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Where should I start with a new property?

I got a question from a reader about where to start with a new property.  Pete and I have started two new properties and this is what we have learnt so far.

eight acres: where should I start with a new property?


Like I wrote back in this post about designing your property with permaculture, step one is "do nothing" - just observe your property for at least a year, figure out what you want from it and what it can do, then start planning one small project at a time.

When it comes to figuring out what you want and what your property can do, this post about "What to do with eight acres" might give you some ideas (adjust them to fit the size property you have).

If you have more than a few acres, you might find Keyline design useful as well, it helps with placement of roads, fences and water storage on larger properties, by considering the terrain (or keylines) of the landscape.

I find permaculture is the best design tool, you can read my post about David Holmgren's 12 permaculture principles here:

Observe and Interact


In my experience, the first priority in this sub-tropical climate is to sort out your water source.  We don't have reliable rainfall here, so you really need to know how much water you will have from groundwater, catchments and rainfall.  This will dictate what you can grow, so make sure you have that set up first.

If you're not living on the property, you can at least think about tree-planting and establishing pastures and other useful perennials, because these take the longest to grow.  You can also start building fences and infrastructure for when you get animals.

A few books that might help:

One Straw Revolution

You Can Farm

The Keyline Plan

Five Acres and a Dream - the book

The Permaculture Home Garden

The Biological Farmer


Where do you start with a new property?  What changes if you're not living there right away?

Comments

  1. Good advice Liz. It is such an individual thing. Depends on your wants and needs and the property itself and of course no matter what, there will be mistakes made. Always learning something new every single day... I love it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I thought what you wrote previously, was all great advice. I will add what I have learned from personal experience.

    Get your access roads in, based on the natural landfall. That should have been our first step. We let the builders decide our main access road and it was straight down hill! We didn't know about proper design of access roads on slopes, back then, so we thought they were doing us a favour. If you have a poorly drained access road, and its not constructed according to the landfall, you'll spend countless money on repairing it.

    To get a good access road built, you'll want to consult with at least 3 different earth movers in the area. Don't go for the cheapest. Go for the one who can point out all the well constructed roads in your region, and all the ones made with short cuts. They will tell you why the well made ones work, because they'll know the soils in the area and how the land drains.

    If you don't get this part right, you'll limit all the activities you want to do on your property. Which will become frustrating, because you'll have all this land and no dependable way to access it all. I know Geoff Lawnton recommends a good access road, as the first design stage of any property. Because from that, stems what you can actually do on the property.

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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