Here is a partial list of presenters from previous years of the Convergence:
Koreen has worked with groups from corporations to governments to NGOs to neighborhood groups, using social permaculture skills to ensure success of whole systems design. She co-founded the North American Permaculture Convergence, is a Board member of Permaculture Institute of North America, a partner in Permaculture Design International, was founding Coordinator for Sustainable Urban Agriculture Coalition of St Petersburg, and runs a permaculture farm near Brooksville, Florida along with a local permaculture design and education organization, Grow Permaculture.
Andy’s pleasure is working with plants. His deepest field of study has been with the wild edible and medicinal plants that grace Florida’s wild places. He is the author of ‘Florida’s Wild Medicinal Plants’, soon to be followed by volume two.
Human systems such as: gift economies, barter networks, frugal living, primitive skills, guerrilla fruit tree planting, and peaceful anarchy “excite the be-jesus” out of him. He is the administrator of De Soto county’s free barter network. He maintains an heirloom seed company, and has been a wildcrafter since the age of 15. He has gathered wild herbs for Herb-Pharm and other herbalists in CT, NY and FL. Avid hiking and travels across Florida have resulted in the collection of 15,000 wild plant, gardening, and wildlife photos.
Since 1993 he has stewarded the two acre food forest and homestead Bamboo Grove in Arcadia. The property is home to a great collection of perennial vegetables and herbs that includes: over 200 heirloom fruits, 35 clumping bamboo species, medicinal plants, natives, a permaculture plants nursery and more.. All are welcome to contact him for a tour and free plants to sample. He has given away over 10,000 potted plants. “I specialize in true yams and culinary gingers. I travel anywhere in the state to obtain new and rare useful plants. I have visited almost 200 homesteads and farms in recent years.. ” Andy also stewards the Ithaca Forest Farm of upstate New York which is currently for sale, to the right buyer.
Bamboo Grove is host to four large garden parties each year in varied themes like ‘Bamboos’ and ‘Hardy Fruits’, that always include plant swaps. In April 2015, he began hosting wild edible plant walks featuring other leading and expert wild edible teachers. He individually leads as many as two guided walks, statewide monthly. He is the founder of YamFest! – the annual perennial vegetables celebration that was first hosted at HEART in Lake Wales. He presents slideshows for the Florida Herbal Conference, Permaculture Yogi, EarthFirst!, the Sustainable Living Conference , and our Florida Permaculture Convergence, and other events. These slideshows explore many topics, such as: Clumping Bamboos, Culinary Gingers, Perennial Veggies, Wild Edibles, the magnificent life of the gulf including butterflies, and their host plants. He also has presented studies on the wild plant foods of indigenous tribes , and touring the food forests of Florida. In hand with this rich experience, he also maintains an heirloom seed company.
Andy is working to propagate and reestablish several endangered cacti species, and is an avid shell fossil hunter.
He enjoys hosting community dinners, leading fruit safaris, sound like a rather busy schedule? Andy says, “Well in fact, I enjoy a relaxed life with plenty of time for graceful living!”
Jungle Jay Hardman
A lifelong Floridian, growing up in St. Petersburg, Jungle Jay attended Saint Petersburg College and received a degree in Secondary Sciences Ed. with Botany and Zoology concentration. Matriculating to the University of South Florida he studied toward a degree in Zoology. Seeking Social Sciences credit for graduation, he discovered Anthropology and his passion for studying the most intriguing creature in the animal kingdom, us.
He received his BA in Anthropology in the Archaeology track where he was honored to have been selected (as an undergrad) to lead the summer field school, an extensive survey of what is now New Tampa. With evolutionary biological perspective and intense interest in Early Man in North America, he entered graduate school in the Applied Anthropology Internship Project and worked on several Paleo-Indian mammoth hunter sites along the I-75 Corridor and its attendant Bypass Canal reservoir. From these projects he was recruited by the first and largest (at that time) Cultural Resource Management firm in our region. He has since been a field surveyor, excavator, crew chief and field director for many of these firms and has conducted excavations throughout the southeast US and island protectorates of the Caribbean, specializing in Florida’s unique landscape and varied heritage.
Throughout his academic and working careers, he had seen what the decline and collapse of civilizations looked like in the archaeological record. They occurred with regularity, if not periodicity, in ever more meteoric ascents and steeper declines. There are corollaries today. Because he had also seen what made prehistoric communities thrive, he became a prophet of hope rather than one of doom. In the face of geometric population growth, global climate change, the end of the Petro-era and the socio-political and economic consequences so closely linked to all; he feels there is an important message to be shared that will help to ease the transition to a new and prosperous paradigm.
In 2004, Jungle Jay retired from the itinerant life of Field Archaeologist, returned more permanently to his Tampa Bay Area home and community and rededicated himself to his prior passion for education, raising consciousness and fostering environmental sustainability and human resilience. In 2010 he became a Certified Permaculture Designer and Implementer.
Erica was raised in Naples, Florida and is dedicated to the development of sustainable landscapes in South Florida. She completed her undergraduate work with a double-major in Environmental Studies and Art at Florida Gulf Coast University in 2012. Her university experience included one year of service in the Student Government as Executive Director of Environmental Initiatives, two years as the assistant to the Director of Sustainability in the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, and two years as a student naturalist for the Colloquium Program, leading tours of natural areas and connecting students to concepts of sustainability. She completed internships at the Fruit and Spice Park in Homestead, at the Naples Botanical Gardens in Naples, and at Benchmark Inc in Ft. Myers as an Edible Landscape Designer. Her studies of ecology, tropical fruits, and design culminated in the design of the Florida Gulf Coast University Food Forest. After Graduation, Erica founded Florida Edible Landscaping LLC, which she currently owns and operates, designing and installing edible gardens for both residential and commercial clients. Some stand-out clients she has consulted and designed for include Pulte Homes, Marco Island Marriott, and the Rauschenberg Residency.
Erica received her Permaculture Design Certificate through The Permaculture Project, her Advanced Permaculture Design Certification in Edible Forest Garden Design through Perennial Solutions, and is a trained Permaculture Teacher through the Urban Permaculture Guild of San Francisco in Experiential Permaculture Education.
Terry Meer continues to plant and nurture seeds of change to create abundant communities. Growing up on a boat in the Florida Keys, he learned the importance of our valuable and limited natural resources early in life. He moved to Melbourne, Florida in 1989, where he began studying alternative energies and sustainability. Terry has taught classes on permaculture and closed loop eco-systems around the world including the United States, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Bahamas.
“My purpose in life is to express my qualities of compassion, commitment, and wisdom by joyfully healing, creating, and living mindfully to create a world that is naturally harmonious, magnificently abundant and a true reflection of the divine blessings available to everyone.”
Terry Meer started his career as a Behavior Analyst working with children with Autism. His compassion for humanity and deep passion for human sustainability with nature drove him to study Permaculture with some of our greatest teachers. He has studied with Permaculture experts including John Jeavons, Eric Toensmeier, and David Jackie over his 20 year Permaculture journey. Terry moved to Orlando, Florida in 2007 where he started the Green Education Center. Terry is currently the Permaculture Director at Sustainable Kashi in Sebastian, Florida that includes food forest, intensive gardens, and an off-grid eco-village all on 80-acres of beautiful riverfront sanctuary.
He has worked on several community projects including organic gardens for children with autism, free community permaculture courses, and a co-creator of the “Econ Farm”, a project in 2009 that was featured in Oprah Magazine. This project combines water catchments, solar power, organic gardens, mushroom farms, composting, and fruit orchards on a 1/4-acre residential setting. The house was designed to model the appropriate technologies available today and demonstrate how to decrease our dependency on oil and increase personal production of food and energy.
Jenny Nazak has lived and traveled in many places. She moved to Florida from Austin TX in 2010 and adopted Daytona Beach as her native place.
After earning her first Permaculture Design Certificate in 2005 from the Permaculture Institute (U.S.), Jenny became active in the Austin Permaculture Guild. She created a permaculture publicity job for herself and contributed to a sharp expansion in permaculture awareness in central Texas.
Jenny served on the composting crew at a large music festival for several years, and on the humanure composting crew at a Natural Building Colloquium. She did an internship on solar cooking and related technologies in Santa Fe in 2006. Through her workshops on solar cooking, Rocket Stoves, haybox cooking, composting, humanure, and other appropriate technologies, she has helped many people enrich and simplify their lives.
Physically, the largest obstacle to sustainable human settlements is overconsumption. With this conviction, Jenny counsels her permaculture design clients to meet their needs on a minimal footprint and keep the greatest possible area as Zone 5. She participates in the Riot for Austerity, a grassroots movement of people reducing their footprint to 10 percent of the U.S. average.
Overall, the largest obstacle to sustainable human settlements is failure of human cooperation and alignment. This failure arises from “rocks on the inner landscape” of individuals. Intuitively recognizing this from a young age, Jenny has been a lifelong student of consciousness — reading countless books, engaging in solitary wanderings, and undertaking established paths from Zen meditation to Western psychotherapy and 12-step programs, as well as various workshops. She is a licensed instructor of the Avatar® Course. (Avatar® is a registered trademark of Star’s Edge, Inc. All rights reserved.)
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Ecologist, farmer, designer, teacher and activist Mario lives and works in the Greater Everglades bioregion. He holds a vision for the necessary transition toward growing life-sustaining, resilient human communities everywhere. He participates in projects that accelerate a much-needed cultural evolution.
Mario has several decades of experience applying ecological design and system thinking in nonprofit/educational institutions and has a gift for creating cutting-edge programming and curriculum that is relevant, effective and fundable. In his practice as Permaculture Designer, he is applying ecological design at various scales, implementing regenerative landscapes, organizations, enterprises, foodsheds and social systems.
Thais is a community organizer and designer focused on creative and educational community based programs. She has focused on grassroots initiatives to help innovators grow more sustainable, dynamic and diverse communities with organizations such as Earth Learning in South Florida and Idea Me in Latin America. She received her Permaculture Design Certificate in 1999 from Douglas Bullock and studied Landscape Architecture at the University of Florida. She also holds a Masters in Environmental Science from FIU where her research focused on measuring the many benefits of permaculture systems in urban areas. She is currently a partner in FoodScape Designs a design/build landscaping firms with a unique vision to create self-sustaining edible and productive ecosystems, along with relevant programming in civic and private spaces of South Florida . Her specialties include project management, teaching, program design, and landscape design.
“Holding space for transformation and cultivating inspiration”, Loretta Buckner is a Course Designer with a B.A. in English. She began as an organic farmer in the late 1970’s, which morphed into what is now known as “Permaculture”, or Permanent Culture — a term coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Her educational foundations in Philosophy, Classics, and Psychology are well balanced with 30 years in business and finance. In 2009 like many in the current economy, she began a journey of hope in an attempt to get a better perspective on the future of life, the earth, and her human inhabitants.
This journey led through a yoga teacher training and founding the non-profit community garden project We Grow From Here, Inc. in 2010. Her creation Casa Seranita is an education center and demonstration foodscape begun in 2013. One garden leads to another and she now oversees two community garden projects in Pinellis County, T’s Market Community Garden Collective and The Sacred Space at Spirit of Life Unitarian Universalists. That has also spawned an onsite Environmental Learning Center where most classes are held and the home-school group THINK meets twice a year.
Loretta’s focus remains creating quality, creative education systems as she winds through the process of mainstream educational certification. This includes teaching an after-school and special events program called Mad Science. The most recent of these systems is a permaculture-based children’s program offered to homeschool groups and as an after school curriculum: Elementally, My Dear.
The mission: To cultivate an understanding of the intricate systems of nature so that we can all be at peace.
Eric Lewis is a lover of plants and an aspiring greenman who dedicates his energy to deepening the relationship between people and plants. Inspired by the work of world renowned ethno-botanist Frank Cook, Eric is continually encouraging people to respect the plants as individuals and eat something wild everyday.
Judith Gulko, PhD is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist for over twenty-five years. She has had a private psychotherapy practice in Coral Springs, Florida since 2002. She specializes in deep healing from childhood trauma, but also works with general life issues. She has done individual and group therapy in hospitals and clinics in Montreal, San Diego, and Broward, Florida. She has done research work, and has led many workshops and presentations on a variety of subjects from childhood learning of gender norms, to mindfulness, and healing from trauma. She incorporates perspectives and methods that allow healing and weaving together of the complex self-system that is the mind, brain, body, spirit, and relationships.
In 2010 she began to study permaculture: a true awakening. Psychotherapy – which can be framed as part of social permaculture – and ecological design and gardening have somehow each enhanced the other.
Judi served as co-organizer for the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Florida Permaculture Convergences, and treasures the connections that have emerged from that.
She spends much of her time as co-organizer and developer of the Rotary Community Garden and Food Forest of Coral Springs, which just won the Mayor’s Award for community and school sustainable gardens. She is a passionate supporter of local food.
Judi is from Montreal and has lived in the U.S. since 1991. In South Florida for the last 20 years, she resides with her partner in Wilton Manors, near Fort Lauderdale. She has two young adult children, one nearby and the other in Montreal.
Having the fortune of being born in the mountains of Colorado and raised in California wandering, camping, hiking, and fishing among the mountains, deserts, rivers and oceans, Nature was always close to Anna’s heart and an important part of her world. Her advanced studies were in Psychology, but it didn’t satisfy the need for a wholistic view of the human being. She moved on from traditional academia to starting one of the first natural foods restaurants in North Florida in the ‘70s, and became involved in the healing arts. Anna’s concern for the degradation of our environment, our food system and our health on all levels is center to all things in her life. Being a child of the 60’s, social issues were part of this concern and remain so as her understanding grows.
Anna was tapped by a medicine man to apprentice in Traditional Chinese Medicine including Acupuncture, Chinese Medicinals, Qi Gong, Chinese and other nutritional work, & Feng Shui. She was struck by the holistic nature of this medicine and the culture that grew it through the ages. This consumed her life for the next 30 years as she helped to bring this medicine into the legal world as part of a group who shepherded the legislation and rules & regulations to license Oriental Medicine in Florida. Personal studies and practice led into various energy medicine applications and understandings. Around 2007 Anna became aware of Permaculture Design and was immediately struck by the holistic nature of this concept and the application of its ethics and principles. Mirrored in her understanding of Oriental Medicine in so many ways, she was immediately in love.
After observing it for a year, in 2008 she acquired a piece of land and began to design a permaculture site. “At first I thought it was for my own survival, but soon began to realize that I was destined to create a permaculture learning center. For the last 8 years this aspect of pursuit of permaculture has dominated my personal world and continues on with more understandings and projects and visions. LuLuLand was born. Exploration is the key to what goes on at LuLuLand as I work with unusual structures with multiple functions. Many are related to water catchment and storage, and always with an eye toward bringing the functional and the beautiful into one.”
For 30 yrs Alex Ojeda worked as a graphic designer, all the while keeping an organic garden with his wife.
They would grumble about how little food we ever got out of those gardens, but noticed how the perennial ‘ornamentals’ grew like weeds. Deciding there had to be a different way, Alex looked around. He found the work of Masanobu Fukuoka and his mind was blown. So this was permaculture..! Living with efficiency, simplicity, debt free. On 4 acres of land dubbed ‘The Starwalker Project’ – that includes an Earthship, solar energy, super-efficient rocket and Jean Pain technology for heating, rain capture, humanure composting, and food forest – their goal is to live effectively ‘retired’ implementing permaculture.
“I’m happy to help anyone else get their start living the way I do today. I do a massive amount of community work and consultation. I am happy to speak for groups extolling the virtues of permaculture and living large in connection with the Earth’s energies.”
Matt Hunter, Jeff Trapani, and Justin Marcano will be speaking as organizers of Orlando Permaculture. This group began meeting in November of 2014 and has been outgrowing its expectations ever since. Originally formed as a way of getting together and sharing food, Orlando Permaculture has become a source of education, inspiration, and action based projects in the local community. Their group has been led by an evolving team of between four and seven dedicated individuals, who share a passion for creating true sustainability and resilience in the local community.
Orlando Permaculture meets regularly on the first Tuesday of every month. The meetings usually include plant shares, education, group activities, presenters, or collaborative design projects. They also do action days, event tabling, and team up with other local organizations and businesses. Their evolving form has been an organic evolution grown from group discussion, trial and error, and learning from outside organizations/models.
It is undoubtedly a transitional time in our global community with growing awareness of environmental, social, and resource issues. This global awareness is creating a renewed desire for local solutions and a renewed admiration for passionate local leaders dedicated to sustainable cultural habits.
Joseph Pierce aka “Micanopy Joe” has been teaching Permaculture since 2009 when he completed a permaculture design certification course in Gainesville Fl. Using the knowledge of permaculture he and his family run a small business in Micanopy Fl known as Mosswood Farmstore and Bakehouse where he bakes organic sourdough bread in an outdoor wood fired brick oven as well as building permaculture based systems such as a food forest and useful plants nursery.