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 in Progress: Gulfport Community Garden

In January, 2014 Camille and I (Riley) launched our first joint Placemaking project:   Redesigning and reviving Gulfport Florida’s Community Garden.

January, 2014:  Gulfport Community Garden “BEFORE” 

The first step of the project was an announcement in the Gulfport Gabber inviting community members to gather and discuss the potentials of a community garden.

Approximately 15 people attended the meeting (held January 18, 2014)–and several expressed an interest in creating a space that would foster community, and set Gulfport 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, Camille and I were awarded two full scholarships to a Permaculture course taught by Koreen Brennan of Grow Permaculture.

During the 6 week course (which began March 2014), Camille and I 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 course, we brought the final design back to the other garden members, and since that time everyone has worked together to make our collective vision a reality.


During this time, a garden President,  a Secretary, and a Treasurer have been elected; decisions have been made through consensus democracy; work loads and harvests have been equally shared; and funds to cover expenses (such as the monthly water bill) have been obtained through various fundraising projects.

To date, approximately two-thirds of the original design has been implemented, including a small forest garden, community gathering space, and several rows of annual vegetables. –The garden grows as the garden crew grows. In this way, the project does not become too big too quickly, and remains sustainable.  Continuing at the current rate, the design should be completed within another year.

January, 2016:  Gulfport Community Garden (Forest Garden)

You can keep up with the progress of this placemaking project by visiting the garden’s blog.  And if you’d like to make a donation to the cause, you can do so via the garden’s GoFundMe page.

January, 2016:  Gulfport Community Garden (annual vegetable plots)

(Please note that although Camille and I were 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 their support.)

January, 2016:  The Gecko Gardeners