Mapping the field

In my daily work, “mapping the field” is a figure of speech, a spatial metaphor in which “field” refers to a scholarly field or field of study, and “mapping” is mostly done through literature reviews or other forms of text. This past year, however, as we started working with Rainwalk Design to create a permaculture garden, I have gained a better understanding and appreciation of maps of physical fields.

The first stage of the design process involved a series of maps showing the layers of elements that need to be taken into consideration, including dominant wind direction, sun exposure, potential for water storage, need for irrigation, potential for raised beds, and plant locations.

The first is a “sector map,” and it is one I don’t like to dwell on too long because it shows very clearly how vulnerable we are to forest fire. The second is a “water map,” which shows how and where we will be harvesting, storing, and distributing water. It also shows where berms will be added to help with water retention, especially in sloping areas. The third is a “soils map,” which shows not only the location of garden beds and berms but also the types of planting intended for them (especially based on sun exposure.) The fourth map shows a detailed planting plan for the front rock bed, which will be mostly for perennial fruits and vegetables. Three raised cedar beds on the west side of the driveway (the three diagonal green stripes on the soils map) will be for annual vegetables.

We are eagerly looking forward to seeing the water, soil, and planting plans come alive, so that we can add some photos of three-dimensional spaces to these two-dimensional maps!

Sector map
Water map
Soils map







Planting plan