The Permaculture Podcast

    Episode 1550: The Desert Harvesters with Brad Lancaster

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    My guest for today is Brad Lancaster, author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, who returns to talk about Desert Harvesters, an organization in Tucson, Arizona, using neighborhood plantings to collect urban rainwater runoff, and create community by raising awareness about native edible plants.

    We spend much of our conversation discussing the history and actions of this organization, before turning to how these ideas are spreading to other cities and towns. During the closing Brad shares some of the current research on using street runoff to irrigate roadside plants, as well as four water assessment suggestions that he uses to evaluate every site.

    Find out more about him at Desert Harvesters’ website,, has numerous resources that expand on the conversation Brad and I had today. One piece I recommend you read is the Manifeasto (PDF) by Kimi Eisele, as it is a one-page poetic encapsulates of everything Desert Harvesters stands for, including the vision and approach to spreading knowledge about native plants, and the power of celebration and capturing water run off.

    Through the use of celebration Desert Harvesters created community that leads to a greater buy-in from the changemakers in not only Tucson, but other regions as well. Through actions that started out illegally, with those first curb cuts, Brad and the others in his neighborhood showed that these ideas of using street run-off worked. Leveraging those two ideas shaped through the creation of the cookbook, they expanded the circle of influence further and further, accomplishing more collectively than through the actions of a given individual or organization. Could you use these ideas as a model in your own community to enact change?

    If you have any thoughts, questions or comments on this or anything else you heard during this episode, leave a comment here on Patreon and we can continue the conversation.  You can also reach me by email: or phone: 717-827-6266.

    From here, the next episode, out in a day or two, is a short interview with Ethan Hughes to discuss what to expect from The Possibility Handbook. On Monday, December 7, a permabyte interview with David Casey, who recently launched the site NuMundo, to talk about how to take an idea and turn it into reality. On Thursday, December 10, is Jereme Zimmerman, to share with us how to Make Mead like a Viking.

    Until the next time, spend each day creating the world you want to live in by taking care of Earth, yourself, and each other.



    Would you like to receive a free copy of the inaugural issue of Regenerative Agriculture Magazine? Now through December 31, listeners of the podcast can use the coupon code “podcast” at checkout to do just that. Go get your copy today.


    Harvesting Rainwater (Brad’s Site)
    Desert Harvesters
    The Desert Harvesters’ Manifeasto (PDF)
    Multi-Use Rain Garden Plant Lists


    1 Ping/Trackback

    1. JoyJoy
      December 8, 2015    

      Fabulous interview! Most concise interview with Brad that I’ve heard yet! He combines so many aspects of permaculture, community-building, income production, urban design, into such a happy and do-able whole.

    2. […] also like to thank author, educator, and guest of the podcast, Brad Lancaster, for his many years of support and continuing contributions to the permaculture […]

    1. The Independent Farmstead | The Permaculture Podcast on November 30, 2016 at 13:04

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