There were times for us when most of the food our family ate came from a box, package, or drive thru window — times when we let the day-to-day overrule our health and how we showed up in the world. We were much heavier back then. And I was suffering from debilitating diseases because of it.
If that’s you, but you’ve really been craving solutions to live healthier AND make a difference in the world, read on. The solutions could be closer than you think. (HINT: Artichokes need companions too!)
In 2014 we moved into a home with only three mature fruit trees on the land and a lot of rock! In a few short months we transformed it into a thriving food forest and turned our corner lot home into a community hub. Not a day went by without us stopping to chat with neighbors or pluck food from the garden that ends up in our meals.
It’s the most joyful act of resilience we could have ever done, until we moved to Nicaragua in February 2017. And now we are putting down MORE roots here using these principles.
Tierra Chicas is a regenerative gardening video course and Facebook group designed to show you how grow food, restore soil health, build community, and be resilient — at any scale — conveniently viewable on your desktop or laptop computer, or favorite mobile device.
Tierra Chicas course features conversations with leading experts in gardening, soil science, urban gardening, and more. In the comfort of your home:
(From my book — Buzzing Blooms for Bees: How to Grow a Food Forest Seasonal Coloring Book — a BONUS given when you enroll in the Grow Your Green Smoothie Course!)
A plant guild combines three or more plants to mirror the qualities of an ecosystem. You can produce food, build healthy soil, and provide forage for pollinators all at the same time! Think of long-term health for your food forest.
Fruit trees, young and old can benefit from a guild, mimicking nature. Adding a plant guild or polyculture around each of your fruit trees can boost their health and production and grow soil in your yard and farm. From there you create a layered food forest, as depicted in the coloring page.
Permaculturist, Bill Mollison began using the food forest layer concept in teaching permaculture because the interactions of the layers of a perennial forest garden do so much of the natural work of supporting a bountiful food system.
To make the most of the energy of the layers working together, it has been suggested that all layers be planted together in a new forest garden. Many layers have been incorporated into our Blooms for Bees list.
Our plant list (in the book) also shows in what layer of a food forest each plant lives and its role or functions, like fertilizing, protecting soil, or plant dyes. When you create a food forest that uses plants in a variety of ways, that’s called stacking functions. It’s a core permaculture principle.
Stacking functions makes the garden grow itself, giving you more time to chill and enjoy your space and more yield. We’ve got more about stacking functions in our Grow Your Green Smoothie video course.
The Grow Your Green Smoothie Course is like taking a 3 day seminar in the comfort and convenience of your own home. I think my future gardens can’t help but be healthier and more productive with all the new information I have learned.
I loved watching and listening to this course. Even though I consider myself eco-literate, I found myself pausing the talks, scribbling notes, rewinding and watching again.
I gathered with 3 neighbors to watch the interview with Singing Frog Farms' Paul & Elizabeth Kaiser. That started a whole conversation about our farming methods and we've pledged to work 1/2 our field without tilling as a result. That will represent a lot of greenhouse gas sequestered in the soil!
This is a time of unprecedented challenges and opportunities put in front of each of us, every day. Never doubt the impact that small, deliberate actions can have your family, community, or the world. We kick off Tierra Chicas “Grow Your Green Smoothie” course with a chat Trathen Heckman, Executive Director of Daily Acts,. We’ll explore simple, impactful actions you can take to build personal resilience, and solutions for infusing that inspiration into your soil and community.
The key to any fertile food forest starts with understanding your space and landscape, and proper planning. In this talk, we’ll introduce you to the permaculture concept of zones (planning based on intensity of use and care needed for your plantings). You’ll learn the fundamentals of assessing your site — tracking the sun, slope, water flow, and other important patterns specific to your space. You’ll walk away learning how to plan your garden like an ecosystem, at a scale that most closely matches your needs.
One of the the fundamental truths about nature is that it’s efficient. Oftentimes, the most fruitful food forests and homesteads are ones that mirrors nature’s example. In this conversation with Ryan Johnston, Program Director for the Permaculture Skills Center, we’ll introduce the idea of stacking functions for efficiency, fertility, and conservation in your garden.
The key to starting a food revolution at home or in our neighborhood is a shift in consciousness — out of a sense of being a separate self, living on the Earth which is solely here as our resource, into a lived experience of being an inherent part of the 14 billion year unfolding that brought us forth. In this in-depth conversation with personal ecology leader, Kerry Brady, we explore strategies for awakening from the Story of Separation into the realization that we are intricately woven into the ever-evolving, vibrant web of life.
Re-use, conservation, and zero waste are all fundamental permaculture concepts we’re introducing you to throughout Tierra Chicas course. If you have materials like scrap lumber, concrete, bricks, metal, etc hanging around your house, you can either send them to the landfill orspice up your garden with some creative re-use. In this talk from Larry Santoyo, renowned expert and lead instructor for L.A.’s Permaculture Academy, we look at strategies for incorporating found objects and materials around your home into your garden space. We’ll teach you how honestly assess both when and when not to add re-used materials, and show you a variety of re-use solutions from Larry’s project archives you can emulate and put into practice right away in your own space.
So you think you want to add chickens to your yard — or rabbits, or some other backyard critter. Backyard animals are a great addition to any homestead. They provide companionship and fertility to your garden, and boost its ecological health overall. But before you adopt those cute baby chicks, it’s important to plan short and long term. In this chat with Dana Beckstoffer-Yares, Co-Founder of My Urban Farm and long term keeper of backyard critters, we’ll walk you through all of the ramifications of adding animals to your homestead space.
Get ready to get down and dirty with soil in this session with Paul & Elizabeth Kaiser, Founders of Singing Frogs Farm, whose no-till approach to their farm has resulted in an increase of 1% to 8% organic matter in their soil — and yields that any farmer or gardener would love to have. You’ll learn the fundamentals of what makes up health soil, composting best-practices, and a guide to replicating their no-till method at any scale.
The key to any successful food forest or garden project starts with proper planning. Fortunately for you, nature is a pretty good teacher. In this session, we’ll get in-depth with the theories and benefits of emulating natural design patterns in your own garden project, After providing this foundation, we’ll dive into some practical examples that are applicable at any scale. The result? A healthier, more diverse, more efficient, more bountiful garden sanctuary.
Urban homesteading is as much about community and seeing our neighborhoods as food networks as it is about the resilience skills we practice in the home. Homesteading is about utilizing every bit of your bounty and home resources most efficiently. In this session with Rachel Kaplan, author of the acclaimed Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living, we’ll get you prepped to do both. You’ll learn about core Homesteading skills and get inspired to jump in and start playing, and how to turn your neighborhood into a food network. We also explore homesteading options for renters with tight renter rules or limitations.
Throughout Tierra Chicas course, we’ve emphasized the personal skills you’ll need to grow amazing food in your own yard. For those who are especially motivated to transform your neighborhood or community into a food network and tackle the larger issues of food insecurity, this session is for you. We chat with Doria Robinson, Executive Director of Urban Tilth, who is modeling homestead-to-community leadership with passion and working to address food justice and insecurity throughout the Bay Area. In this session, we’ll look at the urban garden and farm models being championed by Urban Tilth, and leave you with the inspiration and blueprint for doing the same in your own community.
In this session, we’ll introduce you to the concepts of plant guilds and companion planting — strategizing the diversity and intensity of your garden crop choices to maximize production and benefit the whole ecosystem of your yard. You’ll learn how to adapt your planting strategy to your particular climate, and get an in-depth understanding of the fertility happening above and below the soil surface. You’ll learn how to look at so-called “weeds” in your garden as beneficial companion plants, and pick up tangible companion plant ideas you can put to use right away.
Start small, start where you are, and grow from there. That’s the mantra of Tierra Chicas. Bu what happens if you’re on a tight budget or want to get the family involved in your project? In this chat with Matt & Adriana Powers, permaculture teachers and authors of The Permaculture Student Online, we’ll look at tried and true ideas for starting (and stewarding) a food forest at any scale on a budget. You’ll also walk away with tips to get the whole family involved and jazzed about getting their hands dirty with your project.
Water, water everywhere — or is there? We go in-depth with water conservation solutions suitable for those dealing with water shortage or abundance. Brock Dolman leads us through how to view of your yard or garden site as a watershed, and introduces us to the mantra of Slow It – Spread It – Sink It that will help you learn how to capture and save the maximum amount of water possible in your garden site.
Continuing the theme of water conservation, we follow up Brock’s lesson in Basin Relations with an in-depth, nuts-and-bolts talk from Laura Allen, water conservation expert. In this session, Laura walks us through a variety of options you can implement to turn your laundry or shower into a source of irrigation for your landscape. You’ll learn just how much water comes off of your roof when it rains and how to capture that. We explore these solutions in degrees of difficulty and DIY-ness, and meet you where you’re at on your personal gung-ho scale of commitment to water conservation.
Biodynamic agriculture, first introduced by Rudolph Steiner, involves the most holistic approach to soil and food production. It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks. You might have heard about biodynamic in terms of soils or compost — casually or otherwise. Suffice to say that biodynamic soil is the richest, most fertile of its kind. In this conversation Grover Stock, Senior Designer for Permaculture Artisans and self-described ‘biodynamic permaculturist’, we’ll introduce you to biodynamic soil and show you a variety of avenues to work this awesome soil into your own food forest.
This session gives us moment to pause and consider the collective wisdom and voices of our ancestors, to help us re-discover a deeper connection with the natural landscape. Whether that is your garden plot or something a little less manicured, the wisdom of our elders is always available to us in the great unfolding of these times. Leading educator, NorCal Permaculture Convergence Organizer and facilitator Joshua Angelo Silva teaches us how to listen to the ancestral voices, how to be a mirror for each other in building community, and explore simple acts you can take to stay grounded on your own path.
So you’ve done all of the work — planning, planting, and all of the stewardship and self-discovery in between. Your reward? A bountiful harvest. Now what? What do you do with all of this amazing food you’ve grown? In this session, we chat with Sara McCamant — Garden Manager for the Ceres Community Project, Founder of the West County Community Seed Exchange, and expert with 30+ years gardening experience. Sara will take a step back and teach you how to plan your garden with your menu in mind, and then plan your menu based on what’s popping in your garden. You’ll get introduced to a variety of ideas for saving the food — and how to avoid having to preserve so many jars of tomatoes. Lastly, you’ll get an in-depth primer on saving seeds, the key to future garden production and a great tool for building community.
Ixchel Tiffany Renée is an intuitive shaman, native beekeeper and regenerative entrepreneur. While blazing her own trail as the first to go to college as a single mom, to becoming the first Latina to serve as Vice Mayor of Petaluma and beyond, Ixchel has mentored women to run for office, start their first business and learn strategies to champion their causes.
You are the leader of your journey, you walk your own path in beauty. It all begins with how you want to feel.
She currently runs Shamanic Women Sister Circles while supporting the local ecology of Matagalpa to support women beekeepers.
Ixchel holds a Permaculture Design Certificate taught by the late Toby Hemenway and Daily Acts, an MA from California Institute of Integral Studies with a focus in Integral Ecology, and a BA in Women’s Studies from Mills College. She is a 2007 Fellow of the Leadership Institute for Ecology and Economy.
She frequently speaks on Local Economy, Regenerative Businesses and Healthy Living through Growing a Plant-based, Evolutionary Diet. Her Shamanic coaching weaves sacred plant medicine, Living WildFit, Desire Mapping and Fire Starter sessions. Thriving with celiac, she is gluten, dairy and sugar free. She is currently in a writing sabbatical in Matagalpa Nicaragua.
Jaimey Walking Bear (that’s me with Seth Godin!) has built a long career of more than 20 years working in the event, tech, entertainment, and retail sectors — including O’Reilly Media, Digital Summit, Modev, and various music festivals over the years.
I’ve been blessed with the privilege to work directly with hundreds amazing thought leaders — from luminaries like Seth Godin, Ann Handley, Tim O’Reilly, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Chris Brogan — to an ever-growing assortment of industry experts (i.e. “ridiculously smart, awesome people”).
I love being in the thick of it, connecting subject experts, thought leaders, musicians, and other creatives — with the professional opportunities to be amazing and transform the world for the better. To quote Mr. Brogan, I love being the elbow of the deal. Serving others. Being the spark that lights bridges to holy cow opportunities for thriving communities.
My wife Ixchel Tiffany and daughters, Zara and Zoë, are my heart. Music of all varieties is my soul. I <3 baseball (go #SFGiants!), entertainment, social justice, food justice, the City of Detroit, and Tuolumne Meadows.