Discovery Land Company - Explore the World Sustainably
For more than two decades, Discovery Land Company had prioritized sustainability by taking a low-density, environmentally sensitive approach toward community planning in its 26 project portfolio of private residential club communities.
“Sustainability has always been a big part of Discovery Land Company. Every day we are making strides to do more. Currently I am working on creating a larger scale regenerative agriculture program at each property. We are focusing on farm to table initiatives by working with local restaurants and the surrounding communities to donate food and teach kids how to farm. It’s a fully holistic approach” says Hunter Meldman, Director of Sustainability for all of Discovery. “One aspect I’m passionate about is farming and agriculture. It’s important as developers to be stewards to the land and to teach the next generation about proper land management, environmental practices and sustainability.”
Discovery communities all have specific regional sustainability efforts.
Driftwood Golf and Ranch Club
Driftwood Golf and Ranch Club in Austin, Texas, is an 800-acre property with a significant emphasis on sustainable water, food and development guidelines.
“At Driftwood, sustainability is inherent to our DNA and is the right way to develop a community, especially in the Texas Hill Country” says Driftwood Golf and Ranch Club President David Rhoades. “It is not only about mindful and thoughtful planning, but how the community can continue to make contributions for generations to come and evolve to be better.”
In addition to the property’s water conservation efforts, Driftwood is prioritizing environmental stewardship through the culinary program is a priority. Director of Culinary Operations Chef Jim Tripi is curating a hyper-local menu that is farm-to-table culinary redefined, with as many of the ingredients as possible sourced on-property or locally.
“Discovery gives way to build a program around local sources, artisans and seafood mongers, and as a chef, I fell in love with that,” says Tripi. “High quality doesn’t mean you need to ship it in – it could be around the corner.”
Tripi has been seeking out these suppliers regionally, sourcing locally raised beef, pork, wild game, and produce from within five miles of Driftwood.
Driftwood’s six-acre chef’s oriented organic, regenerative farm is currently under construction and will have rotating crops, which will be incorporated into the property’s seasonally specific culinary program. A community garden will also provide members the opportunity to grow their own produce in a plot or garden box. A large cistern will be filled with rainwater harvested from the residential homes to water the crops. The farm and other planned amenities – including an on-property apiary – will be encircled by homesites at the Creek parcel, one of the two parcels at Driftwood.
Water is one of the most important natural resources in central Texas. Properties in the contributing or recharge zones of the region’s aquifers have very specific and stringent framework in place for water use and water runoff.
The greater Austin region is in the contributing zone, which serves as a regional driver for various policies. On its 800 acres, Driftwood will have just 310 residences, meaning there will be large areas of undisturbed land where rainwater runoff enters the ground naturally.
Driftwood is building an injection well that will take harvested rainwater from around the community and put it directly back into the ground, ultimately recharging the groundwater. At the private residences, the harvesting system will collect at least half of the roof’s rainwater runoff.
Driftwood’s golf course irrigation will utilize treated wastewater to avoid using municipal freshwater or well water. Driftwood will also deliver sewer to the City of Dripping Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant and then return treated water for irrigation use on the golf course.
Residential lots at the property are subject to design restrictions via a specified development envelope to keep as much of the land in its natural state as possible. The envelope has three areas: building, transition and native. The building area is where structures are permitted; the transition area allows for other improvements like landscaping or a pool; and the native area is a buffer around the property, protecting the native Hill Country landscape. The same can be said of the golf course, where outside of the playable turf, there is protected native countryside.