Mollison’s Introduction to Permaculture is one of the few texts
I’ve read that includes in-depth information on developing a
than simply grazing
animals under existing trees. Mollison describes a rotational
arrangement that we may try to replicate around our new starplate
coop, and which
I’ve diagrammed above. Basically, fencelines are doubled,
which turns them into protection for useful trees and shrubs while
the perennials are getting established. Mollison shows trees
encircling his whole arrangement, but I think I might just double
the cross-fences to protect trees, and perhaps eventually make
hedges along the outside fencelines.
you’ll be grazing several different kinds of animals in your
pasture, which we may eventually work up to. In his vision,
chickens are allowed to run through the moat areas nearly from the
beginning, but larger livestock are kept out until the trees are
at least four or five years old (or potentially forever). As
the trees mature, they arch out over the pasture, providing shade
and dropping their fruits and seeds into areas all livestock can
reach. During times of drought when grasses aren’t growing,
you can also cut and toss young willow and poplar branches from
the protected moats to goats and sheep to provide fresh feed.
Another innovation of
Mollison’s pasture design is the strawyard around the coop or main
animal shed. This is a high-traffic area, and it tends to
become bare in permanent rotational pastures, so it would be worth
considering mulching this zone to provide invertebrates for
chickens to scratch up and to prevent erosion and mud. If
you don’t have a
forest to give your chickens a winter pasture, you could
potentially keep them in the strawyard during cold weather (or during overgrazed periods
throughout the summer) to prevent damage to the main pastures.
I suspect the hardest
part of this design for me wouldn’t be the extra work and expense
required to make the fenced moats. Instead, it would be
choosing livestock-friendly trees and shrubs for the moats rather
than turning those zones into intensively-grown human food.
Mollison’s top suggestions for temperate-area poultry fodder
plants include: mulberries, gojiberries (won’t fruit for us, but
maybe will for you), elderberries, black locust, serviceberry,
hawthorn, and autumn olive (beware — a bad invasive
here!). We already have several black locusts that we
carefully cleared around in that pasture, and I’m rooting half a
dozen or more mulberries, so we’ve got a good start in that
to birds, whether they’re pastured or cooped up.
post is part of our Mollison’s
Introduction to Permaculture lunchtime series.
all of the entries: