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Forest Gardens and Regeneration

Abuela Gardens grows within a second and third growth forest with a history of over harvest and grazing. We have made an agreement with the land here to steward it toward optimum heath. WHAT IS optimum health in a time when all our references of local climax systems have been altered? WHAT is optimum health when new species, humans and domestic farm animals have settled into the ecosystem matrix?


Our first agreement is to observe and read the landscape and with our findings make a design based on a reciprocal relationship with the environment that houses us. This design reflects observed use patterns by all the sentient beings that live here, and by the resources that are stationary or move through the property.  Thus, at this time we have acknowledged that there are three main relationships that define our use patterning: intensive housing and gardens (zone1-3), the forest (zone 5), and the transitional edges between them (zone 3 and 4).


Designing our relationship with the land we make most use of the myriad of edges that exist while we plan disturbances based on tending the wild.  What types of disturbances do we plan and why? 

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At the foundation of our action plans water is the guiding elder. We live intimately with the watershed we steward. Use pattern design and action plans have an undercurrent of how they will direct water into the soil for aquifer recharge, aiming to make seasonal creeks run longer, make existing springs more abundant and create new ones that may not have existed prior. Visit our Watershed Regeneration Plan For more information.

Fire was the original management in California. The use of fire selected for certain species survival while re-mineralizing the soil for perennialized crops of mixed use. Today we can still see remnants of when fire was in management beneath the storyline left for us by the logging industry. Animals were assistant managers and the relationship was supported by native peoples hands. Today we prepare for fire by doing some of its work, thus in the right circumstances we advocate the use of small understory fire clearing. Until then goats and humans and other domestic animals are mob grazed in a leader follow methodology . Visit Animal Integration for more information.

Doing fires job is multifaceted and can never be completely accomplished as seeds lay dormant in the soil waiting for scarification. Doing fires job does make a plethora of resource opportunities that may not otherwise exist. To prepare for forest fire, clearing the forest makes material in the form of decaying materials, mulch/compost, round poles and mill able timber available.

The considerations for selection are not taken lightly. They include, but are not limited to how our disturbance or lack there of effect water, identifying standards (species being left to be the oldest standing specimens or groves),  thinning lumber/timber quality crowding the standards (to be used for on site natural building), thinning unhealthy/compromised trees to be further selected for passive water retention,  fertility pockets, mulch/compost, and mushroom propagation. These considerations are then influenced by the suns path across the land as we further design for the use of the new understory light.


Closest to the living areas light is more abundant, making planting intensive gardens easier. In the forest as light is made available through planned disturbances new species are introduced for timber and non timber production implementing a perennial design that humbly attempts to mimic nature. Visit perennial intercropping for more information.


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