Water is precious. And hard to find, around here. The process of designing hydrology into a site so that whatever water is available is used intelligently and for multiple purposes before it is allowed to seep out of the soil and into the creek is a tricky task. We have spend nigh on a year now, just watching the rainfall and the landscape and thinking and planning how we would best design Milkwood to make the most of our limited rainwater catchment.
How we could harvest that water and divert it across the landscape so that it seeps in gently and slowly, creating places for things to grow, rather than have the water pelting down the cleared gullies on either side of Milkwood, to swell the eroded creek and rush off downstream before the land and the soil has had a chance to benefit from it.
So we designed water into the landscape. Then we re-designed, we watched some more and then designed again. And now it is time to do it! And we’re making a course out of it, so other people can learn about this stuff too, as it gets implemented at Milkwood. Geoff Lawton has agreed to teach a three-day earthworks course on-site here at Milkwood, while the earthworks get done. How cool is that? Dams will be built, swales will be dug, and all manner of sustainable earthworks and design will be at play. If anyone’s interested, it’s on 18-20 December and it’s called Designing Water into Landscape.
Also also….. there is more! Next March, following on from APC9 (a big Permaculture conference in Sydney), we will be hosting a Keyline Design Course with Darren Doherty. Darren knows his onions when it comes to Keyline Design. Darren knows his onions on quite a few things, actually… it is going to be a true gift to have two such experienced Permaculture educators coming to Milkwood before next winter… we are really looking forward to it.
Most of all, we’re looking forward to sharing the process of system-establishment with whoever wants to come to Milkwood and learn while it all goes down… for me, I like the idea that we’re opening up every stage of the process for viewing and learning, rather than just the finished article. I’ve seen quite a few established Permaculture systems now – beautiful, gorgeous places where everything within the system is tootling along happily together – plants, animals, native species, people… but sometimes it just seems so daunting to try and project forwards to that point. Especially when you’re starting with, very literally, nothing.
I know that Milkwood is well designed, and with energy and intelligence it will one day be a smashing and downright gorgeous example of what you can do with a piece of over-grazed, farmed-out land… but right now it’s still a mostly-bare, windy hillside with a little caravan, some compost piles and the two of us. But we will get there, yes sirree… and following on from the Permaculture maxim order of design: access, water, structure, we are designed to the hilt and ready to embark on the first two.
One month from now, we will have a funky array of access roads, swales, dams and gabeons, all ready and waiting to harvest that elusive rainfall and steep it into the landscape of Milkwood. And then, let the planting begin in earnest….