Planned Ecological Projects
It’s not very challenging to imagine new and fun projects to undertake at the Well Being Conference Center. Here are some currently planned projects:
Top of the Hill Event Area
The top of the property is about 400 feet higher than the Powell river. From up there you can see for a long, long way in almost any direction. You can see the white bluffs in Virginia.You can see across the Powell Valley. And, even in the winter-time when the leaves are down you can only get a glimpse of eight houses in the distance – with the nearest one about 1/2 mile away. No cell towers. No highway noise. Just wind in the trees. So it’s up there that we have graded about a half acre of flat ground for weddings, tai chi, games and events. This winter (2016-17) we will extend the road up here and will seed the area for a lush green lawn next spring.
A one acre pond is planned near the top of the hill at the center of the property. Ordinarily, putting a pond high on the property would be a foolish thing to do. But wait! Let me attempt to justify myself: The setting is dramatic with views of green hills stretching for miles into the blue haze; this location has slightly sloping ground unlike much of the property which is either too steep or is flat land along the river which could be flooded during extreme river conditions; the soil at the site is an ideal clayey soil which should work well for retaining water and there are about 5 acres of contributing watershed pasture uphill of the pond.
This will be a forever ongoing project. We intend to continue to plant trees and shrubs in selected areas of the Well Being’s land
for the benefit of wildlife including birds, bees, butterflies, and native animals. So far, for every two trees we’ve planted, the deer have eaten one. We’re still working on solutions. Apparently, deer can taste, and have a fondness for, the fertilized richness of nursery raised trees.
The main hiking trail that we would like to construct is on the west side of the property. With existing gravel roads and mowed pastures, you can walk along the river around the property for about 2 miles. However, there is one stretch of about ½ mile that currently prevents one from “circumnavigating” the property. Along this stretch, there is a steep hillside down to the river. Trail construction here will not be easy, but it will be a wonderful addition when it is constructed. For this purpose, we purchased a used mini-excavator (a Bobcat 322D for those desiring specificity) which has a track width of under 40 inches to navigate a narrow trail. This will minimize, but not eliminate, pick and shovel work. We also plan (at some time in the future) to build a trail from the Wood Duck Cabin to the North Meadows which includes the Bee Sanctuary, the Fruit and Vegetable Garden and the Pool. This trail will be only ¼ mile and is on level contour along a wooded hillside.
Aquaponics is the combination of rearing fish and raising vegetables in a closed loop hydroponic manner. The only input is food for the fish. The water from the fish tanks must be filtered and aerated to keep the fish healthy, so the fish wastewater is circulated periodically through a gravel medium in which vegetables can be raised. Tilapia will be the likely choice of fish because they can tolerate the warm summers here. Tilapia eat a vegetarian diet, are mild flavored, and grow quite quickly. (Don has raised Rainbow Trout before – in Oregon from fingerlings into 10 pound lunkers.) This fish/vegetable growing system would need to be housed in a greenhouse because the tilapia need at least a year to grow and they cannot stand water temperatures much below 50 degrees. This method of growing food has only recently been experimented with but offers very interesting possibilities since it is relatively self-sustaining once established and is relatively independent of soil/climate/weather.