On August 19, 2022, the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture reported that USDA Secretary Vilsack has declared Worcester County, Massachusetts (and other neighbouring counties) primary natural disaster areas due to drought. You can read more here. Our farm is in this area. We have lost 90% of our newly-planted Permaculture Zone 2 orchard to the extreme conditions. The orchard is not covered under any kind of insurance, and it is not eligible for disaster relief from any government programs.
Not only is the lack of water an issue on its own, but it has caused higher-than-normal pest pressure in the form of small mammals chewing on succulent saplings and girdling them. We typically do not see this kind of activity until autumn and we prefer to leave trunks uncovered during the growing season.
We need to replace all of our orchard trees, at a cost of some $5000, and install a catchment and gravity irrigation system at the highest point in the orchard. The design for the latter will be the roof of a poultry house and aviary (sufficient for up to 200 birds), and incorporating catchment from the adjacent Quonset hut. The collected water will supply the birds as well as the orchard during establishment and dry periods. The orchard water will likely be distributed via weeper hoses, unless enough is raised to deploy capillary irrigation tubes. The poultry will supply eggs, meat, and compost (goat bedding can be made into usable compost in a matter of weeks within the aviary). The compost will nourish the trees and the Zone One gardens downslope.
The goal amount covers acquisition of a 3000-5000 gallon water storage tank, irrigation hose, poultry house and aviary materials, installation, and replacement of fruit trees and bushes.