Bill is a real pioneer species. After taking the first two weeks, on site permaculture design course taught in the state of Florida at age 77, braving primitive conditions and unexpected wind and freezing temperatures to gain the knowledge, Bill started a small book study group on the book Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway, in his home town of St Petersburg. This group helped build a permaculture meetup site to over 500 members, and created a groundswell of permablitzes, backyard and front yard permaculture gardens, and hundreds of people introduced to the concept of permaculture. When it came time to choose a name for themselves, they became Gaia’s Guardians, a fitting name for what this group is doing.
As a veteran native plant landscaper and now a permaculture designer, Bill was the ideal person to help establish a permaculture project at the Faith House, a transitional housing organization with 1/2 acre of land given over to grow food for the participants in the program. Along with Emmanuel Roux, another energetic pioneer, and many volunteers who lent their hands and backs to the project, Bill has created an organic garden paradise on this lot. Complete with several dozen chickens, a kenaf forest to feed them, an exotic looking banana lined and papyrus stocked pond, native pollinator borders, numerous productive vegetable beds and a budding food forest, this plot provides a large amount of food for the Faith House, with leftovers for volunteers. A number of 275 gallon containers catch rainwater from the roof, and a well provides clean water to the garden. The site gives a boost to new community gardens by collecting pallets and dock wood for raised beds, and tools and other materials. You can find Bill working in the garden on just about any Wednesday or Sunday morning, and pitch in and help, if you like.
Bill’s own home permaculture garden is a regular and favorite stop during the permaculture home tour that is organized by Gaia’s Guardians. From the weeping yaupon holly and other beautiful natives, and the huge kale and watermelon growing on his hugulkulture bed in his front yard, to the large abundant backyard overflowing with perennial edibles and potted permaculture plants for sale via his permaculture nursery, to his greywater and rain catchment systems and pond, Bill’s garden is a great example of how permaculture style organic gardening can create abundance, and a real nice place to hang out.
Bill regularly tours permaculture students, school classrooms, and others through the Faith House, and shares his wisdom and experience on creating community through permaculture style gardening, via our Permaculture Design Courses.
Bill has taken his activity up yet another notch as one of the original members and continuing very active member of the Sustainable Urban Agriculture Coalition of St Petersburg. This Coalition is a diverse group of individuals from many walks of life who want to see both the city and the environment become healthier and reap all the other benefits available through growing much more local food. Bill heads the Education committee and is very active in the Board selection committee, Community Gardens committee, and as an advisor for new community gardens. Bill’s community involvement is truly inspiring – he has gone above and beyond to bring permaculture to his community.
Eric is one of the more dedicated and enthusiastic designers we have met. He didn’t wait to finish the course, but got one project started during the PDC itself, creating a food garden at a Habitat for Humanity site in Pasco County. He has shown many other people the advantages of permaculture through personal contact and an active permaculture web site, Codegreencommunity.org, that provides support and information to permaculturists in the greater Tampa Bay area. And most recently, he has become co-founder and one of the driving forces of a local food co-op in Pasco – Suncoast Food Co-op. https://www.facebook.com/groups/264378686981983/?ref=ts&fref=ts
He has transformed his yard into a food forest jungle complete with a pond ecosystem and much more – showing his neighborhood how to make food, not lawns. And he is selling the food he grows to the cooperative. How much carbon is he reducing by growing and selling food locally, eliminating thousands of miles of travel and the energy and pollution associated with pesticide and herbicide use, and by setting the example, influencing others to do the same?
We are offering apprenticeship or “shadowing” opportunities to course students in several exciting projects we have ongoing. We are working on all of these from the Tampa Bay area, Florida. There is a lot happening, a lot that needs to be done and if we work together, the sky is the limit!
- Plan and implement a permaculture design for a city park.
- Plan and stage multiple food forests designs for Pine Ridge reservation.
- Work with Greenwood neighborhood on planning a permaculture community garden, and get it created.
- Help with fall planting and ongoing care for an expanding permaculture edible perennials nursery.
- Sit in on strategic planning for broadscale implementation of sustainable urban farming with Sustainable Urban Agriculture Coalition of St Pete.
- Work on creating and expanding financial permaculture models, including innovative urban farming cooperative ventures, link-up, beneficial connection and integration of permaculture energies around the Bay for mutual benefit, start up businesses that get support from the existing community, time banking, etc.
- Work on community projects, including art gardens, neighborhood place-making, etc.
Last 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 http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/892430421/pine-ridge-reservation-food-forest-2012-0
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!
We consult, design and install sustainable systems in your home, business, or farm, that can help you save money and live healthier, all in environmentally friendly ways. We address the four necessities – food, water, shelter and energy. We can consult in just one of these areas, or all of them – we offer a full range of services, from advice, to design, to installation.
Edible landscape design and installation
We design landscapes to be both beautiful and functional. An edible landscape is:
- Natural – we design gardens to work with natural systems, rather than fighting them
- Easy to care for – less work than conventional gardens
- Aesthetic, beautiful and interesting
- Healthy, providing nutritious food year around
- Economical – skip the fertilizer, and reduce your grocery bill with fresh, healthy food you grew yourself
We offer an unusual selection of attractive plants, both native and non-native, that grow well in Florida conditions and will provide abundant food in small spaces. We can also give you great advice on what to plant, when, and how, if you want to do it yourself but need some help getting started. We can usually save you at least the amount of our consulting fee and can provide you with a lot of quality information in a short period of time. Interested in selling your food? We can help with that too.
Do you live in a small space, but you would like to produce your own healthy, organic food? Try aquaponics. Aquaponics is water efficient, energy efficient closed loop system for providing a large amount of food in a small space, even an apartment!
Rain catchment, irrigation and water filtration systems
We can provide your irrigation needs via rainwater catchment, so that your plants are getting the purest water available to them. We also provide whole house filters and items that make your water come to life and bring you new levels of health and vitality. Want to use pure, filtered rainwater for all of your needs? We install rainwater catchment and filtration, or help you to do it yourself.
Enjoy the aesthetics of a backyard pond that is a naturally balanced system. When you have all the elements of nature present, there is very little care needed.
Tired of putting chlorine in your pool? Would you like to use that resource to produce abundant food, and have a beautiful natural pond in your backyard? We can convert your pool to a pond, using wetlands techniques. These are very aesthetic additions to your yard, and can also be stocked with fish and edible plants. The pond can be linked to an aquaponics system that can boost your vegetable production tremendously, as well.
SHELTER and ENERGY
Solutions for more sustainable living in your home – we offer 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 natural world.
Apprenticeship, volunteer and internship programs on Pine Ridge. Read more