Project Lombong – Designing for Water and Access

We came up with the initial design for the 10-acre Project Lombong after a couple months of deliberation. The first thing that we implemented was earth-shaping for water and access. The heavy machines would need to do their work before we start planting. After that it would be difficult for the machines to maneuver freely.

Lay of the Land

The highest point of the land is on the eastern corner at 49m elevation (top center on map below). From there, it slopes down to the west, ending at the western corner at 26m elevation (bottom left on map). The slope is mild: averaging about 6 degrees, with a maximum of 11.3 degrees. The shape of the slope is a ridge; there are no valleys.

EGC - Design for Kevin's Land 2017-02 v3

We planned for roads to run along the boundary. They will be 5m from the edge to allow space for a hedgerow. Due to the heavy rains here, the earthworks contractor double-cambered the roads (highest point in the middle, sloping down to the sides) to help drainage. Some of the water will be diverted into swales to soak into the soil.

road

After digging the mudtrack, Kevin’s 4-wheel drive got stuck on the road once during a rain. He then decided to put gravel on the roads to help with traction.  We were very lucky that the earthworks contractor found some spots on the land with red gravel. Those gravel will be excavated and spread on the sloping roads. These spots would then become ponds. That would save lots of money. Local experience is so important! Continue reading

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Using Trees to Build Swales?

As I walk around the city of Singapore, I can’t help but constantly observe the grass, the soil, the trees, and the insects. It’s a job hazard and a rather enjoyable one. I have even become pretty good and figuring out soil fertility and moisture with my feet when I walk barefoot.

Recently I have been noticing swales. For those of you unfamiliar with it, swales have become synonymous with permaculture as they were popularized by Bill Mollison and other advocates of permaculture. In short, swales are water-harvesting ditches, built along the contours of a landscape. They slow down water runoff, trap the water, and allow it to infiltrate into the soil. However it’s not something new; traditional farming societies have been doing it for thousands of years. Terracing is but another form of swaling. To learn more about swales, click here.

Swale

Diagram of swale from Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway

There are actually quite a lot of swales around the city. Who is the hardworking permaculturalist? Continue reading