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Meet Lucian Toma and Anna Maria Desipris of About And For Sustainability / Desert Bloom Farm

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lucian Toma and Anna Maria Desipris.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Lucian and Anna Maria. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
We, Lucian and Anna Maria, began working together in the sustainability realm since 2014. Originally as colleagues and now as partners, we found that we share similar hopes and dreams for the future, as exemplified in our personal work.  We are both committed to regenerate, enhance and support the health of our shared ecosystems and communities through education, Permaculture, and regenerative practices.

Anna Maria – beekeeping, herbalism & permaculture educator & practitioner + college professor: Like many of us in the field of sustainability and farming, I have found myself wearing many hats and luckily learning much along the way.  After finishing my Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs and Pre-Med, as well as leading the events programming at a local urban farm in Reno, I moved to California in 2013. Here I landed a wonderful position as the director of a garden-based educational program for two years, which throttled me into a new career in Permaculture and urban farming.  Finding connection to plants, people, and beautiful food opened my mind and heart to how I believe the world could function: with healthy, vibrant and nourished communities and ecosystems.

Learning the foundations of Permaculture gave me a solid understanding of how intricate and plentiful the systems are within and around us.  From the macro to micro level, we are constantly in relationship with nature and everything around. It was from this investigation and learning that the layers and focus which most appealed to me began to unfold.

I landed a position at a local non-profit, The Ecology Center, to coordinate and host their festivals, culinary program, and public events. Bringing in skills of event planning from my previous life (before California), I was able to tap further into the world of farming, culinary education and permaculture; by working directly with chefs, farmers, purveyors, and artisans. I worked to connect these amazing individuals to consumers, through beautiful farm to table events, and to one another through culinary educational gatherings. From LA to San Diego, folks were coming to these gatherings, and that’s exactly what we wanted; to close the geographical gaps between us and create a more connected community. Southern California has an incredible abundance of sustainable and heritage options for everything you could need to survive, from fiber to grain, dairy, meat, and of course produce.  I’m grateful for the five years I spent hustling, working long hours and many weekends in this position as I grew exponentially as a professional and a human in this field.

All this time I have also dedicated work in the field of beekeeping and herbalism.  I began studying each prior to my Permaculture Design Certification, and these specialties are a big part of who I am today.  Starting as a novice in both, to now rescuing hundreds of hives from extermination, establishing urban sanctuaries for bee hives, creating an apprenticeship training program for beekeeping and my own line of plant medicine offerings. I’m very proud of the impact I’ve made.  The bees and plants are what bring the magic to my life and I will forever be devoted to their survival and gifts.

It’s true what they say of Geminis…it’s like two people in one! I think it’s part of the reason why I was able to accomplish and create so much in a short amount of time.  Also, my deep desire to bring healing to plant and human communities and stand for those with who play an important role in our environment is at the heart of who I am.

Lucian – permaculture design educator & practitioner, zero waste & sustainability consultant + college professor: I grew up in Romania in two homestead environments. With the family, we grew most of our food, medicine, a few other basic needs and bartered for most of the rest. It was always done with respect and reverence for that which made it all possible: mother nature. The main element of that way of life was that we produced no waste, everything was cycled back into nature, via composting, or reused or repurposed somehow.  At 16, I saw the west for the first time and wanted to live there.  I lived in Italy for one year and experienced another culture with deep connection to food, community, and all the good things in life. At 18, I gained a scholarship to come to the United States and got my visa one day before 9/11 (very fortunate).  In just a few years in South Orange County, I almost forgot my roots and became entrenched in a different kind of culture.

I rediscovered those lost roots while living in Hawaii for seven years. I pursued higher education and achieved a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and a Master’s in Global Leadership and Sustainable Development.  Beyond that, possibly the most valuable enlightening education I acquired came from the local Hawaiians whom I befriended and spent most of my time with.  Their respect for Aina (the land), Moana (the ocean), and the life that Ke’ano (mother nature) supports through its abundance reminded me of my upbringing and ancestry.  It was here that I discovered what I really needed and wanted to do in life: contribute to the regeneration of our shared degraded ecosystems and communities.

Back in Southern California, a suit and tie job, working with local governments to bring energy efficiency to LA and Orange County, did not fulfill my passion and commitment to life and that which supports it (mother nature, of course). I searched for something else and I was fortunate to land a great position and lead the public programs and the Permaculture design services and education at a non-profit organization. In a very short period of time, about three years, I was able to directly and positively impact thousands of people, some at a deeper and more direct level than others, and bring regeneration to many degraded urban and suburban ecosystems.

The time and work I dedicated to this non-profit opened a lot of new opportunities for me in the permaculture and sustainability fields. I transitioned out of the position in 2017 and started two businesses to make even more impact. Through Re-Earth Consulting, I have worked directly with city governments to make impact from the top down, implementing zero waste programs for the public and the restaurant industry. Through About and For Sustainability, I have worked directly with individuals, schools, and communities to create impact at the grassroots level, implementing Permaculture Design courses, classes and ecological garden design & install services in the local community.

Currently, after experiencing the impact we had on the local community in just one year, running educational programs from our 1-acre homestead in San Clemente, we took on expanding our work to a 40-acre farm on the border of San Diego and Riverside counties. From this space, we are starting to produce food with regenerative agro-ecological and Permaculture practices, continue to offer educational and training experiences to the community, and build up on the momentum we gained. Desert Bloom Farm is another big step in our mission to regenerate, enhance and support the health of our shared ecosystems and communities.

Has it been a smooth road?
As with most young people in a new industry and career path, we believe that the biggest challenge for us has been that of building and maintaining financial stability.  In carving out new professions in the fields of permaculture and sustainability, and sharing our talents with our communities, we often have been and continue to be faced with proving the value of our work: that teaching folks how to compost, to save beehives, to regenerate degraded or unproductive ecosystems or for consultations should be paid work.  We often suffer from the perception of the “martyr” persona, where because we are committed to “saving” ecosystems and plant/human communities we are expected to be doing this work for free.  Education and taking the time for an informative conversation is how we tackle each nay-sayer one by one.  It’s not easy and we know it’s the only way to continue to create change for ourselves and others. We definitely discovered many new and innovative ways to have our community understand the value of our work, and yes we continue to do a lot of work for free. We love it!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
From our new 40-acre farm (Desert Bloom – Permaculture Research & Education Farm) our business, About and For Sustainability, is offering education, training, and consultation services in the fields of permaculture, sustainability, leadership, community building, and regenerative farming. This is an expansion of our work at the 1 acre homestead in San Clemente, from where in just 1 year, we: graduated 70 individuals in Permaculture design and 25 in beekeeping, brought together over 500 individuals to learn and become aware about regenerative and sustainable practices, designed and installed 10 private and 2 public permaculture gardens to benefit the larger community, rescued from extermination and relocated 40 bee hives, and gave over $25,000 in scholarships, consultation and materials support to our local community. We are most excited about and most proud of seeing our graduates taking on and succeeding in the work we helped them step into. This is what gives us immense energy to continue and grow our work. We see our work being effective and we know it is because we give it all to make others succeed. This is what makes us unique in the realm of permaculture, sustainability, and regenerative development work. All who are at the receiving end of our work know and experience this 100%.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
San Diego County is a great place for businesses in the realm of permaculture design, sustainability consulting and other related fields. Of course, the market is young, and new and innovative ways to bring and expand the community of “clients” are required. The biggest thing for us is that we transformed our “transactions” into relationships. That is what made our entrepreneurial endeavors flourish really fast. For sure we would want to see lots of incentives from the county and cities for sustainability-related businesses, and more support. And we are not going to wait for these things to happen, we take action, being involved in the civil society and participating in as many opportunities as possible to educate and inspire decision makers to support this good type of work.

Pricing:

  • Permaculture Design Course (2 weeks intensive) in October 2019 @ Desert Bloom Farm with About And For Sustainability – $1800 to $3000 sliding scale pricing
  • Regenerative Leadership Course (6 months intensive) starting March 2020 @ Desert Bloom Farm & Online with About And For Sustainability – $3000 to $6000 sliding scale

Contact Info:

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