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Amanda Streets

Amanda Streets is a mother, life-long gardener, and former teacher. She grew up on a working farm where her family raised livestock and tended large gardens and orchards. Her family has been farmers as far as we can look back, so you could say that growing food is in her genes. Helping preserve natural spaces has always been a priority for Amanda, so discovering permaculture helped blend her two passions together. Grow Permaculture helped her learn to design from a whole systems perspective, with longevity of the entire system as a priority from day one.
Amanda founded Living Roots Eco Design, an ecological landscape education and consulting business. She helps people learn how to take better care of themselves and the earth. Living Roots Eco Design focuses on teaching people skills to take care of their own landscapes in an earth-friendly way. Whether someone wants to grow vegetables, a food forest, native Florida plants, or just take care of their current landscaping without chemicals, Living Roots Eco Design can guide them. We like to say that we help people take their "dream landscape" and help it meet what's practical for each individual's space and budget. She has helped several families convert their lawns to native and edible landscapes. Many of those homes are in HOA communities.
Pinellas Community Compost is an initiative of Living Roots Eco Design. It actually started as a Facebook support group started by Amanda during her PDC with Grow Permaculture. Two other graduates, Jen Andreani and Heather Henderson got involved in the beginning. PCC grew bigger... We were invited to teach classes and even to organize food system initiatives with non-profit groups. Now, we offer virtual and in-person classes, and help with community sustainability initiatives for all sorts of compost and soil health related issues. 

Bob Lawrason


Bob, a graduate of Grow Permaculture, went on to found a national organization, Kenaf Partners.

“At Kenaf Partners USA a major goal we are striving for is "Successful Businesses Using Kenaf.”

Bob’s focus is on growing kenaf, a plant similar to hemp in versatility, use and value, but without the legal restrictions. In some ways it is not as well known as hemp, so his challenge is to educate people on the benefits as well as get this super useful plant into broader use. One challenge has been having a source for kenaf seed grown throughout the USA in sufficient quantities to meet the demands. He thus founded Kenaf partners, and has launched 7 pilot projects on 10 sites in 2019, based on 31 varieties of seed growing operations. 

Viable germination and seed yield will be calculated and lab tested. Those varieties that pass the test will be added to their catalog released later this year. With this catalog an individual can determine which varieties they can grow for seed in their latitude and what markets they would be suited for. The next few years seed from kenaf seed operations will be supplied to new seed growing operations only, until the seed supply is sufficient to offer to corn, soy, cotton farmers as a rotational cash crop. This is the low hanging fruit these farmers have been looking for. Lower input costs, higher yields, local markets with prices they are in control of. This will start the process of reducing herbicides, pesticides, fertilizer erosion and other forms of pollution that end up in our waterways etc. Photos from growers can be seen here:

Kenaf has many uses and Bob is working on getting a number of them into broader use. One of these is soil building, which shows promising results:

The logging of trees continues to increase around the globe. “Our approach to replace the need for logging by introducing a transition option for this industry as seen here:”

Kenaf farmers who desire to do so will be able to transition to woody perennial polycrops, food forests, silvopasture, alley cropping, agro forestry etc, thus making their systems even more resilient, profitable, and regenerative. 


On housing you may have heard of hempcrete, used to build homes. Kenaf can be used in the same way.   Kenaf Partners will offer workshops in 2020 and are in the planning stage.  Bob has partnered with Derek Cross who has many years experience with both kenaf and hemp. He hosts the podcast Hemp Chat - hear Bob on the show.   

Kenaf may someday help replace fossil fuels. With bio-diesel made from kenaf seed and the use of kenaf-made solar electric and super capacitors, regions can increase the resiliency of local economies and find a balance of exchange to meet the needs for their community.

“We released two books this year and are currently releasing a French Edition requested by the farmers and one of our partners in Togo Africa. I have partnered with Richard and Mary Rensberry, authors and illustrators of books for children ( also for adults and businesses), teaching values that can affect culture, ethics, social and others that embrace the ethics of permaculture.”

You can download the first Kenaf Book for free here:   

To see the children’s book, titled “Seeds for Life, Kenaf” see

Bob’s strategy and plans are based on permaculture design and principles. These can be applied to any scale you want to address, handle many of the worlds problems especially when you stack functions and apply all the tools, principles and ethics to your designs. 


 “I want to let others know that having attended your Permaculture Design Course (PDC) more than once has made a difference each time to understand Permaculture, the design process and to think and act from a whole new perspective. I would attend another one of your PDCs if possible and know that I would learn more and better understand. I can't imagine what my life would have been like had I attended one of your PDCs earlier in my life. I believe that the world would be in better shape had I and others learned some years ago. I am partial to PDCs attended in person with other students and not online. I have also watched the stats of your student graduates compared to other instructors and have noticed your graduates are very active in applying what they learned. I would recommend your PDC above any others.”

Thank you Bob, for the groundbreaking work you are doing with kenaf! We’re excited to see how things unfold for you! 


Constance E Lee & Constance M Lee

This mother and daughter duo lit up the classroom with their in depth questions, thirst for knowledge, and their talented artistry. Mom did a design on the Florida fibershed for her project, and then they both did a design on a beautiful community center in Miami for their class project.

"The Black Coffee CoOp"  was birthed Fall 2018 as the brain child of the mother-daughter team of Constance E. Lee and Constance M. Lee. They sell imported organic coffee, blended specialty teas and vegan bake goods. Many of the tea blends have medicinal properties. The Black Coffee Co-op provide services to special events and local Central Florida food markets. Constance  Michelle, (daughter) is the tea mix-master and handles marketing, community relations, inventory & event planning. Constance Elaine (Mother) oversees the finances, event barrister, and event set-up hardware and supplies. 

Although a start-up business, the immediate plan is to become a "cooperative business". A cooperative is a business that is; owned by its members; democratically controlled by members; and operated for the benefit of members. This parallels the permaculture design ethics of people care and community. Cooperatives are guided by values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. The overall goal is to meet the shared needs of a group of people, in other words caring for others.

The Black Coffee Co-op believe in fair trade efforts, sustainable and regenerative environmental practices. All of the coffee and teas or organically grown and carefully chosen based on these principles.  Also, they firmly believe in supporting the local economy in the community, by participating in neighborhood fund raisers and community events. Thus far, Black Coffee is steadily growing and upon customer request, has expanded the product line to include; tea pots, tea balls, and tea spoon accessories.

Besides marketing organic coffee and tea, this dynamic duo is a creative force  in the performing arts.  Both mother and daughter are professional costume designers. They have worked on major films, network television series, commercials, theater and corporate productions. Recently, their repertoire have included Oprahs, OWN Network, Disney World, The Orlando Ballet and the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center.  Constance, the daughter particularly enjoy making plaster character masks and is skillful in dramatic facial make-up.

They both enjoy weaving, spinning, quilting and other fiber art projects. Presently, they have two art installations at Three-Mask Art Gallery in Orlando, and have a few award winning art shows to their credit. 

And it goes without saying, their PDC in permaculture design principles was a natural fit for this vegetarian mother and vegan daughter. Constance Michelle is an herbalist studying the medicinal properties of plants and have completed  her certificate in herbal medicines.



Megan Szrom

Grow Permaculture co-created a project at Pine Ridge reservation with the Oglala-Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative (OLCERI) in 2006, and we have made ongoing projects there available as an apprentice opportunity for graduates of our PDCs ever since. More than a dozen students have made it to Pine Ridge in the summer to work on natural building, installing gardens and other projects for OLCERI and other organizations on the reservation. Megan took the opportunity to the next level, wanting to use her community organizing skills and social capital to bring even more energy to the project and the reservation. As a result, the project has blossomed to the next level. We love being able to provide those types of opportunities to our graduates, and love seeing them spread their wings and flourish. 
Megan Szrom graduated with her PDC with Grow Permaculture in 2009. She is fascinated with restoring the environment through ecological remediation and cultivating the inner social-emotional landscape through Kundalini yoga and Deep Ecology. Since her graduation, she has participated in or spearheaded a number of projects from guerilla gardening to mycoremediation, community building, festivals, and community projects, bringing permaculture ethos to schools, activist organizations and festivals. 

Megan is a full-time Gardening and Regenerative Ecology teacher at Alta Vista Elementary School in San Francisco, California where she is facilitating the innate connection to the Earth for the next generation of activists. 
She is the founding organizer of the Indigenous Wisdom and Permaculture Skills Convergence, an eco-infrastructure build and hands-on learning camp on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Her work with IWPS Convergence was inspired and deeply encouraged through the support of Koreen Brennan and is a continuation of the relationships and projects that Koreen began during her time working with partners on Pine Ridge. This convergence has now become a yearly event and has created significant support, energy and resources for permaculture projects on the reservation. 

To read more about Megan's work, visit:

Stephanie Koeser

Stephanie Koeser created Pineapple Acres – a non-profit which encourages mindfulness in nature. Her vision flourished through her passion for the outdoors, gardening and mindfully living in her daily life. She created a blog, Learning to Grow in Florida, where she discovered many urban dwellers crave holistic mindfulness, but aren’t sure where to begin. Through her business, she hopes to offer members a chance to find this in nature, whether it’s through a gardening workshop, a permaculture-based landscape design, or a meditation in the trees. For Stephanie, gardening is not simply about growing plants. Gardening is a chance to reconnect to nature where she can seek the space to listen to her soul. Stephanie wants to spread that magic.

Gardening has been a part of Stephanie’s life since she was a little girl. She has experience in landscaping and is certified in permaculture design. Her philosophy is that in order to find inner peace and balance in life you must connect to your spirituality. And nature offers so many opportunities to do just that.

Recently, Stephanie co-created a children’s gardening club and partnered to work with the South Shore community to implement designs for community and school gardens. She is planning to create a community garden and educational food forest at one of the local parks where she teaches a weekly regenerative gardening program for all ages. She has forged a partnership with one of the local schools, where she is exploring a “green” curriculum.

She is certified in meditation, mindfulness, energy medicine and stress management. Stephanie is currently working toward a certificate in yoga to include in her holistic healing classes.

When she’s not gardening, Stephanie enjoys writing, surfing, cooking, yoga, volunteering and spending time with her family.

You can keep up with her events and workshops at or follow her blog at:

Stephanie Koeser
Founder and CEO of Pineapple Acres
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: 813-504-3097
Instagram: steph_learningtogrowinflorida
Twitter: @AcresPineapple
Pineapple Acres - Where you can hear the whispers of your soul, ground yourself in nature and find inner peace through plants.

Word from Rosalia Cannava

We are joining together in energetic support of creating a community/ Ashram/ Food Forest at "Nectar of Devotion." Even if you are not in Miami or South Florida you can empower this project by joining if just in thought! Open for all bringing good vibes, love and harmony.

This group is a call to unite and join together in promoting harmony and love within ourselves and with all life. Self sufficiency is the key to freedom. Let's end our reliance on corrupt systems and embrace the divine within us and all around us. GROW YOUR OWN FOOD! MAKE YOUR OWN CLOTHES! FREE YOURSELVES FROM ALL ATTACHMENT!

Read more ...

Ecozoic in Mexico

Alan Scheurmann, talking about the organization he and fellow Pine Ridge graduate Ryan Hertz run in the area: The word EcoZoic was coined by author Thomas Berry who tells the story of the universe and the earth through the lens of the major eras of history. The EcoZoic era is where Berry predicts humans must evolve into in order to avoid extinction. It is a period in which humans must co-create mutually enhancing relationships with the larger community of life.

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Miami permaculture students in action

Graduates of the 2010 Urban Permaculture Design Course in Miami jumped into action applying what they learned. Marcus Thomson, who organized the course, got his first permaculture design job before the course ended – installing a food forest in a suburban yard. He has offered to employ other course graduates for this project and is in the process of looking for more design work. He has planned a series of seminars on permaculture as well, and has offered to bring other graduates in on a community garden project in Little Haiti. He is already applying permaculture techniques to gardens and planting areas of Earth N Us farms, collecting and planting seeds, seedlings, sheet mulching with terra preta and using plant guilds.
Nancy Arraiz has also gotten her first job as a permaculture designer, installing rainbarrels for a household. She has started designing her own yard and is burning terra preta to enrich and stabilize her sandy soils.

Linda McGlathery is planning the planting of native edibles in a public space to beautify a homeless housing project. She is also in discussion with project management to create water catchment and a planting area for the homeless.

Ben Thacker has been planting fruit trees and veggie beds at a school for youth at risk for some time, and is now incorporating more permaculture techniques in his work.
Check back to read about more adventures from Miami PDC graduates!

Taste of Freedom Farm

Andrew Wolfe got right to work using the techniques he learned about in the permaculture course held at the Florida Earthship in March of 2009. His goal is to get completely off the grid and make a living from what he produces in his yard. He named his urban Pinellas County homestead "Taste of Freedom Farm", and in a few months has created a fish farming pond, planted citrus trees, grape vines, blueberries and a raised bed garden with rainwater catchment, composting bins, greenhouse, roof-top beehives, chicken coop and brooder box, duck house, a well, and wood source for his Franklin stove.

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Permaculture as a career

From Florida Earthship PDC grad Diann Dirks: It was so sweet to be reminded of our Permaculture course in Florida March 2009. Since then I have been using so much of what I learned and integrated there. Right after completing the course I taught 3 series of classes in organic gardening – 13 classes all told at the local libraries and at a local forming sustainable farm. I became a paid consultant on the creation of a community garden for a Jewish Temple, consulted at a CSA to increase yield, as well as a multitude of private gardens.

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Miami students continue to expand

Roots in the City Overtown project is now offering a Farmer's Market from 1-4 every Wednesday.

Just northwest of downtown, Overtown is the Harlem of Miami. Popular with blacks and whites alike, Overtown was a center for nightly entertainment in Miami, comparable to Miami Beach, at its height in the 1940s and 1950s. The area served as a place of rest and refuge for African American mainstream entertainers such as Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Joephine Baker, Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole who were not allowed to lodge at prominent venues where they performed. Many prominent African American luminaries like W.E.B. Du Bois, Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson lodged and entertained there.

In the late 1950's and 60's, two freeways through its middle fragmented the neighborhood, urban renewal caused businesses to close and the neighborhood was economically devastated from nearly 50,000 to just over 10,000.

PDC student Maggy Pons is working on six gardens in Overtown which will provide fresh, organic food and economic stimulus to the neighborhood. Food stamp purchases are doubled at the market, encouraging consumption of healthy, organic food and the support of locally grown food. Because of what she learned in the course, she has now created the beginnings of a mandala garden and keyhole beds and is using sheet mulching techniques and rainbarrels – she is also contemplating planting a food forest.

Pine Ridge home building projects!

Shannon Freed, graduate of our Pine Ridge PDC, did not waste any time applying her permaculture knowledge. Two years ago, she held a 10 week apprenticeship at Pine Ridge which resulted in a beautiful cob home being built for a Lakota on the reservation (

Last year, she repeated that feat, this time building a 30X30 foot pallet home for another family in need of better shelter.

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Jayne Cobb does it at school

Jayne Cobb and Ellen Teeter got their permaculture garden going strong after the course that was taught in Sarasota, and have been adding things ever since. Their small yard is packed full of perennials like papaya, edible hibiscus, cranberry hibiscus, purple okinawan spinach, sweet potato, moringa, galangal, as well as a full serving of annuals. Jayne puts her cooking magic to the task of combining her backyard food supply into gourmet heaven. She has also co-created a garden with her classroom at the local Montessori school, where she teaches kids how patterns in the garden harmonize with larger universal patterns, and shows them how much fun gardening from seed to table can be. She is now designing a garden for another school in her area.

Bill Bilodeau: urban permaculture and community building

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 now devoted to growing food for program participants. Along with Emmanuel Roux, another energetic pioneer, and many volunteers who lent their hands and backs to the project.

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A Permaculture Farm in Homestead

Graduates Mario Yanez and Elena Naranjo created a wonderful project in Homestead, near Miami. Through a County program for the homeless, they acquired a 22 acre permaculture farm connected to a LEED housing program all created to help the homeless get back on their feet. At the center of the operations was a new LEED building that houses a commercial kitchen, classroom/meeting area, farmer's market space and storefront, creating an integrated space for preparing and selling the products from the farm, teaching farmers, and having community meetings and classes. Mario's non profit organization Earth Learning has launched food summits, hosted a financial permaculture conference and continues to create training opportunities for the residents of the program and many others. Elena and Mario created a number of permaculture demonstrations on the farm from large aquaculture ponds to plant guilds, herb spirals, keyhole beds, intensive tree cropping moringa alleys and animals. Though the project ended, Mario has continued the work of spreading permaculture through events and permaculture training.

Creating a food forest on campus

Rae Shirsat was inspired after completing her PDC course in early 2012 to travel to Africa and change careers. She is now working as LEED AP HCC Sustainability Specialist for Hillsborough Community College and is using permaculture principles in that program. She has gotten the go ahead to create a large food forest on this campus of 50,000 students! She started the project by calling for some design charrettes, bringing community and college students together to create a design that meets multiple needs. The next phase of this project will be to complete the design and plan and execute the first stage of soil building and planting. This forest will have many opportunities to capture the interest of thousands of students and Rae is planning to create quite an impact. She is also upgrading the recycling program for the college and working on a Beyond Sustainability Conference focused on sustainable and regenerative finance techniques.

“The Edible Garden” Nursery

Nessie Johnson and Cathy De Felice decided to take me up on my offer to any PDC graduate to help me transform my small backyard nursery into a larger cooperative nursery focused on plants that are useful to permaculture designers. They have taken the operation to a new level with over 1000 plants in the nursery and others on their way. One of their first clients was a major local health food store, Nature’s Food Patch.

Starting out with little knowledge of permaculture plants, Nessie and Cathy have learned the needs and behavior of more than 100 different plant species, many of them edible perennials that are not familiar to most Americans, yet are loaded with nutrition. They are now educating others about where to place them in their yard and how to care for them, as well as how to create delicious meals with them. Nessie, as a vegan and a great cook, is a natural for this task. This is the first official business that has incubated from Grow Permaculture's mentoring program. We provided mentoring, plant starts, seeds, soil, and amendments.

There are side benefits to caring for a nursery - both women are creating abundant Edible Gardens in their own yards from cuttings and seeds collected from the nursery.