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Editors' Choice: Water-Wise Oasis

By collecting rainwater and reusing graywater from their home, two brothers have created a lush, food-producing garden outside Tuscon, Arizona.

| May/June 2009

  • Brad grows mroe than a dozen varieties of edible cacti, from which he harvests fruit, flower buds and pods.
    Photo By Nigel Valdez

Permaculture teacher and “water farmer” Brad Lancaster and his brother Rodd—field manager for the Audubon Society’s Simpson Farm restoration site—grow their oasis outside of Tucson, Arizona, with rainwater they harvest and graywater recycled from their home. The thriving garden—filled with native desert plants and fruit trees—uses berms, basins and a 1,200-gallon cistern to gather and recycle water into the earth.

Three things we love about this garden:
1. Brad studied “water farming” with Zimbabwean farmer and activist Zephania Phiri Maseko who taught himself to harvest rainwater and makes a living selling crops from his garden.
2. Brad “plants water” by creating basins through which water can spread and sink in. His low-tech, water-saving devices include traditional [ital]ollas[end ital] (clay pots inserted in the soil that water plants over time); a homemade cistern; and tubes to direct rainwater from gutters to planted basins.
3. Brad and Rodd’s garden provides around 20 percent of their food needs, and they involve their community in harvest-season gatherings to grind mesquite pods into pinole, a flour and American Indian staple.

Read the original Water-Wise Oasis article.

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