I chose water because it was the most critical factor in my decision.
I chose a Food Forest as my best option because it already exists. There are five acres of mixed Pinyon Pine (Pinus edulis), One Seed Juniper (Juniperus monosperma), and Gambel Oak (Quercus gambellii). It is a mature ecosystem that withstood a recent 11 year drought in reasonably good shape.
These trees grow well on the existing soil and produce a large amount of food for wildlife and for me. I will not tear this successful system down, I will build on its strengths. I will also increase its diversity, much of which may have been lost during our long drought.
Each native plant I add to the mix is intended to increase the strength and stability of this basic biome and includes sunflowers, wild parsnip, bearberry, Oregon grape, elderberries, blackberries, service berries, and the fruit trees like crabapple, wild plum, and wild cherry that I add. It also includes wild violets, amaranth, prickly pear and tree cholla. All of the additions improve the circular economy of this property and it’s place in the entirety of the East Mountains.
All of these plants can live on this property without soil amendment, digging, plowing, watering, fertilizing, or backbreaking labor. It is the easiest way to live because everything is natural to its location. It is also the best support of wildlife. All the wildflowers and native grasses are the understory.
I can eat entirely within this system and as I get older the forest itself will feed me without much input beyond harvesting because these will increase and multiply with most of my effort given in advance on speeding up the process of diversifying the forest understory.
As I get older, the Food Forest will get richer and my desire to play in the hard work garden may go away.