18 months in the making
It was exactly a year ago today that we marked the land that was going to become our Danyadara food forest and 18 months since we presented out plan to José, our tractor driver, who laughed when he saw the curved design we handed him. He thought we were bonkers – in a lifetime working on the fields of Andalusia he’d never seen such scribbles – but agreed nonetheless.
As we talked to José about water, rain, drought, and about how nature never plants on a straight line, our plans grew stronger. We told him all about keyline cultivation patterns and explained how they allow for rainwater to naturally distribute more evenly around the field instead of falling down the valley.
You know the rest of the story, but here are the highlights anyway: We spent a year designing and cultivating. We raised money through our Crowdfunder. (Thank you!) We got all our ducks in a row and now, December 2017, José and his son Manuel are back in the field to till the land for the last time. We have started our food forest.
Tilling soil after each crop is devastating the to soil health and its capacity to function. The compacted ground on our barren field was tilled for the last time to open up the soil for a fertile future and reseeded with diverse cover crops purchased from the neighbouring town of El Bosque.
Remember, we are working with a soil that has been depleted over decades of industrial agriculture. You can think of the cover crops as a first aid kit to our barren soil. They provide speedy relief and protect the soil from the harsh sun and wind, kick-starting the process of resurrecting the soil. The cover crop also provides biodiversity integral to supporting diverse wildlife.
We had been checking the weather forecast daily to ensure we plant just in time for the rain to fall from the heavens. It was just so. As if the Gods of Gardening were paying attention, the rain fell on our field just hours after José and Manuel planted all the seeds of cover crop. Did one of you do a rain dance? (Or know someone who does? Asking for a friend…)
The rain provided incentive for celebration and hope, but then the big task started: Plant 5000 trees.
The 5,000 pioneer trees were selected for their ability to endure the harsh conditions (extreme temperatures and lack of water) of the land in Andalusia. It took us a week of dedicated work but we are proud to say that we have an infant forest rooted and on the way to making history. There is nothing like planting thousands of trees, bare hands carving out the soil, knowing that these tiny trees will grow strong and be there well after we are gone. Thanks to the dedication and love of the people that nourish this project, the future is already different.
At the time of publishing this article, we are mulching and applying layers of compost. We still have quite a task on our hands.
It is thanks to our community!
Everything we are doing would not have been possible without the support of our sponsors, donors and collaborators. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your belief in Danyadara and for your generous contributions to the beginning of a change for this land.
Keep following our journey over at @danyadarapermaculture
(The awesome celebration video above is a production of our superstar volunteer Christie M)