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Elderberry Farms Passive Water Harvesting butterfly Waystation
Elderberry Farms Passive Water Harvesting butterfly Waystation
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2140 Chase Dr, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670, Rancho Cordova, California, US
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Project: Elderberry Farms Passive Water Harvesting butterfly Waystation

Posted by Chris Lopez over 6 years ago

For me, the beautiful thing about this project has been the multiple enhanced relationships that it has created. All too often, I believe, we get stuck in things and forms...or even products and not enough on creating REAL relationships that will actually sustain and enhance our designs. In short, we are lax on the people aspect of design. How can we entice and draw the passerby into our designs? How can we slow them down and present them with a pleasant, sensual experience? How can we facilitate interactions that are clear and informative if we are highlighting uncommon practices? How do we insure that those we design for love the outcomes, and continue to perpetuate and enhance it's benefits and realtonships over time? This is regenerative work! Without shifting the mindsets & and worldviews of the common destructo culture which walks in situ with most passerby, our gardens and food forests are all lipstick on a pig. This is a unique project in many regards. Though small (1,200 sq ft) it has made quite an impact. Of all the workshops this past year, this one, by far, outdid all others with regards to turnout and participant enthusiasm. Two, coexisting (though not always pleasantly) organizations have begun to speak more, and the project, which originally had several constraints imposed upon it by the larger of the two organizations, will now be expanded as it has become such a great demonstration site. Hundreds of people, and students have been exposed to the site an given a rundown of the processes and plants taking place there. The larger of the two orgizations has tried their own experiments with water harvesting, and have asked for assistance for more endeavors. Once a bare, eroding hill, this project now has a host of native & nesting ground birds, butterflies, native bees, and a plethora of other insects. The goals of the organization, sadly did not include plants for human use, but there are some anyhow, mostly local native medicinals and fiber plants, as well as a couple of indigenous plants with seasonal edible greens and flowers. It would have been a simple thing to expand this aspect of the project while still meeting the original goal of a passive water harvesting, all local native plant butterfly waystation as there are plenty of local native plants that both attract and feed butterfly's as well as people. Part of this aspect was stymied by the larger organization on the property who forbade the planting of any tree or large shrub species! Frustrating, to say the least as the these species would have contributed more structural diversity, shade, habitat, and human usful products. Simply planting an indigenous elderberry (sambucus mexicana) would have provided great shade, habitat for the endangered Valley Longhorn Beatle as well as several beneficial insects, native bees and birds  more intact food web) AND berries, flowers, free mulch in the form of leafdrop and prunings, and craftwood for humans. While signage is present to inform the public, more interaction could have been implemented in the design. This aspect will certainly be implemented in the designs extention. One of my favorite aspects of this project is that there were NO imported materials utilized. The plants were all grown at the onsite nursery from very local, wild harvested seeds and cuttings. The mulch was chipped on site from the various prunings and trimmings of tree's on the property. Being situated on an old floodplain, there was no lack of rock to be found on site...and all of it was! And, last but not least....There is no irrigation system. Some of the plants recieved some supplemental irrigation in the summer ( 1 gallon, once per week.) While many have already established themselves.

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