Big Bend Community Land Trust Vision:
Our purpose is to acquire and steward property in the Madesi Valley for the demonstration of permaculture principles, educating and training our community and the public about the incredible viability of these techniques, and providing nutrition in a regenerative farm environment. We are supporting the sustainable growth of the local economy of the Madesi Valley through producing an abundance of healthy foods and other cultural projects.
Here are some ideas from a current BBCLT Director:
Ideas for Big Bend Community Land Trust
By Scott Vermilyea, 2017
1. Develop a General Plan that can be used as a template for other small communities (find out what will entice eco-friendly grants and donations).
2. Build Flagship Facility
A. Incorporate commercial kitchen/dining with canning, baking, coffee shop, etc.
B. Small shops for individual businesses (such as delivery and package store, computer tech & web services, wifi hot spot, etc.)
3. School of Ordinary Skills (SOS)
A. Establish what skills will be taught (such as rope/knots/rigging, cooking/preserving food, gardening, working with tools, music lessons, computer skills, etc.)
B. Build appropriate facilities (kitchen, shops, etc.)
C. Enlist knowledgeable people in each category (find local people with appropriate skills)
4. Make Water Agreement with Shire Springs (adjacent community property) to set up a gravity-fed overflow spring line water system for BBCLT.
**CLT and Shasta County Zoning and Master Plan:
Big Bend is unincorporated, so the County planners made it a “Rural Community Center” (RCC) for their (county-wide) zoning and land use Master Plan. The Big Bend RCC is a square, made up of four sections (a section is a specific 640 acre square, so the BB RCC is 2560 acres!). But more than half of the BB RCC is already zoned “Timberland” (TL) or “Timber Production” (TP), and locked up in the hands of the clear-cutters. These lands are very difficult to change zoning because the TL and TP zones are geared towards maintaining timber producing land as timber producing land. There is an option to get a “Less Than Three Acre Conversion” permit, allowing a caretaker family to live on TL or TP land and homestead a three acre area, leaving the rest of the land in timber production.
The Shasta County Planning Division map below shows the Big Bend RCC, with the Timber Lands (TL and TP) are shaded Green, the MU zoned area is Pink, and the RA zoning is shaded Yellow:
So, the easily useable land contained in the BB RCC is actually WAY smaller than 2560 acres, since the areas of the “Community Center” (meaning our unincorporated town) that are slated for farming, residences, stores and restaurants, bed and breakfast, etc. make up a little more than one fourth (.25 or 25%) of the whole RCC! These areas of the RCC are mostly currently zoned “Unclassified” (U), but they are each slated for specific zoning, which is usually brought in to replace the U zoning, when a development is proposed. Most of the BB non-timber RCC parcels are slated to be “Rural Residential” (RR, or sometimes called RA) zoning. This includes the properties known as The Shire, The BBCLT, and most in-town parcels, all the way to the western edge of the RCC. There is also a strip of “Mixed Use” (MU) zoning designation, mostly right along Big Bend Road, in the center of town (Big Bend’s “Main Street”). *The MU zoning is discussed later down this page…
The RR zoning seems to be a good fit for many of the CLT goals and the goals of BB residents. RR zones allow each parcel to have two legal residents, and to farm and raise livestock, and to sell agricultural products grown on the premises. That sounds good, but it gets even better… Could BBCLT open a Community Space, with a Café, Coffee Shop, or a Restaurant on the farm parcel? (See below for discussion of answer)…
Looking Back: Celebrating the Good Old “Taste of Home” Cafe in Downtown Big Bend (in the heart of Big Bend’s tiny MU-Zone)…
In the fine print describing the allowances in an RR zone, it also allows uses that are “similar in character and impact” to the listed “Permitted Uses” and/or the “Use Permit Uses” list. So, it appears that many ideas and dreams for CLT possibilities can likely come true, within the current zoning allowances. The lists of “Permitted Uses” and of “Use-Permit Uses” allow a bunch of uses that the CLT can argue are “similar in character and impact” to whatever the community and the Board of Directors CLT decides to do. For example, we previously discussed the zoning and thought it would not allow a restaurant or a café. But upon closer examination, some uses are allowed, that are indeed, quite “similar in character and impact” to a restaurant or café. Here are some of the “Permitted Uses” and the “Use Permit Uses” listed by Shasta County… Do you think any of these allowed things are “similar in character and impact” to a restaurant or brewery?
RR Zone “Permitted Uses” and “Use Permit Uses”:
Two Residences, Farming, Livestock, Farm Product Sales, Group Foster Home, Church, Dog Kennel, Large Animal Vet, Golf Course, Wholesale Nursery or Greenhouse, Commercial Riding Stables, Pet Cemetery, Small Winery, Logging Contractor’s Yard. Do you think any of these allowed things are “similar in character and impact” to a restaurant or brewery (or whatever other land-use dreams come into the discussion…)? It would seem so. In fact, several of these listed acceptable uses would likely have their own cafeteria, dining facilities, and that’ seems to be similar in character and impact to a small restaurant. And, a brew pub is sort of a cross between a Winery, a Church, and a Foster Home! So, i believe with the “similar in character and impact” allowance, the BBCLT will be able to do whatever is ideal for the land and the community. Positive Vision!!
The other zone overlay in town: MU
MU Zone “Permitted Uses” and “Use Permit Uses”:
Just up the road from the BBCLT, the BB RCC and County Master Plan also designate a very small “Mixed Use” (MU) Zone area in the “Downtown” strip of BB. It consists of several parcels on “Main Street”, running from Indian Springs School (ISS) to the Pit Stop Store, Trailer Park, part of the Ghetto, Wendell’s, and the old “Taste of Home” spot. This MU Zone has various types of permits, but the long list includes/allows Residential, Small-Scale Farming, and almost any commercial use you could think of, as long as it’s low impact, non polluting, etc. With a Use Permit, the MU zone even allows all kinds of stores, restaurants, hotels, auto service station, bowling alley, church, warehouse, car dealership, kennel, winery, theater, and on and on…
BBCLT is based on an incredible 34 acre farm in Big Bend, California, nestled at the edge of the downtown center of this very small rural mountain valley town. Formerly known locally as “The Duck Farm,” this beautiful and diverse paradise is becoming a productive community farm and a regenerative agricultural educational center in the tiny blossoming ecovillage. The farm has abundant water resources (including a spring-fed creek and a large pond), fertile pastures, a small orchard, and some forested sections. It also has a three-bedroom house, a two-story barn, a quonset hut, and several sheds.
Our initial project on this incredible site using these powerful tools and techniques available to us will be produce a wealth of food production as well as be a showpiece for our whole town. The experimental Hugel Maze Garden will increase the planting area available in the North Pasture, while fostering micro-climates for diverse plant growth. The BBCLT hopes the Hugel Maze Garden will evolve into a very pleasant picnic-type garden environment, bringing pleasure into the lives of everyone who enters. This monument will become a haven of bio-diversity and food production that will astound the many visitors it attracts and create an economic force in the community, producing a prolific abundance of all kinds of food.
There are many amazing tools in permaculture today. Of the kind championed for years by Austrian rebel farmer Sepp Holzer, the “Hugelkulture” or in english, “Hill Planting” or “Raised Bed” is one of the most effective. It goes much of the way to completely solving most of the problems of traditional farming and gardening.
Hugelculture of this kind was installed at BBCLT North Pasture, using a locally borrowed trac-hoe excavator in 2013-2014. The wood at their heart serves many purposes including the holding of vast amount of water while their decomposition generates heat and nutrients for the plants around them for many years to come. The high and steep sides of these hills (in Holzer style, more than head high) prevents soil compaction in addition to more than doubling the planing area. The heat, moisture and windbreak this hill creates serve as a perfect micro-climate, allowing a broad range of growth.
In the future, the experimental Hugel Beds will likely also be planted with fruit and nut trees, perennials of every kind mixed throughout, and even some grains and green manure crops. The following season, pigs can be integrated into the system. The pigs will be the main workers in the system, as they eat all that’s left for them, while tilling the soil in the process. Finally, the chickens follow, breaking everything up even finer.
Following the animals, we can replant the Hugel Beds, with appropriate ground cover plants in the wide pathways. Then, the selection comes throughout the season as we manage the farm, harvesting selectively to thin, while encouraging the most-desired plants and crops to thrive.