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"The Backyard"
"The Backyard"
Last updated:
Yorkville, California, Yorkville, California, US
Climate zone:
Cool Temperate

Darla Schoenrock Joel Nisly Kevin K Neva Delo Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper
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"The Backyard"

Project Type

Rural, Intentional Communities, Demonstration

Project Summary

"The Backyard" is a 110 acre Permaculture Project in Northern California. It is being designed as an eco village type educational center.

Project Description

This is a super fun project we have been working on through Permaculture Artisans. Over the last two years we have been putting together design and management concepts for the entire 110 acres. The property itself is a mix of grassland meadows and mixed hardwood/coniferious forest.  The property boats at least three springs (one being an amazing producer), 1 existing pond, and a hazelnut orchard innoculated with truffles.

Exisiting pond

Last year (2010) we began installation of Zone 1-3 type systems near the community barn and close to where future community dwellings will be placed. The total area we began installing is approx 2 acres. We implemented a series of 5 terraces planted with a food forest systems complete with plums, figs, peaches, cherries, apples, pears, olives,persimmon, russian olive (eleagnus multiflora-Nitrogen fixer) fejoa, chilean guava (ugni), raspberries with under stories of strawberries, chamomile, lupine (nitrogen fixer), artichoke, perennial collards, tons of culinary herbs and much much more. Throughout the terraces there are reseeding clovers (nitrogen fixers), and wildflowers.

Terraces just after earthworks covered in straw and biodgradable erosion control cloth

Testing contours and waterways

Terraces growing cover crop just before bare root tree planting

Each terrace has a contour swale on the upslope side that allows us to flood irrigate. Each terrace is connected through a slow moving water way that allows one terrace to spill into another.

Terraces a couple months after planting

The key factor of this system is the natural pond we built upslope from the terraces. This pond we equipped with a lock pipe system(a pipe that goes through the dam wall). The lock pipe is a 4" schedule 80 pvc pipe fixed with anti seep collars every 3 feet or so. It has an intake about 3" from the bottom of the pond and is controlled by a 4" gate valve at the back of the dam wall. From the gate valve we piped water to each terrace. Each terrace has a ball valve that is used to control and flood any terrace we wish. In this way we have complete control of which terrace we want to flood when. The pond itself is spring fed and eventually will have a float valve connected from the large exisiting pond high on the property, this way anytime we flood a terrace the float valve will kick on and top the pond back up.

Compacting Dam wall with a bentonite clay addition in the top layer

We didn't have all the best clay we needed so had to add bentonite

One of the reasons using the pond water to irrigate is so beneficial is that not only do we water the food forest but we also fertilize it. The pond water itself is full of nutrients and beneficial bacteria that feed the soil life and build topsoil.

Lock Pipe going in

Lock Pipe

It also worth noting that the trees on the terraces are not planted on the flat part of the terrace. They are planted on the slopes of each terrace which enables them to tap the water plume created by the flood irrigation more efficiently that if they were planted on the flats. Also we are training these trees so that when standing on the flat part of a terrace is is easy to harvest the trees as you will have the advantage of height.

The pond just filled up for the first time this last winter and I recently got to test the flood irrigation system and it worked great!

*Check the next update for pictures of the pond full and terraces this season!


Flood Irrigation System in Northern California!

Check out Pics of the new pond and flood irrigation systems we just installed last year at "The Backyard".

Posted almost 13 years ago (1 comments)
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