We were given this small bee house to try to encourage bees to stay and thrive in our area. Along with a garden planted to attract pollinators, we hope to see more bees in the future, since there have not been many for the past few years.
The house has been posted along a safe part of our fence to lessen the possibility of harm from wind and other factors.
Most of the vegetables and fruits we eat at the lodge are harvested in the garden by our gardeners. SHI (Sustainable Harvest International) also provides workshops in this garden, and guests can volunteer if they choose to. We have some animals, two horses that substitute as lawn mowers, and pigs that help with composting.
The Dallas Arboretum is making efforts to research into and educate about water conservation practices in landscaping. Here, it displays a variety of plants that require less water than others, and an experiment towards ‘conservation turf’ as a possible sustainable landscaping solution.
During the summer, we grow fresh herbs on the roof of the restaurant. Among other items, we grow basil, mint, edible flowers, and tomatoes which, picked the same day, will probably be found in the dish or cocktail you order!
The entire way we produce our vegetables is sustainable. Our farming methodology is chemical-free, 15x more land efficient, and 20x more water efficient than traditional soil agriculture, requiring 95% less water. We occupy 1/3 of an acre with 7000 sqft of actual grow space, and can produce as much as 5 acres of soil. An integrated 30,000 gallon fishery provides the nutrients used to grow the crops.
Water is constantly recycled and reused over and over again, meaning that the vast majority of usage goes toward transpiration, and very little is lost to evaporation. Because nutrients and water are brought directly to the plants roots, they grow 50% faster, can be planted up to 10x more densely, and only use 2-5% of the water required for soil. Plus, you have a protein source in the fish. Our farms serve as a fully integrated ecosystem that brings perishable foods closer to the consumer and maximizes freshness and nutritional value.
We grow food in our organic gardens, using organic fertilizers and homemade seaweed concentrate. We focus on cooking local traditional dishes, and continuously plant in order to stimulate the bird and butterfly population.
On one of our roofs, we maintain this rooftop garden. Not only does it allow for a more efficient use of space, but it also serves to help cool the roof in the summer, as rooftop gardens can provide better insulation than standard tar or gravel use, and help to remove heat from the air.
Our park uses recycled water for irrigation, in order to prevent a drain on drinking water for the community in times of drought.
The visitor center provides information about creating pollinator and native plant gardens for hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.
- Growing native plants in your garden
- Planting a diversity of flowering species
- Not using pesticides or herbicides
- Providing sunny, bare soil areas for ground-nesting bees.
Pollinators are a vital part of maintaining our ecosystems. Many crops, plant species, and nearly every flowering plant on earth require help with pollination. ‘Somewhere between 75% and 95% of all flowering plants on the earth need help with pollination – they need pollinators.
Pollinators provide pollination services to over 180,000 different plant species and more than 1200 crops. In addition to the food that we eat, pollinators support healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize soils, protect from severe weather, and support other wildlife (Pollinator Partnership).’
Our family was given this bee and pollinator plant seed kit as a fun project and to add to our other pollinator-attracting plants in our backyard. Though we know it is important to research and utilize native plants for your garden, this was a nice activity for everyone, and we were excited to try it out.
The kit steps you through creating a mixture of clay and potting soil, adding the plant seeds, and making the cookies ready to go into the ground. We loved it, and hope our pollinators will be able to enjoy them too.
The lodge uses a number of reclaimed water troughs around the site, as large planters for a variety of flowers and plants. They fit in well with the surroundings, and create the aspect of raised flower beds.
Our ecovillage utilizes a biodigester as an excellent solution for sewage treatment. Biodigesters offer the ability to transform waste into usable energy, in the form of methane, and leftover product for fertilizer. Our biosystem consists of a biodigester (left), compensation box (middle), biofilters (right), lake of macrophytes (algae), and root zone (far right). It can be built with relatively low cost and ease, and does not require sophisticated materials or advanced construction knowledge to build.
The biofertilizer produced in the treatment process has no pathogens, due to the anaerobic fermentation it passes through, and is ideal for use in the maintenance of community squares and gardens because it does not pose health risks. It is consolidated as a perfect substitute for chemical fertilizers, which can be more expensive and aggressive to the environment.
The methane gas that is captured in the biodigester is of good quality and can be used in the kitchen of public schools, nurseries and hospitals, or, in large quantities, in thermoelectric plants.
Here in our reserve, initially, we built the biosystem with a focus on sewage treatment. However, the extraction of products from the process far exceeded the expectations foreseen in our planning, and today we have at least two hours of gas daily for consumption in the kitchen and workshop, while biofertilizers are used in the orchard, where we obtained a gain of productivity of at least 50%.