Detailed breakdown of dates and topics for Tampa Bay weekend PDC

April 24, 2014 by Koreen  
Filed under Courses And Workshops

Below you will find a schedule of Fall 2015 PDC, and some of the highlights that we will cover for each weekend.  We provide glossaries, outlines, additional written materials, self-testing material, videos and more, to assist you to access and absorb the information. Please note that there are sometimes changes in this line up based on needs of students/instructor availability (we have sometimes had surprise visits by veteran designers for instance).

Weekend One

Permaculture principles, patterns and design

9 AM to 5 PM

Location: Clearwater, FL (14 Nov TBA, 15 Nov is at Moccasin Lake Park, Clearwater, FL)

Nov 14-15,2015

  • Learn to work with nature, instead of against her

  • Apply permaculture principles and design in any setting or circumstance

  • Recognize and use the patterns of nature to increase abundance

  • Get practical tools that can be immediately applied to your life to increase abundance and quality of life

  • Hands on design techniques – zones, assessments, sectors, mapping, and more

  • We will cover an overview of the scope of what permaculture is and what it can do for your life and your community

To register for this or all weekends, call Taina at 727-495-6145

Weekend Two

Secrets of the natural world – energy patterns of trees, water, land

November 21-22, 2015

9 AM – 5 PM

  • Special guest instructor

  • How to bring the magic of nature into every aspect of an urban environment through conscious design

  • Think like an ecosystem

  • Climates, strategies for temperate, drylands, tropical, subtropical and changing weather patterns

  • Rainwater catchment and sustainable water use

  • The transactions of trees – mimic the powerful energy transactions of trees in your design

  • Simple  secrets of building soils – how to grow lush, healthy plants anywhere

  • Broadscale applications with water and soil – transforming the landscape

  • Hands on techniques for preparing your land for regenerative abundance

Weekend Three

Growing food sustainably and abundantly

Work with nature instead of against her to create abundant organic gardens

and “food forests” that need little work to maintain.

December 12-13, 2015

9 AM – 5 PM

  • How to grow food in Florida, the easy way, from seed to harvest

  • Jump-starting a food supply – feed yourself within one season

  • Integrated pest management (organic)

  • How to design and build a Florida friendly forest garden – plant lists, guilds, step by step implementation, propagation, low-water and no-water techniques, and more

  • Animals in a permaculture system

  • Hands on techniques

  • Container gardening, aquaculture, urban farming, agroforestry, small integrated farms, making a living by growing food

  • Wrap up of food forestry specifics – designing, plant choices, etc

Field Trips and Hands-On Activities

See what is going on locally that will impact our future, get hands on experience,

and define careers and purpose.

Dates – 9-10 January 2016

  • Get into the garden and plant! Hands on intensive will assist you to integrate classroom learning.

  • See examples of permaculture in action.

  • See “green” buildings, organic farms, etc, and get feedback from experts on how to improve the designs using permaculture principles.

Weekend Four

The built environment and appropriate technology

January 23-24, 2016

9 AM – 5 PM

  • Learn to retrofit your built environment to reduce costs and help the environment

  • Ctting edge “green building” and how to solve problems of the built environment yourself with creative, low cost or no cost solutions.

  • Natural building techniques

  • Alternative energy and technology

  • Appropriate tech workshop – solar power, rocket stoves, and more

  • Putting it all together – integrating the off grid homestead for maximum production

Weekend Five

    Financial and social permaculture – invisible structures

February 20-21, 2016

9 AM – 5 PM

  • Creating a regenerative local economy

  • Alternative approaches to creating abundance – how and why do time banks, local currencies, etc, work?

  • Business and community guilds; how to create abundance through connection

  • Social, economic and energy aspects of city and town life – practical solutions that work

  • Urban design – visible and invisible structure design for the specific challenges in cities and towns

  • Community building strategies and social permaculture

  • Intentional communities, increasing quality of life through permaculture design

Weekend Six

Saturday: Disaster permaculture – creating resilient systems, where do we go from here?

Design presentations

March 19-20, 2016

9 AM –56 PM

  • Efficient ways to create more resilience for yourself, family and community.

  • Design for disaster – key elements to understand.

  • Where do we go from here? Options and resources.

  • Sunday: Really Free Market, design presentations, and afterparty

Bill Bilodeau: urban permaculture and community building

December 3, 2012 by Koreen  
Filed under Grads in Action

Bill and Grow Permaculture student volunteers at the Faith House

Bill and Grow Permaculture student volunteers at the Faith House

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.

Chicken and kenaf symbiosis

Chicken and kenaf symbiosis

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.

native pollinator hedge

native pollinator hedge

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 Stewart walks the talk

December 3, 2012 by Koreen  
Filed under Grads in Action

eric stewart

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,, 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.

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?

Apprenticeship opportunities in Tampa Bay

August 22, 2012 by Koreen  
Filed under Grow Permaculture, Projects

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.

- 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.

Pine Ridge reservation 2012 – Food forests!

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

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 Koreen  
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.

Apprenticeships at Pine Ridge

September 4, 2010 by Koreen  
Filed under Pine Ridge Reflections, Projects

Apprenticeship, volunteer and internship programs on Pine Ridge. Read more