Regine, tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in France - my great grand parents were farmers. I have wonderful childhood memories of eating fruits, nuts , berries, grapes, artichokes in my grand parents yard... Every house in my village had a vegetable garden and my mother at 84 still grows vegetables.
I studied engineering - electronics and computer science - and spent 18 years in London, England. I worked in the Telecom industry in software development then Marketing and training of sales people. I enjoyed finding ways to explain simply complicated matters...
My first vegetable garden and green house in London were a delight - I still remember the huge vegetables I grew the first year. Year 2 was not so good: I still had no clue about enriching the soil... I moved to Atlanta Georgia with my work in 2000. My first vegetable garden attempt there was a disaster - I had no clue about the hard clay soil. Nine years later in Tallahassee, I used mushroom compost (on a friend’s advice) with great results. Great to have friends to point us to the right direction!
How did you get interested in permaculture?
A gardening friend took me to the introductory talk and something clicked then: Learning about soil, water, plants, bugs, natural building material, being with like minded people really attracted me. At this stage, I had rain barrels, compost piles, a vegetable garden and was not sure where to go next with my edible landscape idea. Now I feel my horizon has expanded so much that I see no end to where I am going!
What type of training have you had relating to Permaculture?
2005: evening class on cabinet making.
Various one week class on wood carving, wood turning, rustic furniture, making wood gifts.
2009: Ayurvedic cooking class.
Beginner Tai Chi instructor for 3 years in 2005.
2010 - 2013: facilitate neighborhood discussion group on sustainability.
What Permaculture projects have you done, or what changes have you made in your property since your Permaculture class?
What are your plans for future?
I love training and developing training material. I love to teach and enable someone to do new things or see from a different perspective. I am good at organizing.
I love wood working from cabinets making to raised beds.... I’d like to be just as good with cement or other building material natural and recycled.
I love activities that involve creativity--restoring, saving things from being thrown‘away’.
I am planning to build a green house with reclaimed doors and windows.
I am highly interested in being healthy and all it takes: yoga/Tai Chi/exercise, meditation, emotional health, nutrition (eating real food: whole grain, veggies).I would like to continue to learn about wild edible plants and edible perennial vegetables. I bought a book on this but prefer to learn from other people rather than books.I have a few edible perennial vegetables in my garden and plan to propagate the ones I have and give them to interested gardeners. I plan to share what I know and continue my education on permaculture.
What are your hopes for the world and your descendants and your community?
My hope is that we wake up fast enough. Realize that only LOVE matters - start building stronger communities. Share our knowledge, joy and pain... Enjoy returning to a more simple way of life: take time to cycle, talk with people face to face, help each other with projects... Enjoy hanging the clothes outside, sharing plants and food with neighbors.
How has permaculture knowledge changed your life?
I was not sure where to go next with my gardening - now I do not see the end of possibilities! Learn more about plants, soil, worms - the permaculture course made me realize all the stuff I don’t know. Create an edible landscape and help others to the same - all this in a sustainable way: for instance, build the soil with local material like leaves and horse manure from local farm - get away from the feeling that I will find what I need in the store...
What other things are you interested in?
Health, end of life issues, having a spiritual connection.
What in your background helps you with your permaculture designs?
Being an engineer and enjoying designing helps. I love building everything I feel inspired to use: raised bed, compost piles, cold frames... and If I can do it with old material saved from being thrown away, the better.
I can draw what I design (my industrial drawing is finally being used).
I like to think out of the box, so love to reuse old material - it is more challenging than building with new material! So sustainability comes maybe easier for me as it rubs me the wrong way to see something being damaged or wasted...
Your recommendations for others?
Start growing veggie in a 4x4 bed close to your house. Then when you enjoy the first vegetable from it, marvel at the miracle of a seed turning into a lettuce, you’re made a huge step for a healthy lifestyle - you have exercise and fresh food built into your day!
Also this is a step to stronger community because you will end up giving plants away and it creates a circle of giving and receiving...
Finally take a permaculture class and this will really broaden your horizon if you are so inclined... Learn to repair, maintain...
Anything else you'd like to share?
I love experimenting, trying out new things and not feel tied to a ritual - this is probably why I left France! To be free to be vegetarian, be free to discover potlucks and not be tied to a certain way of doing things...