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Food Not Lawns, What Next? | Heather Jo Flores | Permaculture Women’s Guild

Food Not Lawns, What Next? | Heather Jo Flores | Permaculture Women’s Guild

Hello I’m Liz Zorab and this is Byther
Farm and today I want to introduce you to my friend Heather Jo Flores.Hola! Heather and I met via the wonders of the interwebs and so what you’re about to
see is recorded from her home in Europe. I’m Heather Jo Flores and I’m a writer
and a gardener and a teacher and an interdisciplinary artist and I live in
southern Spain, up in the mountains and I’m here today to talk about
permaculture and Food Not Lawns. I know sometimes it’s really hard to say what it is that’s inspired something, but can you tell me about your book Food Not
Lawns? Well Food Not Lawns was published in 2006 but we started the first chapter
of Food Not Lawns’ in Eugene in 1999 and so that was a group of us who were doing
Food Not Bombs for several years before that. Cooking and serving free meals in
the park to local homeless and hungry people in Eugene. So we’d been doing
that for several years and the natural inclination was to start growing some of
the food that we were cooking up and serving to the community. So we were sort
of jokingly calling it the ‘food not lawns garden’ and that just kind of stuck.
And it’s stuck in a lot of places and a few other chapters started up within a
few months of ours and this movement kind of grew from there. That was amazing! And
after the book, what happened then? Did you just go back to what you were
doing before? Did it all just fizzle out? What happened? So Food Not Lawns came out in
late 2006 and I spent about the next couple of years in between touring,
spending time touring, because I was living in a tiny house in Oregon which
was not really hospitable in the winter anyway. And so then I would spend the
winters touring in California and Southwest and promoting the book and
helping communities turn yards into gardens and neighborhoods into
communities and organizing local seed swaps. So I did that for a couple of
years and then I sort of dropped out, you know. I went through a long period of
depression and displacement and had to leave the farm I had been at for
several years and was struggling going from place to place, and trying to find the right place for me. And I ended
up going back to school and getting deep into yoga and embodiment and really
thinking about that zone zero and the inner landscape. And started to think
about how to apply permaculture principles to ourselves as the
designers, as the center of our design. And it’s interesting balance that we
have to come to as permaculture designers, as ecofeminists, as stewards
of the plants. We have to figure out a way to take care of ourselves and take
care of the Earth and take care of the logistics and all of the things that
need to go on in order for us to, you know, continue to exist in this, what is
still patriarchal capitalistic culture. We have to find that balance and
it’s sort of an extra challenge for us to navigate all of these layers of
health that we pursue and all these layers of ecological sanity that we’re
pursuing. And again and again, even though I was stepping away from permaculture
and stepping away from activism, and trying to do something else with my life
focusing on music and art and writing, I still kept coming around to these
design principles and to the permaculture design process that the
Gobradine design process which I use you know with my classes. So the Gobradime is an acronym for goals, observation, boundaries, resources, analysis, design,
implementation, maintenance and evaluation. And it’s this sort of magic
formula that you can apply to organizing anything and it really works well
when applied to your inner landscape. And I was able to use these tools combined
with just the permaculture principles. So there’s permaculture ethics and
permaculture principles and the ethics are the rules that we choose to adhere
to, you know, caring for the earth, caring for each other or caring for the future.
And that the principles are the laws that we really have to obey, they’re the
laws of nature that you know generally as human societies we tend to sort of
try to work against and that causes all of these problems that we’re now dealing
with as a as a global humanity. So permaculture looks at these laws and
applies them. And then the design process helps us actualize these principles and
ethics in our day-to-day physical experience of
the world. So I started experimenting with applying those to my mental health
process and to helping other people navigate their process and found that
it’s wonderful. Not just for dealing with darkness and sadness and depression but
also for stimulating creative flow. So we apply these ideas to ourselves and
that helps us to empower us to apply these ideas to the landscape and to
create paradise wherever we are. I’m here in my small piece of paradise, which
you’ve watched me develop over the last two or three years, but Heather what’s
your garden like? What is your space that you work in like? Okay so it’s a
quarter-acre Mediterranean food forest. We have 30 fruit trees here and about
200 species of annuals and perennials and biennials of all different shapes
and sizes and trying to increase the diversity all the time. So this is
partially a seed garden for conservation and for growing out certain varieties
that are well adapted to this bio region. And it’s also a subsistence garden and
it’s also a demonstration garden. I use this garden a lot to take photographs
and to create content for the online courses. But I’m not actually teaching
any local classes at all and I’ve sort of discovered that my mental health as
an extreme introvert, all of those years of being very public and being a
you know out in the street activists all the time, it was a little too much for me. So now I only teach online. I met Heather when I
took the emotional permaculture course two years ago and that was absolutely
brilliant for me. It just allowed me to have enough time and space to kind of
think about how I fit with my surroundings, how they work for me and I
work with them and what the interrelationship is between my
environment and what I do on a daily basis. I use this garden and I
interact with the plants and I get what they teach me and I
translate that to to the online classes. And there is a local seed group here
that I do volunteer with once in a while But there is a lot of biodiversity, it’s
a really incredible place to be growing plants, to be doing agriculture on the ground. And I really enjoy the balance between
being here with these plants and then connecting with with humans online. I’m really pleased that you’ve out of that low mood and headspace that you were in Heather because from that’s come some really productive and creative things. In 2017 I started the Permaculture Women’s Guild. A lot of the traditional
permaculture teachers and courses really emphasized land management and they say
yes we have three ethics – care of the earth, care of the people, limits to
growth the consumption or distributing the surplus or however you interpret the
third ethic, fair shares. But that in action was looking a lot more just like
landscape design and not only was there not enough in terms of whole
systems working together as an ecology, but there seemed to be an open
dismissal of the social issues that are so important in a permaculture system. So
a lot of the women that I know and have been working with, other women who
are authors, other women who have been colleagues of mine for decades now in
the permaculture community, we were all noticing a lot of these same patterns.
And so that’s where the Permaculture Women’s Guild came from. I’m a member of
the Permaculture Women’s Guild and eventually how you will find some of my
videos there too. But Heather do you work exclusively with women now? No, so everyone we work with is not female we have lots of male students we have
lots of students from any and every gender but all of our teachers are women
and people who identify as women and that’s because we’ve noticed lack of
balance in the voices that are being heard in the permaculture community so
we’re trying to create space for women and space for people of color and we’re
currently looking for more teachers from the global South so I just wanted to put
that out there if you’re watching this and you’re living the global south or
you’re a woman of color and you have a significant amount of experience and
you’d like to teach permaculture with us then please do get in touch. I know you
offer some of your courses for free because I took the emotional
permaculture course which was a free course. But why is it that you feel it’s
important to offer courses and information free? So I grew
up in a relatively impoverished environment and had there been more
free permaculture resources available to me or had I known about the
resources available to me, my whole life would have unfolded differently. So one
of the reasons that I like offering things for free is just in case somebody
really, really needs it. But the other thing is that it cultivates this
atmosphere of abundance and it sends the message that ‘there’s enough’ and so
you know, some of our classes are not free. The ones that require one-on-one
mentorship and that to give the student an opportunity to really develop what
could become a lifelong connection with a knowledgeable elder, those classes cost
a little bit of money and that knowledgeable elder gets paid
accordingly and so do I for my time. But I try to make a balance of having an
equal amount of totally free accessible resources that are just pay if you want,
if you’re feeling it make a donation and we get enough. And that the abundance
comes around so it’s funny because I’m really not like a woowoo person and I’m
really hyper pragmatic and not super spiritual, but I have to say I’m a big
believer in abundance theory because it works! If you’re in my Facebook group
you’ll know that I already post links quite regularly to Heather Jo’s
courses. And if you’re not in my Facebook group please do join and I’ll also leave
links to Heather’s book in the information below and also to her
websites. The easiest way to get involved is just to go to free permaculture dot com
or permaculture women com, whichever one appeals to you and check it out. And
there’s lots of resources there for you. There’s a free permaculture principles
coloring book, there’s a free emotional permaculture course, there’s a free
year-long – don’t be scared it’s a year-long but each class is teeny tiny –
so once a week you get delivered a little permaculture class that you can
use to walk yourself step-by-step through designing permaculture paradise.
Or if you’re ready to go all in we have a double certificate permaculture design
course with 40 different female teachers from around the world and you get your 72 hour traditional permaculture
ecological landscape design certificate and then we also have a extra advance
certificate in social systems, if you want to go deeper into the eco-
psychology and emotional permaculture and the other things that are really, you
know, part of what’s happening right now in the world you know. If we’re gonna
overcome what we’re facing ecologically and socially as a species we’re gonna
have to really change what it means to be human here on this planet and so
that’s something that I’m really interested in and something that I am
trying to participate in with my work and I forward to connecting with more
people. Heather thank you so much for answering
my questions and for sharing your beautiful garden with us and we will no
doubt catch up again very soon.

14 thoughts on “Food Not Lawns, What Next? | Heather Jo Flores | Permaculture Women’s Guild

  • If you've enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend (or two!) and you may like to explore some of my videos from autumn 2019

  • Thank you, Liz! I really appreciate her perspective on things. It really rings true for me and some of the things I have been experiencing recently. I plan on putting this video in my saved and watch again list, as a reference tool. Emotional Pemaculture…this could be exactly what I've been looking for, but didn't have a name for it. As always, I thank you for all the different things you share with us! Feeling better every day, I hope?!

  • I'm not a fan of lawn either but it is nice to have a place for the kids to run around. We grow veggies, fruit, and flowers, too.

  • Thank you so much for introducing me to Heather and her videos. I have just been watching her videos on earthworks and how she is able to irrigate. I just find it fascinating to see how different countries can make the best of water and by using these permaculture principles are really helpful to the environment instead of endangering and destroying our planet. I can see the benefit to our mental health too. BRILLIANT xxxx

  • Someone called me a plant whisperer once and that's how I feel about gardening. I've always tried to work with nature. It's definitely the way to go.

  • We don't need to find a balance, we need to be a thorn in the side of the capitalist society.
    "Women of color" IMO, we should be saying women of non-caucasian background.

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