My wife and I are from Canada will be visiting Tucson, Arizona from Feb 7-21 2017. We are on a round the world trip with the goal of gaining more hands on experience in the permaculture industry. If there are any farms, houses, or community gardens anybody could recommend visiting or better yet a place we could volunteer our services for a few days that would be wonderful. Thanks.
Even if Brad Lancaster is unavailable to visit personally, I highly recommend visiting the dunbar springs neighborhood where he lives and works, and just take a walk around. I did just that a few days ago and it was great to see permaculture being adopted on a neighborhood wide scale.
At least, I assume he's still around. Truthfully, it's been a few years since I talked to him. At any rate, several years ago, I spent a long weekend in Tucson, and he laid out a permaculture tour for me. It was incredible! The town has a lot of activity, permaculture-wise. There's so much to see and do. It's been so long ago, I can't begin to name everything, but here are a few ideas:
Farmer's Markets everywhere. Buy desert honey.
The University of Arizona campus is pretty cool. There's a building (Can't remember the name. Engineering building?) that harvests the condensate water from the HVAC units on the roof and has created an oasis in the middle of the campus. Incredible. Also, a couple of cheap and interesting museums on campus.
The Avra Valley swales. A must-see. Mentioned by Bill Mollison, these swales were installed by the government in the CCC, depression era. Possibly the only good thing to come from government.
There are rain collection systems EVERYWHERE! They put a real artistic flair on them, making some of them look very nice. There was a co-op on the south side of the city that held the distinction of being the largest in the city, at that time. Massive.
Community gardens, everywhere!
And, if nothing else, lots and lots of desert hiking.
A fascinating community. Just reminiscing about my weekend there made me realize how much I enjoyed my stay there.
Mike Vair-Haley, It is nice to know that you are going to take the tour of Tuscon. It is a beautiful city of Arizona and have many breathtaking places. I would suggest you to must visit the Saguaro National Park during your tour.
I left Tucson 12 years ago and still miss some things about that place (the city outgrew me, though). If you can find a contact for the Ha:san school, they were doing some permaculture stuff there back in the day. I'd tell you to stop by my old place in midtown Harlan Heights to see all the cool water harvesting stuff I put in, but it's a multi-tenant rental now and I have no idea how friendly they are to random folk looking around. Purple moosage me and I'll give you the address if you want to drive by, at least
Others have already mentioned Brad Lancaster and the Dunbar Springs neighborhood, so I'll just second that. Another must-see is Barbara Rose's Bean Tree Farm. And there's a well-kept secret called the Environmental Research Lab next to the airport https://swes.cals.arizona.edu/erl/about.htm that's worth a visit...they do tours once a month, I think. For botanical context go to Tohono Chul and Agua Caliente Park. If I think of more I'll post them...memory's a little sketchy but there are all sorts of cool things tucked away around the city.
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