Rob is the creator of The Food Waste Fiasco, a campaign that strives to end food waste and hunger in the U.S. He has dove into more than two thousand dumpsters across the U.S. to demonstrate how nearly half of all food in the U.S. is wasted while 50 million (1 in 7) Americans are food insecure.
Rob has cycled across the U.S. three times on a bamboo bicycle bringing his message of sustainability and earth-friendly living to the nation. His first bike ride across the U.S. is now a book, Dude Making a Difference.
In 2015 he lived off the grid in a 50-square-foot tiny home in San Diego before auctioning it and raising enough money to build 10 tiny houses for people with no homes.
In 2016 Rob landed in Rio, Brazil without a penny in his pocket on a mission to travel to Panama, 7,000 miles and 7 countries away, relying on the goodness of humanity. He currently lives in Orlando, Florida where he is contributing to food freedom for his community through the Free Seed Project, Gardens for Single Moms, Community Fruit Tree Project, and Community Compost. Rob donates 100% of his media income to grassroots nonprofits.
When it comes to food, Jillian shares a healthy love affair with all things fermented! From Sauerkraut and Kimchi’s to Tepache and Kvasses…Jillian has been experimenting with fermenation for almost a decade and fortunate enough to study under the beloved fermentation revivalist, Sandor Katz.
Currently residing in Sarasota FL, Jillian also known as “The Ferment Lady” travels seasonally throughout the state as an educator spreading the love of bacterial goodness, hoping to inspire others to keep this tradition of food preservation alive. In her downtime, you can find her foraging around Florida’s wild habitats as she is passionate about local natural resources. Facebook
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 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.
Koreen is a veteran permaculture designer and educator. She stewards a permaculture farm in West Central Florida, has designed numerous food forests and farms, and has been a community organizer focused on regenerative solutions for over 20 years. She has worked in multiple ecosystems around the US and in a number of other countries with a focus on subtropical.
She is a Co-founder of North American Permaculture Convergence, Board member of Permaculture Institute of North America, member of Oglala-Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative, and was founding coordinator of Sustainable Urban Agriculture Coalition of St Petersburg.
Born in PA, Jon has lived in the Tampa Bay Area since 1956, with his first working skills digging trees with a Pony Shovel, He graduated from Largo High in 1967, returned from Vietnam 4 years later, earned an AA in Business from HCC and owned a landscaping service and retail garden center with wife, Debbie, who early on taught about edible landscape plants and gardening at the Cooperative Extension Service. Jon began his passion for sustainable living by installing his first solar water heater during the Carter Administration. Son Casey was born in 1984 and around that time Jon set the radio to 88.5 FM; since then, he’s been growing fruit trees, palms and vegetables in Plant City on their 54-acre EcofarmFL in pursuit of community and sustainability.
Eric Lewis is a lover plants and aspiring greenman who dedicates much of his energy to deepening the relationship between people and plants. inspired by the wise words of world renowned ethnobotanist Frank Cook, Eric is continually encouraging people to respect the plants as people and eat something wild every day.
Bill Bilodeau of St. Petersburg is a retired landscape gardener and designer and a past president of the Pinellas Chapter, Florida Native Plant Society. He was a founder of the permaculture group Gaia’s Guardians and a co-founder of the Eco-Village Garden formerly known as the Faith House Garden, a popular urban agriculture demonstration garden now in existence for over seven years.
Currently Bill is the vice-president of SUAC, the Sustainable Urban Agriculture Coalition, whose mission is to promote and support urban agriculture in southern Pinellas County. Facebook
Don Hall has had the good fortune to participate in the Transition Movement in a variety of capacities over the past decade. Initially serving for two years as the Education and Outreach Coordinator for Transition Colorado, he went on to found and direct Transition Sarasota from 2010 to 2016. A certified Transition Trainer and experienced facilitator, Don was named Co-Director of Transition US in 2017. He holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Leadership from Naropa University and currently lives in Sarasota, Florida.
Lee Perry is a Bachelor’s Degree alum from the University of Central Florida with a major in Environmental Science. Seasonally, she teaches children at an ecology camp at the Ed Yarborough Geneva Wilderness Area in Seminole County. For years, she worked on the board of the Native Plant Society while educating young students during an internship at the Environmental Science Center. Throughout her life, she was raised in the garden and plans on dedicating the future to her passion occupation as the Fleet Farming Director.
With this position, she is immersing herself in various communities while spreading the mission of minimizing the ecological footprint of the agriculture industry by converting lawns into micro-farms. This program is increasing fresh produce accessibility while training the next generation of American farmers. To her, Fleet Farming is a true solution to combat the detriments of the agriculture industry and shift a culture to change the cycle of food. Facebook
Anthony Paglino was born and raised in Tampa. Since graduating from the University of Florida in 2008 with a degree in economics, Anthony has lived in China and California exploring culture, cuisine, technology, spirituality, and ecology. Anthony moved back to Tampa Bay in the fall of 2015 to be the primary caregiver of his mother who was dying from cancer. After her passing in the spring of 2016, Anthony decided to heal Mother Earth by building a new infrastructure that works with rain as our primary source of water. Anthony also enjoys doing handstands on random things and quoting The Simpsons.
A seasoned and innovative permaculture consultant, educator, researcher and innovative land steward, David helped to plant his first food forest on the island of Guam at age 7. He was sent to the United States as an orphan when he was 16. In college, due to many city zoning citations for his agricultural and green-energy experiments on a small city lot, he purchased 13 acres for a home and permaculture research.
In 2007 David returned to the island of Guam for a consulting project to find his childhood food forest, a self-sustaining and regenerating cornucopia of nutrient dense food. The contrast between the food forest and the surrounding conventional farms inspired David to dedicate the next 10 years to research and large scale food forest food production on his 120 acres in Oklahoma.
Thanks to both the education and mentorship of Geoff Lawton, the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia and may others, David has succeeded at researching and developing methods of large scale food forest production using swales, insights from extensive observation, and innovation. The researched methods of planning, integration and observation have proven to not only restore land but cause exponential growth of topsoil, diversity, nutrient density.
David has a Bachelors in Business Administration with a study emphasis in Economics and International Trade. This equips David to teach and apply Economically realistic designs that can be applied on the large scale and show a surplus.
David’s consulting portfolio includes over 10,000 acres of production across the nation.
In 2011, David started research and development in off-grid solar power applied to permaculture. Over the past 6 years he has engendered, installed and managed over 100kw of solar power resulting in over 1000Mw of sustainable energy harvest.
He has worked professionally in every major climate zone across the nation, consulting on homesteads, farms, cities and intentional communities.
Thanks to many great mentors, clients, friends and our beautiful universe, today David lives, works and plays as a, Food Forest Designer, Permaculture Educator, Large scale regenerative agriculture consultant, Solar Power Engineer, Wholistic Life Coach, Community Planner, and Friend.
Thais is a community organizer and designer focused on creative and educational community based programs in the area of sustainability. She has focused on grassroots roots 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.
Thais studied Landscape Architecture at the University of Florida and holds a Masters in Environmental Science from FIU researching sub-tropical perennial polyculture systems. 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.
Her specialties include project management, teaching, program design, and landscape design.
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 author of “Florida Foraging: Volume One: 150 Common Wild Edible Plants of Florida” to be printed in the Spring of 2018.
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. Andy has been a wildcrafter since the age of 15. He has gathered wild herbs for Herb-Pharm and herbalists across the country. Avid hiking and travels across Florida have resulted in the collection of 30,000 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 over 1,000 parks, homesteads and farms in Florida in search of unusual plants. ” 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’, and always include plant swaps. In April 2015, Andy began hosting wild edible plant walks, often featuring other leading and expert teachers. Over 30,000 people have attended these walks, and he leads as many as two each month throughout the state of Florida. . 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; touring the food forests of Florida; and is working to propagate and reestablish several endangered cacti species. He is an avid shell fossil hunter. He enjoys hosting community dinners, and 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.
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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Cristy has extensive experience in permaculture design and education, teaching regularly since 2009. She uses a variety of creative techniques to address different learning styles. She focuses on isolating the most important aspects of the subject — to create a context for understanding and give students concrete tools they to think with and use.
In a society with information overload, it is not the amount of information one has, but focus and relevance that creates competence and understanding. Her goal is to assist in achieving a deep understanding of a subject and apply techniques in a broad array of situations. She has also learned to make that learning process enjoyable.
As a designer, her focus is on helping create abundant edible landscapes, self-sufficient sites, resilient and high yield small farms, and successful intentional communities. Specialties include soil building and remediation, water catchment and use, planning urban and rural integrated farming, energy use reduction, and building with more resilient solutions. She deeply appreciates the value of both beauty and utility, striving to meld aesthetics and practicality together to create designs that last, that work, that minimize care and expense, that produce abundantly, and are beautiful.
Over the past five years, she has been involved in the local food movement. Cristy is a huegelculture practitioner. She has served on the leadership team of Gaia’s Guardian book study group to provide open discussions and exploration of permaculture techniques in the community. She organized and participated in the design and development of the Faith House Garden permaculture training and education center.
Cristy organized and led a book study group of “Transition Town Initiatives,” a vibrant, grassroots community initiative seeking to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis. Transition Initiatives differentiate themselves from other sustainability and “environmental” groups by seeking to mitigate these converging global crises by engaging their communities in home-grown, citizen-led education, action, and multi-stakeholder planning to increase local self-reliance and resilience. They succeed by regeneratively utilizing local assets — innovating, networking, collaborating, and replicating proven strategies and respecting the deep patterns of nature and diverse cultures in their place. Transition Initiatives work with deliberation and good cheer to create a fulfilling and inspiring local way of life that can withstand the shocks of rapidly shifting global systems.
Since 2013, she has developed program curriculum and directs education and training programs at PARC (Pinellas Association of Retarded Children) in St Petersburg, providing opportunities for children and adults with developmental disabilities to exercise their independence and experience life to the fullest. She provides the services necessary to turn disabilities into capabilities with learning capacity building activities that enable individuals to function in jobs in gardening or agriculture and car wash operations. Cristy shares her skills as a highly effective interpersonal communicator, her humor and empathy, as well as her understanding of human behavioral development to assist individuals in achieving their highest possible capabilities.
For over 30 years, Wendel has been teaching people to grow food. As a county extension agent and a Peace Corps Volunteer, he concentrated on appropriate technology, composting, organic crop production, edible and native plant propagation, and resource utilization. He has been farming organic fruits and vegetables since 2006. His first exposure to permaculture was in 1993 in the Philippines; he’s been composting humanure since 1997..
This year, Ed joins the Convergence as a member of the planning commitee. A collaborative, caring and creative leader, speaker and teacher Ed is dedicated to raising awareness of our connection to the earth and its natural abundance by educating, designing and implementing systems that improve the lives of people while regenerating the Earth and creating a surplus that can be shared with all life
After retiring from a 35-year career with Pitney Bowes, which provided him with a solid background and experience in process engineering, budget management, problem analysis and leading highly effective teams focused on changing the current paradigm, he embarked on a journey to understand man’s connection to nature each other and our world.
Over the past 10 years he has explored and studied how to utilize Nature’s regenerative, collaborative and healing power to restore our mental and physical health as well as creating healthy ecosystems that provide real wealth and security for all earth’s inhabitants. This led him to certifications in Permaculture Design by the Florida Permaculture Guild and the Permaculture Institute as well as facilitator certification in the Natural Systems Thinking process and as a Florida coastal naturalist.
For the past 7 years he has designed and managed the Unity Community Garden, an ecological food Forest developed using Permaculture design techniques. He facilitates people in Reconnecting with Nature, teaches Permaculture design to adults and youth, and speak to groups and installs gardens. He is an active volunteer in his spiritual community.
Ed’s newest venture he hopes to kick off in the fall of 2108 is the Permaculture Enterprise Initiative, a collaborative effort to develop business models that provide for people while caring for the earth.
Sheris Arneberg Patten
Here is a partial list of presenters from previous years:.
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.
Artist and Naturalist, an Independent Environmental Educator….A Gaia Devotee, Johnny is also a 7th Generation Floridian who utilizes his numerous creative talents in the celebration, protection and exaltation of Mother Earth. In addition to being available for commissioned Murals, Paintings and Drawings, he also offers instruction in various Contemplative Practices including Reiki, Chi-Kung, Meditation and Asian Brush Painting
Jeff Trapani is a Program Director of Orlando Permaculture and former Program Coordinator for The Hive Orlando and IDEAS for Us. In the last four years, he has transformed his suburban home in north Orlando into an edible and herbal food forest. He currently teaches science and sustainability for the International Connections Academy (iNaCA), a K–12 online private school which offers a fully accredited U.S. education to students around the world.
Yuan Chang is the Creative Director for Orlando Permaculture and founding member of The Peanut Butter Palace cooperative. For the last four years, she has been actively experimenting with permaculture and intentional living at the Peanut Butter Palace. She is currently organizing a holistic cooking series through Orlando Permaculture, researching many aspects of holistic nutrition, and embodying the mad scientist fermenter.
Robert has been the Director of the City of Orlando’s beautiful Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens for twenty four years and earlier served as the Director of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Director of Horticulture of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis, Missouri and the Director of Horticulture at Westbury Gardens, Long Island, New York.
He has a BS from Florida A&M University in Horticulture and Landscape Design, and an MBA from the University of Michigan.
Throughout the U.S. and Caribbean, Robert’s delightful photographs and enjoyable essays can be seen in a wide variety of gardening magazines and professional journals. His book, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Gardening: Plant, Grow, and Harvest the Best Edibles by Cool Springs Press is in its second printing. The well-received Florida Top Ten Garden Guide, published by Time Warner/Sunset Books, is considered by many to be the standard reference for home gardeners in the Sunshine State. He travels extensively giving practical and entertaining presentations on a wide variety of gardening topics.
Malory learned the value of growing food as a farm intern with Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms on small farms in Florida and North Carolina. Through this experience, she realized the uphill nature of small farming in the current paradigm, and vowed to use her efforts to make ethical food production easier for farmers. She now works with the University of Florida IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program to assist nutrition education sites with policy, systems, and environmental changes. She assists school and community gardens in three counties as well as organizes garden educator trainings. She has had the pleasure of getting to know the work of City and County planning staff and food policy councils who are making strides in ordinance updates for urban agriculture, and she has been able to assist lending technical information on agriculture and food systems in the process.
Malory is a registered dietitian and completed her Master of Science degree in Sustainable Food Systems at Green Mountain College and her Permaculture Design Certificate with the Green Education Center. She hopes to coalesce her background in nutrition, love for urban farming, and passion for food systems remediation to contribute, in camaraderie with a diversity of others in our community, to an ever-improving, nutritious, and accessible food system.
“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.
Sickness enlightened Keith to health early in life.. The refusal to be sick led him to an undergrad in exercise and health sciences. His Masters in nutrition led to a PDC in Permaculture and the study of Herbs. His continuing education is study for a Doctorate of Natural Health and Nutrition. “My education cones from my passion to learn and seek various experiences to combine knowledge and wisdom. I have been studying Compassionate Communication or Non Violent Communication (NVC) to further my ability to serve people and get what I want.”
For Keith, the meaning behind health is finding a pathway to health. The meaning behind Permaculture is to make life more enjoyable and healthier for all inhabitants of the earth including the planet itself. The reason for NVC is to get what we want and help others get what they want, simultaneously.
Keith has worked in the health industry for over two decades as a personal trainer in NYC, CT, and FL and has taught at Broward College in FL. He has traveled to Costa Rica, Jamaica, CT, and CA to learn more about farming, natural living, herbalism, permaculture, and community living.
He is currently a full time mother and father of the wonderful JAI OM, he owns 1/3 of an acre in Hollywood, FL dedicated to permaculture. He hopes to eventually move to an 10 acre location a bit north-west.
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.
“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.
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.”