Creating ecosystems of related but distinct productive activity organized around regeneration of relations that exceed provision of basic needs based solidly on meaningful livelihoods, & regenerative enterprise, local living economies.

food plant nursery

rethinking livelihood

local integrated food enterprise (LIFE) approach
market & food service
productive foodscapes


Abrigada Eco Community


One of the projects that was quite dear to me, was the proposed creation of Abrigada an intentional eco community on 45 acres of land north of Lisbon. This was not a professional engagement, as I had planned on living there eventually.
The design challenge was to create various neighborhoods of naturally-built homes, each with their own character, embedded within a regenerative agriculture/agroforestry enterprises that the community would develop over time.
Among other things, the community was to be a center of mastery for natural building, including creating a bioregional economy based on generating livelihoods around producing many of the products needed for building homes in this way.
The design of the design process I worked out was based on Christopher Alexander’s Theory of centers and how these self-organize. The idea (yet to be tested) was that future residents from each neighborhood would spend time on the land, use there whole bodies to sense and image where each pod of homes could be located, given the constraints. Each then would spend time feeling where they were drawn to with in that, to site their homes, them spend time siting, eating or sleeping where they might locate various rooms, etc.
For bureaucratic reasons, the project has yet to commence after three years of seeking approvals. Fingers-crossed, something beautiful still emerges there.

Big Small Farm


Earth Learning hosted a Whole Farm Design course led by Jono Neiger took place in North Florida, on site at at Big Small Farm. (a project of Leon Elt’s)

This group design that emerged was for a large-scale farm incubator ecosystem with a dozen regenerative enterprises to be operated interdependently. It was here that LIFE (Local Integrated Food Enterprise) model was emerged more centrally into a design, integrating a dozen interconnected enterprises as essential to the workings a larger farm ecosystem.

The final design above was graphically (and professionally) produced by Regenerative Design Group.

Brook's Bend Farm

As part of a Whole Farm Design course led by Dave Jacke and Jono Neiger, I led a small team of participants on ecosocial design process for Brooksbend Farm, in Brooksbend, MA.

The design considered and integrated the social enterprise aspects of the design and became an organizing pattern for later design interventions, which would evolve into LIFE (local integrated food enterprises) approach in later designs.

Farmers Markets

Prior to 2010, Miami was saturated with pretend farmers markets: outdoor venues where vendors would resell imported food items to the public.

Realizing what was happening, our Earth Learning team designed the authentic farmers market experiences in the Greater Miami area, which we operated weekly for several years until the pattern caught on.  This was a natural outgrowth of the annual EarthFest event.

Earth Learning central green tent provided an outlet for The Farm @ Verde Gardens as well as other local organic producers. Other well-curated vendors provided all sorts of responsibly-sourced products.

Financial Permaculture


This Financial Permaculture Convergence was an Advanced Permaculture course delivered over 5 days and led by Jennifer English and Mario Yanez. Over 50 participants worked in four working groups design one of four key enterprises of the Farm @ Verde Gardens. Seasoned facilitated the working groups. Scholar-practitioners gave workshops in finance, alternative economics and permaculture. This is where the first iteration of the LIFE (Local Integrated Food Enterprise) model emerged.

Guara Ki Eco Farm


Yanez owned and operated Guara Ki farm for 22 years (1996-2018) a 2.5 acre tropical fruit grove in Homestead, Fl.

This design incorporated several market gardens, a farm house built from six large, partially-buried shipping containers, and many perennial growing systems.

It was designed as a space for learning from the outset. It was shaped by many people who came for one or more seasons to volunteer, especially Martine Millete, who was a regular and a force of nature.

Kalinago Territory

I was invited to participate in an international team to study and propose a design a regeneration plan for the Kalinago Territory in Dominica, an indigenous community that has been resilient for millennia.

The last 500 years of industrial/extractive economic paradigm have taken their toll community: social malaise, lack of meaningful livelihoods, high rates of alcoholism, failed economic schemes by central government. Hurricane Maria, was the last of many hard hits. The watersheds had suffered massive erosion and the few rivers left flowing, were mere trickles.

Our team was to study every aspect and co-create a comprehensive approach to regenerative development of the community. My role on the team was to develop an regenerative agriculture & agroforestry based design to jumpstart a local living economy.

The design addressed multiple scales: home-scale: every home nestled within a half-acre edible forest garden; community-scale: each of six communities had cooperative agriculture enterprise with a plant nursery and producer incubator program; and the territory had large-scale agroforestry enterprise buffering the sensitive ridgelines and rivers, which would be reforested with native species.

LIFE @ Opa-Locka


LIFE @ Opa-Locka is a design/build project developed in Opa-Locka, FL., another of Miami’s economically challenged areas. LIFE stands for Local Integrated Food Enterprise, a new approach to regenerative economic development that is perfect for empty lots in the urban core.

The ecosocial aspects of the design went significantly beyond the site (urban farm, food market, cafe) and included all the operational aspects (business plan, production plan, menu, staffing, etc.) as well.

LightStream Farms

LightStream Farms was another wonderful collaboration with Jono Neiger and his team at Regenerative Design Group. This time the tables where turned, since the project was based in central Florida, he was doing the overall design and I was bringing the planting plan.

The site was quite challenging, site was primarily and still operated as a sand quarry, with varying degrees of eroding pits and very wet areas.

The design team was challenged to make the most of the degraded landscape, meet regulatory requirements to compensate for damaging activities, regenerate the land, as well as provide an alternate set of enterprises, that would produce diverse income streams for the project.

In the end, the design produced a viable approach that came through on all counts!

Msalato Community Farm

Msalato Community Farm (part of the Dodoma Foodway concept) design and build process was an extraordinary experience, in many ways. Being and working in Africa (specifically, in Tanazia) was extremely humbling and amazingly frustrating as well.

The site chosen was owned by the Dodoma City Council (DCC) and being farmed with annuals by some of the employees.

The conceptual co-design process was conducted with over 90 people over several days. Later I came to learn, that very few were actually residents in the area (direct beneficiaries) of the project. My partners included Charles Muhamba and Wilhard Shishkaye, each from NGOs working in Tanzania. We were all contracted by ICLEI Africa or the project.

A beautifully rich design for was generated for a multi-enterprise farm (LIFE approach) for the direct benefit of and to be cooperatively operated by the community.

Some of the systems included: native edges for production of medicinals, wood, alternative agroforestry products, habitat, and protection; massive alley cropping rows interspersed with annual production alleys; large animal grazing areas line with fodder hedgerows; small animal area lined productive vines (grapes, others); a passive watering scheme; a keyhole garden beds surrounding a farm center (production space); learning and demonstration beds surrounding a market space. All of which required immense earthworks.

After several weeks of engaging the surrounding community, which we found out well after the design process, had not been done. And, well into the implementation of the earthworks, we were forced to completely revamp the design, because we come to find that the DCC was not on board with the project as designed. In fact, they were quite fearful of the design, which gave the the community full use of the site. The fear was that the community would take over the site completely. We came to a reconcile, redesigned to appease the DCC and I pulled away from final implementation.

Needless to say, the design presented here is the comprehensive original one.

Omni LIFE Village


The Omni LIFE Village, in the Omni neighborhood of downtown Miami, FL, was the original conceptual design (see The Landing) to activate an empty lot in this currently desolate area.

LIFE stands for Local Integrated Food Enterprise.

The design included an urban farm, food coop, design center, retail nursery, retail spaces, event/workshop space (stage, bar, café).

Overtown Community Farm


Overtown Community Farm is the latest of several design concepts for an empty lot in one of Miami’s most economically challenged neighborhoods.

Here, Inhabit Earth hosted an urban farm for the community. It consisted of a border of perennial staple crops, several annual production areas and an edible plant nursery to support it.

The farm is operated as an incubator for various local urban producers and a local youth. 

Overtown Culture Garden


The Overtown Culture Garden is a conceptual design for another empty lot in Overtown, one of Miami’s most economically challenged neighborhoods.

The design is for an event/workshop space infused with a demonstration productive landscape throughout.

Overtown Foodworks


Overtown is amongst Miami’s most challenged neighborhoods: plagued with massive corruption from its political leaders and their real estate speculation and a highly-vulnerable population that doesn’t benefit from the development, saturated with joblessness, boredom, drugs-use, violence.

With Overtown Foodworks, it was obvious that the Local Integrated Food Enterprise (LIFE) economic development model should be formalized as a vital aspect of the design.

It first emerged in early designs and was realized as part of the Farm @ Verde Gardens. The model includes an ecosystem of local food enterprises: a farm, a market, a café, and a co-working space.

The Farm @ Verde Gardens

The Farm at Verde Gardens was a unique and complex design-build project locate in Homestead, FL on a former Air force base. The project was loosely integrated into a 145-unit housing development for formerly-homeless families.
The farm’s ecosystem was made up of various interdependent enterprises (food forest, market gardens, alley cropping, dairy production, nursery, retail market, production kitchen, cafe and event space). It hosted Community Foodworks, an innovative and dynamic learning community for beginning farmers.

The Landing


The Landing was to be a new space in Omni neighborhood of downtown Miami, FL. This design is an updated conceptual design for the Omni Life Village for a new site, responsive to a new partnership context.

The design included an urban farm, food coop, design center, retail nursery, retail spaces, event/workshop space (stage, bar, café).