Today at Blue Ridge Napping Institute, Camille, our friend Jess, and I (Riley) helped Tom open the flood gates on his pond in order to flush out two years worth of sediment.


Before we opened the gates, the pond’s dam was filled to the brim with sand, and the water was only a few inches deep.  I was shocked to learn that just two years ago, the pond had a depth of six feet.

So what happened?  —Erosion happened.

Flood3Although some degree of stream and bank erosion is normal, Tom’s dam has no doubt sped up and even worsened the otherwise natural phenomenon (Read more about how dams increase erosion here).

As we struggled to open the flood gates, I began thinking about all the other short-sighted and unsustainable human activities that have so dramatically increased the erosion of Earth’s topsoil.

Deforestation; the overgrazing of livestock; continuously tilling and monocropping farmland.  –Not only are these myopic and irresponsible practices eroding topsoil at break-neck speed, but this (unnecessary and unnatural) erosion is resulting in the desertification of our land and the pollution of our waterways.

(Ever hear of the Dust Bowl?)

According to Volkert Engelsman, an activist with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (quoted in Scientific American), “We are losing 30 soccer fields of soil every minute, mostly due to intensive farming,”

This is astonishing considering (according to the Natural Resource Conservation Service)  most soil scientists agree that it takes at least 100 years, and in some places up to 500 years (depending on climate, vegetation, and other factors) for Nature to build just one inch of topsoil.

So how do we stop this madness? –What can we do to prevent and /or curb the effects of erosion?  Here are a few ideas:

Can you think of other ways we can prevent erosion?  –If so, please share your ideas in the comment section below.




Placemaking 2015: Gulfport Community Garden

Mother Mana’s 2014 New Year’s Resolution was to help transform an empty, unused city lot in Gulfport, Florida into a beautiful, abundant space. –A space for growing food, kinship, culture, and greater self-sufficiency.

2014 has officially come and gone, and we are happy to report that our (collective) envisioned transformation of that vacant city lot is well underway; and the friendships and connections that have come about as a result of this project are greater and more rewarding than we could have ever imagined.

The garden”Before”

 Here’s what took place over the last year:

 January 2014, we placed an ad in the Gulfport Gabber inviting community members to gather and discuss the potentials of a community garden.

Several people attended the meeting and expressed an interest in creating a space that would foster community, and set Gulfport and South St. Pete on a path toward greater food security and self sufficiency.

georgeAfter this initial meeting, the group began meeting weekly to generate a list of specific goals, and get clear on a vision for the garden.  As a result of this work, Mother Mana was awarded two full scholarships to a  permaculture course taught by Koreen Brennan of Grow Permaculture.

During the 6 week course (which began March 2014), Mother Mana teamed up with fellow students Sara Perszyk & Lisa Fletcher to create a design and site map for the garden (based on the vision and list of goals agreed upon by the members of the community garden).


Upon completing the permaculture design course, Mother Mana brought the final design back to the other garden members, and since that time everyone has worked together as a team to make our collective vision a reality.

We began the first physical transformations of the space in September 2014, hosting a “work party” where community members came together to sheet mulch the property.  In October we began planting a small food forest in the Northwest corner of the property.

foodforest          muclh5

A few months later, Nick from MicroUrban Farms helped us ring in the new year by installing the garden’s first raised bed. (It’s 4 ft. wide, 8 ft. long, 18 inches deeps, and made of untreated, Farmed Cypress).    And January 17, 2015, garden members participated in Gulfport’s MLK Day of Service:

 sale    nick

Volunteers came together to mulch the garden, and also hosted a rummage sale which raised over $1,000 to be put toward monthly water bills, the growing of food, and education initiatives.. –Gulfport Grind generously donated coffee for the event, and Larson & Son Lanscape delivered a load of topsoil for our bed.

turnips      babies

January 25th we reaped our first turnip harvest from the garden’s small food forest, and also  transplanted starts of beans, peas, cauliflower, and broccoli into the raised bed.  And February 1st we started construction on the tool shed.  What a year!

GardenShyanne3 garden

(Please note that although Mother Mana was responsible for launching this placemaking project, the success and progress of the garden is the result of the dedication and hard work of ALL the garden’s members and volunteers, as well as those who have made donations and shown support for this project. )

  • To read in-depth blog entries chronicling the progress of the Gulfport Community Garden from 2014 to 2016, follow this link.