On a 20-acre Mojave Desert site (read our story) we’re intensively planting 2 acres, creating a ‘food oasis’ surrounded by various plant guilds and other zones, as described below.
We’re inspired by the ‘food forest’ idea, and we’ve adapted the model to suit our arid, desert condition, hence the name ‘food oasis’.
Only some plants are Mojave natives. The rest are drought tolerant, arid-adapted, edible and/or useful plants that will likely do well here (in USDA Zone 9).
We believe this is a useful experiment in drought-tolerant farming with wider applications as the climate warms. Our goal is to create a knowledge base as we go along, documenting both the plants we’re growing and the growing techniques we are using to keep them alive and thriving in high-heat, high-wind, low-water conditions.
NOTE: This project is still under development. About half of the above is planted. And the plants are still very young, many planted as recently as fall 2016. We propagate some of our plants ourselves, as we’re often able to track down seeds from a plant that we desire, if not the actual plant.
A fully functioning ‘oasis’ is 10 years away, but in the meantime plants will mature and bear fruit and otherwise be useful — we hope — within months. Stay tuned!
See Plant List for a complete list of plants by zone.
Suggest a plant! We’re in USDA Zone 9, our average winter cold temps are in the mid-20sF.
Starting in 2014 we’ve planted a swath of mostly-native, fast-growing, easy-to-propagate, often nitrogen-fixing trees and shrubs to repair the ecosystem that was destroyed by the previous owners when they ‘scraped’ 12 acres and planted 1000 Asian Pear trees. We’re bringing moisture, wind block, shade and nitrogen back, and wildlife is now abundant.
Cactus, agave and yucca crops with a smattering of specimens and aromatic/medicinal shrubs; where dinners and events will be hosted:
Zone 1: Native Nuts
Zone 2: Mulberries
Zone 3: ‘Red’ Inner Oasis
Slightly heavier water users, many with red fruit, red tones or red leaves in fall
Zone 4: Fig Guild
Learn about fruit tree guilds
Zone 5: Stone Fruits and Carob Trees
Edible shrubs (mostly berries), tightly planted as a windbreak.
Honey Mesquite Guild
Native planting around three highly edible, nutritious and useful Honey Mesquites (Prosopis glandulosa), with a nod to Transition Joshua Tree.
Just for the joy of it, with a concentration of ‘female’ plants like the Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus).
The only area of the farm where we’ll plant annuals, using the Native American ‘waffle garden‘ method. We’re putting to use the existing pear tree basins (from the previous owner’s failed orchard) as ‘waffles’. We’re also experimenting here with various critter proofing techniques.
Medicinal Garden (with Peri Lee Pipkin)
Peri is our local Medicinal Plant guru. Buy her pamphlet, hear her speak if you can, she’s wonderful.