Urban areas have strict building codes that often make it difficult and costly to build with natural materials. Good rural land is expensive and hard to come by. So where can you live? Pinyon-juniper scrub land is very abundant, cheap and worth considering. There are millions of acres of cheap ranch land like this across vast areas of the south and western US. (Actually, 40 million hectares in the western US, according to the USGS.) It’s cheap because it currently has limited commercial value. You need 50 acres or so to feed one cow. Using the methods described below you can turn cheap desert scrub land into a permaculture oasis. This is no idle claim. There are lots of people already doing it. Check out a bunch of the sites below for many amazing success stories. Please post a comment if you find other good methods and examples.
Massive areas of the earth are eroding and turning to wasteland. Persistent drought conditions are making things even worse. The good news is there are lots of simple ways to turn land like this into lush, highly productive land. The following list of resources explains how to grow forests, boost agriculture and increase water supplies in dryland areas.
Writing this blog post has been incredibly fun, interesting, and most of all, inspiring. I’ve watched numerous land restoration videos over the years. Some of the best ones like Geoff Lawton’s Greening the Desert and John Liu’s documentary on the Loess Plateau in China have already been published on our blog. However, there’s a big difference between watching videos like this once in a while versus watching dozens and scouring many websites in just one week. Wow. I am truly stunned. Now I’m convinced that most marginal lands can be greatly improved without spending a fortune. *Again, this could be an excellent option for natural builders on a tight budget who want to move to the country and are willing to work hard for a few years to improve the land.
In addition to the videos and other online research, I’ve also been corresponding with Abe at VelaCreations.com. (We just profiled his new book and website the other day.) Abe has developed what might be the best system of everything I’ve found so far. He also researched the various options and has adapted the most appropriate ones for his pinyon-juniper farm. Abe uses pigs to root out terraces on the hillsides and then plants a forest garden. Hopefully he will explain more about his restoration system in the comment section below.
Natural Vegetative Strips
Greening the Desert
John Liu — Loess Plateau
Keyline Method details
Transition Forest Gardens
Geoff Lawton Forest Gardening
Natural Forest Gardens (Zero Farming)
Miracle Water Village
Gandian Natural Farming
Back to Eden
Dr. Rene Haller restores industrial wastelands
Dr. Rene Haller’s principles
Dr. Elaine Ingham building soil foodweb
Below Ground Water Tanks
Earthbag water tanks
Terracing, Water Capture and Reforestation in Kenya
A Line in the Sand
Reforestation in Niger
King’s Projects — Thailand’s Economic Self Sufficiency
Key Principles of Economic Self Sufficiency
What if We Change documentaries
Green Gold Documentary
Sahara Forest Project
Willie Smits Conservation
Remineralize the Earth
Desert Friendly Cows
Allan Savory’s Rotational Grazing
John D. Liu confirms success of Allan Savory’s rotational grazing system
How to Grow a Forest Really, Really Fast
Growing Moringa, the World’s Most Nutritious Tree
Sadhana reforestation project in Haiti
Dune stabilization with straw
From Bare Dirt to Abundance [I would love to see a much shorter version]
Joel Salatin’s chicken tractors
How Joel Salatin nets $60,000/year on 20 acres of rented land
Organic Farmer Grosses $100K an Acre
Tip: To save money, buy land in the area you like direct from buyers. Look for For Sale signs along the road. Be sure to stay well away from industrial farming sites, power plants, military firing ranges, uranium mines, high crime areas, diseased trees, extremely low water table and so on. Research forest trends in the area before buying. If the surrounding forests are dying on a large scale then it’s probably too risky to live there. Also look for counties that have lax building codes.