Owning Land

Much of Druidry relates to understanding and protecting the land. I’m curious as to how many folks here own land, how much, and what sort? For some 20 years, I owned six acres of mixed pine/hardwood and six acres of fallow field in the upper coastal plain in Georgia. By the end of this year I hope to have a few acres of mature mixed hardwoods in the Georgia Piedmont.

One reason I ask is because I’m looking into webinars and videos that provide information on how to manage woodlands, grasslands, etc, and if there are folks with properties that would find these interesting, I could pass them on.

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Our home sits on a bit over an acre, part of which is the slope down into a canyon consisting of mainly lava rock. This area is naturally high desert, but since it’s our yard there’s grass and trees and such. I’m converting the front lawn to drought resistant meadow next season, and slowly working on increasing my edibles beds. I’d love to own some acres with room for a grove but that’s not possible right now, so trying to make the best use of what we have.

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We have 0.10 acres in an urban setting in the Puget Sound Low Lands. We grow food on it. Many of our neighbors also grow food in their front yards, so that’s cool.

We are backed up to a field and a creek in a ravine, so out the back feels less urban than out front.

I too would like some forested acreage but that’s a bit more complicated, so for now I just appreciate the field out back and consider the trees that ring it as my grove.

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We live in the Smoky Mountains and own about 90 acres. It is all mixed pine and hardwood. We hired a professional forester to come and help us on managing the land. I would suggest you start with contacting your local NRCS office. They will be able to point you in the right direction and answer most questions for you.

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I own about 18 acres near Tallapoosa, GA. I have spent the last year trying to rehabilitate it, as the previous owner pretty much ignored it. I am letting nature do most of the work, though I am targeting specific areas to thin so that the trees growing the best will have the space and light they need. I’d be delighted to read whatever you can pass on.

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I own quite a large number of acres in a state that is on the other side of the nation from where I live. It’s active farmland, mostly, and I have very little to do with it…sad really, but I am not a farmer and wouldn’t pretend to be. But I like to think that my ownership contributes to feeding people, and it’s farmland not owned by a corporate monstrosity.

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My husband and I own 1.0 acres of land in an inner-ring suburb to the city of St. Louis, MO. We live on an old street with housing dating from the late 1800s to about the 1930s on most of it, including our own house which dates from 1928. Surrounding us are houses dating from the 1950s and 1960 when this was the growing edge of suburbia, to the south on 1/2 to 3/4 acre lots, to the north on 1/4 acre lots.

I’ve made good use of the MO Department of Conservation’s resources on native ecosystems and their plants to aid me in deciding what to plant. Also we obtained seedlings of native trees and shrubs from them at cheap prices. It pays to check out whatever your state agency is that concerns itself with environmental issues; you can often get a lot of good info from them, and maybe some plants or seeds.

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I’m not planning on having a lawn again if I can help it. Native meadow or a leaf bed would suit just fine.

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What is your general plan for the forest?

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@Babs it’s good to have a way to shut out the urban view.
@cschosser, Missouri’s natural resources department has an outstanding reputation. Our DNR doesn’t provide seed or trees, but our Forestry Commission sells trees.

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We live in the city, so we have just less than a quarter of an acre to play with and it’s not ours, but we have done our part to regenerate the soil to make it more productive and planted trees this year. I am going to overwinter the crepe myrtles and plant them next spring, and also a ton of sugar maples we are going to be keeping in the fridge until time to plant in the spring. We also volunteer and plant flowers, trees, and shrubs all over the city and help friends with flowers and trees on their properties and some of them have acreage outside of the city. We are saving up and plan on moving from Big Ag country to Arkansas next summer. My son is getting a job there and he won’t do this move unless we move with him and it’s such a great opportunity for him that I couldn’t help but agree to it. We would all own about 10 acres and we plan on putting in an orchard of sorts there and have our gardens too. He wants to build himself a house and greenhouse for him, his fiance and us. I have also been keeping my brothers property up too and that is about half an acre. We have done work with the park department here planting trees, shrubs, and flowers as well. We propagate the plants ourselves using our own or friends that don’t mind me utilizing what is already here to spread to other places in dire need.

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We have 15 acres of riparian area nestled just inside two fingers of the mountains. Currently we are working on land management as there is A LOT of juniper encroachment. We are working to restore the habitat for wildlife and wildfire resistance. Eventually we plan to build and live there, but for now camp and cut and pile. Our local watershed has been undertaking a huge landscape level watershed restoration across public and private lands, so another aspect for me has been cajoling neighbors into participating in that.

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The general plan is to develop it into a giant permaculture system. It is sort of rectangular shaped. Two sides go into the Cherokee National Forest, one long side and one shorter side, the other long side is all road frontage and the last shorter side is the only side that butts up to other private land. We have cleared and repaired about six miles of trails with only a few minor trails leading to dead ends. We have at least three springs, but we need to build a backup well which will be able to fill a pond at a higher elevation. There are already two ponds on the property but they don’t hold much water and will need to be repaired before they can support aquatic systems.

It is a major endeavor and it is costing us a lot of money, but it is worth it. I eventually want to have a place Druids can gather for extended holidays with their families. Basically lots of camping areas and probably three or four groves and other gardens and activity areas focused on Druidism.

Thanks,

Christopher and Angela

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@amychutchinson , are prescribed fires done there or is all fire off the table?

@Old_Bear Sounds like a worthy effort!

@HeatherMac Good luck with the move. Why did you choose crepe myrtles for planting?

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@Dyfn Some prescribed fire is done every year, but not enough, and the fuel loads in our forests are quite high. Our county is giant and 77% public lands, which makes for an amazing environment, but funding for the agencies has eroded over time, and there is not enough staffing to get as many projects completed on the ground as there probably need to be. Also, there’s a lot of litigation that goes on and makes things more complicated. We had over 500,000 acres burn in our forests this year, and a lot of areas had 90% or more vegetation mortality.

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Funding is an issue all around, and public perception figures in as well. When I lived in Florida, it was difficult to burn. This was a land that was use to burning every other year (and often much more frequent). Then there was a particularly dry year, a few lightnings strikes or smouldering cigarettes that got away from them, and whole counties went up. So the next year the legislature was throwing money at the forestry and wildlife departments for equipment, and new regulations came out to make it easier to do prescribed burning. After a couple of years, people complained about the smoke, and the next year burning was as hard to do as before. Then another fire year…catastrophic fire cycles corresponding to the length of public memory.

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Where we live, it is right on the border of where crape myrtles thrive. We live in an area that refuses anything that isn’t ornamental and I thought to myself … there aren’t any crape myrtles around here and they are extremely ornamental. One of the biggest reasons for doing it here is that the soil is rather compacted. Crape myrtles have amazing root structures and they extend farther than most other roots. They will help naturally amend the soil. They are easily managed, because they’re so easily pruned and can be maintained at a certain height or width, depending on what you want them for. Also, the area that we have for planting them is extremely open, so it’s full sun all day long and they would love that. They have very few known diseases or pests, so they stay healthier much easier too. The aphids which feed on crape myrtles do not feed on other nearby plants and when they do feed on them, they excrete honeydew. The honeydew produced by these aphids also feeds the fungus, sooty mold. which feeds more than a couple of dozen other insects that are predator insects … that control all of the harmful pests. The crape myrtle is one of, if not the most important tree to plant for insect control. You need to plant them in groups of 4 - 8 to reach maximum benefit, however. During droughts, these trees producing these aphids could very well be the only food source for them. The beauty about it is also that they will grow in any kind of soil you have. They grow rapidly and they aren’t too big. They are drought and alkaline resistant, as well as extremely easily transplanted. Finally, deer don’t like them (trouble with deer around the area) and they make great deciduous screens for privacy. So many reasons for having them that I couldn’t find many to not have them.

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I own and manage 13+ acres in Bandera County, Texas. The land was originally called oak savanna, or in other words, grassland with oak trees. As time moved along the Ashe Juniper moved in and the grass moved out. I checked in with the Soil & Water Conservation folks and am working to bring the grass back. I’m not sure what the state office is called in your state but would encourage you to get with them as they are very helpful in land management for your ecoregion.

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@Mark That would be the Natural Resources Conservation Service here. I’m trying to nudge folks into thinning their hardwoods and doing some burning to approximate the oak savannas in the piedmont here. I see 18th-19th c references to them in the Piedmont of the Carolinas but not much mention in Georgia. Tons of literature on the longleaf savannas in the Coastal Plain, though.

@HeatherMac I’m familiar with the native wax myrtle, but have never really looked at the crepe myrtle, apart from noting it planted all around town. You’ve learned alot about them!

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I grew up on 25 acres which was heaven but since then we have lived in suburban areas for work reasons. We currently own about 1/3 of acre and have planted willows, a plum tree, wax myrtles, cedars and hollies over the 10 years we have been here. I am currently working on changing out a lot of the lawn for gardens. We are lucky to live in a neighborhood that has green way trails and a lake and they are very serious about keeping it natural as possible so that is nice.

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