Check out this explanation of the big mound in front of the hoophouses, written by Elizabeth for the August volunteer newsletter:
“Some new developments have included planting of more natural pollinating plants at the front of Hoop House 3, maintaining the fruit trees as they continue to prosper and the delivery of long awaited wood chips and mulch. With the arrival of wood chips, volunteers were able to weed, lay burlap bags, and put fresh wood chip ‘donuts’ around each of the 40 fruit trees to hold moisture and to discourage the nets of crabgrass that invade no matter how often you pull them from the ground. There has also been an installment of a cover crop on the east side of the gravel driveway, thanks to the hard working hands of our volunteers.
With the fresh wood chips in place and after the donation of rotting logs from our neighbors, we were able to construct a raised hugelkultur bed (which is the strict translation of ‘mound culture’ in German) within the circle of fruit trees west of the kitchen. The practice of making a raised garden bed filled with rotting wood covered with burlap bags, compost, and fresh soil, creates benefits like water retention and warms the soil as the buried wood acts like a sponge as it decomposes. This clever addition will mimic the natural environment that the fruit trees are accustomed to and encourage some lovely decomposers that will add nutrients to the soil increasing soil fertility around the bed (Miles, 2010). Atop this hugelkultur bed volunteers planted numerous strawberries and other installments to reap the benefits and prevent soil erosion. These mounds are designed to allow fruit trees to survive in otherwise inhospitable temperatures and altitudes and should do wonders for our fruit trees at the farm. If anyone would like more information on the benefits of this strategy, I encourage a quick gander at this website hosted by the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. It offers some excellent information including testimonials by those who have also created there own hugelkultur bed.”