it is during excessive rain, or when said water moves quickly & erosively through a landscape. Conceptually, we want water to flow through & across our land as slowly as possible -- & allow it to serve the greatest number of purposes possible, before it (inevitably) leaves our sloping landscape.

This is a video put together by Whole Systems Design farm in Northern Vermont's Mad River Valley. It describes briefly basic water catchment technology, & how the design of their land effectively absorbed the waters of Hurricane Irene -- which otherwise raged through the Mad River Valley.

Water does work upon the land. Besides watering plants & people, it…
- cleans tools & vegetables;
- can reduce or eliminate our need to water the gardens with pumps or by hand;
- creates habitat for a greater number of organisms, increasing the diversity & resilience of an ecosystem;
- allows for the production of distinctly aquatic food crops, both animal & vegetable;
- it increases dynamic & productive edge conditions while increasing raises the reflected heat of the land (creating micro-climates that can grow plants normally accustomed to warmer climates). Famously, Sepp Holzer has used this effect to successfully grow lemons & other citrus -- in the Austrian Alps.

(productive ponds at Sepp Holzer's Kramerterhof)

There exists a diversity of water-storing solutions that include:
- the soil itself
- swales
- trees & plants themselves
- ponds
- cisterns

The most efficient place/way to hold water is in the ground -- & the better the soil (the more organic material, the more spongy) the more water it can hold. In order though for the water to penetrate into the soil, we have to slow it down, to offer that exchange the time necessary for the water to sink. Swales (ditches dug on contour) are one such way to sink water deeply into the earth. This enables the plants & trees growing below to drink deeply & hold water in their flesh. Ponds are ways to hold standing water & aquatic ecosystems -- & often are capable of supplying gravity-feed irrigation systems in case of drought. Cisterns serve a similar function; they easefully capture rainwater off the roofs of buildings, & generally supply gravity-fed irrigation systems below.

Moving water opposite gravity requires a lot of power. The more water-drawing options (& increased water use efficiency) available to any community, the less reliant we are upon electricity or fuel or any one piece of equipment like a pump. This is one working definition for growing a more resilient community.


'So how much water are we talking about?'

Destiny, & Vermont as a whole, is a rainy place. About 3 to 5 inches of water fall each month, for a total of about 44 inches of precipitation a year. The formula to determine is :: rain fall harvest = catchment area x amount of rain x efficiency.

For example, if we collected water off the roof of our proposed new workshop structure (w/ approximately a 40' x 20' roof -- & with only 80% efficiency), the land's monthly average of 4 inches of rain would yield 1,600 gallons of water per month into cisterns. The kitchen meanwhile could collect more than that. The two side by side would mean over 3,000 gallons of water monthly available to the lower meadow -- the area to which these systems could gravity-feed. This, incidentally, points to moving our more water-intensive (vegetable) gardens to below the kitchen, in the lower meadow (where there is also more available sunlight).

These meanwhile are just two structures. This says nothing about the 160 acres Destiny holds in common -- that the same 44 inches of rain falls upon yearly. This means, according to the same equation, that a dizzying 191,166,936 gallons of fresh, clean water falls annually on our land. In the face of such quantity, we start where we can, catching water where it makes sense to do so, & grow our collective practice of doing so into the future.

Siting is key. What water needs do we have? & what opportunities lay above said needs to catch water?

Some existing & possible catchment points for us at Destiny in the nearer term:
- swales in the existing garden
- kitchen roof (cistern)
- dining hall roof (cistern)
- workshop roof (cistern)
- resident cabins (cisterns)
- pond at the bottom of the lower meadow
- terraces or swales for the proposed orchard in the lower meadow
- growing out lush gardens to hold water in the plants themselves
- continued soil building to grow the sponginess & water holding capacity of the earth


From the seat, & mouth, of the great Pashananda, we hear words of wisdom, 'Gently holding water'. <3 .