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.
We are changing our name to more closely reflect our mission. We are focused on spreading the knowledge and practice of permaculture everywhere, to create more abundance, resilience, quality of life, and healing of both people and the earth.
Our projects include using permaculture to improve conditions in high poverty urban and rural areas with degraded lands, and working with schools, governments and organizations to educate people on the regenerative possibilities of conscious design. We create demonstration sites so people can see, feel, taste and smell what that is like.
These are non-profit activities that are supported by our for-profit education and design business. We offer high-quality education and aesthetic edible landscaping and other permaculture services via this service.
We feel that a Permaculture Guild has a very specific function of coordinating permaculture activities in an area and providing support and resources for professional permaculture designers and those who want to become professionals. While we do provide support to the permaculture community in a number of ways through volunteering and other resources, we feel a better way to describe the relationship is as a sponsor of Guild activities. It is not our main function to coordinate or facilitate all of the permaculture activities in our area, as a guild would do.
We love the abundance and regeneration inherent in the word “Grow” and we feel there is nothing more appropriate or needed than nurturing and growing the concept and practice of conscious design – far and wide!
Many Topics covered! Read more
Both the Permaculture Design Course at Pine Ridge and Urban Permaculture Design Course at Tampa will offer college credits from local colleges. We will have the course numbers available soon, but if you are a student, please plan on being able to purchase three credits from your local college for the course.
Writing from the rez – the course is starting to wrap up with students going off into their own world, working on their design projects. I’ve been working with OLCERI (Oglala Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative) for several years and helped raise funding for their initial projects, but this is the first partnership for Permaculture Guild and OLCERI.
The course was held on an 8000 acre cattle ranch on the rez, run by Bryan Deans. Bryan also heads a youth organization called Running Strong, which gives Lakota youth experience training and riding horses on the ranch and gaining other traditional skills.
Some of the students who arrived early for the course helped raise the tipis that dot his pasture amidst horses and a round pole shade shelter.
Bryan has many projects ongoing – homemade wind generators, veggie oil biodiesal, straw bale retrofit of flimsy homes, super efficient heating stoves using “waste” fuels to counteract the sometimes brutally cold winds that sweep the rez, and a plan to provide food for the rez on tribal common lands, a return to the wildcraft gathering ways of the Lakota. Bryan’s ranch is an ideal place for permaculture design – so many resources yet so much damage. Illegal overgrazing by a white rancher on tribal lands has created huge erosion and water catchment problems which permaculture is well-qualified to solve.
Our expert guest permaculture instructor, Warren Brush, has communicated many ideas about how to regenerate rangeland, not only to catch water, but to again grow the tall prairie grasses that have been unable to find a foothold in the denuded landscape. He has shared knowledge about intensive raising of grass fed cattle and other animals, as well as integrating multiple systems such as aquaculture (fish and water plants), food forests and more. This is big country, with lots of potential.
The students are learning about Lakota ways and perspectives as they absorb knowledge about weather, natural patterns in landscapes and in communities, living soil and water, and the transactions of trees and how all of these relate to designing for abundance in human systems. They are also getting practical hands on knowledge – how to create a 21 day compost pile, how to do a cold frame graywater system, how to make energy efficient stoves.
Bryan’s vision is large – he wants to regenerate all 2 million acres of the reservation, he wants to use straw bale to retrofit the very energy inefficient housing that dots the rez, for warmth in winter and coolness in summer, he wants to create food forests all over the rez to feed his people and he wants to create a sustainability school where anyone can come to learn about how to live a truly sustainable life. There are others on the rez who also share large visions – how appropriate for the Lakota to lead the way in teaching sustainable practices.
The Permaculture Guild wants to back up this vision, and in conjunction with OLCERI, we are planning a series of courses on regenerative practices at the rez next year. One aspect of the program will be a youth component, where youth programs at Pine Ridge will team up with Permaculture Guild to create an apprenticeship program for youth on and off the rez. Skills will include natural building, cattle cutting and herding, native wildcraft and herbs, permaculture design, wilderness survival and tracking, etc. Career mentoring will be included as a part of this program as well.
Other workshops will include straw bale and super adobe building, water systems, wind turbines, biodiesel production and of course, permaculture design. Warren Brush has agreed to return next year to bring his wisdom and expertise on permaculture design to a new group of PDC students in September. More news soon!
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