Much of our food travels 1500 miles before it even reaches our plates. Although large scale, industrial agriculture has allowed us to produce huge amounts of food more efficiently, it relies heavily on inputs such as nonrenewable fossil fuels while increasing CO2 levels, water and air pollution, and degrading the quality and taste of that product. Our “Growing Food to Grow Local Food Networks” project is one small step to help reverse this problem and make the planet a healthier, happier place for everyone. The Flagstaff EcoRanch, a pending nonprofit, that seeks to strengthen community ties in Flagstaff, Arizona through sustainable educational outreach programs, nonprofit partnerships, volunteers, community markets, and food banks through growing plants adapted for our mountain, desert environment.
We need $9000 for materials to build 6, 5’ x 50’ raised beds, a 3000 gallon water collection tank, and an outdoor shower, sink, and composting toilet. Each raised bed will be surrounded by cinder blocks fabricated here in Flagstaff to provide thermal mass on our cold evenings and extra space to plant garlic. The beds will be lined with hardware fabric to keep out gophers and sheet mulched with recycled cardboard, manure, mulch, soil, and organic fertilizer. Once completed, we will surround the beds with fencing to keep out rabbits, dogs, chickens, and other organisms.
We will install a 3000 gallon water catchment tank on the NW side of our barn. We can capture 11,000 gallons of water from this surface, but we figured, start small and grow over time. This water will not only be used for irrigation, but also attached to the outdoor shower and sink with a heater and small solar powered water pump. This will allow volunteers and visitors a place to shower and clean up, as well as a place to wash and clean harvested vegetables.
By helping fund this project, you will be supporting numerous educational opportunities here in Flagstaff. Since starting operations in September 2012, volunteers have donated over 1650 hours while sharing stories, backgrounds, and knowledge. We have had 12 volunteers working through the WWOOF organization (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) whose mission is to link visitors with organic farmers, promote an educational exchange, and build a global community conscious of ecological farming practices.
We have had three interns that have learned more about permaculture, architecture, sustainable design, and healthy living. They have created meaningful projects and integrated their skills into the future of the EcoRanch. We have had Sustainable Botany, Biology, and Environmental and Social Change students from Northern Arizona University and Coconino Community College help in designing projects. This summer, we will have about 40 students from Upward Bound, a federally funded program whose mission is to help students who are low income and/or first generation apply to, get to and graduate from a post-secondary education, visit and help in building.
We hope you find the importance in our project and help us continue in our mission, to address global challenges via local actions by nurturing community, democracy, and practical sustainability through empowering education.
Risks and challenges
Some of the risks associated with our “Growing Food to Grow Local Food Networks” are as follows:
1. High wind
2. Temperature fluctuations
3. A short growing season
4. Low water availability
6. Deer and elk
We have created solutions for each of the above challenges in our permaculture site plan. They are as follows:
1. Shrubs, bushes, trees, and pallets used for wind breaks
2. Cinder blocks, mulch, and walls of water to provide thermal mass
3. Hugelkultures and hoop houses to extend the season
4. Water catchment system, swales/berms, and water runoff diversion to increase groundwater availability and reduce evaporation
5. Hardware fabric and owl house construction to reduce gophers
6. Fencing and streamers to divert deer and elk
- (30 days)