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Don Adolfo Project: Pasture to Agroforestry near Livingston, Guatemala

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Introducing the Don Adolfo Project (DAP).  Named after the pioneering landowner where the project takes place, the DAP converts former cow pasture into an agroforestry, ecosystem restoration and educational site.   Furthermore, this pilot project will develop a model for land development and cooperation between landowner (Don Adolfo) and tenant (me, Sean Dixon-Sullivan), while employing, training and eventually encouraging self-ownership for local campesinos.


The Deal
First, workers from Contour Lines Corp., including myself and three campesinos from Tatin, installed 1,151 meters of contour lines across the 0.87-hectare (2.15 acres) site.  Along the lines we planted Don Adolfo's 200 fruit trees—mango, rambutan, avacado, lemon and orange—and between we've begun planting shorter-term crops, which will eventually include cassava, sweet potato, pineapple and banana.  The deal is we can cultivate his land rent-free, harvesting all short-term crops we wish, as long as we keep his fr…

Bamboo Replanting at Wübu, Livingston, Guatemala

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On the “Dry Hills,” an estimated three quarters of the 400 bamboo planted there in recent years died. Poor management may have contributed to the losses (infrequent weeding, and weeding practices that exposed bare soil to erosive rainfall and drying heat), but the harsh conditions also contributed.

Witherspoon Retreat, Cleveland, South Carolina

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The Witherspoon Retreat is a 3.8 acre property nestled upon Cedar Mountain on one of the first mountains ranges of the Appalachians and one of the only mountains in South Carolina.


The property lies on a moderate to steep slope with natural spring emerging from the ground on either property border.  The northern half of the property is forested, and a home is built on a terrace a third of the way up the property.  The house receives its water from a RAM pump that uses no electricity, and moves water from the western most spring to the faucets in the house. 

The back yard has a moderate slope.

The front yard has a very steep slope that causes problems with erosion.  
The plan is to use the RAM pumps to move water from the spring into a system of berms built on contour.  The water will slowly move downhill throughout the property settling in a series of aquaculture ponds, a bathing pool, livestock troughs, and animal ponds.

Berms along the tree line constructed from soil excavated fro…

Wübu, Livingston, Guatemala

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See more on this project at Wübu Agroforestry

Greenville, South Carolina, USA

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Hugelkultur Berms and Swales at Thrive Upstate Thomas Leonard and Carlos Terry built a system of berms and swales on contour at The Generous Garden Project at Thrive Upstate in Greenville, SC.  The system provided water harvesting ditches to reduce erosion by slowing the downhill flow of water and trapping organic matter. In addition the swales hold water allowing it to percolate into the ground.  This additional ground water provided superior plant growth of shade tolerant annuals, small perennials and fruit trees.
The system was build in a couple of hours by a team of two to three people.  The team used an A frame to mark the contour lines with fallen logs and branches collected from the adjacent forest.  Then they used an excavator to dig a ditch up hill from the marked contour lines.  This depression resulted in the swale.  The removed soil was pulled down hill to cover the wood and form a berm.

The elevated berms were planted in a poly culture of different crops.  Perennials such…