We worked in our design teams today to summarize all of our site observations into a Site Assessment Summary.
We were asked to look for the wild or natural energies that flow onto and thru the site, and then state our interpretation of them. Previously we have spent several hours walking the 50 acre site, mapping out the various observations we had following the scale of permanence, starting with climate and moving down the scale to the least permanent aspects of the site like aesthetics. The wild and natural energies are a simple way to summarize what has been observed along the scale of permanence. We mapped all of these observations out on tracing paper, so they can overlay above the original base topographic map of the site.
This is what we found:
- The top of the property, up under the powerline is felt most strongly.
- Major storms would likely hit that area the hardest, with winds coming typically from the east
- there is an existing patch of forest on the property that runs along the road which is not owned by Ben Jones, this serves as a wind break for the eastern edge of the property. The eastern edge of the property has a shrubby edge along the dirt road, taller trees could be left to grow up to help protect the lower portion of the property from strong easterly winds.
- a natural drainage valley runs through the central portion of the property
- here a series of small key point dams could be integrated with contour swales or keyline plowing to capture water flowing over the ground across the upper portion of the site
- the southwest slope and north east slope are quite steep, water flowing overland could cause erosion if there were bare soils or annual crops in these areas
- water capture off of roads, paths, rooves would be very helpful for the farming enterprises and gardens, best stored in the soil, but also needs to be captured and distributed for human consumption
- gravely coarse sandy loam that is pretty uniform in the top 24 inches, it then turns into a compacted hardpan. The soil is very well drained on most of the site. The natural drainage had a slightly higher organic layer at the surface and held a little more moisture, but was still fairly well drained.
- There is a significant maount of heat, sun and a drier microclimate, especially in the afternoon sun, on the upper flat section of the southwestern corner of the property that is located across the Creque Dam farm road from the main parcel, and on the hayed section of the south eastern corner of the parcel.
- Solar panels might be best located in these areas
- these hotter, flatter areas could be good areas for growing annual crops and heat loving crops,
- in the shaded flat areas in the central part of the site, under the Seman trees, a food forest and shade crops that need more moisture and cooler temperatures would be well suited
- Perhaps a solar oven, food drying, bamboo drying shed, and/or solar laundry drying area could go well on these hotter, sunnier areas where there are no trees,
- Livestock could be grazed between the trees in a rotational system
- the area under the powerlines on that southwestern corner could be used for a market garden site, incubator center, restaurant, parking, and water could be caputured from the roof so crops could be irrigated down that sw slope
Noise/Vehicles/Circulation and Access
- Potential noise from traffic moving along the roads from vehicles
- Traffic patterns need to be evaluated for the seperate zones of use on the parcel, ex. residential path/road may best be seperated from farm road where heavier trucks and tractor would be working everyday
- Steep slopes should be avoided when designing roads, use of a gate along a second road access point may be useful to allow farm equipment to enter and exit the site without impacting the visitor areas and the residential use of another road.
- The fact there there are two portions of the property separated by the farm driveway, provides an opportunity to keep the visitor and/or business activities seperated from the residential and farm uses/areas. This may be nice to minimize traffic into private areas, to provide safer areas for children to play, residents to walk, pets and livestock which could be benneficial on many levels.
Wildlife and Livestock
- the northwest corner that is steeply sloped has a diverse and wild forest already in place
- the southwestern corner of the property already has a barbed wire fence along the road
- there is a significant stand of Guinea grass in the central and eastern portion of the property that is now being hayed
- the best views, truely beautiful vistas of the coast in both the east, and the west, as well as distant views of the distant St. Croix mountians are found just off the property under the powerlines, along the western boundary. Just down slope from the powerlines, it is possible that elevated buildings might catch a glimpse of these views, but they are not visible at this point due to existing trees
- there is a wild feeling along the steeper slopes on the north eastern edge of the property which had an abundance of songbirds