Rehabilitating 6ha from Derelict to Divine: A farm with a story to tell

Rehabilitating 6ha from Derelict to Divine: A farm with a story to tell - Southern Africa : What's here? What should be here? What was here? What has been removed? What has appeared? What ha

What's here? What should be here?
What was here? What has been removed? What has appeared? What has been planted?
We are not ecologists, botanists, zoologists or farmers by training - or birth. Yet in 2012 we purchased 6ha of wattle ridden land and a derelict building with the dream of becoming self-sufficient farmers. Not conventional farmers though. Agroforestry, regenerative farming, riparian zones, permaculture, food forests are all terms and concepts that we have been researching.
All feed (and food) bought is as near to raw state as possible (lucern bales, crushed mielies, whole oats - and we are fortunate to be able to collect waste product from the local vegetable farm, non-organic but fresh broccoli, marrows and an assortment of lettuce and cabbage leaves is available daily. But the ultimate goal is to be able to provide free forage for all life on the farm.
The intention is to establish a ecologically sound environment which will support a wide variety of life - including but not limited to wildlife, livestock, pets and humans in a sustainable and regenerative manner. It is believed this will require a careful construction of edible pastures populated and/or surrounded by forest and self foraging areas. As the area seems to currently be used as a wildlife corridor we aim to establish indigenous forest along at least 3 sides of the property in an effort to maintain and encourage this biodiversity.
The aim of this project is to:
- record and track the rehabilitation of a 6ha piece of land
- seek advice
- gain knowledge
- provide information which may be useful to some-one, one day
BACKGROUND:
2012 October
- we purchased a 6ha ex-farm, now wattle forest
2013 March
- the old labourer's cottage was habitable, we moved in and started work on the land.
2013
- (for instant gratification and on recommendation by "local knowledge") we used a TLD (tractor, digger, loader) to clear the eastern and western slopes from the dwelling down to the adjoining streams. The TLD simply pushed the wattle saplings (an a load of topsoil) down the slope to form a berm along the river. Gratification was indeed instant - and heartbreaking.
2013-2014
- a local woodcutter removed the large Wattle, Blackwood and Pine trees and burned the waste (twigs etc). Burning of waste was primarily done along the eastern slope and top of the ridge.
- wattle was harvested for building purposes
2015
- Working for Water removed remaining alien vegetation including Wattles, and ringbarked the large Wattles, Blackwoods and Pines that had been inaccesible to the wood cutter. Unfortunately the stream areas remained largely untouched.
2016
- Working for Water returned for the 2nd phase of clearing and further ringbarking of previously inaccessible trees. The 3 boundary streams remained largely untouched.
2017
- A large number of neighbouring Blackwood trees along the northern boundary fell over during the storms and innumerable ringbarked trees have fallen across the boundary streams rendering much of those areas inaccessible.
12 Aug 2017
Jo-Anne Kirkman