Two Tours in a Week!

This Sunday, Regenerative Landscaping is welcoming the St. Louis Sustainable Backyard Tour to Illinois for the first time ever! There is an open yard June 11th from 11AM to 4PM. Over 40 backyards are open in and around St. Louis.

For more information on the tour and to register to plan your visits, go to For more information about Regenerative Landscaping, go to

Also, people wanting to learn more about permaculture up close are invited to attend the Southern Illinois Farming Alliance Field Day in Fairview Heights. Jeffrey Pitts of Regenerative Landscaping will lead a tour of his half acre suburban site showing how he has incorporated permaculture principles.

Pitts has planted herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees including apple, apricot, peach, plum, pear, nectarine, persimmon, pawpaw, along with mulberry, sassafras, 50ft of blackberries, cherry bushes, raspberries, honey berries, currants, hardy kiwi, and goji berries around his home. Pitts’ yard and gardens have been planned using permaculture principles to minimize maintenance and maximize production and efficiency.

“It’s great when your children can walk into their backyard and snack on their favorite fruit”, said Jeffrey Pitts. “They are much more likely to enjoy eating healthy food when they are involved and can watch real food growing in their backyard!”

The Field Day at Regenerative Landscaping is Saturday, June 17th at 1 p.m.. at 29 Roselawn Ave. Fairview Heights, IL 62208. To attend, go to or call 618-370-3287.

Field Days are a great opportunity for small farmers, homesteaders, and home gardeners to network and learn from their fellow food growers. During the Field Day, Pitts will lead the group on a short farm tour, focusing in on one element of production that has been a success or challenge that they can share with the group. Participants are encouraged to ask questions and share experiences during the event. Pitts will highlight the success of the use of zones and will discuss the trees that have posed challenges.

The Southern Illinois Farming Alliance is a network of growers and farmers employing sustainable methods to produce food. SIFA is sponsored by the Southern Illinois based nonprofit organization Food Works which works to advance a sustainable food system in the region. Learn more at


20161229_213029For Christmas, one of my brothers bought another brother mushroom shiitake spawn! It came as dowel rods filled with shiitake mycelium. Most people think of mushrooms as the fruiting body (toadstool), but the largest part of a mushroom is the mycelium (mushroom roots) that colonize a carbon source: paper, wood chips, sawdust, or in this case, logs. 20161229_210958We cut 3 foot sections of walnut, then drilled holes that matched the dowel rod sizes every 2 inches in three equally spaced columns down the side of each log. Afterwards, we used a hammer to pound a dowel rod into each hole (see below).

20161229_215656This is similar to planting young mushroom fungi into the wood, with the goal of it colonizing the log to convert it into shiitake mushrooms! The key is keeping the log moist, so it has to stay out of the sun and be watered or soaked to keep it from drying out. The last step of preparation is to seal the dowels with bees wax to slow down the drying process as much as possible.

IMG_29791After the log has been fully colonized (~6 months), we will force the log to fruit by soaking it for 24 hours in water, then keeping them around 70 degrees. They should fruit about a week later.

(By the way, the log on Jared’s shoulder is 30lbs!)

Plans and Priorities for the New Year

During the winter is a great time to reflect on priorities, since things have slowed down from the holidays and there’s not much to do outside. Last year, when I listened to Jack Spirko’s podcast on Getting Ready for Spring I set about 9 project goals for the year, including finishing the duck paddocks in our back yard, starting a tree nursery, and buying land. Out of the 9, 7 were accomplished and one more was started. So when it came to the first of this year, I was excited to evaluate the projects I have for this year, prioritize them, and develop the plans for making them happen. This was also the first year that Christi helped add to the project list.

Jack Spirko suggested making a list of projects, then prioritizing them based on how much you want them and how much you need them. Also, adding the cost in terms of money and your time will help in balancing between what you can do yourself and what is better to hire out. I’ve added a couple of new columns: Category (to keep track of where the project is needed) and Schedule (when I am planning on accomplishing the project). Not all the projects are on a schedule, because it depends on what I am able to accomplish.

Annual Goals Project List

On December 30th, our pastor gave a great sermon on making plans for the new year. Some improvements in life don’t cost and are ongoing, but they do take a plan. Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”, so we added another tab to our Project Priorities spreadsheet. It helps to have a list of what you would like to do and put plans to actually accomplish them.Annual Goals Plan List

Here is a link to a template spreadsheet for tracking your plans and priorities.

Getting Ready for Spring!

I am so excited to be enrolled in the Geoff Lawton Permaculture Design Course this winter! This opportunity is giving me even more tools to help teach how to produce healthy food and do it in an enjoyable way. I am really looking forward to all the designs that Regenerative Landscaping will implement this spring!

RLFoodForestThat reminds me that I already have Seaberry and Naking Cherry bushes on order for this spring. I would like to start working with you on designing projects now, so we can order all the rest of the plants that are needed for a thriving/regenerative ecosystem. There are usually short windows that trees can be shipped during the spring, so contact me if you’re ready to start planning for this spring!

Here’s some inspiration for you!

“Restoration Agriculture” – Mark Shepard

20150108_154618 This Thursday, I had a great opportunity to go to the 6th Agroforestry Symposium, hosted by The Center for Agroforestry at Mizzou. There were many good speakers including a Land Owner’s Panel Discussion (see picture). They hosted the Agroforestry Field Day I attended back in October.


My main reason for going was to hear Mark Shepard speak and hopefully meet him. He wrote a great book named “Restoration Agriculture” that has inspired me in Regenerative Landscaping. I even have some trees on order from his farm in Wisconsin to try out for Regenerative Landscaping. I was excited to meet him and get a signed copy of his book. I hope to get a chance to implement some more of his big ideas on regenerative agriculture.


Psalm 1 – Tree Reference

Agroforestry Field Day!

I drove 3 hours this morning to attend Mizzou’s Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center 2014 Field Day. It included a great, informational tour of many of their projects. Here are some pictures from the tour:

This is an area where they are testing different walnut varieties. I couldn’t help but think of how much it looks like a park. Imagine parks that gave you food! It would just take someone willing to harvest.

Walnut Test Varieties

They were also testing out Pecan varieties:

Test Pecan Varieties
Pecan Test Varieties

And Chestnut varieties (video of harvester):

Chestnut Test Varieties


One of the main ideas that I’m interested in from today is Silvopasture, which combines trees, forage, and livestock. The livestock get tree cover to shade them during the hot summer and protect them from wind during the cold winter. The forage (grasses, legumes, etc.) have a more even production throughout the year. The trees hold heat closer to the ground, extending the forage growing season, and keep them from overheating during the hottest summer days. During all of this, the trees get fertilized by the livestock!

It was a little chilly, but all in all, a great day of learning. I’ll leave you with a picture of one of the beautiful farms I passed on the way home.


The Beginning…

I guess that if I had to point to the one thing that most influenced my love of the outdoors, it would be the time I spent exploring my Grandparent’s farm in Southwest Missouri. My mom grew up on their 120-acre farm, which was more like a homestead. Just about the only thing they did commercially was beef cattle, and even that wasn’t a large operation. They had at least a half-acre of garden with some fruit trees (plum and peach).

By the time I was born, they had sold some of the land, but still had 40 acres of forest and pasture. I remember spending all day, during our visits, catching tadpoles down at one ofGrandpaAndJeffrey their ponds, exploring the forest, or riding along with Grandpa to hay the cows. I remember going out to the “well house” with Grandma to get a jar of canned green beans. It was a whole shed full of canned goods that she had worked on that year.

Grandpa and Grandma had always loved nature. Here are a couple of pictures of them admiring the rose bushes and orange trees in Florida while they were on their honeymoon. DickAndLottie

Grandpa always loved exploring. He could remember, well into his 90s, the route he took when he moved his family from Seattle, Washington back to Missouri. Here is a picture of DadMountainhim standing on a mountain out west.

I’m hoping that Regenerative Landscaping will be an adventure, learning new ways to build life into the environments we all live in. The world around us should be productive, not consuming our time and resources in mediocrity. Please join us as we learn to help all people, everywhere, live in a productive and life-giving environment!