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Vision Report for Maui Agriculture

Published: Monday, 18 April 2016

Koreen Brennan is now a partner with Permaculture Design International, a full service permaculture design and build firm that designs and manages installation for regenerative farm, ranch, and village scale projects. This collaboration of designers that have complimentary skill sets and credentials allows the team to deliver to large projects and complex needs. 

The firm recently completed a report recommending strategies to transition from a 36,000 acre monoculture sugar cane plantation to a systems-wide regenerative polyculture solution, commissioned by Maui Tomorrow Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting responsible land use planning, community design, and sustainable growth for Maui County. 

The partnership is working on a number of other projects internationally and is looking forward to continuing to contribute to broadscale transition to regenerative living. 

The full report and media coverage for the Maui Tomorrow project can be found here:!maui-tomorrow/vlk7z 




Permaculture Farm Immersion and Whole Farm Design Practicum

Published: Monday, 28 March 2016

We have a beautiful permaculture farm sprinkled with native oak and pines in West Central Florida six miles from a major wilderness area on the Gulf of Mexico.

We are offering apprenticeships to hard working and focused individuals who desire to learn a number of skill sets on a new, working farm. You will have an opportunity to participate in planning, installation and building of systems as well as maintaining and running them. This is a great opportunity for people who plan to start their own small farm and want to learn the ins and outs of moving smoothly from a start up to a resilient, regenerative and economically viable operating farm, or people who just want to see and get some hands on experience with a number of different permaculture systems in one location.





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Question Everything

Published: Saturday, 25 July 2015

One night, during my first extended visit to Oglala Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative, an 8000 acre ranch at Pine Ridge Lakota  reservation, I was sitting near my tent under a billion stars thinking, “It’s so quiet.” And it wasn’t just that I couldn’t hear cars or other city noises. The emotional agitation of millions of humans was resoundingly absent. And perhaps more importantly, my own agitation was absent. There was “nothing to do” but sit there and feel the earth on my feet and just be. 






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Cloud Forests of Costa Rica

Published: Friday, 01 May 2015

What is a Cloud Forest?

We still have some openings for our Permaculture Design Course in Costa Rica. We'd like to share some background on the cloud forest, where the course is located. 

The cloud forest is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet, with hundreds of species of birds, and thousands of species of plants. Monteverde has

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Ancient water catchment techniques

Published: Friday, 06 March 2015


Indigenous people have developed exceptional water catchment and storage techniques over the ages, out of necessity. We'd like to share a few that we are most impressed by, here:

These photographs of water catchment in the Altilano of Bolivia illustrate techniques adopted by permaculture designers, used in a very challenging environment. The water canals, similar to "chinampas" (see next link), help regulate temperature which can be quite variable on the high, dry plains. The rock piles can also regulate temperature and also hold moisture. We find the on contour canals especially interesting, a way to spread water through the landscape and allow it to sink in. 

Chinampas, which are man made fingers of farmland surrounded by water on 3 sides, are a viable solution for farming in Florida where land may flood during heavy rain events. There are many styles of farming on water or the water's edge, and many cultures have incorporated some version of this style of farming. It is a form of aquaculture as it utilizes the fertility created by a living body of water to feed plants. The Aztecs used chinampa style farming with great success. 

Many believe that chinampas subirrigate plants, but some of the biggest advantages appear to be fertility and frost prevention. Chinampas are not necessarily a good solution for wetlands, as wetland systems provide highly important ecosystem services to the surrounding areas including water purifcation, flood protection, shoreline stabilization, groundwater recharge, streamflow maintenance, and habitat for fish and wildlife including endangered species.  In Florida, a number of wetlands are protected because of the importance of these services to the survival of major urban areas and farmland (groundwater recharge, purification and streamflow maintenance being key). 

With a modified version of chinampas, we use sheet mulch to create raised beds that can then absorb water in a major rain event, while preventing plant roots from standing in water. 

Terraquaculture is one of the most sustainable ways of growing crops in the world, and has been used for many hundreds of years in Asia. One of the most interesting aspects of this agriculture for us is the necessity for farmers to cooperate closely in order to control the flow of water, especially during heavy rains and drought. This system spreads water throughout a mountain slope through a series of terraces and gates.  A characteristic of many ancient water systems is cooperation and coordination between everyone who is dependent upon the water. 

Terrace field yunnan china

Native Americans in the desert southwest, many of whom have been farmers for thousands of years, developed a number of methods to water their crops. They used complex systems of canals, planted crops in shallow pits to catch more water, and slowed water in streams and rivers to prevent erosion. They placed rocks in strategic places to slow water flow and protect soil. Like many indigenous cultures, they observed what water was doing in the landscape and replicated the structures that brought great results. 

The Hopi used springs to water their crops and had spiritual traditions that ensured that the springs would not be overused and run dry. They, like many tribes, also developed cultivars of staple food like maize (such as Hopi blue corn) that are highly drought tolerant. Some indigenous cultivars have been lost because of cultural upheavals, and springs on the Hopi Mesa have been going dry, in large part because Peabody Coal has been drawing down the aquifer to slurry coal. Water wars in the west have intensified because of the drought and Native Americans are fighting to maintain any water access.

One organization that is doing some great work incorporating some of the ancient techniques and enhancing them to revitilize desertified lands is the Quivera Coalition.

We continue to learn much from studying ancient food production and water conservation techniques. The best of these techniques have been in use for hundreds of years or longer, because they work. These are a few of hundreds of techniques used by indigenous people that would be far less damaging to soils and ecosystems, less damaging to underground water supplies, less expensive, better for plants, and more drought resistant than modern irrigation methods.

Some of these techniques are still in extensive use, like terraquaculture, but are losing ground to modern, much less sustainable agricultural practices. The history of the destruction of these techniques is a history of bad design decisions ending in tragic results. This tragic destruction, which may need to remedied for several generations in the future, could have been avoided by applying these concepts, from Bill Mollison: "Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals (and humans!) in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system."

For further study, see:


Hibiscus House Design

Published: Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Outdoor showers are a great way to capture water and also create an aesthetic and enjoyable addition to your home. In warmer regions outdoor showers can be used year around. In temperate regions can be used during the growing season and provide a great climate for water loving plants like elderberry, mint and willow. A recent client considers her outdoor shower as a meditative and sacred space and indeed, they can be quite beautiful and meditative.

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Permaculture courses to get college credits

Published: Sunday, 10 November 2013

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.

Our new name – Grow Permaculture!

Published: Sunday, 10 November 2013

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!

Apprenticeship opportunities in Tampa Bay

Published: Sunday, 10 November 2013

We are offering apprenticeship or “shadowing” opportunities to course students in several exciting projects we have ongoing. We are working on 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 permaculture projects for Pine Ridge reservation. We have extensive projects ongoing in the areas of food, building, culture, economics, and energy.
- Work with a food forest at HCC campus.
- Plan an urban permaculture farm. 
- Be involved in planning for an intentional community in Central Florida on acreage. This project will include all aspects of the permaculture flower. 
- 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.

Living Bridges – permaculture design inspiration

Published: Sunday, 10 November 2013

Working with nature, rather than against her, the people of Meghalaya in India have created a beautiful design for a bridge that will survive heavy flooding. This is an exquisitely aesthetic and informative 5 minute video that you won’t regret viewing, or forget! How could we incorporate the lessons from this amazing design solution in our own lives and communities?