Elementary school garden coordinator, avid forager, foraging tour guide, water-wise landscaping, agroecology, permaculture, food forests…
Pro Planet People: Who are you and what do you do, where do you do it, how do you do it?
Bryan: I am a lover of the Earth. Currently working as an elementary school garden coordinator, teaching kids to connect with nature and reconnect them with the importance of growing food. I am an avid forager and run foraging tours in the Bay Area showing people how to identify, pick and prepare local food. I teach workshops on agroecology/permaculture at the Gill Tract Community Farm in Albany, CA (check out the documentary Occupy the Farm to learn this lands amazing story). I am fortunate to be able to tend a blossoming food forest on this land, incorporating edible, medicinal and native plants. Nature is my jam, playing music in gardens is a passion as well.
PPP: What would you would like people to know about in terms of sustainability, permaculture, water management, energy or whatever topic you would like to show/teach?
Bryan: Studying indigenous cultures has been inspiring me lately. I encourage everyone to connect with the native lineages in your area and places you travel. Work with native flora and fauna to learn relationship with the bioregion you inhabit. Wherever you go, treat the Earth as though your children and grandchildren will inherit that land; this is how we begin to shift to an indigenous mindset and restore balance to communities and in turn the planet.
I’ve loved learning about the staple foods of the native Ohlone tribes from the Bay Area. Acorns are an amazing and delicious food source. They take some work to process but it’s fun to do with friends and use them as a really nutritious grain substitute. It’s definitely easier and more nutrient dense than growing and processing your own wheat. Plus eating perennial plant foods is way more regenerative for the planet. It is thought that oaks produce better crops when the previous years crop is taken from the tree. We can help oaks by harvesting them correctly. Trees are way intelligent!
PPP: What is your favorite project that you want to share that you had a hand in?
Bryan: Teaching gardening to the elementary school kids is my favorite on-going project right now.
It’s amazing to observe what they are interested in. Kids are more open to eating vegetables and fruits when they pick it themselves and they really seem to prefer perennial crops in general like fruits and berries (we can learn so much from them!). I love teaching them about growing food and native plants while they teach me to appreciate earthworms and rollie-pollies. We get to eat nutritious food together and it’s great to know the next generation of earth stewards are in training.
PPP: What is your philosophy on life with reference to the interconnectedness of nature, humans and the creatures?
Bryan: Relationship to nature is fundamental. We are meant to live in symbiosis with Earth and make the planet more abundant for all creatures and ourselves.
Hands-on skills are vital and we get so much therapeutic value from working on meaningful projects and engaging with our tactile senses. My hope is more people do things that matter to their hearts and have a positive impact on our planet.
PPP: The Future! Can you paint a picture of the future if we all worked together using permaculture, sustainability, regenerative practices, and…?
Bryan: The seedlings of our brighter future are starting to sprout. When I go places like the Northern California Permaculture Convergence, I get a glimpse of what it can be like to live on a peaceful planet. I simply envision being able to live in safety where doors never get locked and we can see the stars when we walk outside. I see people remembering what it’s like to live in community, knowing neighbors and sharing food. All these things are already happening to some degree so we must focus on the positive parts in our current communities. Whatever you focus on grows. It’s not easy because negative events stick with us much easier than positive events. We have to make an effort to meditate on positivity when it occurs to allow our brains to lay pathways of joy and peace. Share food with your neighbors, go out foraging around town and ask people if they have extra fruit you can clean up for them.
PPP: Give some advice for people on how to get started, why you got started, reflect on how your personal experiences got you where you are today.
Bryan: I spent most of my life in a classroom and chose to continue the familiar school journey throughout my 20s pursuing a masters in somatic counseling psychology. Halfway through the program, I grew disillusioned with living in my head all the time as school tends to do and knew
it was time to get my hands back in the Earth.
I chose to take time to pursue farming through the WWOOF program. It was scary to leave the comforts of my routine to live on a farm in Ringos, New Jersey for two weeks. The family who took me on as their first male volunteer was extremely kind and generous. I fell in love with the farm life within a few days and have pursued it with vigor everyday since. I have taken that same plunge into the rural life of living on unfamiliar farms in various parts of the country and it’s changed my life positively every time.
It’s so important to follow those feelings of discomfort to know what will help us grow.
If you’re wanting to start on any path, go get the hands on experience first and see how it feels.
Our school systems are mostly backwards in teaching concept before application. Learn through doing and of course supplement by learning from books, concepts and others along the way.
PPP: List your top people worldwide that have inspired you. Share some books and/or websites you think people should check out and why they should (if you want to say why).
Ram Dass – all books/lectures are worth checking out. Inspiring and easy to relate to spiritual teachings; good for the soul.
Joel Salatin – check out his lectures online and his books like “Folks This Ain’t Normal”. He’s a true Permaculturist who lives it.
Paul Gautschi’s garden that’s featured in the Back to Eden documentary is amazing and I can say from first hand experience he is growing some of the best food on the planet.
PPP: Where are you now and what resources locally would you like to share with others?
Bryan: I live in Berkeley, California.
For local resources, check out the Gill Tract Community Farm. Come volunteer or just to visit and take home a few veggies. It’s open to everyone. Join the Facebook page and keep up with our weekly farm events.
The annual Permaculture Convergence in Hopland, CA is also a great place to connect and learn about regenerative earth stewardship from amazing folks. And if you’re local to the Bay, put Malcolm Margolin’s book The Ohlone Way on the reading list for a beautiful depiction of what life in California was like up until two hundred years ago or so. Check out my website www.healingecosystems.com and join us for a foraging adventure sometime!
PPP: Thank you!
Bryan Bramlett Bio:
His Company: Healing Ecosystems and can be found at www.healingecosystems.com
Check out the website or the Facebook page for upcoming foraging events and permaculture education.
Bryan’s approach fuses permaculture, agroecology and indigenous land tending practices. Growing up in rural Alabama, Bryan was immersed in nature since childhood. After migrating to Berkeley in 2009 to pursue a masters in somatic counseling psychology, he began weaving his rediscovered love for gardening with counseling. He now has an eco-therapy practice alongside his water-wise landscaping business and leads immersive foraging tours in the Bay Area. He has worked on organic farms across the country and now manages a permaculture plot at the Gill Tract Community Farm in Albany, CA. Growing food, habitat and healthy community through permaculture and counseling is a mission he intends to educate the world about.
Berkeley, California, United States
Check out his Pro Planet People Profile