The desert is coming to Europe: Soil and water are the first line of defense.
At Danyadara, water is our biggest challenge. Heavy rainflow carves fresh gashes in the loose pavement, allowing the valuable resource to flood the low-lying areas leaving much of the region dry. Until we successfully bring the soil back, the ground cannot absorb water.
Extreme temperatures, heavy winds and limited rainfall are not new to the area. Our neighbors working the land for generations remember longer periods with lighter rain. Today, water comes in a flash. Numerically, we average the same rainfall as in the past, but now precipitation comes in much heavier, shorter bursts and the water runs off. An average annual 600 mil of rainfall in a year is in effect cut in half due to desertification.
What are we doing about it?
Capturing the Rain
Our team designed a plan for catching and storing rainwater for use in our sustainable agriculture projects. The research-based system involves channeling water from places where significant runoff occurs into a simple network of pipes that lead to a large water storage tank.
The driveway along our food forest will be the first major harvesting point. Its long stretch of road is a major source of water loss and has been identified as one that, after construction, will immediately enable us to catch and store rainwater during the winter season and direct it back into the field.
Greywater is gently used water from bathroom sinks, showers, tubs and washing machines. Early-on, our team installed greywater systems to cycle much needed water back into the landscape. Our outdoor showers, used by retreat guests, recirculate water from guest lodging – tents and yurts – directly to the field.
Keyline Pattern Cultivation
A keyline pattern is a permaculture planning tool that reduces the volume of water coming into the area by channeling the potentially erosive flow.
For our planting, we’ve taken the level of the line from the key point, where the land goes from convex to concave. Using that information, our permaculture expert designed a cultivation plan slightly off level to use gravity to force water toward the ridges instead of going straight into the valley.