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Kate Tirion, Founding Member

Following a 19-year career as a top-flight realtor in Southern California, Kate went on to study Ecological Horticulture at the Center for AgroEcology & Sustainable Food Systems (University of California at Santa Cruz).

After successfully completing the apprenticeship, she was invited to remain at the farm and worked as an assistant to the manager of the 1.5 acre, hand-worked farm garden. Following this period, Kate worked as an assistant instructor in the ecologial horticulture program, teaching incoming apprentices.

At the farm, Kate developed a broad array of skills in organic food production, soil fertility, soil science, French intensive cropping methods, continuous cropping for market, rotation, pest management, marketing, wholesale and farmer market greenhouse systems, asexual propagation, companion planting, orchard management, fruit tree pruning, and more. In working with medicinal plants, Kate also made salves, tinctures and teas.

Kate taught community composting workshops for the City of Santa Cruz’ outreach program to reduce landfill waste. She further designed and installed small, productive gardens for clients.

In 1990, Kate began her study of permaculture, in Mexico, with the Caballero family and Ianto Evans of the Aprovecho Institute.

In 1993, she began to work toward the two-year Design Certification with her permaculture mentor and teacher, Tim Murphy, from The Regenesis Group in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Over a period of 2.5 years, Kate implemented and developed a permaculture system on a 166-acre site for The Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia Arizona.

At the Tree of Life, Kate participated in straw bale construction (working with eco-architect, Paul Weiner), and was responsible for overseeing the installation and planting of a $100,000 constructed wetlands system, designed by Michael Ogden.

She designed and installed (supervising 25+ volunteers), hundreds of feet of diverse native plant windbreak, canopy, shrubs and forbs.

For the initial food system, Kate developed 12 inches of top soil using a sheet mulch process to create a 100-foot diameter, circular garden — the primary source of vegetables and herbs for this raw food community.

In 1994 and 1995, Kate continued to study, teach and apply various aspects of permaculture from advanced design, patterning, road installation, and straw bale construction to water harvesting, earthworks and tanks, ferro cement tank construction, pond making, erosion repair, eco village design, bio remediation, stove building and composting toilets.

Joining The Permaculture Drylands Institute (now The Sonoran Permaculture Guild) as a teacher in 1994, Kate also created and taught long-term residential internships in permaculture at The Tree of Life in their two-month and six-month residential programs.

Kate's study continued as she interned with Tim Murphy during the site assessment phase at Robert Redford’s Sundance Village — a 2,600 acre site in the Wasatch range of the Rocky Mountains in Utah.

Moving to Mexico’s Southern Baja California, she worked as an on-site designer, director-implementer, educator and manager, supervising 30+ Mexican nationals on a 1,040 hectare, 270 house, regenerative village development on Mexico’s hurricane landscape.

In her community of Patagonia, Kate initiated, designed, developed — and for 10+ years ran — the community garden and heirloom fruit orchard. Today, this garden still inspires other gardens and gardeners in the area, contributing to community resilience, and has served to educate the community’s children about the cultivation of food.

Kate also teaches, coaches, consults, designs and develops regenerative and productive environments, and landscapes. Haiti and her regeneration has been her focus since the spring of 2010.

Kate is the founding director of Deep Dirt Institute, a demonstration site, and hands-on training hub, for Borderlands Restoration (.org). The site showcases multiple types of erosion control and rainwater detention structures at varying stages of evolution.

The project aims to continue as a low budget operation, desiring to demonstrate how our work evolves with many hands, building ability and resilience in our local community, and far afield. They grow native pollinator plants for restoration seed and mother plants for nursery cuttings. Their pollinator habitat serves to support pollinators and to inspire others to invest in native plants for their beauty, their resilience to arid conditions, and to help grow the mosaic of pollinator way-stations along the borderlands.