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  • Writer's picturePaul Coleman

From a Badly Eroded Pasture to a Beautiful Forested Garden in Ten Years

In 2010 the 7600 sq meter land (2acre) piece of land that we had recently bought was nothing more than a badly eroded pasture, chewed to a pool table like surface by sheep and cattle. What was once forest now had not a single tree, bush or even a flower growing.

In many ways it was the perfect place to build a home and create the sustainable lifestyle that my wife Konomi and I wished for.

The fact that it was badly degraded meant that we could only make it better and we set to work,

The first thing we did was make a fence to keep out the sheep and cattle. Then, we set to building our earth and turf home and even while doing that began planting the trees that would provide us with beginnings of what would eventually become our permaculture garden and food forest.

We planted 1200 trees, of thirty local species over the next few years and hundreds of fruit trees that we had grown from seed. Tall trees to the south to ease the harsh winds blowing from Antarctica and across the southern ice fields of Patagonia. Five hundred flowering trees to feed the birds and bees that would come. Trees that bear edible berries and have medicinal values and all planted as if in a forest, here and there with no particular thought to space or distance between species.

Now some of those trees reach twelve meters and more, and hummingbirds suck the nectar from the flowers, while bees and countless other insects swarm over the hundreds of bushes that have emerged from the earth as if by magic.

The trees planted close, like you would see in a forest have shot to the sky in harmonious competition and now we cover our gardens with their leaves and increasingly use their trimmed branches to create the hugelkultur mounds that enable us to grow our plants with the minimum of water.

The ponds we have made to water our gardens when our stream runs dry are now full of frogs who eat the mosquitos and create for us a virtually free mosquito zone of evening comfort.

The small forest we planted has now created for us a local economy.

From the berries and fruit I make vinegar's and sauces that so popular that we have now created a small business, to sell them and the seeds we harvest from the terraced gardens we have made to supply us with the food we need.

In just a few short years, life has returned o this once badly eroded land and I do believe that like us all the creatures, plants and trees that live here are very grateful for that.

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