Lorenzo Costa 's Profile
Lorenzo Costa
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Joined:
26/11/2013
Last Updated:
10/09/2014
Location:
gaiole in chianti, toscana, Italy
Climate Zone:
Cool Temperate
Gender:
Male





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natural farm la scoscesa

natural farm la scoscesa

gaiole in chianti, IT


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Dry stone walls at the natural farm La Scoscesa

Posted by Lorenzo Costa about 4 years ago

what is better than passing sometime reflecting on stones

While having finished my PDC I've had to slow down a bit, waiting for a few things to roll in place to start actual design, lets say it's a bit a lack of money that has taken me to a halt. But I haven't despaired and done what I can, with, its the case to say, my own bare hands.

So this last weekend I went to La Scoscesa and decided to take action, in my way.

I've a huge part of the boundary of the farm which is made up of dry stone retaining walls. 

Photo 1 this is an example

First thing we learn is to favor access to our land so thats where I started from. Last year I was waiting to enroll for the Online PDC with Geoff Lawton, as I have explained in other posts, so I started working on some small sections of wall, just to get the hands on the rocks.

One thing that I have learned from repairing or building dry stone walls, is that when I was a kid I used to build constantly small dwellings, towers or walls with flat stones, they were big enough for a mouse, and today this helps me so much. I guess many of us, or at least thats what I like to think don't want to feel lonely on this one, when youngsters passed hours building stuff it was a form of free Lego that gave more liberty and enhanced more creativity.

This is the first section I worked on last year, right side of the access point to the upper section of the farm. The big issue in some cases is just to clean up the site, as can be seen in the first photo.

Photo 2 there is a wall here

The next photo's show how I intervened. Cleaning out the overgorwn trees, collecting fallen stones, and preparing the base for reconstruction.

Satisfied by the first results, I moved on, concentrating on other small chores, cutting and collecting wood. And this spring I concentrated on the reapir of the access road.

The road has been abandoned for years, and after cleaning the overgrown trees and brambles, I had to enlarge the fallen track so I could pass with a small truck. Two types of interventions were undertaken. The first raking away the fallen soil from above the wall, the next photo shows this:

by hand the work was very long but it can be viewed well in this small section.

The second type of work was to rebuild a retaning wall under the fallen road filled with the soil I dug from the first type of work.

above view, at the end resulting in nearly a metre of width on the road

Finished work

View from under the road

The wall has passed the the trial with the weight of a mini excavator that I had to call in for the following work. After having seen that digginng up by hand the fallen soil from the top the wall was extremely energy wasting I had the following work done by an excavator. In the next two photos nearly from the same angle one can see the before and after.

One can see how much cut was done by the excavator, and how many rocks from the fallen wall had been covered by soil that had fallen from the top of it. The upper slope was cut so that the soil doesn't fall off to easily, I should seed it quickly I know, but the lack of water on the land for now just made me wait for that

So I started to clean up the site and the following photos show the work that was achieved.

The rebuilt wall is higher than the slope of the hill so any soil that comes down will fill the back of the wall thats made up of small rocks and soil.

The end result was great in my view, in two mornings, eight hours of total work on the wall, this is the result. What have I achieved with this work? more experinece in mastering the art of dry stone building. I know my walls are horrible for an experts look but if we don't get our hands on the rocks, there will be little difference in my expertise. The second thing I got from the work was the fun, and that sums up for a good 80% of why I love teaming with nature, its just pure fun. At the end you're tired but satisfied, and no other work can give me that.

It's just a section, still so much has to be done, nearly 300 metres of wall define the boundary, but section after section, maybe one day with the help of some volunteers or expert workers, it will be finished.

I think many of us know the feeling I have when I walk passed those walls and I feel I know every single rock, I've felt it, I know how it was placed, you connect even with rocks when work with them, or at least I do.

Sunday a couple came by for a walk a long the road and the most beautiful thing they told me was: Oh so it's you that has been rebuilding the walls, and cleaning the road, its so nice, thank you. 

And that in a way is a first step to my care of people, sharing beauty!

Comments (11)

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S. Symens
S. Symens : uh... a word of explanation? :-)
Posted about 4 years ago

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Lorenzo Costa
Lorenzo Costa : Saskia, It's difficult to master the editing on PG so I made some trials for sharing photos, sorry now the whole post should be visible.
Posted about 4 years ago

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Diego Gutiérrez
Diego Gutiérrez : Wow!! Good job!! It's nice to see that what we do has a direct impact on peoples wealthness.. As Brancusi once said: Things are not hard to do; what is difficult is getting ready to make them ;)
Posted about 4 years ago

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Cindy Madou
Cindy Madou : Nice work Lorenzo. Would love to have such stones available on my property.
Posted about 4 years ago

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Flordeliza Harris
Flordeliza Harris : I totally get that high myself, not same level of expertise on your earthworks, but just the sheer joy of planting new edibles from seed to table is priceless, good job Lorenzo, I'm impressed, I wish I have those kind of rocks/stones, I know I will be working with urbanites.
Posted about 4 years ago

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Susan Cornish
Susan Cornish : Lorenzo - I think you've inspired me to give this a try..
Posted about 4 years ago

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Corey Schmidt
Corey Schmidt : lovely. thanks for sharing
Posted about 4 years ago

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Florie Brown
Florie Brown : Lorenzo looking at the first picture made me feel tired, glad you had the energy and persevered very nice rustic wall I like them.
Posted about 4 years ago

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Florie Brown
Florie Brown : Hi Lorenzo what did you do to load your pictures on?
Posted about 4 years ago

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Lorenzo Costa
Lorenzo Costa : Hi Florie, back for a day from travelling and didn't have access to the web. I put the photos on google+ and had to resize them, the right size is 458 x 259. when you press the insert the image button you have to have the photo uploaded on google+, imgur or this sort of web resources. right clik the photo and copy the url of the image then you paste it on the window that opens when you press the insert button on your permaculture global page, you fix the dimensions as written above and it fits in the page perfectly. I had to try quite a bit and was thinking of writing a tutorial on how to I think we could share so much more here.
Posted about 4 years ago

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Linda Morrison
Linda Morrison : Hi Lorenzo!

I´m just getting back here after a long time away. Great to see your work with the stones!

I´m not really an expert yet, but I have been building dry stone walls on my site for the past 8 years and have learned a LOT about how they perform under all sorts of stress situations, especially lots of rain and heavy, wet soil building up behind them.

Your walls look quite good, from what I can see in the photos, and you certainly do have the angle of the walls quite well calculated, it looks like to me. The one thing I´ve found is that the amount of small rock behind the wall makes a huge difference in how it will stand up under stress conditions.

I was very stingy with small rocks when I built my first walls and one of them partially collapsed three years later, so now I calculate the width of the small rock layer according to the height of the wall. I´ve found that from 50 - 75cm width of small rocks (from the back of the big rocks in the front of the wall to the vertical soil) for every meter of wall height works really well. As the wall gets taller, that width can get progressively smaller because the stones on top are resting on a good sturdy base. Nowadays I am much more generous with small rocks, which I save in buckets when I dig a new garden space or plant trees, and my dry stone walls are much more stable than the first ones I built.

Hope you are well these days. All the best.
Posted over 3 years ago

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My Permaculture Qualifications
Other course verified
Food forest
Type: Other
Teacher: STEFANO SOLDATI
Location: Barberino Val d'Elsa, Italy
Date: Jun 2015
Pri verified
Geoff Lawton
Type: Geoff Lawton Online PDC
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Online
Date: Feb 2015
Other course verified
Geoff Lawton
Type: Geoff Lawton Online Earthworks
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Online
Date: Feb 2015
Other course verified
Geoff Lawton
Type: Geoff Lawton Reading the Landscape
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Online
Date: Feb 2015
Other course verified
Food forest
Type: Other
Teacher: Helder Valente
Location: Tertulia Farm Vicchio, Florence
Date: Oct 2015
Other course verified
Permaculture Teacher Training
Type: Teacher Training
Verifying teacher: Alfred Decker
Other Teachers: Elena Parmiggiani, Anna Bartoli
Location: Castelnuovo Berardenga, Italy
Date: Sep 2018

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