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3Canyons Permaculture Farm

After almost three years of living and thriving in Colorado our current plan has changed dramatically from the initial layout. Unforeseen roadblock's allowed us to utilize permaculture principles to capitilize on every swerve.

3Canyons Permaculture Farm Emerges

It never works out quite like you planned and that is why we utilize permaculture principles in everything we do. The original Oppenheimer Ranch was supposed to be on Robert Oppenheimers actual ranch. Which we originally name Oppenheimer Ranch and where we began working hard to establish the Oppenheimer Ranch Project. Unfortunately, proper prior planning did not foresee the difficulties living in such an extreme environment, as well as the difficulties with the covenants related to the property and the owners association. Nevertheless, we continue to survive and thrive learning as we go every step of the way. 

After the first year on the mountain we decided we needed to be established a little bit lower in topography to be successful in establishing the type of bio-diverse permaculture farm we were aiming for. Additionally, we had learned that any covenants or restrictions on land, whatsoever, is always working against your best interests. Amazingly the universe provided us with the amazing land we are currently developing at 3Canyons Permaculture Farm in the Lower Blanco Valley


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Phase 2. Gathering Materials and Equipment

It's important to get started building as soon as possible because our aspirations for the first year are exceptionally high. We need to begin erecting a barn immediately if we want to have a chance to get food in the ground, a permaculture orchard started, and an earthship livable and ready for winter. That being said, we're going to need a ton of materials to make this happen. The large polebarn we are planning will house the heavy equipment that we'll need for our continued building. We have a great deal of digging to do to build the earthship and a loader will be invaluable for that task. The barn will also be home to a sawmill that will allow us to make great use of the deadwood on our land for everything from the vigas for the roof of the earthship, to outbuildings, to small bridges over the Rito Blanco River and Porcupine Creek, and more.


We're going to need wood – a lot of wood. So as far as the sawmill is concerned, we're not talking about one of those chintzy mounted chainsaw jobs. We're talking the real deal – a 15 horsepower Norwood LM29 portable band saw mill. It has a capacity of 3500 board feet per day, which is very well-suited to the vast quantity of millable lumber laying around the property. We will rely on this tool for generating custom lumber for all our homesteading needs including most building construction. Unfortunately the lumber for the barn will have to be purchased at a local lumber yard because of time constraints, but at least that purchase will bolster the local community as a side-effect.


Every farm needs a tractor, right? Well, no, not really, especially not a no-till no-dig permaculture orchard and farm like Oppenheimer Ranch... right? Wrong again. We absolutely need heavy equipment to pull off our intended stunts in the time allotted. So after much thought, we decided to procure an LS XR3037H Tractor. We made that choice for a number of reasons, including the very important service/warranty package and unrivaled support provided by Legacy Tractors , family owned & operated by Gary & Janet Farkas in Fort Collins Colorado. The tractor will have a loader with 2200 pound capacity, forks, a snow plow, a rear PTO chipper, a post-hole digger, and a backhoe attachment. This machine will be able to do everything we need and will be integral to our first year accomplishments. Thanks Gary!

Phase 3. The Earthship Build

The central piece of our organically grown, self-sustaining homestead will be, appropriately, an earthship, which we are in the process of planning and designing now. We need to actually be on the parcel to assess and get a feel for the location and final design elements of our future family abode. Earthships are bio-dynamic structures that need to be carefully woven into the existing environment for maximum symbiosis. Bryan has introduced us to a local engineer who is quite familiar with earthships and numerous “alternative” construction styles and has signed off on and helped acquire permits for such designs across the country, so our confidence is high that our earthship plans will get good reception with the local county permit office.


We are going to be using the basic global model earthship plan with some modifications that we feel are necessary to improve upon the design. Our earthship will be slightly deeper and higher than the standard model in order to accommodate a larger front greenhouse and provide more headroom. We feel this will not compromise on thermal efficiency too much and we will compensate by bolstering the R-value of our roof insulation and poly-iso barrier that the rear of the earthship will be wrapped in. The tentative start date for building the earthship is June 1, 2015, giving us a good 4-5 month window to complete the build with the help of numerous volunteers just like you. Best of all, we plan on filming it all and sharing the victories and struggles along the way with you all in our regular weekly and monthly video and picture blog right here on the website. Won't you come play?

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