Welcome to a new year! I am extremely pleased to announce that my article about Quail Springs appeared in the Winter 2010 edition, on page 14, of Edible Santa Barbara. The issue came out in December and can be found, free, at several locations in the SB area for the next couple of months. You can also see the article on the Edible website, here.
Visiting the farm, which I originally found out about through my sister, was a unique and thrilling experience. Below are a few pictures I snapped while there, and some of the permaculture practices I found most interesting.
At Quail Springs, everything has a purpose – in fact, at least three. Take the stone structures in the garden, for example. These structures act as lizard habitats, thermal mass (meaning the stones grow warm from the sun during the day, then release heat through the night, which is especially critical for the plants during desert winters), vining structures, and bird perches (birds’ fecal matter is high in phophates, with the desert land lacks), among other things.
Going to the bathroom is a strange mix of the natural and what we’re used to – structures reminiscent of portapotties are simply a seat placed over a hole. Sprinkle a handful of sawdust after you go, and once the hole is filled, you have ready-made fertilizer, the perfect spot to plant a tree.
On the farm, as in Mother Nature’s design, everything benefits something else. Insects embed their larvae in goat droppings, chickens eat the larvae, spreading the feces into the soil (fertilizer); chicken excrement goes to the worms, which feed the fish; fish excrement nourishes the garden soil, which in turn feeds the humans, whose feces becomes fertilizer for more trees. Learning about the way things are done on this farm brings new meaning to the phrase “circle of life.”
Swales (depressed stretches of land) impede the flow of rainwater, spreading and sinking the liquid into the ground. Planting is done on contour, which means there is no erosion and the water is harvested passively – that is, through gravity and without artificial energy. The residents, careful to settle around the wildlife corridor to keep out of the way of animals already living there, build structures facing the sun so its rays warms the floors in the afternoon, and the stone floors emit heat at night in the winter.
As you’ll note in the Edible article, Quail Springs has experienced storms and flooding since my visit in June, so my pictures may no longer be an accurate depiction of what the farm looks like. The farm welcomes any support you can give.