Pine Ridge reservation 2012 – Food forests!

March 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Projects, Pine Ridge Reflections

pine ridge erosionLast year’s tree planting and gardening at Pine Ridge has led to expanded plans for this year!  Our plans include three food forests at Pine Ridge this year, with three different organizations on the rez. We will also help install gardens and give classes on the techniques we’ll be using. We’ll be there from late April to mid-May, .  Planting will occur Apr 29, May 1-4 and May 5-9.

We still need volunteers! We have a Kickstarter campaign at

Pine Ridge reservation is a “food desert” in the extreme sense of the word. There are almost no organic foods being sold on the reservation. People often have to drive two hours or 100 miles to get organic or fresh vegetables or fruits.  Diabetes, heart disease and other diet-related diseases are at epidemic proportions on the rez.  The infant mortality and early death rates are some of the worst in the world.  Food security is a major issue.  The land is harsh – with severe, drying winds, hail in July, and freezes in June and August sometimes.  Insect pests are ubiquitous.   It can be challenging to grow things on this land.

Food forests are a way of working with nature to create stable ecosystems that grow lots of food.   We mimic how a natural ecosystem of trees would behave in this zone.  Because this is open prairie land and the main trees are pine forests, we will be experimenting to some degree to create a good microclimate for fruit trees. There are a number of successful orchards around that we are learning from.

Forests create milder temperatures (cooler in summer, warmer in winter), windbreaks, water capture, erosion control, and many other benefits.  One can have a small food forest in the backyard, or a larger one on a few acres.  Agroforestry is another version of using trees to produce food.  There are many advantages to all of these approaches and they can be integrated in the existing ecosystem in ways that enhance the ecosystem.

The Lakota are known for buffalo hunting, but they also traditionally appreciated the wild plant food that grows in the region.  We’ll be including native edibles traditionally used by Lakota in our food forest, as well as other fruits and nuts that are of interest.

Food forests provide a food system that mimics the ‘hunter-gatherer’ tradition of the Lakota.  We are creating demonstration/experimental forest gardens this year and will continue to document progress, make it publicly available, enhance the forests, and help plant new ones in years to come.  This is not a one shot deal!

We need donations of trees, seeds and plants,  irrigation piping and equipment, rain catchment containers, and funding for travel and food expenses for experts who will install and educate while there.  We also need volunteers to help with planting, and are looking for skilled volunteers to help install irrigation, water catchment, and other systems.

Two members of Grow Permaculture (formerly Permaculture Guild) Koreen Brennan and Bob Lawrason, will be headed to Pine Ridge in late April for approximately three weeks, from the Tampa Bay area.  We are looking for other volunteers to come up from the Tampa area to carpool and share travel costs.  There will also be volunteers coming from Oregon, Wisconsin, California and elsewhere.

Please consider a tax deductible donation via our donation Pay Pal button.

If you have donations of materials or would like to volunteer, please contact us via the web site!

Design services

September 20, 2011 by  
Filed under Design


As sustainable living consultants and designers we can help you save money while increasing your quality of life. We specialize in helping you create edible landscaping, organic gardens, passive heating and cooling retrofits in your home, and rainwater catchment. We guarantee that we will save you more than our consulting fee, if you follow our recommendations.

We offer a full range of services, from advice, to design, to installation. Many of our clients benefit from a one hour to full day consultation that helps them focus on how they should set up an edible garden. “What soil should I use? What plants should I plant and when? What plants will work together? How should I water and feed them?”

We go beyond organic gardening by working with nature, not against her. Our plant recommendations include many highly nutritious and unique plant species that are easy to grow in Florida, need little care, are drought tolerant, and provide abundant food in a short period of time.  Though many gardeners struggle to grow food in our hot, humid summers, summertime can be the most productive time of year for us, with delicious greens and vegetables growing through the season with almost no care or upkeep. We will bring unique solutions to your gardening challenges that will make your garden easier to care for, more productive and more attractive.

After a one hour consultation with Koreen, I put in a fantastic vegetable garden using waist high containers over the summer and am hooked on growing my own veggies now. Also I am using the Bokashi method of composting and LOVE it!  I then got a grant from our local water and power company to convert my lawn in front to native garden and I’m doing that now!  I’m having SOOO much fun with this new game.  So, I owe Koreen a big thanks for turning me onto a whole new world.  My plant kingdom is truly flourishing! Barb Dakin

We were impressed with the amount of useful information Koreen was able to impart to us in one day of design consulting. We had some ideas and plans for our 5 acre homestead but also a lot of questions. She was able to answer all of them and shared a lot more with us that we did not know was possible or would not have thought of. We love the integrated cob bench design, the detailed plant information, the energy savings ideas, and the water systems suggestions. We are excited about moving forward and can’t wait to try out some of these ideas. Scott and Leslie Brown

Click here for questions or to inquire about a consultation.

Edible landscape or garden design

We design landscapes to be both beautiful and functional.  An edible landscape is:

  • Organic – we use integrated pest management and other techniques to eliminate toxic chemicals

  • Natural – we design gardens to work with nature, rather than against her, thereby reducing work while healing the environment

  • Easy to care for –  less work than conventional gardens

  • Abundant – we use stacking methods and other space saving methods to increase yields in small spaces

  • Beautiful and interesting – flowers, colors and textures

  • Healthy – providing nutritious food year around

  • Economical – skip the fertilizer, and reduce your grocery bill with fresh, healthy food you grow yourself

  • Environmentally sound – we use water saving planting methods and other environmentally friendly techniques

We can also help you determine what to plant, when and how if you prefer to create your garden by yourself but need some help getting started.  We use our focused interview process to provide you with quality information that is specific to your needs in a short period of time. Interested in selling your food? We can help with that too.


Enjoy the aesthetics of a backyard pond that is a naturally balanced system. When you have all the elements of nature present, very little care is needed. Let us help you ensure those elements are there.

Small farms

We focus on increasing your yields in unexpected ways; we look for the edge, find ways to stack functions on your farm, we save energy and input costs, and tie it all together. We recommend gradient changes that are financially sound, make sense, and will create resiliency. We guarantee that our recommendations, if implemented, will save you more than our consultant fee.

Shelter and energy

We offer solutions for more sustainable living in your home, such as energy reduction analysis, consultations on planned renovations, and partnerships with green architects and builders to maximum energy savings, aesthetics and integration of the built environment with the food systems and water catchment.


1 hour gardening consult – $65. Travel is additional if site is more than 10 miles. Client receives a short questionnaire to determine interests and priorities. We will walk your site with you and give you specific plant, design and structural recommendations. This is great for people who want to design their yard themselves but would like to get some feedback.

3 hour consultation – $175 – Client will receive a questionnaire which is filled out ahead of time. This allows us to spend maximum time assessing the site and providing more in-depth feedback during our visit. We will discuss what your options are with you, and prepare a short written report that will summarize the key points. This is recommended for people who want a good overview of what their options are, but are not yet prepared to do a full design implementation on their site, or who already have much of the design work done but would like to go in-depth on plant selection or other details.

Full day consultation – $400 – Client fills out a questionnaire ahead of time, and we will walk the site with the client and go over detailed options, point by point. A full day allows us to delve into the design process, the integration and placement of elements on the site, and specific details such as plant selection and installation sequences and techniques that save time and money. You will receive a several page report summarizing key factors, including further recommendations, after the visit.

Full permaculture design – $400/day – designs usually take 3 days minimum; complex designs can take many days; discounts are provided on more complex designs.

A full permaculture design includes:

1. A site drawing that includes placement of permaculture elements including water catchment, plants, hardscape, etc. This drawing can be used to guide installation.

2. A permaculture analysis regarding the opportunities and limitations or challenges of the site and available resources.

3. A written description of the proposed design that addresses food production, landscaping, soil building, ecological repair, water conservation/catchment, affordable energy efficient retrofits, greywater and blackwater systems, on site energy production, education, culture, health, finance, community building, in an integrated, holistic manner.

4. A written program of implementation, staged to meet your needs (finance, timing, etc).

5. Recommendations for maintenance

Our services routinely prevent costly errors and provide clients with options they were unaware of that allow them to achieve something closer to their ideal, reduce costs and time, and provide more abundance.

Click here to introduce yourself and let us know how we can help.