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.

 

LAURA DAMSGAARD

My professional career began in education, and I’ve always had a love for research, learning, and communicating with others. After having children, I began educating myself further on the environment, local ecosystems, and where our food was coming from. Everything I learned returned me to the soil. I became fascinated with the critical importance of healthy soil and the dynamic ecosystem beneath our feet. I feel fortunate to be working with a team of people who prioritize health and the environment, and who are committed to helping others adopt permaculture principles into their lives.  

After graduate school and obtaining a California Teaching Credential, I earned an AS degree in Environmental Horticulture and became a UCCE Master Gardener. I strongly believe in continued education and maintaining best practices, so I'm a Qualified ReScape California Designer, Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL), and certified Permaculture Designer. I also value my involvement with the APLD, CNPS and Foothill Horticulture communities.

When I’m not designing gardens or working in them, I’m happiest spending time with my family in Half Moon Bay and always look forward to our next outdoor adventure.

 

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!