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Skill-Builder: Marking Swales for the Maine Heritage Orchard

What is a swale (in permaculture terms) and why might we want to build them on sloped hillsides? How do you find and mark the contour lines to create effective swales that build soil, prevent erosion and harvest rain water?  Why is this one of the first steps in what will become one of the largest heritage orchard sites in our region?  How does this all relate to permaculture and food forestry?

The answers to your questions will be revealed on Tuesday, August 13th for those who can join us for a "swale-marking" work party in Unity Maine.  MOFGA is in the very early stages of developing an old gravel pit into the Maine Heritage Orchard which will embody many permaculture principles such as one-time earthworks, polycultures, food forestry and the preservation of historically significant fruit trees.  A broader design process will be convened in the fall and winter, prior to spring planting of the first phases.

Who should come:  

• You can commit to being on-site from 9:30 am to approximately 2:30 or 3:00 pm on Tuesday August 13th.  

• You are physically able and comfortable walking on sloped terrain.

• You have an interest in either learning how to find level contour lines using low-tech, free-to-make tools OR you already know how and you want to practice on a large-scale project.

• You want to volunteer some time to help launch a great project that preserves plant diversity and can illustrate how to create perennial edible ecosystems that can support healthy people for decades or even centuries into the future.

After an instructional opening segment, we will break into teams of 2-4 ppl each and we will have experienced crew leaders, tools, marking equipment etc.  MOFGA will provide coffee/tea/am snacks and lunch for the crew.  Space is limited so please only hold a spot if you seriously think you'll attend.  NOTE that we will not be digging the swales, only finding the contour lines and marking them out to support future planting plans.

What to bring:

Water bottle and sunscreen/bug protection of your choice.  Sturdy footwear, work clothes, work gloves.  This will be a rain or shine event so please bring layers appropriate for any conditions.  Bring a camera or notebook if you'd like to document the activities.


Use the comments thread to indicate that you'd like a lift or can offer a lift (and your location).

Join or login to comment.

  • David C.

    Vary interesting, and informative.

    August 13, 2013

  • Andrew G.

    Something came up! I can't make it. Have fun everyone!

    August 13, 2013

  • Lisa F.

    Hi everyone, we will be rain or shine on this one. We'll see how far we get so dress for the weather!

    August 12, 2013

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