Our third First this spring is this month’s site visit into the 17.6-acre oak woodlands in back of our farm which we are in the process of purchasing. It is zoned SA (Special Agriculture) and will serve as our new Native American Plant Nursery, one 5-acre section at a time. It was important to save this piece of sacred landscape from becoming another monoculture farm. There are a number of Christmas tree farms, vineyards, and filbert orchards surrounding us here in the South Salem Hills that you can observe when traveling along Interstate 5 south of Salem. The South Salem Hills is one of four designated Groundwater Limited Areas in Marion County. The City of Salem reports that “The cavities between the jumble of rocks formed by the Columbia River Basalt Lava Flows hold water much like an irregular honey-comb contains honey.” The volcanic action of 17 million years ago created just the right conditions for water storage beneath the South Salem Hills where the property is located. According to the City of Salem website: https://www.cityofsalem.net/Pages/salem-water-source.aspx. However, our 15 to 17 million year old Columbia River basalt drains rainwater more rapidly making it prone to summer drought. Last week, our cohort explored the property as a group for the first time, and had a site assessment and walk-through with Sara Hamilton from Marion Soil and Water Conservation District. We discovered Trillium Sessile patches throughout the grandfather Oaks, a number of tall Oregon grape in bloom, filbert (both Native along with some cultivated species) and poison oak, along with invasives and a few deserted homeless camps. We plan to seek support from Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to remove those deserted camps this summer and discourage future occupation, especially because of the dangers they pose from toxicity and dirty needles. We are blessed with predominant tree shade cover through the entire property and a tributary that flows through the property during the rainy seasons. Plans this spring include conducting soil tests soon and developing plans to strengthen the biodiversity of this acreage as we restore it long term to its original designation as an Oak Woodlands. Our spiritual connection to the and is important to us so we are also preparing the land to construct our new sweatlodge here later this month.
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