Updated: Apr 8, 2019
Early March in 2017 we gathered at La Junquera-El Servalejo near Topares, Spain. The Altiplano region of Spain is a far off and secluded section of Spain dotted with abandoned stone villages. The skies are the clearest in Europe, known to astronomers for clear star gazing with telescopes. I stayed up late at night laying on the picnic table soaking in the colors of the Milky Way. The moonless late winter night brought out the best viewing I have ever seen.
We gathered to walk the land and plan first steps to restore the land. It had been in cultivation for centuries. Almonds, olives, wheat, had taken over from subsistence farms of the many villages and small farms. Restoration means a transition to perennial polyculture of trees, shrubs, and habitat for returning ecological services. Sloping and eroded land seeded with fibrous root plants on contour.
The restoration needs to also supply harvest to the community and the ERC reducing its footprint and dependence on outside resources. The very occupation of the space adds additional pressures on the landscape. I will help design the horticultural system and develop the model strategies and practices needed in the area. The priority is soil capacity and natural capital needed for long term climate resilience.
Later that year I returned for the first implementation of earthworks. Long swales on contour to collect the water and increase the available water capacity of the land. Deep cutting subsoil rifts, again on contour, to break through the hard pan ( a restrictive layer of soil that stops water infiltration ) created from decades of plowing and compaction. We plotted the final borders, cut the access road, and sited the future camp facilities.