Wann Family Homestead

~ Level 1 – Site Assessment ~

~ Level 2 – Whole Site Design ~

Level 1 – Site Assessment

Location: Paso Robles, CA

The Land: The 6.3 acre property features nearly 2 acres of steeply-sloped former almond orchard above the main residence (now devoid of trees), ~2.5 acres of moderately sloped land around the main home, and just over an acre of relatively flat, usable bottom land. The soils are very thin, with a low water holding capacity and low organic matter content. The fill slope below the main residence is steep enough (44% grade) to discourage frequent, easy access. Non-native weeds and annual grasses require significant time and energy to mow each year and cover most of the property.

Work Performed: Standard Level 1 – Site Assessment including a Full Site Workup and evaluations of existing conditions for Water, Access and Structures with high level recommendations for next steps.

Existing livestock shed adjacent to main driveway. At the time of the initial site visit there was very little vegetative cover over the majority ofthe property.
Open area below the main residence, future site of outdoor school, school lunch garden, food forests and livestock shelter.
Existing conditions of the lower paddock below the main residence – dominated by star thistle and European mustards, this area of the property showed evidence of years of persistent grazing pressure. The path of green in the midground is mustard being kept alive by moisture from the leach field.

Existing Conditions Basemap

Existing Conditions basemap at Wann Family Homestead.

Level 2 – Whole Site Design

Project Scope: 7th Generation Design was invited by the Wann family to develop a Level 2 Whole Site Design for their 6.3 acre developing homestead in the hills just outside Paso Robles. The Wann family’s vision for their new home is to create an inviting and beautiful place to live, work and learn for current and future generations. Key aspects of their vision include an accessory dwelling for aging parents and different ambience zones around the living areas that allow for as much outdoor living as possible – including a meditation garden, food forests, home kitchen gardens, small pond with bamboo grove, and an outdoor education and community gathering space.

Additional design imperatives included addressing extreme top degradation by establishing perennial cover, patterning access routes to make steeper parts of the property more accessible, increasing passive water harvesting capacity in the soil profile, and planting diverse, perennial food-producing ecosystems with minimal input costs.

Grade measurements of the fill slope below the main residence. To help stabilize and improve access and usability of this land area, contour vetiver grass plantings were recommended in tandem with stepped and ramped pathways.

Design Maps

FIRST: Base map of existing conditions. SECOND: Final design map with living systems illustrated.

Work Performed

  • Comprehensive site survey, aerial base map production, and Minimum Holistic Goal facilitation.
  • Level 2 Whole Site Design Report – featuring…
    • Water system retrofit to increase on-site storage with additional tanks and create gravity feed to the residences.
    • Access routes for humans – stepped pathways at 25% grade and ramped pathways at 8% grade for all-ages access across the property.
    • Access path for tractor to handle the steep grades.
    • Structural orientation and siting for future ADU unit, with protected courtyard and attached pond.
    • CA native and bamboo hedge viewscreen plantings and privacy hedges.
    • Diverse, perennial food production systems – including food hedges (fedges), food forests, and Zone 4 nut tree plantings.
    • Native reforestation of upper paddock, integrated with Zone 4 productive, drought hardy plantings nut plantings.
    • Minor earthworks to improve rain water harvesting and infiltration on-site.
    • Off-grid energy system recommendations for the future outdoor school zone, along with outdoor kitchen and community fire circle.
Propose three-tier swale system, diversion berms, and water line retrofit from existing well pump to new proposed water storage tank location atop the property, capable of gravity feeding all use points for increase resilience during power outage and fire.

Thank you Wes and Casey!

We are beyond pleased with the Level 2 design you created for our homestead! We have jumped into a few projects already and we feel infinitely more confident now with your guidance and wealth of resources you have introduced us to. Most of all, we are so ecstatic to begin joining the regenerative movement and permaculture communities. The next few years will be filled with exponential learning, growth and healing. We owe such gratitude to both of you for your guidance, kindness, openness, and extensive knowledge. Thank you for being so creative, insightful and inspiring!

The Wann Family

Design Map Call-Outs Gallery