Arcadia Farm's project is divided into two segments of development, infrastructure and land. At the beginning of the project in 2016, the land components were composed of 116 acres of dry land farm ground and 93 acres of native pinyon/juniper forest. There was no infrastructure (homestead, outbuildings, fencing, roads, water or electricity). To provide direction for the development of Arcadia Farm, we contracted with a land design consultant, Owen Hablutzel with Whole Systems Transformations in October, 2016. Owen visited the farm in October, 2016 and created a fully integrated farm development plan encompassing grazing systems, water, farm roads, structures, and perennial diversified polyculture systems based on the Regrarian Platform. This plan will serve as a road map for the farm development.
We began our work by walking the farm ground and collecting soil samples to determine soil fertility, organic matter, and soil microbiology using the Haney and PLFA soil tests. To begin the conversion of the farm ground to a perennial system, we applied for and received a USDA "EQIP" contract that would pay for a multi-species perennial grass seed/legume mix, as well as shelter belt trees. A wheat crop was harvested by the lessee on the farm ground in August, 2016. At that point our main focus was to prepare it for optimum germination of perennial grass seed that we planted in the fall of 2017. Keeping in mind that our ultimate goal is to be organically based, we knew that we would possibly need to use herbicides this first year to have a clean seed bed for planting the perennial grass seed.
As we began to explore the native ground, we observed that the predominate tree species were pinyon and juniper, with several areas of oak brush. In addition, we discovered at least 5 species of perennial grasses, 7 species of shrubs and flowers, and numerous species of undesirable weeds. We saw evidence of numerous types of wildlife including birds, deer, foxes, coyotes, rabbits, and migratory elk.
For infrastructure, our first priority was to provide protection for the farm equipment and tools, so we focused on getting a storage container and an equipment shed. We also needed a firm road from the county road to the home site and equipment area. Through out the first year, we worked on cleaning out old fencing and trash; and cutting dead trees that would be used for firewood.