I, John Marsing, an Elder at Living Messiah Ministries am writing this questionnaire so my biases will exist at some level (hopefully a small level). I am the person living on site and have been tasked with implementing permaculture on the property. Ultimately all decisions (especially big ones) are made by the Leadership of Living Messiah.
Please describe your goals with the site. Be specific. The better you understand how your goal will look, sound, and feel, the more likely you will make it exactly what you want.
a. Include everything that you'd ever like to see done to or with the property
b. Include values that you wish to see fulfilled.
Your personal values are quite important.
- Establish and develop the land for our Hebrew roots community.
- Implement Biblical Permaculture. More details upon request.
What are your desired uses of the property?
Place for Sukkot. Living Messiah is a Hebrew roots not-profit, non-501C3 religious organization and one of the things we would like to do is have a place to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). This is an 8-10 day event where we have in the past, hosted a place where like minded people can come together and honor this high holy day.
Permaculture show place in a high desert context.
A place for people to live full time in a rural community setting. This means developing small simple but efficient buildings for families that can leverage community facilities like centralized community kitchen, dinning area, showers and bathrooms, laundry, parking and worship center.
What do you need to produce to create and maintain the quality of life you want?
As time goes on and we find what's productive and the effort we put in it would be great to have the community be in a position to sell
the possibility of greater and greater production.
What larger outcome is this part of? How does it fit into who you are and your major beliefs and values?
What structures do you have and use the most for what purposes?
Do you have/want livestock? What kinds and how many of each?
How do you want to approach wildlife and varmints?
How might these uses change in the future (family and employment changes)
Being that Windmill Ranch was bought for the purpose of the community of Living Messiah, the future usage of the property could grow into many things that are in alignment with the beliefs of Living Messiah.
To answer this question, it becomes necessary to define family.
The property is not owned by an individual person/family but is held in trust and so the mission statement of the property, I would argue, has a far greater chance of living on in perpetuity as a land trust.
The definition of permaculture is that it is a culture that is permanent (i.e. long term). Biblical permaculture (a term I coined) is to practice permaculture with the power and authority gotten from rights found in scripture. Because success in permaculture requires that the skill, wisdom and knowledge of this practices needs to be ongoing. It seems to me that a community structure has great advantages over a typical family homestead setup because, amongst other things, you don't have all your eggs in one basket.
a. People living in a community environment might want to live on the Ranch inexpensively and be able to telecommute for there jobs.
b. Beyond just Sukkot, making the ranch a hospitable place for like minded people who want to visit the site for a while. I'm thinking of a private RV membership location.
c. A base camp for community outreach.
d. Start a nursery of native plants.
e. Start a trustee service that specializes in setting up or managing property that's held in trust for religious, not for profit organizations like Living Messiah.
f. I find Joel Salatin's concept of Enterprise Stacking very appealing. The idea is that an entrepreneur minded person can suggest an idea that could be a successful enterprise on the property. The acceptance of vertical stacking fiefdoms necessarily means that identifying potential future use of the property is unknown. So, if it makes sense, whatever it is, should be embraced if the elders agree it's a good fit.
g. Final thought. Love thy neighbor as thyself takes on a different yet powerful meaning when all the neighbors on the same page and the residents have been vetted to believe the same thing (keeping the Torah as best we can). The welcome sign for at the entrance of the property is "See how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity"
How are you currently powering or using energy on your site?
Are you aware of the land use history? Logging, farming, pasture, etc.?
How much of your own labor is involved in implementation and maintenance?
Money: This is our limiting factor right now. We called on our community to collect enough money to purchase the property (which we did in full Halleluyah) so having money to right now anyway is limited. Therefore we need to be more creative going forward so any suggestions are welcome. It's catch-22. If people could see the potential of quickly turning the dessert green and see the potential for production then it would be easy to ask and receive donations for the project.
Time: I'm living on sight and have no intention of going anywhere else at least for the foreseeable future. I want to teach Torah by creating videos, but I can do that onsite. My intent is to ask for donations to my Torah teaching ministry and direct as much as possible to the financing of advancing projects at the Ranch.
Zooming out, here's a map of the Chihuahuan Desert which is where the Windmill Ranch is located.
What do you like about your site?
What do you dislike about your site?
Do you have any drainage or erosion problems?
Do you know where your sewer and leach field are or where your sewer lines cross?
To the best of your knowledge, list or describe any additional constraints/beliefs/ non-negotiable aspects that you need for our team to be aware of that could impact the design process that have not already been described in your previous answers. Examples can be regions of the land that must be kept in a certain way, financial constraints, legal constraints like conservation easements and managed forest law contracts
Please include the following documents or files (in the appropriate format requested) so that we can be better prepared for your consultation. Much of this content can be obtained through contacting your local USDA office, NRCS, USGS as well as your county zoning board. If you are not able to obtain this information, we can work with you to develop it as part of our services. (office rates may apply):
Topographical maps (PDF’s, kmz’s from Google Earth, lidar images, RTK renderings). These may be obtained through contacting your local USDA office and sometimes your county zoning board.
Features of this map
Soil maps (PDF’s, USDA soil maps). These may be obtained through contacting your local USDA office, your state NRCS office or NRCS state soil scientists. You also may go online to Web Soil Survey (WSS) to obtain this information web soil survey
ToDo follow up on this
Here is what I found at this USDA link. The Douglas office is the one that is closest.
DOUGLAS SERVICE CENTER
640 E 10TH STREET
DOUGLAS, AZ 85607-2003
(520) 364-2001 ext 3; (855) 848-4340 fax
Here is what I found at this NRCS Link. The Douglas office is the one that is closest.
DOUGLAS FIELD OFFICE (Area 2)
6940 North Air Terminal Boulevard
Douglas, AZ 85607-6221
Phone: (520) 364-2001; Fax: (855) 848-4340
Serves: Hereford and Whitewater Draw NRCDs
|Name||Position||High||Office Phone/ Ext|
|Don Decker||District Conservationist||520-368-3403||Donald.Decker@usda.gov|
Maps showing linkages to surrounding wild land
Maps or descriptions of pre-European vegetation
Legal parcel map or county assessor’s map. These may be obtained through contacting your local county zoning board or county assessor’s office.
a. Go to the Cochise County GIS website.
b. Check the I agree to the above terms and conditions dialog box and click OK
c. Type in 10139004D for the Parcel #
c. Click the Basemap Gallery button (top left corner, looks like 4 squares)
d. Click Image Gallery
Please send us the following information in whatever format that you have it.
|Average Summertime Temp||?||?|
|Average Wintertime Temp||?||?|
|Absolute high temperature||?||?|
|Absolute low temperature||?||?|
|Average annual rainfall||19 Inches|
|Largest single rainfall event||?|
Prevailing summer and winter wind patterns
Bedrock (what kind, depth to)
Soil tests (ideally from Midwest Labs, or another company that measures biologicals and CEC capacity)
For Midwest Labs, access or call 402.334.7770 and ask for the S1A Basic and S3 tests. You may order additional analyses for your samples, but the above S1A Basic and S3 covers the essentials.
Mail your soil samples and order forms to Midwest Labs:
13611 B Street
Omaha, NE 68144
A list of specific questions. Common examples relate to site establishment, maintenance, planting choices, and how to phase-in the next steps.
One of the tasks that your questionnaire asks of me is to get soil tests so my questions it how important are soil tests? I've been listening to various people (like Christine Jones, David Johnson) that it's the biology in the soil that really matters. My question therefore is how important are the soil tests?
Creative finance. Can you give advise on this?
Religious based community permaculture.
a. Do you have an opinion of their efficacy?
b. Are there examples that you can point to?
After you evaluate the Windmill Ranch project, can you give us a vision of what the land will look like in two or three years? This would be helpful to better "sell" the project to our congregation.
Should we get a greenhouse going? We have the frame for one, about 20' x 50', but it's not at this location and it would obviously need a cover? If you think we should set it up, where would we put it?
any thoughts on the windmill that's currently not producing water?... should we go with a solar pump or fix the leathers (that's what we are told needs to be fixed)?
Water retention / harvest
what would be best?
c. Ponds and Swales
My thinking is that ponds are riskier (they could leak and they could fail)
What's should we do with the pond in the middle of the wash?
a. Should we apply a layer of bentonite to better hold the water?
b. Make radical changes to it's current configuration e.g. digging out more to find a layer of clay?
c. Do nothing because it's not worth messing with?
The wash going through the middle of the property that covers about 8+ acres has great potential to implement mob / intensive grazing and maybe silvopastures or alley cropping. I think it is the most valuable part of the property within the context of regenerative agriculture.
By implementing the 5 principles of regenerative agriculture to the wash area we can not only hold water, but hold it where it's need, in the top soil. Whatever else we do, holding as much of the water on the property I think would be the biggest improvement that you can make and it's effect is a positive whatever else you do. Below is a picture of what I would like to accomplish. ⤵
Alejandro Carrillo's Las Damas Ranch in Chihuahua Mexico, see
What steps should we take for the initial preparation of the land? Some no-till advocates permit tilling the land for the first time to get it leveled. The wash mostly has a gentle and wide slope which I think is great. There is no gullies but there are some rills that an initial tilling might address this effectively.
Using goats to clean out the vegetation. I was thinking of a service like GoatsEatWeeds.com.
How much of the species of trees and brush that are growing in this area should be removed if any? Should they be treated as succession plants? To preserve the roots in the ground that could be used by other plants, maybe they should be coppiced / pollard?
We were planning on putting in some RV spots along the ridge of the property north of the windmill road.
Pumping water from the windmill could be directed North to the ridge along the Eastern edge of the property and is a high point.
Obviously or I wouldn't have bothered to
fill out this questionnaire.
What I like about Mark is that he is not afraid to say what he means because he is trying to take permaculture practices to a higher level. To some this might be off-putting but for me it's refreshing.
I like how he emphasizes the need to scale up which is a good fit for a religious based community.
I also like that he is part of the Organic Valley Coop which enables him to sell his products and get a higher profit. Also, coops is a good fit for a religious based community (think Moshav).
I also like the emphasis on trees with Silvopastures or Agro Forestry. Trees make shade and shade in the desert is a premium.
I like the STUN approach to finding the things that want to grow on the property.
My only concern with Mark is to ask how much experience does he have in the High Desert environment. I know principles of permaculture are transportable so it could be argued that I'm answering my own question, but regardless it is a concern.
What I like about the "Permaculture Design Manual" is ideas found chapter 14. This is the only chapter I have read and I would argue should be the first chapter and not the last. Anyway, the extensive notes I took on that chapter which included injecting my thoughts from a religious based perspective was very compelling to me.
The "Great American Farm Tour" YouTube video of Justin Rhodes interviewing Joel was what got my attention regarding permaculture.
I like his unique message that comes from a Christian / Libertarian perspective.
Seeing Gabe and others (e.g. Neil Dennis ) in the Soil Carbon Cowboys video really inspired me to leverage cattle as how I would like to implement permaculture. He is the one who solidified to me the need to follow the five principles of regenerative agriculture.
Glenn employs Inherding on his Alderspring Ranch. His insights of how to go about working with cattle in an open range is useful because that is the context of the Windmill Ranch.
An obvious wealth of information which I appreciate. I like his videos on Greening the Desert. If you can do this in the harsh desert of the Jordan you can surely do this in Bisbee Arizona.
I don't know much about Alejandro Carrillo but I think he would be the one whose context would be closest to the Windmill Ranch