Stoney Orchard is a rewilding, food and forage project using permaculture principles in 13 acres of uplands in the East Devon AONB.
The project aims to demonstrate the effective use of a water management system on the land to filter and slow the flow of water to the Sid River Basin.
Moving water across the contours of the land will increase the water table, feed a tree shrub and planting system, regenerate the soil structure, its microbes and fungal network and assist the movement of water through the clay layers with a network of trees and deep-rooted plants – increasing resilience and biodiversity and reducing the effects of extreme weather by creating microclimates that support activities on the land.
DEF’s grant is to help fund the construction of swales, preventing flooding and soil erosion (big problems for Devon farmers and landowners) that reduce soil quality and water quality in rivers and the sea.
Swales are ditch-like areas dug on the contour to capture rainwater, stopping, or slowing the flow so it can soak deep into the soil. The more water that soaks into the soil during rainy spells, the less irrigation is needed during dry spells.
The project aims to produce a model that can be used by farmers and small landowners, including gardeners, and considered when creating or planning a built environment. It aims to offer many opportunities for groups, organisations and individuals to be involved and observe an alternative land management strategy that can be replicated in various situations.
As Devon experiences wetter winters, drier summers, flash flooding, and extended droughts swales could prove to be an important tool for landowners of all sizes.
Image courtesy of keelayogafarm.com.