They’re engaging, dynamic, deeply knowledgeable, experienced and, at times, completely hilarious.
Founder and Director of Wild Abundance; Instructor for Permaculture & Gardening, Carpentry & Natural Building, Homesteading, Foraging & Medicine Making, Women’s Empowerment, and Primitive Skills.
Natalie (she/her) is the visionary behind Wild Abundance, as well as a primary instructor for many classes. She’s passionate about teaching and sharing skills to help all kinds of people live in an empowered and Earth-centered way.
In particular, Natalie gets excited about: cooking ashcakes on coals next to an open fire with her daughter, Hazel; vernacular architecture (buildings built for a specific time, place and culture with local and natural materials); eco-building design; ethical business development; creative and sexy wooden trim; cooperative models; dancing wildly by herself to early ’80s music (the music of her childhood); gardening on summer evenings while drinking cucumber water and enjoying the silence that allows plants to speak.
Natalie is both a teacher and mentor to her students, apprentices, and the Wild Abundance staff. Through this work, she helps to bring forth people’s gifts so that they can share them with the world.
Natalie and her family live at the Wild Abundance homestead campus in the Southern Appalachians. She balances her time between managing the logistics of the school, teaching, tending the garden, building, playing with her daughter and partner, visiting wild places, connecting with her community, and basking in the beauty of nature. Amidst all of this she’s constantly scheming about how to inspire more and more people to make positive, ecologically minded changes in their lives and in the wider world.
Natalie first studied Permaculture at The Evergreen State College, where she earned her B.A. in Ecological Agriculture in 1999. After that, she lived her own primitive and purist version of permaculture for 10 years. During the first few of these years, Natalie lived and learned in an informal context in Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, and around the US. Throughout her travels, she studied the uses of native plants, agriculture, traditional building, alternative culture, and radical community structures. For the following five years, she lived extremely primitively at the Wildroots Community. There, she learned to tan hides, built her first cabin, cooked exclusively on an open fire, and drank wild water every day. Click here to read more about Natalie’s adventures and life story.
In 2008 Natalie co-founded the Firefly Gathering, as a way to share earth-based skills with more people. After 10 successful years, during which Firefly became the largest earthskills gathering in the country (and the only major one run by a woman), Natalie passed the gathering on to a new director.
In 2010 Natalie organized her first Permaculture Design Course (PDC), as another way to share permaculture and earth-based skills with more people. It was taught by local instructors Zev Friedman and Patricia Allison. Now, Natalie and Laura Ruby are the primary instructors for Wild Abundance’s PDC, along with a slew of guest teachers. In addition to Wild Abundance and Firefly, Natalie has also taught at the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, the MAPS Meet, Earthskills Rendezvous, Women’s Wilderness Workshops, the Organic Grower’s School, Florida State University, Southern Adventist University, Tulane University, Ohio University, Vanderbilt University, Western Washington University, and others. Natalie was also featured in Morgan Spurlock’s documentary Freedom in America and appeared in the National Geographic series: Live Free or Die, in an episode titled “Butchers and Builders.” She and Wild Abundance have been featured in many publications and podcasts.
Natalie is grateful for the many teachers she has had over the years who have deeply enriched her life and expanded her perspective. These include: Juliet Blankespoor, Margaret Mathewson, Steve Watts and Frank Cook.
Adam Brock (he/him) is a Denver-based cultural artist working in the medium of regenerative social design. For over a decade, he has worked to create the conditions for regenerative relationships among individuals, grassroots initiatives, and institutions throughout the country.
As co-founder of food justice nonprofit The GrowHaus, Adam led the transformation of abandoned half-acre greenhouse into an award-winning hub for healthy food and urban agriculture. While at GrowHaus, Adam co-chaired Denver’s Sustainable Food Policy Council, spoke at TEDxMileHigh, and was named one of “Colorado’s Top Thinkers” by the Denver Post.
A trained permaculture designer since 2008, Adam has led over a dozen Permaculture Design Courses and is a national leader in the field of social permaculture. In 2017, Adam published Change Here Now: Permaculture Strategies for Personal And Community Transformation, a recipe book for social change inspired by the more-than-human world. Since 2019, Adam has served as co-director at Regenerate Change, a national consulting and education group focused on regenerative social design.
Alex (he/they) has twelve years of combined architectural and construction experience working as a designer, educator, and builder. He received a five-year professional degree of Architecture from Auburn University, where he spent two and a half years attending Auburn University’s Rural Studio. After graduating, he joined the staff of Auburn’s Rural Studio and worked for four years as 3rd Year Instructor and Construction Coordinator. Alex moved to North Carolina in 2017, and helped start an alternative craft school called the Cabbage School in Leicester where he ran a yearly design/build program called the Two Week Shack Class. Alex received a Permaculture Design Certificate from Wild Abundance in 2019 and now runs a permaculture and architectural design practice called Somewhere Design.
Instructor for Rewilding and Natural Building
Alex (he/him) has been learning and teaching primitive and traditional living skills since 1995. He began with a formative apprenticeship with Steve Watts, the founder of the Society of Primitive Technology and director of the Aboriginal Studies Program at the Schiele Museum of Natural History. In 1997, Alex completed his degree in Outdoor Experiential Education at Appalachian State University. For the last 14 years, he has worked and taught at Earthcamp, Earthskills Rendezvous, Mountain Quest and LEAF Festival, as well as in public and private schools. Alex lives in a strawbale house that he built on his off-the-grid homestead in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He prides himself on continually learning and improving upon his skills in order to practice a more sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle.
Instructor for Foraging & Herbal Medicine
Amber (she/her) migrated from her childhood home in Homer, Alaska in search of warmer pastures. She landed in the rich mountainous fold of Western North Carolina where she currently farms, forages and plays with her sweetie, their two spritely young boys and baby girl. Inspired by the woodland squirrels, fairies, and gnomes, Amber’s family gathers and tucks away an impressive cache of wild nuts annually. They feast on their nuts all year round and likewise share them with their herd of forest-fed hogs at Glorious Forest Farm. She is a magical concoctress of wild food delicacies and small-batch, seasonal tinctures, potions and flower essences.
Anna Littman is a farmer, teacher, mom, and an artist whose current media are soil, vegetables, and flowers. When she was 9-years-old Anna could be most often found in the garden, in front of a loom, or standing on a chair at the kitchen counter cooking recipes from a Julia Child cookbook she checked out at the library. Anna loves introducing people to the joys of learning, gardening, and vegetables through farm exploration and gardening workshops. Anna has directed Ivy Creek Family Farm for 15 years. She grows food year-round for two thriving markets, 80 CSA members, a community farm stand, restaurants, and her local food pantry. Check out her farm at www.ivycreekfamilyfarm.com. Check out the organization she founded at https://www.artsforlifenc.org
Rebecca Beyer (she/her) is an Appalachian folk herbalist, huntress, and wild food forager dedicated to living simply on the Earth. She has taught and presented at universities, conferences and gatherings over the last nine years with the hope of showing people that living a seasonal life grounded in connection with the Old Ways is possible. Through growing, foraging, hunting, fishing and preserving her own food, she strives to create a life as close to her ancestors as possible while paying homage to the diverse peoples who created her beloved Appalachia.
She makes her living tattooing, teaching foraging and Appalachian folk herbalism and craft classes at her school, Blood and Spicebush School of Old Craft. Rebecca currently spends her days dedicating herself to Appalachian folk arts, primitive skills, folk music and learning the names of all the beings she shares her bioregion with.
An inveterate adventurer, Becky (she/her) has grown to see life itself as the adventure. That life is made richer in community at Earthaven where Becky, her daughter Willow, and her co-parent Sanne moved in 2018.
Becky loves taking lofty creative visions and bringing them to life—whether her own or others’. In her first career as an educator, she taught at an arts-integrated charter school, mentored gap-year students in India and Guatemala, and created a holistic middle school. Since then, she has produced two documentary films, coached individuals and couples toward greater wholeness, and begun holding mediations.
Instructor for Permaculture & Gardening
Ben Falk (he/him) lives permaculture every day at his Vermont homestead, a testing-ground for ideas and projects that he shares with the wider world through teaching, consulting, and writing. He founded Whole Systems Design, LLC as a land-based response to biological and cultural extinction and the increasing separation between people and elemental things. He’s the author of the award-winning book “The Resilient Farm and Homestead.” This guy walks his talk!
Instructor for the Permaculture Design Certification Course
Benjamin (he/him) is a founder of Edible Yard & Garden, a full-service landscaping company operating in Asheville, NC, and Atlanta, GA. He has been designing and installing rainwater harvesting systems and edible and ecological landscapes since 2008. Along with Edible Yard & Garden, he is currently developing a 17-acre sustainable farm in Barnardsville, NC. He derives great joy from harvesting rainwater and planting trees.
Bevelyn Afor Ukah (She/her) works as a consultant to train youth and adults in building skills that encourage equity, organizational efficiency, cultural connection, and collaboration. She has traveled around the world and has lived in three countries.
She is a self-taught artist, developing her practice as a form of inner resilience, hoping that her work inspires others to build their own self and community-love practices. She is a part of the Black Women’s Art Collective of Public Art Practice.
Bevelyn is passionate about discouraging divisiveness and she works with audiences in their journeys to recognize multiple truths. She is moved most when working in multigenerational settings.
To her, so much is possible with self-reflection and building true methods of accountability.
Bevelyn received her Bachelors in International Studies, Sociology and Anthropology from Guilford College where she was a Bonner Scholar and Multicultural Leadership Scholar. She completed her Masters in Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management (with a concentration on facilitation and social justice).
Bevelyn is the founding consultant of AFI Oak Consulting, co-founding consultant of the Auralite Collective and the co-founder of Mekafi, a social enterprise that supports Black farmers through moringa oleifera.
She coordinates the Food Youth Initiative Program (FYI), a program of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), which engages youth that lead food justice work across North Carolina. She also co-coordinates the Racial Equity in Food Systems initiative at CEFS, which develops a shared understanding of language, history and race. She works as the Capacity Building Director at W9 Solutions, supporting the continued growth of youth leadership development through soccer, especially for youth most marginalized from the sport. She serves on the Transplanting Traditions Community Farm Board, the National Rooted in Community Board and the NC Climate Justice Collective.
Instructor for Permaculture & Gardening
Brad Lancaster (he/him) is an expert in the field of rainwater harvesting and water management. He authored the book on these subjects, “Rainwater Harvesting,” and he has created a verdant oasis at his home in Tucson, AZ, where rainwater is often less than 12 inches per year!
Brandon (he/they) is the Online Growers School Consulting Director and Sustainability Coach, providing support services to farmers, homesteaders, gardeners, and those seeking sustainability solutions. His background is in Renewable Systems, Earthworks, Energy, Water, Homesteading, Permaculture, and specifically providing consulting, design, and technical services for the creation of low impact, energy conserving, and integrated systems.
Brandon works with chainsaws, hand tools, heavy equipment, construction projects, water systems, and most everything having to do with the practicalities of ecological design. Meanwhile he also is pursuing trauma and body based therapy to support his work with people, community and Earth. Brandon currently lives at Earthaven Ecovillage in WNC in an off grid duplex, practicing community, partnering, parenting and philosophizing about existence and how to optimize it.
Brandon Ruiz (he/him) is a Community Herbalist and Urban Farmer based in Charlotte, NC. His farming project Yucayeke Farms focuses on providing equal and affordable access to herbal medicine and culturally-relevant foods to his community. He specializes in medicines of his native Puerto Rico, throughout the Caribbean and Appalachia.
Brian Snedeker (he/him) has had a lifelong love-affair with old tools and craft. He’s been timber framing for over 15 years, from repairing and stabilizing historic barns and homes in New England, to designing and building frames and practicing carpentry here in the Asheville area for the past decade.
Brian has been sharing skills for the craft of timber framing for many years. As a member of the Timber Framers Guild, Brian participates in conferences, skill sharing, and continuing education. Brian not only loves building timber frames, he also finds joy in sharing the craft with others. Indeed, he’s excited to continually adapt this time-honored building style for modern applications. Along with lots of building, Brian cares for a bustling rural homestead with his partner and their twins. All of this is to say: his skill is accompanied by patience and flexibility.
Originally from New Hampshire, Brian grew up rurally being active and outdoors. His love for old tools, craft, and building began young with influence from his father. Timber framing, however, didn’t come into his life until his early 20’s when he came upon the good fortune of getting a job in historic preservation in Huntington VT. While working there, he repaired, stabilized, sometimes disassembled and rebuilt historic, mostly English, agricultural buildings regionally. The beauty and function of these buildings really spoke to him. Naturally gravitating towards homesteading and craft he fell in love with this architecture and with timber framing immediately. Today he feels as thrilled to be a part of keeping this tradition alive and attached to its spirited roots as ever. Every building is a discovery. From historical preservation to modern timber frame designs and techniques, Brian loves being a part of a hard working team dedicated to high level craftsmanship, integrity, and learning. Brian owns Ivy Creek Timber Frames.
Brit Josa (she/her), is an herbalist, astrology & tarot enthusiast, and word-weaver who resides just outside of the Linville Gorge area. She was first inspired to study herbalism and natural medicine over 10 years ago by her mother’s journey to healing through holistic healing practices.
She is the founder of Torches Ceremonials – a small business with a focus on channeled potions created with sustainably wildcrafted weeds and plants sourced from farmers in Western Carolina.
Brit believes in cultivating a relationship with and a reverence for the plants used as medicine, as well as the people who used those plants and tended to the land before us.
She hopes to inspire others to find magic in the mundane, and become ignited to help & heal themselves – with the ancient energies of earth medicine as Guides.
Instructor for Homesteading and Permaculture & Gardening
After dropping out of college in 1994, Cailen (he/him) completed a Permaculture Design Course and year-long natural building and permaculture apprenticeship at the Ecovillage Training Center at The Farm in Summertown, TN, followed by a year-long apprenticeship with Eustace Conway at the Turtle Island Preserve, where he learned a diversity of skills related to early American and Appalachian pioneer-era life ways, including logging with animal power and log-building. For the next 17 years, he made a “career” out of co-creating symbiotic relationships with land-owners and basically homesteading in other people’s backyards in and around Asheville, NC. He is locally infamous for his portable suburban barnyard and semi-nomadic dairy goat herd seen foraging around the vacant lots and kudzu patches of West Asheville, his mobile cider-pressing, and his wild experiments in radical nutrition as highlighted in Sandor Katz’s book, The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved.
Cailen met his partner Chloe in 2011 while attending Martin Prechtel’s “school,” Bolad’s Kitchen, which has deeply informed and inspired their evolving approach to reawakening the indigenous soul and keeping the seeds of real culture alive through spiritual farming. In 2013, Cailen and Chloe bought 23 acres in Barnardsville, NC, just a mile up the holler from Wild Abundance, where they are developing a diversified and integrated permaculture-inspired homestead christened Bittersweet Farm. Cailen is passionate about developing community-based resilience, independence from the global/industrial economy, and truly sustainable Earth-based culture. He is also a locally renowned fiddler.
Callan Burton-Shore (she/her) is a nature connection mentor, earthskills teacher, and craftsperson. She aims to live as connected to the land as possible and does not like to be kept indoors. She feels most connected most when climbing trees, tanning hides, making fire, and processing animals.
Callan grew up in the woods of Virginia at the Living Earth School where she first learned the basic survival skills and fell in love with the natural world. She made her spoon and friction fire there at the age of eight, and has never stopped learning since. She has taught at multiple nature connection schools, including The Living Earth School and where she currently teaches, Forest Floor Wilderness School in Asheville. For the last two years she has been a student in Luke Mclaughlin’s Deep Remembering Immersion program, where she was able to deepen her knowledge and assist in teaching skills and crafts. This fall she took over Luke’s role of teaching hide tanning at the Earthskills Rendezvous Gathering. She also sells wooden spoons and bowls she makes at markets and gatherings.
Instructor for Women’s Empowerment and Foraging & Herbal Medicine
Charity Cimarron (she/her) is a mother, woodswitch, craftswoman, Waldorf Music and Handwork teacher, community organizer and performing musician. She spent many years living alternatively, off-the-grid in a straw-bale house, on a converted school bus, in tents, tipis, and yomes across the country. She loves to spend countless hours hiding out in the underbrush, learning bird songs, eating wild foods, and making medicine. As an accomplished craftswoman she has many years of experience weaving, spinning, hide-tanning, sewing, book-binding and basket-weaving. And in between all of these she squeezes in a little song or two.
Instructor for Online Gardening School, Co-Visionary, Copywriter
Chloe (she/her) is passionate about nurturing a more beautiful, reciprocal, respectful relationship between humans and the rest of the living world. She is the co-director of the Online Gardening School, and also writes for Wild Abundance’s blog, newsletter, and website. In addition, Chloe jumps in to help out with management and strategy as the co-visionary for the business as a whole; she and Natalie have been working together for over 8 years. Chloe has been passionate about food and farming for over 20 years, with a special love for the interactions between human communities and their food systems. She studied Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz, has learned and practiced gardening in five countries, and continues to feel delighted every time she serves a homegrown meal to friends and family. Along with working at Wild Abundance, Chloe gives her life energy to growing food, parenting, community care, lifelong learning, and maintaining meaningful relationships.
When Chris (he/him) was 20 years old, he realized that he had never eaten a single thing that he knew where it came from. At 22, he helped start an organic vegetable farm outside of Olympia, WA. Journeying home to the Carolinas to be closer to family, he moved to Earthaven Ecovillage.
Since his arrival to EH in 1997, Chris has cleared his own farm field, designed and built passive solar homes using the wood from the trees he has killed (including his own Microhut), held leadership positions in the community, raised turkeys, grown vegetables, co-founded the Forestry Cooperative, designed and installed multiple off-grid energy systems, and a few other things.
His newest excitement is dabbling in small-scale biochar production and wood gasification at Gateway Farm. Regardless of how Chris is spending his days he’s often wondering what it’s going to take to get us through these upcoming troubled times.
Dallas Conyers (she/her) is the instructor for “yoga for gardeners” in the Online Gardening school. She reminds us all to stay limber and strong while we work! She works as a Body Restoration Specialist: teaching yoga, foods for healing, and spiritual reestablishment to help people become ABLE to live out their creation purpose. Dallas is also a certified Sustainable Agriculturalist, Beekeeper, and Greenhouse Husbandman. She uses her micro-farm to practice and educate others on: eco-system restoration, soil regeneration, no-till square foot farming, and pollinator cultivation; for our world and for our survival. Reverend Dallas delightedly sits under the leadership of Rev. Dr. M. Keith McDaniel as an associate at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.
Daniel (he/him) grew up at the base of a fourteen-thousand-foot mountain in far Northern California and has loved plants all his life. He graduated from the University of California, Davis with a degree in Plant Sciences and an emphasis in Crop production and Viticulture. After college he went to work for a pesticide and fertilizer retailer as a consultant and salesman of these products. During this time he looked at over 10,000 acres/week of wine grapes, almonds, pistachios, processing tomatoes, alfalfa, and every crop in-between. He learned an incredible amount, but also saw first-hand the detriment pesticides have on ecological systems and the air and water we all depend on. An opportunity arose to work on a 1000 acre organic vegetable farm as the pest management and fertility specialist. He jumped at the opportunity and immediately figured out that it was indeed possible to grow large amounts of food in a more sustainable way. It was here that Daniel became invigorated with the ecological systems of pests and diseases, and how to intervene in ways that would disrupt these cycles but not at the expense of our environment. I took a deep dive into how the health of the soil translated to plant health. He then set out to expand his influence from just those 1000 acres to the broader agricultural systems and to try and promote systemic change. He currently works as an extension agent and works with a diverse group of growers using many practices. Guest teaching a course like this is exactly the type of knowledge he wants to promote!
“I want people to feel excited about plants and the food that they eat. I want people to grow their own food and feel rebellious, but also the deep biological connection we all have to plants and the rich soils that they grow in. If I can help you feel passionate about plants and how to grow them, then I feel like I am on my way to fulfilling my greatest goal.”
and making things.
Her career in construction officially started at 15 with a summer job as a laborer working for her
uncle’s design/build firm in Maryland. She continued acquiring building experience and tools
through college, ultimately graduating from SCAD with a master’s degree in Architecture and a
dual BA in Architecture and Historic Preservation. She went on to work as a construction project
manager on mostly high-end residential historic projects. Out of sixty project managers at the
company, she was the only female. Being in a male-dominated field came with challenges, but
her passion for working with the built environment kept her motivated to move through them.
For the past four years, Danielle has been designing, building and managing projects
independently in Asheville. She loves that she’s been able to fuse together her varied
skillsets and is always excited about the next project. She also loves pastries, swimming holes
and dance floors!
DeLesslin “Roo” George-Warren (he/him) is an artist, educator, and community ecologist from Catawba Indian Nation whose work ranges from performance to installation art to community education to food sovereignty to language revitalization. From 2017-2019 he was the Special Projects Coordinator for the Catawba Cultural Preservation Project where he facilitated the Catawba Language Project (including developing and programming online digital assets such as the Catawba Language App), several food sovereignty initiatives, and other community education projects. Since 2019 he has continued to work for his tribe as a consultant on many projects including: language revitalization, food sovereignty, educational sovereignty, cultural healing, teacher training, grant writing and much more. DeLesslin’s work focuses on reweaving Catawba culture with policy, fundraising, program development, and community education to create a resilient community for future generations. DeLesslin is a 2017 graduate of the Wild Abundance Permaculture Design Program and has applied that experience to his personal gardens, Catawba community gardens, and other tribal community programs.
Instructor for Rewilding and Foraging & Herbal Medicine
Whether he’s pointing out poison ivy, pontificating on poke sallet, extolling the virtues of dandelions, or telling wild snake tales, naturalist, herbalist, and storyteller, Doug Elliott (he/him) is known for his lively storytelling as well as his broad, practical, scientific and cultural knowledge of useful wild plants. He has written articles for regional and national magazines, authored five books, produced a number of award winning recordings of stories and songs, and is occasionally seen on PBS-TV, and the History and National Geographic Channels.
Elijah Strongheart (he/him)grew up in the Appalachian mountains. With deep influences from Ch’ann and other philosophical traditions, he has engaged much of his life in the study of communication. Elijah draws his class material largely from tracking, ritual, and play. When not reading or playing go, he might be building something artistic, or functional, or ideally both. Then again, he might be climbing the side of a mountain or paddling down a narrow gorge. Diversity breeds immunity. Organizing oneself in the context of survival and thrival brings much resilience and peace. One of his deep loves of earthskills is the way it draws forth the creativity in every individual and community.
Instructor for Women’s Carpentry
Ella (she/her) took a carpentry class with Wild Abundance in 2017. After that, she bought an acre of land in Barnardsville, NC and began building a house. Since then, she has been working with Barron Brown– learning everything she could about carpentry and construction. Ella is always eager to learn more, and is constantly honing her carpentry skills. She’s also a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In 2015, she settled in Asheville to build her practice and to pursue a dream of homesteading. Ella spends the majority of her free time with her dogs, rock climbing, backpacking and paddle boarding.
Instructor for Carpentry
Ellie Richards (she/her) is an artist living and working in Penland, North Carolina, she is the wood studio coordinator at Penland School of Crafts. Her work, both furniture and sculpture, are exhibited widely including recent juried exhibitions at the Mint Museum, the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design, SOFA Chicago, and the Society of Contemporary Craft. Following an MFA in Wood from Arizona State University, Ellie was a resident artist and shop technician at Peters Valley School of Craft and the Appalachian Center for Craft. Making objects in wood is the way most of her time is spent, she is interested in the intersection of working and playing and believes that tools, when used with a safe understanding, can provide empowerment and freedom. She teaches this philosophy in craft programs throughout the country.
Emileigh Zola Renee (she/her) is descended from a line of strong Appalachian women who were homesteaders and healers and lived their lives in accordance with the land. Emileigh walks her path in this life as a mother, teacher, herbalist, broom-maker, and seeker of truth. She is the creatrix behind Rhythm and Ritual Craft. One of her biggest passions lives in bringing women together in circle to remember the magic that can be woven there.
Era Keys (they/them) is a queer, non-binary permaculture educator, consultant, and designer. They have experienced living and working in Permaculture since 2013. In the past 10 years has seen Era living and managing permaculture farms, permaculture design business, educating in North Florida, Puerto Rico, Oregon + North Carolina, and living in an EcoVillage based in permaculture. Era currently resides outside of Asheville, NC with their family where they are creating a permaculture homestead. Era’s ultimate goal is to produce high quality permaculture education and tools that are accessible and digestible for the everyday person, so that together we may weather the ever-evolving challenges of today’s world through their business Earth Minded Landscapes and Farm.
Instructor for Permaculture & Gardening
Eric Toensmeier (he/him) is the award-winning author of Paradise Lot and Perennial Vegetables, and the co-author of Edible Forest Gardens as well as a contributor for Drawdown. He is an appointed lecturer at Yale University, and an international trainer, presenting in English and Spanish in the US, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, and the Caribbean. Eric has studied permaculture and useful plants of the world for over two decades. He managed an urban farm project for five years, ran a seed company, and co-developed a farm business training curriculum that is now used in eight US states and three Canadian provinces. Eric’s most recent book is the Carbon Farming: a Global Toolkit for Stabilizing the Climate with Tree Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices which was backed by supporters through a Kickstarter campaign.
Evan (she/her) is a queer, cis-gendered, Jewish herbalist, birth doula, and creator of many things magic. She has lived in the mountains of Asheville, NC since 2008 where she has fostered a deep love and connection with these ancient mountains and the lessons they have to teach.
Evan grew up on the coast of Georgia, a place which still deeply holds a piece of her heart. Her mother introduced her to flower essences and homeopaths at a very young age, when she began seeing a healer named Beverly Holt. Bev later moved to Asheville where she began teaching Evan about flower essences and tapping into intuition. In early 2020, Evan had the privledge of supporting Bev through the portal of death, and she hopes to carry on her legacy as a healer and flower essence practitioner. Evan strongly believes in honoring those that came before us, taught us what we know, and inspired us to be the people that we are.
Evan’s passion for support, noticing the unseen, and slowing down, all deeply inform her work, her activism, her teaching style, and the way that she shows up as a doula and in her herbal practice.
When Evan is not at a birth or in the garden, you can find her dancing in the living room (or on the dance floor in another world!), drinking Japanese green tea, and snuggling her cats.
You can check out her website to learn more at www.bigcatbirthbotanicals.com
Guest Instructor for Women’s Rewilding Weekend
Evanye Lawson (she/her) is a licensed psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and founder of The Self Love Center. Her work is in breathwork, liberation, radical self love, pleasure, education, and nondualism. Her work centers nondual spirituality with self love, sacred sexuality and conscious relationships. She offers live workshops, healing ceremonies, meditations, online courses, and private sessions. Her website is www.cultivateselflove.com
Instructor for Homesteading, Rewilding, and Permaculture & Gardening
Frank (he/him) grew up in the hill country of the Allegheny Plateau of southern West Virginia. While in college in Shepherdstown, WV, he was elected to local government and became the youngest city councilman in the history of West Virginia. Since then, he has spent his life extensively practicing and studying temperate climate permaculture and agroforestry. He is particularly interested in nut- and fruit-bearing tree crops, perennial plant propagation, and ethnobotany for the homestead. He has created a small-scale germplasm with a significant amount of diversity of chestnuts, hazelnuts and pawpaws. He also loves sedimentary geology, mythology and astrology. He has a Leo moon, and his Gemini Sun is conjunct his Mercury.
George Brabant (he/him) and his wife have been creating a permaculture designed food forest in Asheville NC for a little over a decade now. At Phat Ninja Foodforest, they grow the majority of their food on a 1/2 acre located in the city of Asheville, NC. The entire property is planted in a series of interconnected swales and ponds and guilds with chickens and ducks ranging free throughout.
Germaine Jenkins (she/they) is the co-founder of Fresh Future Farm Inc. which operates a nonprofit farm and grocery store that grows the quality of life their neighbors deserve in North Charleston, SC.
Ms. Jenkins is a nationally-recognized, visionary leader in the urban agriculture space and passionate advocate for food justice. Born in Hartsville, SC and raised in Cleveland, OH, Germaine returned to South Carolina to earn degrees from Johnson & Wales University and pursue liberation for her family through food. Ms. Jenkins and the FFF team have collaborated with Seedlight Pictures on a 1,000+ hour oral history archive for upcoming social impact website Rooted Stories and 90-minute documentary, Rooted Film, where she serves as principal participant and Co-Producer.
As Community Network Manager for Equitable Food Oriented Development (EFOD), they are excited about curating in-person and virtual content aligned with BIPOC community led food system principles across the United States.
In 2013 after having built multiple homes for South East Ecological Design, Jeramy wanted to go off on his own and create turn-key, small scale homesteads and build homes with a small footprint. Jeramy brought Kevin Ward (Owner of South East Ecological Design) into the business as an equity partner and lead designer. Once Nanostead was created in October of 2013 Nanostead’s first job was at the Hot Springs Campground, building 2 vacation cabins. During that process Nanostead built the Villager Tiny Home for Natalie Pollard, the owner of Villagers Homestead Supply located in West Asheville, NC.
With the national press that Nanostead’s first THOW (Tiny House On Wheels) got because of Natalie’s blog, “Hello Tiny Home,” it didn’t take long for the sparks to fly. He and his partners, Kevin Ward and Charles Todd Rule, fell in love with designing and building Tiny Houses. The Villager model has been on television shows such as Tiny House Hunters and CNN. It has also been published in multiple magazines and web blogs.
Since Nanostead has started Jeramy has become an Educator for the Tiny House Movement. His class, Tiny Homes and Small Scale Living at AB Tech Community College has become a hit with people interested in multiple aspects of the Tiny House movement. He has taught short classes and half day workshops at The Organic Growers School in Asheville, NC. Jeramy hopes to use Nanostead’s commercial space to teach workshops and invite others to teach small scale homesteading classes as well.
Jewel D. Pearson/Ms. Bohemian Soul (she/her). After downsizing her homes and lifestyle over the course of 10 years, Jewel designed and built a beautiful tiny house, in May of 2015, that she calls home. Her home represents a desire that many have to reduce their ecological footprint and focus more on practices of intentional living, living with less and sustainability.
A product manager by day, Jewel’s also a tiny house advocate and community leader sharing her experiences, offering consulting services and workshops throughout the country to assist others in achieving their tiny living dreams. Jewel also serves as representation within the movement, ensuring space for those who most often don’t see themselves represented and is focused on doing the work of changing and challenging the status quo of housing and community.
Connect with Jewel here:
Justin Holt (he/him) has worked in agroecological design, education, and production for over 12 years, with a particular tap-rooted commitment to tree crops. He is co-founder and worker-owner of the Nutty Buddy Collective and Asheville Nuttery, and co-founder of Kudzu Culture. He also teaches foraging and works as a freelance permaculture designer and consultant.
Instructor for Permaculture & Gardening
Kaleb (he/him) is co-founder of the Firefly Gathering. He masterfully shares knowledge on human nutrition, fermentation and primitive skills. He lives in the mountains in Barnardsville, NC.
Kearsley (she/her) is the bioregional Chef, folk herbalist, & artist cooking up local flavors in Kearsley’s Kitchen. She shares her seasonally inspired meals and musings in the form of pop-up dinners, private catering, wildcrafted herbal elixirs, & seasonal cookbooks that detail her favorite recipes, herbal remedies, and rituals for connecting with each season. In 2018 Kearsley apprenticed under Becky Beyer and studied Appalachian & European folk traditions that included bioregional wildcrafting & medicine making as well as learning the animistic rituals of her German- British Isles ancestors. She describes her way of life to be the “slow simmer” – a delicate balance between actively tending the skillet and unraveling the need to be perpetually productive by wandering the lush ecosystem of Southern Appalachia, practicing Irish Step dancing, & exploring the art of symbolism, dreams, & earth-based ritual.
Read more about Kearsley’s seasonally inspired musings at Kearsley’s Kitchen
Keenan (he/him) was always curious as a young kid. His parents were building a house around age 3-5 and they spent time seeing many houses in progress. He loved it! Touring an unfinished house was one of his favorite things to do as a kid, picking up strips of nails, seeing where the pipes and wires went, the rough framing, sheetrock halfway hung. He learned a lot from that and still enjoys being in homes of all stages of construction.
Out of high school Keenan went to college to study Physics and Engineering, but after a couple years decided that wasn’t quite the path for him. He’d always dreamt of building his own home and finally embarked on that journey in his mid-twenties figuring it would be better to apply that college education in a way that could liberate his life rather than indebt it. It caught the attention of friends and neighbors and resulted in the accidental creation of his small construction/renovation business, KSPhillips Contracting.
He recently finished his 5th start to finish house (2nd fully off-grid solar electric) and got the 6th one “dried-in” during one of Wild Abundance’s Tiny House Workshops. He’s done many other projects and renovations over the years and is excited to share what he’s learned to empower others. Keenan is truly wise beyond his years. Check his website or Instagram (@KSPhillips_Contracting) to get a glimpse of all the wildness he gets into!
Instructor for Permaculture & Gardening
Laura Lengnick (she/her) has more than 25 years of leadership experience using design and planning to move sustainability values into action in businesses, community organizations and government policy and programs across a diversity of scales from local to national. Check out her company, Cultivating Resilience, LLC.
Instructor for Permaculture & Gardening
Laura (she/they) earned her Permaculture Design Certificate in 2002 from Crystal Waters EcoVillage in Australia. Since then, she has been implementing permaculture systems on her own urban property in downtown Boulder, CO, and for her clients in the area. She recently moved to Western North Carolina and is designing and implementing a 56-acre Permaculture education center and event space. In the past, Laura worked as the Garden Coordinator for a Colorado nonprofit, the Growe Foundation. Through this organization, she helped establish gardens at 14 Boulder Valley School District elementary schools, working to install gardens, teach various garden-related subjects and offer support for the parent and teacher school communities.
To complement her work in schools, Laura also started Yummy Yards, an edible landscape design and consulting company. She also co-taught and co-facilitated the first for-credit Permaculture Design Course at the University of Colorado and taught the first Permaculture Design course for 11- to 17-year-olds through Colorado University’s Science Discovery Program. She also ran the urban farming segment for the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. She is both a Certified Permaculture Teacher and a Colorado Master Gardener, and she holds an MBA in Sustainable Business Development from Green Mountain College. She co-facilitates the Wild Abundance Permaculture Design Course along with Natalie.
Leah (she/her) has spent her whole life pursuing the arts and its ability to empower. She has lived and traveled extensively across the globe, but she most credits her time in the her native south (Atlanta, New Orleans, and Southern Appalachia), in Latin America, and in India for helping sculpt her path. She has always been an artist- visually, through performance, and as a songsmith. She has developed her artistry alongside social justice and traditional arts communities around the world- working with muralists in Mexico alongside the Zapatista movement, in the folk music communities of Cuba, Columbia, Ireland, New Orleans and North Carolina, AND honing the art of public speaking through 12 years touring as front woman of her band Rising Appalachia. She studied yoga and meditation in India and continues to train in both acro-yoga, and mindfulness practices to balance out her very public life. She was certified with the Prison Yoga Project in 2015 to bring mindfulness practices into underserved communities outside of the studio world. She combines music, movement, storytelling, and a global sense of justice into all that she does, from the stage to the classroom, using her voice and her vision as a means of creating community.
You can learn more about her primary work at www.RisingAppalachia.com
Lewis Blake (he/him) loves plants! He’s been growing and tending both annual and perennial crops for many years. He and his family grow berries and salad for market at their farm, Bear Necessities, based out of Weaverville, NC. They also bring potted, perennial plants and fruit bushes for edible and otherwise “useful” landscaping to Asheville-area tailgate markets. He’s excited to be teaching berry growing to our Online Gardening School students.
Instructor for Women’s Rewilding
Instructor for Foraging & Herbal Medicine and Permaculture & Gardening
More than a botanist, Luke (he/him) is a long-time pursuer and teacher of the magic and medicine of plants. His passion to study and understand the beautiful ecological intricacies of the natural world have led him throughout the Americas and across the globe. An avid naturalist, Luke draws from a diverse pool of knowledge, combining his natural history studies with his life experience in organic farming, natural building, permaculture, nature-based mentoring and rural homesteading. Luke currently lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina, studying Appalachian ecology, and making his living as an ethnobotany instructor at his organization, Astounding Earth, and as co-director of Forest Floor Wilderness Programs.
Instructor for Homesteading
Marissa (she/her) is an avid fermentation enthusiast who has spent the last 10 years exploring community and the wilds, as well as living deeply with various fermented cultures and local plants, and learning how it all comes together. Traveling through the wild places of Tennessee, Florida, the Southwest, California, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and most everywhere in between with her four amazingly adventurous children, Marissa has gathered cultures from far and wide. Deeply rooted in the Earthskills movement and committed to co-creating a new culture within which we, our children and all beings thrive, they are now nesting in Barnardsville, NC, and she humbly offers her humorous experiences to you. She is also the Director of the Firefly Gathering.
Mary Morgaine Squire, aka Mary Plantwalker, was born a tender and documentarian. She naturally tends to the beings within any space she is in with the utmost attention and care. As the matriarch of Herb Mountain Farm, Mary creates sanctuary for plants, birds, humans and many other creatures through earth stewardship.
Documenting the life unfolding on this magical planet through writing, photography and collage, she hopes to inspire others to also care deeply for our Mother Earth. Mary’s community work is centered around being a folk plantwoman and ceremonialist and she invites the directions, elements and plants to lead the way for our collective growth and healing. As mother to two fiery red heads, she prioritizes the path of motherhood and family above all. Follow Mary on Instagram for more vivid green talk.