Posts Tagged ‘permaculture’

don’t miss these workshops

January 12, 2012

I’m often asked how I got started doing what I do. It’s not always a short answer. When I trace my path back in time, it leads me to several amazing people and ideas. And they’re not all so obviously related to crafting body care products. Here are some of the people I’ve learned from and continue to learn from, the ideas that inspire me, and the practices I aspire to deeply know. I hope that you’ll take the opportunity to get to know them, too.

Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) course with Andrew Faust
Starting February 18, 2012.

I’m always excited to introduce folks to the ways of permaculture, especially the way Andrew teaches it. You’ll see the world in a whole new light and learn to define things differently, too – from the corporate oligarchy we are governed by to what “sustainability” really means. Andrew just has a different way of putting things, as you’ll see from the two video links below. A message from Andrew Faust & co., below…

Thinking about joining us but want to know more about our course? You can always visit our website, but to immediately get to the heart of what we’re about watch this video and listen to Andrew Faust talk about the beauty that is permaculture and what you will learn in our PDC. Share it with your friends!

Watch: Learning to Live Well with the Earth

Here is another video of Andrew talking at Occupy Wall Street that has been making it’s way around the internet.

Watch: Occupy the Economy

Our entire teaching team is passionate about teaching Permaculture and sharing the tools for positive solutions. From Bill Young the biodiversity specialist who reforested Fresh Kills to Lisa DePiano cooperative business pioneer creating revenue and relationships between bicycle compost pick-up, CSA’s and restaurants, you will learn dynamic ways to create opportunity and abundance wherever you are.

Our Urban Permaculture focus will feature two excellent field trips: one to the extensive green roof laboratory on Randall’s Island with Dwaine Lee of the Horticultural Society and another visiting the community garden’s of the Lower East Side that have been retrofitted to harvest rainwater and reclaim brownfields with Lars Chellberg and Paula Hewit Amram.

Know that we are constantly striving to make each PDC better than the last by continuing to educate ourselves and stay relevant in this dynamic world. Andrew is a true scholar and brings to each student his solid experience from a life of active learning: from deep nature to concrete jungle, from classic tomes to the newest books and theories on evolution.

Speaking of tomes and books, Andrew has a tumblr blog where he is, amongst other things, writing reviews for the many books he reads that contribute to the material he teaches in our course. 

We hope you can join us!

Here’s to our new bright year!
May we all realize our connections and live with a whole heart.

Beekeeping & Urban Homesteading with Meg Paska

Meg is the best! From bees to bunnies, you’ll learn all the basics of urban homesteading from this super smart lady with lotsa heart.

Online Urban Beekeeping 101- 1/22 (3 sessions):
Learn the ins-and-outs of beekeeping from a city-dweller’s perspective. From honeybee anatomy and behavior to pests and diseases to honey harvesting, we’ll cover a full season of beekeeping from Spring through Winter so that you can feel confident starting your first beehive this year!

Growing Edible Mushrooms at Home- 2/12:
In this workshop, you’ll learn how to turn waste into delicious, meaty mushrooms. We’ll make mushroom logs from tree cuttings, grow oyster mushrooms in espresso grounds and discuss stem butt cultivation with salvaged burlap sacks! Students will take home a mushroom log of their own!

Backyard Homesteading Bootcamp- 4/7 (all day):
In this day long workshop, you’ll learn how to turn your small space into a functioning homestead. Learn gardening, composting, chicken and rabbit basics, beekeeping basics, diy home and body care,* homebrewing and food preservation. (*I’ll be leading this part!)

Workshops with Leda Meredith

One of the biggest catalysts for my journey toward a plant-focused lifestyle was one of Leda’s foraging tours in Prospect Park. Get a full list of Leda’s workshops here; below are some of her personal favorites.

Fermentation Workshop in Park Slope, BK

Saturday 11 February 2012 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Did you know that fermented cabbage has more vitamin C than plain old raw cabbage? That you can ferment root vegetables into tasty beers? Here’s how to turn the ho-hum local storage crops of winter into super-healthy, safe, easy to make fermented foods. We’ll cover fermented veggies like sauerkraut, basic alcohol fermentation, and yogurt – making.

Space is VERY limited (as in at my apt.), so please reserve a spot soon if you’re interested.

Herbs, Herb Gardens, & Herbalism @NYBG

4 Wednesdays January 18 – February 8 2012 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Study the history of herbalism and herb garden design. Take an in-depth look at some of the most historically important herbs, their uses, and cultivation requirements. Ancient as well as contemporary uses of individual herbs are discussed. A visit to the LuEsther T. Mertz Library to view centuries-old herbals completes the class.

Ehtnobotany of Our Native Flora @NYBG

2 Fridays, 27 January & 3 February 2012 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

From spicebush to wild ginger, sassafras to trillium, our region is rich in culinary and medicinal plants largely neglected in contemporary use. Learn the historical use of these plants by native Americans, the Shakers, and other settlers. Plant identification and uses as well as sustainable harvesting techniques will be covered. Dress for the weather.

The Art of Herbal Medicine Making with Robin Rose Bennett

This class is amazingly fun. You’ll get hands-on experience making your very own herbal medicine with plants growing in our bioregion. Robin is so lovely, and has a wealth of herbal healing knowledge.

There is nothing as empowering as making your own medicines. Crafting your own herbal preparations will save you lots of money, and you will feel healthier and happier than ever before. In this class we will work with fresh (and some dried) herbs, making several types of tinctures (with and without alcohol), liniments, oils, infusions, vinegars, syrups, salves, decoctions, poultices, compresses, fomentations, and more! Robin Rose will share some of her favorite recipes and most effective remedies. Herbs are magical, but preparing and using them doesn’t have to be mystifying. Come enjoy a fun, enriching experience, and then do try this at home!

Note: A $15 materials fee is payable to the teacher at the first session.

(6 sessions) Thursdays, April 5–May 17, 8–10pm
No class on April 12.
12WHN28T For CEUs click here
Members: $200 / Nonmembers: $215



festival of ideas for the new city, streetfest – may 7

April 20, 2011

Do we need a new city? Is there something wrong with our old city? Sure, there are a lot of things going right in this big urban place we live in – a vast public transportation network, small & densely packed dwellings (saving on energy & other resources), new & improved bike lanes & pedestrian areas, great parks. But there is still a lot of room for improvement. “What?” you may ask. Come to the Festival of Ideas for the New City to find out what the true visionaries are already doing & planning to pave the way to an even better city.

MOS Collective at the Festival

Come for the StreetFest on May 7th to visit an incredible array of organizations & individuals reshaping the city. I’ll be there with the MOS Collective, doing free demos & selling my body care & cleaning solutions. And I’m breaking out my personal care product body map for the occasion (see below). My pals, DeeDee & Marga, also of said Collective, will be creating personalized maps, highlighting your favorite sustainable resources throughout the city. Shig & Annie will be singing the praises of compost (Annie might also be selling her book, Gastropolis).

Check out this cool interactive map to find where we’ll be on the day. We’ll be there from 11am to 7pm.

My friend Kate Payne will also be there promoting her awesome new book, The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking.

Here are some of the other amazing folks who’ll be there…

Brooklyn Flea Food Vendors

Brooklyn Grange Farm

Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP)

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm & Growing Chefs



Farm City

Fine & Raw Chocolate

Green My Bodega & Foodshed Market

GreenHome NYC


Hot Bread Kitchen

Lower East Side Ecology Center

and so many more!

It is guaranteed to be an inspiring time.

expounding on hot grease

December 5, 2010

In a shipping container in the backyard of Roberta’s restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn is the home of Heritage Radio Network – an internet radio station dedicated to spreading the good food gospel. My friend Nicole Taylor (aka Food Culturist) hosts a show on said station. It’s called Hot Grease (knowing she’s from Georgia, it’s apropos).

A few weeks ago, I was on her show, with an air date TBD. Well, while I was off on my digital detox, the program aired. I only found out after sifting through my emails last night. You can listen to the interview from the Heritage Radio Network site or via podcast on iTunes.

Expounding on Hot Grease

Since it’s only about a 15 minute interview, we didn’t dig too deeply into some of the subjects. So after you give it a listen, see below for more info on some of the stuff we discussed.

Natural Living Skills

For more on the Eco Libris Green Books Campaign, check out the review I wrote of Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.

No New Clothes

Read all about the Brooklyn Green Team’s No New Clothing Challenge here.


An entire radio station could be dedicated to all things permaculture, let alone an entire show. Here are a few places to start:

Permaculture Principles (the site is inspired by one of the founders of Permaculture, David Holmgren)

Permaculture Institute

Permaculture Activist Magazine (one of my very favorite publications)

The New York Permaculture Meetup Group. Anyone can go to one of their meetings, held the first Tuesday of every month. Meet some great people and learn about the cool ecological projects happening in and around NYC.

To see my design project for the Permaculture Design Certification, check out this post.

Healthy Home Consulting

This is what I do.

Make-it-yourself Parties

Okay, I don’t think we discussed these, but we should have. 😉 I’m now offering make-it-yourself beauty and cleaning product parties. You supply the people and place and I’ll supply the rest ($30 per person). Everyone walks away with 3 customized products and recipes to try at home. Email me for more info: liz (at) raganella (dot) com.

The Hot Five

Five simple things you can do to lead a healthier, more ecological lifestyle.

5. Take off your shoes as you enter your home. Easy enough.

4. Bring in plants. Learn more about the amazing filtering ability of plants.

3. Swap out your cleaning products. Check out the Berkeley Ecology Center’s simple cleaning recipes or try these botanically based formulas from the Herb Companion.

2. Swap out your beauty/hygiene products.Earthly Bodies & Heavenly Hair by master herbalist Dina Falconi is a book I constantly refer to for inspiration in making my own beauty products.

1. Compost. Check out the NYC Compost Project for tips on composting. Find all the places to compost in Manhattan on the Compost Green Map. This site isn’t quite populated with enough data yet, but FindAComposter has potential to offer people across the country with a go-to source for finding a place to compost.

real help for haiti – UPDATE

July 28, 2010

There are only 5 days left to reach the goal for Hands That Feed on Kickstarter (read more about the project below). The thing with Kickstarter is, if they don’t make their goal, they don’t get any of the money pledged. But here’s the good part, a generous donor has just offered to work outside Kickstarter and independently match the next $2,000 in donations that are made!

If you think it’s a worthy cause, all you have to pledge is $10. If you don’t have $10, maybe you could tell a few friends who do. Please watch the video and read on to learn more. Then give generously, if you can.

Big earthquakes – like the one that hit Haiti in January – often leave a wake of disaster. And the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti was disastrous to an already compromised country, affecting approximately 3 million people, leaving people homeless and hurt, taking people’s lives. But out of the destruction, comes opportunity. An opportunity to heal the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

There are many methods for helping people in need, but which are most effective? Giving the power to the people to help themselves, in my mind, will have the longest lasting positive effects. Enter, Hands That Feed:

Hands That Feed is a documentary film exploring the agricultural collapse in Haiti, its role in the post-earthquake food crisis, and the emerging grassroots development models that seek to restore Haiti’s food supply and environment.

The Film

Hands That Feed will narrate the experiences of dynamic young adults in post-earthquake Haiti, representing a range of innovative grassroots recovery organizations, as they seek to build a sustainable future for the country. The film starts on the streets of Port-au-Prince. Following our characters through day-to-day life, the viewer learns how Haiti lost the ability to feed itself, turning a natural disaster into a crisis. The inspiring young people undergo personal transformation, mirroring the potential transformation of the nation, as they study sustainable agriculture techniques and trauma relief through yoga practices. They then tour the country as teachers, experiencing the hardships of post-earthquake Haiti. The viewer witnesses the challenges, frustration, and victories of teaching society to be self-sufficient in both agriculture and leadership.

Learn more about Hands That Feed and consider supporting them by giving to their Kickstarter campaign so they can complete this important project.

urban permaculture opportunities

June 16, 2010

I am heartened at the increasing number of offerings and growing interest in permaculture design courses in the city. It tells me that more and more people are becoming mindful of our connection to the earth and the great impact we can have – positive or negative – on it. Some friends new to the method have been asking where they could study the triple-bottom-line principles of permaculture. I always respond, it’s not really a matter of where you study, but who you study with. Who we learn from and the context in which we learn should reflect how and where we practice permaculture. While I’d love to go to the country to study, the skills I learn may not apply to the urban setting in which I live and will practice. As the saying often used in permie circles goes, “it depends.”

If you or someone you know is interested in an urban permaculture design certification (PDC), check out these offerings in the city this summer, listed by teacher.

Andrew Faust

Andrew puts the state of the world into perspective by focusing on its evolutionary history and the leverage points that matter – reducing our personal and environmental exposure to toxins, cultivating more diverse & beneficial heirloom plants & heritage breed animals, and building strong communities. (NB: I have a bias, I did take Andrew’s PDC!)

Classes begin: August 14 (11 sessions, Saturdays & Sundays through October)

Cost: $1000 (due to the hard economic times, he’s extending the early bird discount to all attendees)

More info and registration

Ariane Burgess

According to the Open Center class description: Ariane “teaches Gaia Education’s Design for Sustainability courses in Findhorn, Scotland, and Thailand. Her research focuses on best practices for transitioning human settlements into resilient and regenerative ones. She is the founder of Regenerative Culture, which is dedicated to the education and design of regenerative communities.”

Classes begin: July 17 (12 sessions, Saturdays & Sundays through October)

Cost: $1225, unless you’re an Open Center member, in which case it’s $1180. (Payment plan is available.)

More info and registration

Claudia Joseph

If you want to get your hands dirty learning DIY skills in a historic setting from a woman who has been involved in agricultural and ecological education since the 90s, take this class.

Classes begin: July 17 (12 sessions, Saturdays & Sundays)

Cost: $1,150  5% discount before July 1
Scholarships & work-trade available on a limited basis by application process

More info and registration

UPDATE! ecological living workshop series

June 1, 2010

We’re offering this workshop again, mark your calendars! This time, the class includes 30 minutes of asana (yoga). See you there!

I’ll be leading a series of workshops starting in June that focus on ecological living skills, with the first one focused on creating a healthy home environment. Full details below, and on Facebook!


Thursday, June 10, 2010
7pm to 9pm
455 Grand Street #3, Brooklyn NY 11211

There is a connection between our choices, our health, and the well-being of everyone on the planet. You are an integral part of this interrelationship. This hands-on workshop series is designed to help you develop skills for living as a more active participant in a regenerative and abundant culture, and a little less as a consumer dependent on what are often destructive and exploitative means. There is also empowerment in making your own things, which has far-reaching psychological benefits, and a depletion that comes with consuming, which also has far-reaching effects. We’ll talk about that a little bit as well.

The series will be led by me and hosted by the most gracious and generous Julia Frodahl, of Deer Stop. Please follow the link below to read more about Julia. Also please note, it is not necessary to attend every workshop in the series. You can pick and choose from the ones that interest you and that work with your schedule.



Home is a sacred place, a place to feel at ease and secure, and a place to regenerate. Unfortunately, the air in our homes as well as our workplaces can be up to 10 times worse than the air outside (and our city has poor air to begin with – yikes!). But fret not! There are several simple solutions you can implement to improve the health of your home, as well as those who inhabit it.

In this interactive workshop, you will:
1. deepen your skills of observation and interact with “stuff” in a new way
2. recognize patterns in your routine that might contribute to an unhealthy home
3. learn about plants that filter out toxins in your home
4. make your own customized cleaning products
5. walk away with skills you can apply right away

We will provide you with all you need to create, but feel free to bring your favorite essential oils to enhance your cleaning products.

Light snacks will be served.


This workshop is $25 and requires registration. Please email to register. (An RSVP here of “attending” does not register you. Please RSVP here AND email Julia.) Also, please consider re-posting this event for your friends.


no wars & no cars: an evening with richard register

March 25, 2010

Is New York primed to become an ecocity? How do you imagine life in such a place? Richard Register has some ideas…


No wars and no cars: Ecocities according to Richard Register
A talk and discussion
Wednesday, March 31
@ The Commons
388 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn
(btwn Hoyt & Bond)
Suggested exchange: $15
Get tickets

In an ecocity, residents live a good life while using minimal natural resources. Buildings make best use of sun, wind and rainfall. Natural habitat corridors foster biodiversity and give residents access to nature. Food and other goods are sourced from within the bioregion. Most residents walk or cycle to work, and take public transportation when they need to travel further. Car-sharing allows people to use a car only when needed. The labor-intensive economy maintains full employment and minimizes energy and water inputs. Goods are designed for reuse, remanufacture, and recycling; and production is designed to reuse by-products and minimize transport.

Ecocities will be exciting and rewarding places to live, communities that will foster humanity’s creative and compassionate evolution on a healthy Earth.

Richard Register believes we can build them and he thinks we already know how.

**Richard Register** is founder of Ecocity Builders and author of “Ecocities – Rebuilding Cities in Balance with Nature.” For more than thirty years he has been initiating local projects, pushing establishment buttons and working with environmentalists and developers. He travels incessantly and has circled the planet dozens of times speaking about ecological design, but it’s been a decade since Register visited New York.

the turning point: a return to community

February 22, 2010

An industrialized world such as the one we live in has its advantages. Cool computer technology that allows us to communicate instantly with people around the globe; high-speed transport that has the ability to take us to a foreign land within hours, not days; medical advances that give sick or injured people better chances of surviving or thriving. But it seems in our fast progression to this industrialized society, some important aspects of life were left behind.

We’ve lost the skills that allow us to be self-reliant and at the same time we’ve lost our ability to depend on our neighbors. We’ve lost our sense of community.

Yet there’s a growing movement to re-establsh what we’ve lost while regaining a newfound abundance in the world around us. Entire towns are being transformed and villages established that meet the permaculture principles of “care for people, care for the earth, and share the abundance.” One such village, considered an “eco-village” since the 1980s, is Findhorn, Scotland.

The Turning Point: A Return to Community features Findhorn, its community, and the community’s dwindling dependence on fossil fuels. I was lucky to be part of one of its first North American screenings.

The Turning Point shows us that it’s possible to have a rich, fulfilling life during energy descent without sacrificing comfort and security. If a community is comprised of people with diverse skills and strengths, and has a strong ecological infrastructure, it can be a resilient and successful one. Some of the features the village of Findhorn boasts include:

Home made from recycled whisky barrels, Findhorn

The home above was made from recycled whisky barrels.

Like the Transition Town movement started in Ireland and the UK, Findhorn ecovillage demonstrates what life can be like in a post-peak-oil world. It isn’t a return to a rag-and-bone agrarian existence. It isn’t all doom and gloom. As long as we start the changes now, we can thrive in a world with little reliance on fossil fuels. The Turning Point film is a peek into a future we can all look forward to.

A living machine, like the one in Findhorn, at Oberlin College

If you’d like to see The Turning Point: A Return to Community, visit the film’s website.

For more information on Ecovillages and Transition Towns:

For more about Findhorn:

Images source: Wikipedia

evidence of action: check out my fellow permies!

January 13, 2010

Hey everybody!

Want to learn a little bit more about what this permaculture thing is all about? Check out the presentations put on by my classmates in last year’s permaculture design certification course with Andrew Faust.

You can see my presentation about 1/3 of the way down the post.


Me and my ‘assistants’ holding up my permaculture site design.

obituaries inspire me

December 7, 2009

Reading the Times this morning, I came across two headlines that grabbed my attention. They were both titles of obituaries, summing up a man’s life in four words. To have seemingly led such a focused life, dedicated to a specific environmental cause, intrigues me – a broad generalist. I also feel a mix of emotions for not having heard of these men before their respective deaths. A twinge of sadness, yes, but also a feeling of gratefulness that they graced this earth, leaving a positive impression on it. An impression strong enough to compel the web editor of The New York Times to publish it on the homepage.

Clarence Petty, Protector of the Adirondacks, dies at 104


It wasn’t his age that caught my eye (thought that number is quite impressive, no?). I have fond memories of hiking in the Adirondacks as a high school student, and have recently had the longing to feel those mountains under my feet again. I now know I can thank this man for securing the place for my return visit.

“If things go bad and everything seems to go wrong, the best place to go is right into the remote wilderness, and everything’s in balance there.”

~Clarence Petty

Read about Clarence Petty, how he was commissioned to survey the Adirondack park, how he was integral in protecting millions of acres of land, and how he attracted opposition.

Learn more about Clarence Petty on this dedication page on the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC-NY) site.

Malcolm Wells, Champion of ‘Gentle Architecture,’ dies at 83


After recently completing permaculture certification, I’m hyper aware of things like natural building, passive solar design, and earth-friendly structures (like this ‘hobbit home’ I tweeted about last week). As soon as I saw ‘gentle architecture’ in this obit synopsis, I immediately knew what Mr. Wells spent his life championing. He inspired the likes of William McDonough, who called him a ‘hidden jewel.’

“In the world of what has become known as green building,” Mr. McDonough added, “Malcolm Wells was seminal, actually inspirational, for some people, me included.”

Read more about Malcolm Wells, how he designed the RCA pavilion for the 1964 World’s Fair, and how that led him down the path to create gentle architecture.

Visit where you can read his autobiographic obituary.

[image 1 credit; image 2 credit]