American-Oasis-Ch-1We were very excited to interview one of our heroes for the podcast this week. Brad Lancaster lives in Tucson, Arizona where they  get an average of 11 inches of rain a year. Brad has converted his residential neighborhood from a sparsely planted, hot, barren dry land that flooded during the summer monsoons, into a self sustaining, rainwater capturing, food producing community oasis. 

We discuss El Nino, how we can best avoid flooding and how El Nino will not solve the problem of the drought.


Brad points out that more rainfall falls on Tucson than the entire community uses in municipal water, but the way that our current infrastructure is set up means that we treat rainwater as a problem that we have to throw away.

He discusses how many of our existing landscaping practices just create more work, cost more money and ultimately leave us with poorer results than if we took a more sustainable approach:

  • Choosing plants based on their multiple functions, not just for their looks
  • Avoiding unnecessary pruning by leaving plants to grow into their natural shapes,
  • Leaving leaves on the ground to build healthy soil
  • Capturing rainwater in our soil to build a store of water that will see us through the dry times

Brad’s books are famous, his website is a trove of useful information, and his YouTube channel is full of great videos too. You can see his neighborhood transformation in the American Oasis project







The San Diego Sustainable Landscapes Program details, including the handbook, landscape design classes and hands on workshops are available online. g3_sd_final_cover

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Diane Downey and Sheri Menelli specialize in earth-friendly landscaping practices, including vegetable gardening, rainwater capture, soil health, native plants, and efficient irrigation. Diane is a professional landscape designer with over 10 years’ experience, and Sheri is a certified permaculture designer with a six-year-old food forest in her backyard. Combined, they have over two decades of teaching experience. Their classes are taught to the public in the classroom, in the field, and via one-on-one garden coaching sessions.
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