ABOUT PERMACULTURE CUBED


The Team

DAVID BLACK

I fell in love with gardening when I was 6 years old.  I had picked up some zinnia seeds at the local corner store (instead of the baseball cards that I had come for) -  amazed that flowers could actually be green!  My parents let me build a small garden plot behind our garage where I planted my new flowers and a small selection of vegetables.  I was so proud to share my harvest with my family that first season.  I was instantly hooked.

My vegetable gardens became a constant feature at our home throughout my youth. My summers were spent at my friend’s apricot orchard in Hollister, California, “cutting ‘cots” to be dried for Dole Food Company.  By the time I was 13, my ½ acre vegetable plot was so prolific that I shared my 40+ pound per week squash harvest with the local convalescent hospital.  A kid can only eat so much zucchini!

Right before high school, my family moved up to the foothills above Fresno.  I quickly became a fixture on my new school’s 3000 acre farm, taking as many of the agriculture classes as I could fit into my schedule.  I became a member of the National FFA Organization and began raising and showing market hogs.  I even won the FFA’s California State Farm & Home Improvement award for my work renovating my family’s little homestead.  During my last year of high school, I was offered the opportunity to develop curriculum and systems for the school’s new Ag-Biotech program - a pilot program which offered students the opportunity to explore the latest advances in agricultural systems such as animal husbandry, artificial insemination, fish farming, and hydroponics.

I spent the next 15 years or so exploring the world and other industries, first as a computer instructor in the US Navy and then as an operations manager for an institutional investment firm - all the while continuing to design and build my personal gardens and small-scale urban farms - before ultimately deciding that a career outdoors, playing in the dirt, designing and building vegetable gardens, fruit orchards, chicken and rabbit habitats and aquaculture systems was the life for me.  It was from this passion that Permaculture Cubed was formed in 2013.

I haven’t looked back since!  I absolutely love sharing my passion for sustainable living and food production with my friends, family and clients, and I can’t wait to share some veggies with you!

JONATHAN DELUNA

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area I was exposed to the unique ecosystems and microclimates that allow for the amazing varieties of fruits and vegetables that could be grown in a relatively small region.

Summers were always spent growing strawberries, rhubarb, herbs, huge zucchini, and sun-ripened tomatoes, but let's be honest: When I was younger huge zucchini were fun to grow because they got big, and as for tomatoes, I didn’t like them much. However come late summer and fall when the fruit trees ripen, the real “garden” work started with canning homemade jams and apple sauce.

While spending time with family in Colombia, South America, I got to see many different farming techniques and crop types. The greatest impact on my passion for horticulture came from time spent on my grandfather’s small polyculture farm located in a cool mountainous environment. Here, I learned about small scale intensive farming of vegetable and flowers and the importance of soil health through techniques like crop rotation, biomass reclamation, organic inputs and companion planting.

The ideas of environmental and cultural sustainability led me to the University of San Diego where I majored in Ocean Studies and Anthropology with a focus on coastal cultures of the Pacific Rim. While spending the next 10 years in San Diego, I became an active volunteer with the local co-op farmers’ market and their corresponding farms. After graduating, I worked with a catering company whose focus was featuring locally sourced food.  Through my interactions with small farms in San Diego, I was introduced to many new, low-water and dry farming techniques which was exciting to apply these techniques when I moved back to a multiyear drought stricken Bay Area. With my move, I began trialing many heirloom and native plant seeds from the southwest region in the Bay Area due to their lower water requirements.  

Since my return to the Bay Area, I started working towards low-water, sustainable and year-long productivity in my own personal gardens and friends’ gardens. With each growing season and micro-climate change, I learn new habits of plants and their specific varieties. Maintaining a focus on sustainability, I enjoy working with perennial food crops and native vegetables that are specifically adapted to the periodic drought conditions of California and the Southwest.

When I’m not playing in the dirt I’m an avid cook and ultramarathon runner.  As a cook and gardener, I enjoy entertaining friends and family with a unique seasonally fresh meal. I often like to cook what I farm and forage. Training for an ultramarathon in our local mountains allows lets me cover enough space to forage for maple pungent candy cap mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, wild strawberries, nettles, bracken ferns, and even cattails. Catch me in a garden or on trail and I’ll have a snack for you.

  

TOM HENDERSON

I say I "found my love of food" during a high school summer job working for a local catering company.  It opened me up to a plethora of cuisines, flavors, and fresh ingredients I never knew existed. 

After high school, I career searched for a few years.  I completed a degree in Welding and Metallurgy and even did a very brief stint as a Police Officer!  During this time, I continued working full time in catering and events management. Ultimately having satisfied my desire to explore other opportunities, my love of food won out and I opened my own catering company at 27 years old.  I quickly grew my business into a multi-million dollar operation, but still was not satisfied. I loved catering and events but realized it was a job and not my passion.

During my years of catering I became fascinated with the supply chain of our food.  I would walk into our kitchen and see a pallet of produce and wonder - “Where did this all come from?”  I knew it came from a farm but... “Where was it grown? How was it grown? How was it handled between the farm and my kitchen?”  I decided I needed to find the answers to satisfy my curiosity. I researched online, visited fruit tree farms in the central valley, took my chefs to Full Belly Farms in Capay, toured Bellwether Farms, and a private Japanese/American Kobe Cattle ranch.  Through this exploration I developed not only a deep respect for organic, sustainable farming but nurtured an ever growing passion for growing my own food utilizing these practices.

Luckily, a childhood friend had a fallow 1/2 acre of zoned agriculture land in South San Francisco.  Welcome to my farm! Within a year I was growing some amazing vegetables that supported our private farm to table dinners.  I developed a large scale vermiculture system (worm farm) that was composting about 80% of our kitchen waste. I also built a large hydroponic system in our kitchen to support 100% of our microgreen needs.  Not only did I find my farm, I found my passion. In fact, so much so that I ultimately decided to sell my catering business and pursue organic farming and sustainable living full time.

I took some time off after selling my business to be a stay at home dad for my young children before recently going back into the workforce full-time.  Only this time, I wanted to work for a company that shares my same passion. I found that company in Permaculture Cubed and I’m excited to work with you to create and nurture healthy, sustainable landscapes and gardens.

In addition to gardening, I am an avid outdoorsman and adventurer. I have a piece of property in the Sierra foothills where I have built an off-grid camp for me and my family to explore and experiment with sustainable systems including solar power generation, power-free “ram” pump to supply our water storage and more!

 

KIMBERLY DE JESUS

My experience in this life has led me on a journey of permaculture and gardening. My passion for growing food stems from my need to be outdoors and the awareness of how important it is to know where our food is coming from. Being born and raised in Chicago, IL surrounded by the hustle of daily life gave me little exposure to fresh produce and sunshine which created a craving I needed to seek out.

My higher education and career began with interior design and fine art at the Art Institute of Chicago, which made sense since I have always had interests in the arts and design in general. After graduation and 6 years of working in various niches of interior design I found myself needing to get away from the office setting and realizing most of my designs were nature inspired, bringing in outdoor elements and plenty of house plants to client's homes. By this time I was also growing my own home garden and always found time to explore the outdoors.

On this mission to find a way to integrate my design experience and the outdoors I also found myself very passionate about sustainability and environmental concerns involving food production and its effect on our own health. Almost simultaneously I began a health coaching education at IIN and gained my first permaculture design certificate in Costa Rica at Punta Mona, center for regenerative design and Botanical studies. I was totally fascinated in how the two were focused on attaining an overall increase in quality of life. This was the true driving force in my decision to fully dedicate myself to permaculture and drives me to share my knowledge with all I can. Since then I have continued my studies of Permaculture at Oregon State University and worked on many small urban farms in South Florida as well as a high production aquaponics facility in Nevada. It feels like this is still the beginning of this journey and the permaculture movement is just beginning to flourish.

Accompanying my need to be outside growing I spend a lot of my time making homemade jams, and enjoying an abundance of outdoor activities including paddle boarding, roller blading, hiking, and mountain biking. Adventuring outdoors always invites inspiration from nature into my life which reflects in my designs and paves the path to a happy healthy life.

 

SHANNON HARRIS

Growing up in the northern Sacramento Valley of California along the fertile river where we always had a large garden, a few acres of walnuts plus our own small farms-worth of chickens, cattle, horses, hogs and sheep. We didn't have much besides what we grew or raised ourselves and it was installed from the beginning with no waste and self sustainability in mind.

My grandparents and parents were masters at canning and preserving the harvests from the summer months. Our freezer was always filled with farm raised meats or wild caught fish/game and pantry always loaded with everything the garden had to offer each season.

I knew from a very young age that I loved working with plants! Always getting my hands dirty and tending to all aspects of our small farm. I was always the member of my family most dedicated to our food garden. My favorite things to grow and eat right off the vine then and now as an adult are tomatoes. I used to love to show them off to anyone willing to come out and look but was always confused why the adults wanted to see the marijuana garden that my parents grew and never cared about my tomatoes nearly as much. This had a direct influence on my beginning career choice as an adult.

I worked on a couple cannabis farms before the medical and recreational marijuana movements that regulate the industry today and witnessed how most of these growers would cut corners by using synthetic chemical inputs to produce a product that was both unsafe for the user and the environment. Without any sort of testing in place people were stuck with what these growers produced. Seeing the destruction of these old growing practices made me realize that we needed to find a safer, more sustainable way to grow.

I have spent the past 5 years on the forefront of the medical cannabis industry in Humboldt county working every stage of the process from start to finish, living onsite for 8 months or more a year. I always pushed to give the synthetic fertilizers and sprays the boot - replacing them with compost teas for both fertilizer + spraying - as well as planting companion crops both during production and in the off season to help keep the soil alive.

During these past years of living onsite full time from March-November with little time off most days 8- 10 hours some days 12-15 hours during harvests was a grind. Despite the long hours, I would still find time every day to devote to my small personal food garden. This is where I kept my childhood passion for growing food alive. When people would come and visit I would do exactly as I did when I was a kid and show off my tomatoes and the rest of the food garden before I gave a tour of anything else.

My time spent outside the garden is spent fishing, paddleboarding, hiking or foraging for native wild plants or herbs of all types, usually to make homemade wildcrafted jams. I’m always accompanied by my timber wolf/husky Bella - climbing to the highest point possible to look out over the place we had just explored. I am excited to now be a part of a team of like minded individuals that help spread the universal language of gardening and permaculture with whomever wants to listen and even some that don't!