In spring 2017 we began ground works for the new infrastructure we will put in as part of our One Planet Development. The work took place in the top of our field which was still down to pasture. We put in an access track, a pond and terraced pads for the workshop, barn, house and greenhouses. We also managed to get a few standing stones up whilst we were at it! It was an epic week of work for both the digger drivers and ourselves. We were lucky enough to find a bluestone quarry where we needed to dig one of the pads which will provide us with enough building stone for the stem walls of our buildings.
The following weeks were spent moving stone around and grading the building stone. We reseeded the bare ground and began planting up the new banks with trees and shrubs from our hedgerows.
Bringing heavy machines onto our land, scraping off top soil and moving thousands of tonnes of earth and stone wasn’t a decision to be taken lightly. The benefits of the landworks had to be weighed up against the disruption to the ecosystem and damage to the soil. Before doing this we had had 5 years to observe the site and spent months planning the specifics.
The area of the land we chose to build on was low grade pasture, had compaction problems and thin topsoil, this meant there was a lot of scope for improvement. By scraping topsoil off of tracks and pads we were able to create banks of top soil and focus the fertility on spaces we wish to cultivate. Creating terraces means we can intercept the rain water, which has previously moved top soil down the hill, putting it to use in ponds, and later irrigation. As our land is north-west facing we designed the terraced pads to give maximum southerly aspect and therefore maximum sunshine.
It is important to plan such operations meticulously; to calculate how many tonnes of earth will be moved and where they will end up, to plan drainage and water flows, to imagine how transitions between levels will work, to work with sun levels throughout the year and prevailing winds.
Before starting digging we mapped and surveyed the land. We layed out rope and wooden stakes in the field. The design process bounced back and forth from pencil and paper to rope and stakes. We were lucky to find a local digger driver who was enthusiastic about the project and promised to show maximum respect for our topsoil.
We’re really pleased with the new terraces we’ve created and how they sit within the landscape. We’re looking forward to planting trees there this winter and building our new workshop.