311: Joshua Burman Thayer on Mediterranean Food Forests.

Bringing exotic flavor to local food systems.


Joshua has a degree in Community Engineering from Humboldt State University. He proudly admits he has always had his hands in the Earth, especially through his extensive travels throughout the Americas working with communities around plants and food.  He worked as a WWOOF volunteer on organic farms throughout Latin America, and as a laborer on organic CSA farms in California. He gained even more experience while apprenticing and working in ecological landscape design, as well as doing native plant field research with renowned mentors.

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Joshua has become a lead designer and advocate for uniting ecology with aesthetics, creating beautiful, productive, natural systems that work with nature to foster bounty.


In This Podcast:

Starting off at age 18, Joshua Burman Thayer was headed in the direction of working with plants and nature. He took his time before getting his permaculture certificate, but he packed a lot of learning and hands-on experience in during that period. Now, he is sharing that training, knowledge, and passion as he builds food forests, educates his clients, and writing articles about permaculture and food forest design.

Listen in and learn about:

  • Getting started in drought tolerant food forest and climate design
  • What a Mediterranean zone is and where they can be found
  • What a food forest is and why it is different from an orchard
  • Why he took so long to get his design certificate
  • His definition of Permaculture
  • What he was learning during his studies
  • How he is planting seeds of permaculture concepts
  • Some of the native restoration projects he worked on
  • The transformative aspect of projects he worked on after a few years of management
  • Being able to work on edible food forest designs
  • Four rooftop gardens that he worked on in San Francisco
  • Some of the ways he learned from of the ways that he failed
  • Urban strategies for producing abundance
  • What bio-intensive design is and how the concept spread
  • Mother plant zones and how they help
  • Some of his mentors including Stewart Winchester, Bill McDorman, Gabriel HowEarth, Warren Brush, Christopher Shein, and Cathe Fish
  • His trip to Cuba to study permaculture and how he was challenged to start sharing what he learned (EPIC!)

As well as:

  • His failure – When he became the full-time Urban Agricultural Supervisor for five gardens which was a great success, but these did not teach enough people to get involved
  • His success – Besides his son, realizing at a young age that he wanted to work with plants and staying on that path
  • His drive – Awakening the potential in people
  • His advice – If you are considering a plant based income stream or livelihood, work with your mentors

Magazines Joshua has contributed to:

Acres U.S.A., Edible East Bay, and Mother Earth News Monthly Blog

Joshua’s Book recommendations:           

Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual by Bill Mollison

The Food Forest Handbook: Design and Manage a Home-Scale Perennial Polyculture Garden by Darrell Frey and Michelle Czolba

How to reach Joshua:         

Design Website: NativeSunGardens.com

Garden Portfolio: Houzz.com

Twitter: @NativeSunGarden

YouTube: Joshua Burman Thayer

 UrbanFarm.org/NativeSunGardens


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