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Farms and Homesteads

"Le Vallon" de Haras De Saint Pair - Normandy - France

"Le Vallon" de Haras De Saint Pair - Normandy - France

Nestled within the picturesque Calvados region lies a visionary 13.7-hectare regenerative agroforestry endeavour, situated at the heart of the historic 'Haras de Saint Pair,' the oldest operational stud farm in Normandy, France. This ambitious project aims to serve as a beacon of sustainable practices and land stewardship for the entire region, offering not only a sustainable food source but also serving as a source of inspiration for regenerative practices. Moreover, it seeks to provide educational opportunities for young minds and enhance the biodiversity of the area.

Led by our Co-Founders, Weruschca Kirkegaard and Sara Garcia, alongside the invaluable support of Mike Lynn and Jessica Robertson, the project stands as a testament to the possibilities of agroforestry. With a primary focus on showcasing seven distinct systems, notably Food Forests, the project aims to cultivate sustainable and diverse ecosystems of edible plants and trees. These systems mimic the structure and functionality of natural forests, creating a lush and vibrant landscape that enriches the surrounding environment.

In addition to the Food Forests, the project boasts an innovative water management design, featuring several large ponds and micro catchments strategically dispersed throughout the site. These water features not only contribute to the aesthetic appeal but also serve to strengthen the valley against the challenges posed by fluctuating temperatures and weather extremes while facilitating the implementation and succession of all agroforestry systems.

Furthermore, a myriad of rewilding efforts has been seamlessly integrated into the design, fostering habitat diversity and supporting a balanced trophic cascade, thereby nurturing a thriving ecosystem teeming with life. Large meadows, extensive riparian zones and mixed hedges, both low and tall, wide and narrow, further bolster these efforts, providing essential support to the various systems in place.

Notably, every decision in the project was meticulously designed with the utmost consideration for the potential toxicity of vegetation to the horses on the estate, ensuring their safety in the event of inadvertent entry into the valley.

Truly an inspiring endeavour, this project serves as a shining example of how regenerative practices can converge to create a sustainable and harmonious ecosystem, enriching both the land and the lives it touches.

Crandall Botanical Reserve - USA

Crandall Botanical Reserve - USA

It is not often that you come across a land site that has been untouched for generations. The Crandall Reserve is a combination of conventional farm fields, wetlands, woodlands. The forest floor is filled with ramps, hog peanut, multiple species of ferns, medicinal plants, herbs, and nuts. Bogs of blueberries, cranberries, and tamarack filter the run-off from the fields. The closed canopy holds in the coolness of summer nights and moisture for the delicate native foliage. Multiple plant communities bring a bounty of foraging possibilities. Foraging, however, needs to be well managed and infrequently disturbed.

The nutrient-dense woodland herbs are under great stress to persist. Growth is slow and competition for nutrients is high in this frequently harsh environment. This is why the nutrients are so dense in wild plants. A nursery will start new transplants of threatened species and to augment existing plant communities. Tall fencing will exclude deer and other herbivores from woodland forage plots. Small microclimates suited to specific cultivated crops are intensely planted to leave the remaining area in its native state. Roadbeds are improved to handle increased traffic, visitors, and needed small farm vehicles and equipment. Visitors are restricted to the paths and roads to protect the soil from compaction and seedlings from foot traffic.  The resident stewards map and know the seasonal harvests and best times for picking. Soon engrained into life is seasonal eating and processing to extend the harvest to many months beyond.

Martin Homestead - USA

Martin Homestead - USA

Dana Martin wanted to create I self-sustaining food production system on their 10 acres of the North Dakota Prairie. South was designed an integrated horticultural system to reduce labour and increase the diversity of harvest to the family.

Previously Dana’s uncle and planted a wide windbreak around the homestead area. Within this protected space was a gentle slope allowing for runoff from the house and landscape to be collected in ponds and swales. A family of four with young children supply an ample amount of water to the immediate trees and shrubs from the laundry room and showers.

  • Gray water systems recycle household water to the landscape. 

  • The rooflines of the house, garage, and barn supply water to the outer landscape of fruiting trees and shrubs.

  • Water tanks in the greenhouse are used for storage and moderating the temperature during cold days.

  • Within this homestead, the landscape is room for large gardens, orchards, a vineyard, and rotational grazing for small livestock.

Haase Perennial Acre - USA

Haase Perennial Acre - USA

Generations of family farming are changing to address the diminishing soil resource and the inevitability of extreme weather changes. Perennial crop systems are being developed to rival the harvest and revenue of conventional commodity crops. Southwoods was hired to design a perennial crop system for research and comparison on the Haase farm in Blue Earth, Minnesota. A blend of ecological design and conventional practices to bring the best of forest ecology to the efficiency of commodity crops.

Though the plants are supported in polycultures, the consistency and quality must be predictable for harvest planning and commodity buyers. This design is placed in a long one-acre strip with access for tractors and human harvesting. A large windbreak is White Oak for acorn-finished pork is the long term overstory with fruiting shrubs and perennial crops filling the understory. Monitoring and record-keeping is important to this test field.

Peachey Farm - USA

Peachey Farm - USA

What a joy to spend a week on an Amish farm drawing at the kitchen table in pencil. Everything has an ethic of simplicity. Sylvan rotates his cattle through fields of grass he manages with a Brix meter and his eyes... Interplanting fruit trees create shade for the animals, forage for livestock, and takes advantage of the manure nutrients for the fruit. The family hopes to sell the value-added products from a roadside stand. The goal of the design is to:

  • build tree crop windbreaks and use plants to create new foraging resources for cattle and sheep.

  • create a fruit production orchard for marketable products.

  • increase the long-term harvest of the land in multiple perennial and tree crops.

  • create a nutrient cycling system for soil amendments.

  • develop water catchment systems above the thin soil horizon without excavation.

Old River Farm - Ontario - Canada

Old River Farm - Ontario - Canada

Old River Farm’s goal is to increase community self-sufficiency and strengthen rural economies. As an ALUS (Alternative Land Use Strategies) demonstration farm they seek to inspire other farmers in the area to be environmental stewards. Cattle are moved daily through a rotational grazing system which will be enhanced with silvopasture plantings. Grazing in particular fields does not occur until after ground nesting birds have left their nests. This design is by Lead Designer Jessica Robertson, and the broadscale water management has been designed and implemented with the guidance of the United Designers team.

Old River Farm has taken the lowland fields next to the Thames River out of production and installed 4 ponds for wildlife habitat and flood mitigation. Native prairie grasses and wildflowers have been seeded in this area. Through restricted access to the treed slope above the ponds, they have been able to regenerate the understory layers that were overgrazed in the past.

Two berm and basins (swales) were installed in 2022 to spread water out and stop erosion from occurring at the edge of the field. The berms are also being used to grow fodder and produce shade for the cattle. Secondary crops of berries, nuts and propagation material will be available to harvest in the future if so desired.

Finca Antigua Telar - Spain

Finca Antigua Telar - Spain

The owners were looking for a design that would give the farm a certain degree of resilience and self-sufficiency. To do this, they wanted a system that, in addition to generating their own food sustainably, would optimize water management on the farm, regenerate the soil fertility and increase biodiversity. Also, a small wetland, a greywater phyto-purification system, and a recreation area were included in the design.

To achieve these goals, given the extreme conditions of the continental Mediterranean climate, the high evapotranspiration, and high soil compaction, different strategies were included in the design to maximize water retention in the soil, improve the structure and biology of the soil and create productive biodiverse habitats that give continuity to the environment, providing resilience to the ecosystem.

Barika farm, Refugee Camp Arbat - Iraq

Barika farm, Refugee Camp Arbat - Iraq

Uniteddesignersinternational was honoured to venture on this regenerative journey together with Preemptive Love. An impressive non-profit on the frontlines of conflict zones around the world. Where they respond with relief, food to help families survive, shelter to remake homes, creating jobs and much more.

The Location; A Syrian Refugee Camp in Sulaymaniyah Iraq. Where thousands of families are displaced by ISIS.

Our task; To design a regenerative Modelfarm, demonstrating #foodforest and annual vegetable production specific to the semi-arid climate and Kurdish cultural context. While also producing food, herbs, and oils to create value-added products and establishing a locally grown food market. But also restore, the communities ownership and natural rhythms of enjoying each other and nature, a Community space and a Children’s area.

Foglight Farms, Hillsboro WA - USA

Foglight Farms, Hillsboro WA - USA

Located atop the rolling hills of Hillsboro, Oregon, Foglight Farms occupies 40 acres of sunny pasture and evergreen forest. Long grassy fields, steep hillsides and forested creek beds all contribute to the unique attributes that make up this diverse piece of land. Ornamental gardens and orchards next to the main housing units are well-established by former tenants. A once forested hillside was recently clearcut, creating a large disturbance and a unique opportunity to support effective ecological succession.

This site is designed to function as a regenerative farm, homestead, and retreat centre. Food and value-added products are available to sell to the community and sustain the permanent residents. Retreat opportunities will be open to individuals and companies seeking a beautiful place to vacation and learn sustainable lifeways and farming practices. Food forests, rotational grazing livestock and rainwater catchment systems are a few of the many integrative strategies designed for this property. Regenerative practices are a staple of every aspect of this farm, creating abundant resources for both human and wildlife inhabitants.

De Eenzaamheid Farm - The Netherlands

De Eenzaamheid Farm - The Netherlands

The family van Schie has been running the farm “De Eenzaamheid” on an island in Warmond for 170 years: Appropriately called  “The Solitude”. In 2020, Roos, Jan and Joost (5th and 6th generation) are moving on to the next step: from organic to regenerative farming.

Working according to the 4Returns approach, in collaboration with NGO's and CommonlandWageningen University and the Louis Bolk Institute, to name but a few. Striving to create four values: ecological, economic, social and cultural.

The aim of the farm is to grow living soil, capture CO2, increase biodiversity, and contribute to the community while raising the profit. 

Design Features: 

  • Holistic grazing

  • Chicken tractors

  • Paludiculture - Productive use of Wet peatlands

  • Compost production

  • (Re) introducing plant and animal species to increase biodiversity

  • Edible borders, Fedges and small food forests

  • Commercial Kitchen garden for Onsite Bakery

Magic Oaks Ranch - USA

Magic Oaks Ranch - USA

For this project, United designers were hired by one of our many partner designers. We were asked to do an initial consultation and site assessment. This included a plant list of existing and potential production plants, a climate and ecological data table to understand the environmental context, and a base map to begin the concept and process of design solutions.

The farm was surrounded by a diverse habitat that extended into wetlands and a large lake and many ponds. The priorities were invasive species management and restoration of lost understory native plant communities. A new residence was added and also integrated into the new systems to conserve energy and water resources.

Fleri Farm - Haiti

Fleri Farm - Haiti

Fleri farm in Port-au-Prince, Haiti is one of the few areas of land unpopulated by shanties in the dense population of the nearby city Soleil. With a density of 31,000 people per square mile, there is a great need for intense food production that is also sustainable for long term benefit to the community. The land has large preexisting mango trees under which a polyculture of annual and perennial crops are grown. Each area has a specific function based on its condition and location.

  • Individual fields are used for a rotating list of tropical crops for the community and for sale. 
    Each tree crop is surrounded by ecologically supportive plant species that also provide harvest

  • crops. 
    A hoop greenhouse is used for starting young plants to be transplanted into the various fields as

  • needed.

  • A nursery grows out trees and shrubs for use on the property’s many food forests.
    A soccer field is installed in the north field across the street from a popular church and

  • community centre. A small basketball court is also planned.
    Security fencing surrounds the perimeter.
    Lighting is placed along streets of outlying areas.
    Water storage towers have elevated observation platforms.
    Unplanted areas are used for managed grazing of local livestock.

Today Fleri farm is a thriving #polyculture farm.  Multiple crops of different sizes and types are interplanted.  Crop diversity makes more efficient use of sunlight and nutrients while minimizing the need for pesticides or fertilizer.  Polyculture offers higher potential yield versus mono-crop farming and is easy for community farmers to maintain with basic tools. The canopy includes 2500 #mango, plantain, coconut, papaya, and avocado trees, plus 500 recently planted citrus, #breadfruit, and cherry saplings.  Tall crops include okra, corn, beans, eggplant, sugar cane, yucca, and amaranth.  Shorter crops include onion, peppers, melon, carrot, and peanut.  Support crops including #vetiver, citronella, castor, and chaya help to retain soil, deter pests and build #mulch.

The majority of the harvest belongs to the community farmers. Some are directly used by their families and neighbours, some are sold to local restaurants or markets, and some are purchased by Healing Haiti. Thus, the harvest directly impacts the food security of the neighbourhoods surrounding Fleri Farm.

If inspired pls check out their options for sponsorships and donations at Healing Haiti.

Kimborough Farm  - USA

Kimborough Farm - USA

Nestled in the fertile lands of Door County Wisconsin, the Kimbrough Farm enjoys a temperate climate moderated by Lake Michigan in Sturgeon Bay. The homestead has all the benefits of location, soil, access to resources, and gentle topography. The 118-acre site has been farmed for many generations, yet It has a high degree of organic material in soil fertility. A large portion of the land is still wooded and although the bedrock in some areas is exposed, it quickly recedes underneath the rich loamy soil in most of the fields.

This homestead is designed to support a large extended family and serve as a continuous resource to the family for self-sustained food production. Value-added and speciality products will sustain a moderate income and support local trade. As many historically documented farms of the past, this will eventually be a human and animal-powered operation, reducing the need for fossil fuels and off-site energy sources.  The features of the plan are developed at this time. Southwoods had completed the site assessment and identification of functional spaces.  From this point, the design moves to specific attributes of each system and their integration as an adaptive system.

Huntly Cattle Station - Australia

Huntly Cattle Station - Australia

Huntly is an evolving property nestled in the beautiful Arcadia Valley in the Central Highlands of Queensland. It is a certified organic, grass-fed beef operation. Embracing both Holistic management, Regenerative Agriculture and Permaculture with the vision of creating a whole, self-sustainable, prosperous community. Owner, farmer, environmentalist and artist Bloss Hickson, a strong believer in the value of trees in the landscape, kept both brigalow trees and others, notably the remnant rainforest Ooline trees, in strategic belts, describing them as the legumes replacing the nutrients leached out by buffelgrass. This holistic approach extends to her cattle enterprise, where she runs a herd of Brangus for the organic market.

Our design assignment revolved around closing the incoming and outgoing energies, increasing the self-reliance of the main building, and increasing the water storage capacity of the plot.

Design Features;

  • Food forest on contour with integrated swales

  • Greywater management

  • Vermicomposting

  • Aquaculture

  • Chicken-composting lane

  • Nursery

  • Kitchen gardens

  • Generating work routing and schedules for onsite woofer's and trainees

Barrett Homestead - USA

Barrett Homestead - USA

Weather extremes are the rule in Texas. Dry hot weeks are followed by heavy rains flooding parched land. Southwoods developed strategies to redevelop the forest ecology and canopy to create protected micro-climates for a  more diverse plants community. The water needs to be collected and infiltrated to deep soils for long term drought support. These ten acres need to develop into the deep canopy it once was to sustain a protected soil base and increase the available water to the plants in dry times. A slight slope drains the heavy rains to the south leaving the land dry in a short time. Optimization of each rain event and the household greywater is the key to raising the carrying capacity of the property. 

•    Artificial canopy domes are used to protect new plantings and develop the new canopy.
•    Swales and shallow basins are used to collect and infiltrate rainwater.
•    A greenhouse is added for protected season extension
•    A large exterior garden adjoins the greenhouse for easy access to tools, plants and water
•    Vertical fence extensions are used to deter deer from entering the property
•    The straight driveway is curved to follow the contour and add privacy.
•    The concrete block storage building is bermed to increase cooling in summer
•    A bulk storage area is established for compost, woodchips, and other materials.
•    A small livestock enclosure is added to the greenhouse for access to animal services and

resources. Small goats may play a role in managing the land.
•    Greywater systems are expanded to cover a larger area of the residential landscape.

Crombie Homestead - USA

Crombie Homestead - USA

The Crombie intentional homestead is a long-established farm residence of intergenerational farmers.  The highly variable terrain of gentle slopes and microclimates gives the opportunity for many growing areas.  The humid and shaded drainage areas allow for mushroom production, while the south-facing slopes are gently terraced for food production. On the steeper hills around the residence terraced and raised beds create small plots for perennial and annual vegetables. On a similar contour is a  drainage point from the local landscape. This water can be cycled across the property and especially the growing areas to allow for consistent moisture during the hot summers. Trees and shrubs are added along the woodland edges and on contour as protection from extreme weather.  Existing access routes are used to add new perennial plants in the understory. Much of the edge land of the forest is used for berries and nuts.  With the energy, aggregated intelligence, and resources of the group, this property has great potential for growing ample amounts of food for the community.  Conventional farm fields are converted to perennial crops and intercropping with the assistance of small livestock. Free-range chickens provide insect control and manuring the understory of hazelnut and elderberries. With the advent of livestock as a biocontrol of pests, the shrubs increase in production while the soil is protected and chickens are sheltered from predators. A multi-level harvest of eggs, nuts, berries and protein is provided in a nutrient cycling. Multilevel production sources of protein are provided in a nutrient cycling resource-rich environment.

Cutler - USA

Cutler - USA

The Cutler farm has rich soils over a high-water table. Drainage is a constant concern to work the fields. It is prone to flooding and standing water. The soil is slightly acidic due to the hydric state and high organic material.  This is suited well to cattle and livestock forage. Haying, and minimal use of machinery or cultivation. With the addition of swales and ponds, water can be maintained on the property and available as needed in summer.

The rough areas difficult to access are best used for tree crops with minimal disturbance. The stream bed needs to be restored and reinforced on the inner and outer banks and curves.  Wet seasons are followed by dry seasons when the wet areas may be grazed. This wetland area has resources and better grasses during drought. Other areas are divided for rotational grazing. Especially in season, each pasture has its primary production time and recovery period. Windbreaks are added on the east and west sides to protect livestock and add additional organic materials.

Regeneration Farms - USA

Regeneration Farms - USA

Regeneration Farms is a venture guided by Reginaldo of Tree-Range Poultry®, an ecologically and biologically managed poultry production system for eggs and meat. Southwoods was asked to evaluate the documentation for a poultry operation and design the appropriate spaces for the buildings, rotational grazing areas, and efficient access for the daily operations. Tree range areas are filled with Hazelnut and Elderberry. Chickens are rotated through paddocks providing field sanitation, pest control, manuring, and light cultivation. The shrubs and trees provide protection from aerial predators while cooling the soil and poultry.

  • Multiple Crop Revenue

  • Integrated and Rotational Livestock System

  • Centralized Hub for Poultry Management

  • Removable inner fence for large scale cultivation if needed.

  • Pest management by free-range poultry in perennial crops.

Zoe Farm, Canton - USA

Zoe Farm, Canton - USA

Zoe Farm in Canton Ohio is a family resource farm developed for continuous flow harvesting and self-sufficiency.  The steep slopes harbour multiple springs allowing for freshwater ponds and cascading streambeds in rainy times. Systems on the land range from Oaktree silvopasture for grazing and eventually acorn-finished pork, polyculture orchards, Korean Nut Pines, livestock forage islands, swale and berm water management, contour plantings of fruit trees and shrubs, and a multiple habitat patches throughout the property. The family constructed a monolithic dome for an underground earth insulated residence. Southwoods assisted in design, landscaping, and site management surrounding the dome area. Priorities on the land consisted of:

•    All features of the property are on contour to reduce erosion and collect nutrients.
•    Screening windbreaks for privacy.
•    Integrated food production systems.
•    Diverse crops in annual and perennial plant systems
•    Deer exclusion areas for intense and valuable food crops.
•    Reforestation of the steeper slopes with a meadow on gentle slopes.
•    Centralized access to residence and production area.
•    Cooling shade on the residence in summer converting to maximum solar gain on south-

facing aspects of the buildings in winter.

Brown Dog Farm - USA

Brown Dog Farm - USA

Brown Dog Farm is a weekend retreat and organic production farm in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. It is owned by Farmhouse Restaurants of Chicago and Easton Illinois. Owners TJ and Molly see the farm as a restful retreat for their employees and a bountiful source of fresh ingredients for their chefs in Chicago.

140 acres of farmland, untouched by a plough since the mid-1980s has been managed by TJ to sustain the recovering savannah grasslands of heirloom fruit trees. 40 acres have been permanently set aside as protected prairie. Another area in a deep valley has towering Black Walnut sloping to a fern-lined stream. In the design strategy, we wrapped the residence with the perennial harvests and located the annual crops on a terrace facing south. Outlying protected areas are planted with tree crops and fruiting shrubs.

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