February 2, 2022

A-Frame - noun

Definition: A tool, resembling the letter ‘A”, made from locally sourced materials used to mark out the contours, or level lines across a hillside where ditches can be dug and vegetation planted to reduce runoff, erosion, and land degradation. 

A-Frames in the Forest Garden:

For a farmer planting a Forest Garden on a hillside, an A-Frame is a critical component to contour planting. To fully benefit from an A-Frame, it is essential that it is calibrated to correctly identify the level lines of the sloped land. If a farmer incorrectly marks these lines in their field, runoff can build up and flow along the vegetation, potentially causing more erosion and damage than would normally happen, even without the use of contour planting.

Follow these steps calibrate an A-frame: 

  1. Use string and nails to connect the wood/stick. Tie a string to a rock (anything that will weigh down the string) and attach it to the top of the A-Frame so that it hangs across the horizontal bar of the A-Frame.  
  2. Place the A-Frame on level ground and mark the spot on the ground where each foot of the frame is placed.  
  3. Mark the spot on the horizontal bar of the A-Frame where the weighed down string hangs. 
  4. Next, with the legs remaining on the ground, rotate the A-Frame 180 degrees so that the feet of the A-Frame have now switched spots, with foot A resting where foot B was and foot B resting where foot A was. 
  5. You will once again mark the spot of the horizontal bar of the A-Frame. 
  6. Once you have made the two marks on the horizontal bar, you will need to find and mark the midpoint or exact middle between those two marks. 
  7. Once you have marked this point, your A-Frame will be calibrated. This midpoint is where the string should cross, showing you where the level ground is. 

Learn how to construct an A-frame in Chapter 8 of the Technical Manual

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