EARTH REPAIR CORPS
Permablitz at Proffitt Ranch, Marble Falls, Texas – 2018 09 29

Hi All,

The Permablitz season has officially begun. We kicked it off at the Proffitt Ranch in Marble Falls during the last weekend in September.

Photos by Kirby Fry

Here is the crew,  fencing in a 75′ x 130′ annual and perennial garden. Both drip and sprinkler irrigation systems are being installed.

Image 1) The site the day before the ‘blitz. It was mowed and prepared for layout – a very nice, clean slate for us to work with. Great job Proffitt family!

Image 2) Same site, same time of day, a day later, permablitz now taking place. We hand dug nearly 500 linear feet of trenches for irrigation in just one day. The soil was a loamy sand that was a breeze to dig in. This is a trench for an irrigation line that will have 8 overhead sprinklers along it, watering an annual vegetable garden. There are five 3′ wide by 120′ long garden beds.

Image 3) The calm before the storm. Materials and tools dropped off yesterday. Rained on at least 2 or 3 times today. The showers though didn’t stop us for more than 20 or 30 minutes.

Image 4) Simultaneously installing the fencing and irrigation systems as thunderstorms rumbled over us.

Image 5) One row of sprinkler heads set.

Photos by Woody Welch

One the second day we finished setting the irrigation lines, shaping the garden beds, installing 2 pedestrian gates, and getting the seeds and vegetable into the ground.

Our next Permablitz will be at Zanzenberg Farm in Center Point on October 13th and 14thHope to see you there!

Explosive abundance,

Kirby Fry

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Featured Tool
Written by: Kirby Fry
Razorback Shovel Long Handle Round Point – R248S LHRP
Available at Home Depot – Cost:  Approximately $35.00
It’s funny sometimes watching people dig with shovels on movies and TV series.  To anyone who has ever really had to dig a ditch, it is so obvious that in movies people are digging graves and ditches that have been backfilled with loose soil, I’m thinking specifically of TV series like The Walking Dead, and Super Natural, which I both really like by the way.
After personally digging miles of conservation terraces and utility ditches by hand, I can tell you a little bit about what one is looking for in a good shovel.  The R248S LHRP satisfies all of my requirements, and meets all of my expectations, the requirements follow.
A strong 48″ long wooden handle.  I would rather have a wooden handle rot on me after 5 or 8 years of use, than have a fiberglass handle crack on me after 6 months of use.
A broad foot rest at the top of a 12″ tall shovel head.  When you put your full weight onto the head of a shovel, you’re hoping that the shovel isn’t so narrow that it splits the soul of your boot in two – which has happened to at least a half dozen work boots that I have owned.  What you want is a broad, textured foot rest that will not cut into the bottom of your boot and foot.
A shovel blade that is thick enough not to buckle under your full weight.
A reinforced shovel head socket that extends further up the length of the shovel handle.  The extended socket helps to defuse the stress on the wooden handle where it connects to the shovel head, and greatly increases leverage and life span.
– Other advice –
Keep you hands clean while digging.  Keep your shovel handle clean as well.  This will prevent slippage, and the creation of blisters.  I never wear gloves when I am digging.
Clean and oil your shovel between jobs.  Even be ready to sterilize it by dunking the head of the shovel into a mild bleach bath when working on organic farms.  It is actually a state requirement.
The Razorback shovel, long handle, round point is hands down my favorite shovel to dig with.  I have donated 3 of them to permablitzes and never broken one yet in over 8 years.
Here’s a quote from the movie, Mystery Men, that I can relate to.  “God gave me a gift.  I shovel very well.  I shovel VERY well.”
I shovel even better with the R248S LHRP in my hands!
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Earth Repair Corps, Interview with Pete VanDyck – 2018 06 20
By Kirby Fry

K: Pete, it has been my honor and privilege to work with you.

I believe that we first met during a permablitz maintenance event at Kealing Middle School around July 9, 2014.  Since then, you have stepped up and filled some very essential roles for the sustainable design movement in Central Texas.

My gratitude goes out to you, and to EVERYONE else implementing best design practices.

Please allow me to ask you six or seven questions.

  1. How, and or why, were you drawn to regenerative design systems?

Thanks, Kirby. Yes, we did meet at Kealing Middle School and this is actually a photo from that day,  good documentation there! Wow, I can’t believe how time flies! At first I was just interested in working outside with the land and plants, but I also had concerns about my own health, the health of society, and the health of our environment which made me want to look deeper into natural systems.  It was the same as many other folks who find this path – it usually happens from either a health issue due to poor nutrition, environmental conditions, or being hurt in mainstream society. I was sort of all three. Permaculture Design has opened my eyes to the answers for all of these problems and since then I have been more focused than I had ever been in my life.

2. How did you first learn about permaculture and sustainable design in Central Texas?

After being stationed in San Diego, California for six years I finished my contract with the military and began searching for a new career. During my time there I had developed a skill in finding the right people to help me accomplish my goals. Really all you have to do is find the highest source of knowledge that you can and learn from that person. So I went seeking out Mr. Kirby Fry, who seemed to be that person when I moved to Elgin, Texas.  I think I found out about the maintenance blitz at Kealing Middle School through Facebook. I first learned about Permaculture from Ben Falk’s great book “The Resilient Farm and Homestead”.

3. What are some important site selection criteria for a homestead or a farm that we should know about?

It’s very important to find a place with the capacity for redundant sources of water. That includes good wells and room for ponds and rain tanks. Access is also important – why buy land if half of it is inaccessible? Access can often be an afterthought when buying land, many folks figure that they’ll just be able to figure it out and everything will be fine. This can really throw a wrench in the gears when you are building a house and construction trucks cannot get to the building site, or the poor access keeps washing out, or roads are too muddy to cross, etc. I like a short road that’s high and dry, easy to maintain, and reliable.

The best place to put a road is on a ridge, so when you are looking to buy that property with the long easement that crosses multiple gullies my advice is to find a better one. I also like properties that are 20-50 percent forested. Trees make everything so much more comfortable in Texas, but I never advise buying fully forested properties. We ought to stay out of the brush and help reforest the land that needs the help. It’s also important to have a good solar aspect. Western facing hills can be brutally hot in the summer; I often find the biggest trees on the north side of the hill. Hills facing northeast seem to be the most comfortable in Texas for plants, people, and animals. I provide very reasonable pre-purchase assessments for anyone buying property. I can save people years of heartache with this service and I don’t think anyone should close on a property without getting professional eyes on it.

4. What are some important skill sets that we should know about in order to design a sustainable homestead?

It’s so important to find the right community. Getting a Permaculture Design Certificate is a really fantastic place to start. That way you learn how to think, instead of what to think. Then each person finds his or her own niche from there. Not everyone has to be a farmer or designer, we still need builders, teachers, medical professionals, and all the other important services. Equally important as the skill sets themselves is the person’s ability to apply their skills within the new paradigm we are creating through regenerative design. Designing a sustainable homestead really takes a vast amount of knowledge, having that community of like-minded individuals makes everything much smoother.

5. Please share with us some of your “hard knocks,” or what to avoid scenarios, that you may have encountered along your path.

Moving towards a regenerative lifestyle is not easier, it’s just different and can often be more difficult, but the rewards are great. Avoid long narrow properties; these usually cannot be sustainable or regenerative. Although long and narrow properties usually provide great return on investment for real estate investors, the shape of the property makes it awkward to properly place elements of a design in a way that is beneficial to the new landowner or the environment. Avoid long narrow access easements. Flash flooding is probably the most destructive force in Texas, stay out of the lowlands and keep dry. Seek professional advice as often as possible to find the cheapest and most effective solutions that will save money in the long term.

6. What are some of your aspirations for regenerative design in Central Texas?

I would like to see the re-hydration of the entire state of Texas so that our springs and rivers always flow year round. I’d like to achieve 100% ground cover 100% of the time on every project I am involved with. I think this great state we live in could become a beautiful work of natural art that is rich, abundant, and secure for generations to come. This is why I created my website, www.droughtprooftx.com.  Other than that I just want to live peacefully and be a good example to others.

 

K: Thank you, Pete for your love of the land, your love of all life, and your love for wanting to do to help create agriculturally productive ecosystems.

Explosive abundance my brother,

Kirby Fry, Earth Repair Corps

 

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Hi Everyone,

Pete VanDyck, Tony Truong, and I have been working with Randie Piscitello in Leander, Texas getting ready for our upcoming permablitz this November 18th.

Anyone who has land in the Georgetown, Leander, Liberty Hill, Cedar Park area could learn a lot about what to do with an eroded hill side covered with cedar trees.

This permablitz is a textbook case of how to install a terraced orchard in the Hill Country, enrich the local forest, and stop soil erosion.

This 25 degree sloped hillside must have been cleared 20 or 30 years ago and then either grazed by goats or completely abandoned. There is absolutely no top soil remaining, and the only place organic matter is collecting is underneath the larger cedar trees.

We have opened up 8 strips on contour each about 120′ long where we will build conservation terraces with an excavator, and install a perennial food garden as well as attempt to enrich the local woodland with farmers’ trees and native fruiting trees.

There are about 960 linear feet of terraces that we are about to construct and then plant with 48 fruit trees and 16 farmers trees, and then irrigate during the next permablitz.

This may be the most exciting design that we install this permablitz season.

Please come if you can. We will absolutely need all of the help we can get.

Explosive abundance.

Kirby Fry

 

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Several of us spent about 5 hours yesterday helping to lay out the Festival Beach Food Forest earthworks. The heavy equipment will be showing up no later than the 17th of October, our permablitz there will be on October 31st and November 1st, and the big Tree Folks planting event will be on November 7th. Stay tuned everyone! Read More

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by Kirby Fry

This article covers what a swale is, the functions of a swale, how to lay out a system of swales, and one way to build a swale using a shovel and a rake.

Read More

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