In our most recent course in Florida at the first Earthship site in the region the students designed the grounds around the building. Here is part of the running dialogue as they bring all of it together and complete the design. Will post design drawings once they are ready.

Best to all:

I have encountered some problems with the final design report. In writing the intro and summary, I reviewed the narrative, plant lists, and plan drawing and found differences, omissions, errors, etc. Wayne requested asking for clarification and answers from everyone so we can get it right. Here is the list of problems:

Black water system problems:
-The design plan shows that the kitchen gardens are placed right on the blackwater system, which is an above-ground cattail-growing construction. Bryan left out this area when he showed us where we could plant. Vickie and I will move the garden unless someone knows different.

This was something that the Zone 1 team discovered after the drawing was done. The kitchen garden needs to move to the north side of the property (where parking is shown). It was planned to be corrected in the final drawing.

Yes, I agree with Vickie.


Area identifications problems:
-A “food forest” is referred to in the narrative but no “orchard”. An “orchard” is listed in the recommended plant list but no “food forest”? Are they different or the same?
The narrative mentions some of the same plants for the food forest as listed for the orchard but also has additional plants. If same, did we go with the plants named in the food forest or the orchard?
If same, shall we call it a food forest or an orchard?

The food forest and orchard are really the same. Client requested an orchard – we morphed it into a food forest. Whether we should call it food forest or orchard? I’m not sure – if we go with food forest, we should probably define how it is different from an orchard.

I say we define it as an “Orchard Super Guild”. There is a section in Gaia’s Garden that talks about this. The concept is that there is a limit to how many of one type of fruit or nut a person will eat but if you have several different “tree centered” guilds (as listed below) its boosts food choice and biodiversity. Lets use the below variety of trees and other companions i.e. berries and comfrey and maybe mention we add a couple more herbs and low lying plant species. This satisfies the way Gaia discribes it and becomes beautiful and low maintainence.

Food forest : Olive Trees,Comfrey,Atemoya,Barbados Cherries,Bluberries,Starfruit,Kumquat,Lychee,Peach,Persimmon,Pomegranate

Orchard: Assorted Fruit & Nut Trees w/guild TBD, Comfrey at bottom i.e. atemoya, Barbados cherry, carambola, legumes, kumquat

Grove of Olive Trees along dirt road

-The narrative gives the name the Three Sisters Orchard to the southwest end by the wetlands. The plants named are the same as what’s named in the plant list as “The Stacking Guild Edge Thing”. Can I assume they are one and the same and go with the more charming Mike name of Three Sisters Orchard. Or is it not really an orchard but a Thing?

Again… this is more of a super guild with many purposes we have utilized the three sisters guild but added a layer of protection from the larger wildlife by creating an additional guild of thorny fruit berring bushes, bamboo, and more berries on the clients side for harvesting. I would be okay with calling it the Three Sisters Orchard though as its is very charming.

Missing and misplaced plants, things and structure problems:
-The flowering trellises for the garage show on Vickies drawing but are not in narrative or plant list. Can someone give me the type of flowers recommended and why recommended?

Do see anything listed as confederate jasmine or allemande? These were the 2 species discussed but I don’t remember what the final determination was. There is a flowering plant grown over the shipping container/storage thing too.

We’re talking about the same place here for the vines – the purpose was to disguise the shipping containers while providing attractors for beneficial insects, visual and sensual enjoyment.

-The chicken coup has been placed on the entertainment area side on the design drawing. As per our memory and notes, there was general consensus when it was originally placed on the kitchen side by both of the class study groups. Shall we move it or does someone know something we don’t.
-How large is a 3 chicken coup (so it can be scaled correctly)?

The chicken chickee was moved to the north side after we (Zone 1) walked down to the house and saw that it be completely shaded in that location.

Robert? You seem to know a great deal about this…aren’t you building one?

-Narrative mentions onions in the kitchen gardens, plant list does not. Should they go there or not?



-Where was the compost stationed? My notes say in the west on the west side of the berm?

There were to be 2 compost stations. Large scale compost was at the edge of the road on the outside of the berm on the west side. The kitchen compost station is on the outside edge of the driveway on the kitchen side.


-The worm bin was left out of the kitchen garden. Shall we put it in?

I seem to recall chix and worms were in the same area? If not then I would say put it as close to the kitchen as possible for easy access to place food scraps

-Irrigation study was assigned to Andy. It was not recorded. What was decided? Was the blackwater used as Bryan suggested?
Irrigation will be mainly provide by one of the cisterns in the berms. Additional irrigation could come from constructed wetland water. We did not get to spend to much time analizing this…we may have been able to come up with some better more distinctive options.

-Is the Forest/Orchard getting berms because of the water problem or is it that the plantings there like wet?

This concept was from the video we watch on food forests. Can anyone explain better why this works?

-Was the perrenial peanut planted anywhere as the owners desired?

On the house berms with other recommended grasses – not sure where else.

It had already been decided that PP was going on the berms by homeowner. We could use it in many other areas calling for nitrogen fixers even in the Super Orchard as ground cover. The client likes this and is familiar with it because they have it at their current residence.

-I added the house berms and their plantings to the list. Would the berms be Zone 0 (the house) or Zone 1?

The grasses on the berms were included in Zone 1. Zone 0 was the interior garden.


I say zone 1 or even 2….how often will they be in any sort of interaction with this.

Thank you,
Anne Marie