Tom LeBlanc

 

What were some of the most valuable aspects of ELI?

There were so many great parts of doing the ELI program.  We had illuminating in depth lectures in the classroom, practical hands on installation activities, and field trips in which we had the opportunity to observe mature systems.  Perhaps the most value that was provided however is the network that was created and is now growing.  Since graduating from ELI I have kept close relationships with a few of the instructors.  It has gotten to the point where it isn’t just a mentor mentee relationship, but also one of becoming colleagues.  We share leads, collaborate on projects and share dreams.  The same goes for our peer cohort.  Many of us have moved on to become active in the field.  We share quite a bit, and now that multiple iterations of ELI have been undertaken, that peer network is growing in quantity and quality.  We are reaching different parts of the country and even the world.  I am excited to see this network grow into a really powerful thing for our community to leverage in the field of regenerating landscapes and communities.

What are you working on now?

Right after completing ELI I partnered up with another local student and together we formed the company Perennial Abundance Permaculture.  It has been a challenging process getting started and new challenges always arise but we continue to move forward.  We have been growing our business in a variety of ways.  It started off with a few small install and maintenance jobs and has been growing.  Now we are taking on whole property designs, larger installs, commercial agriculture consultation, and even running workshops.  I am most excited about growing into the regenerative agriculture design and consultation work because I see that as one of the most powerful ways we can not only regenerate individual properties, but we can also seriously address issues of climate change, social inequality, economics and much more.  I also look forward to deepening my understanding of Holistic Management which I was introduced to in ELI, and applying that to what we do.

What are your plans for the future?

We’re getting to the point where we want to be offering more than what Nate and I can do alone.  We are at a point of growth and we are trying to be strategic about what that will look like.  We should soon have our California Contractors license so we can install larger projects with less risk.  When that happens we’ll be thinking about growing our install wing so we can be more efficient in our work in the field.  We also have been starting to break into the world of regenerative cannabis consulting and design.  As this crop is now legal in many places we have the opportunity to guide people towards regenerative practices from the ground up.  Many of the regulations coming forth closely relate to what we as permaculturists, ecological land planners, etc. can offer.  I think this market is going to expand quite a bit and look forward to being a part of that.

Why do you feel like this work is important?

I think the paradigm under which we as people and as society have been interacting with the landscape is on the whole very degenerative.  By destroying landscapes we destroy opportunities for people to create right livelihoods for themselves.  Reclaiming our role in the landscape as stewards means that we are taking ownership for our decisions in land planning and management.  By doing that we can work at a pretty high order of change to solve the worlds biggest issues in a very holistic way.  The disconnect between people and landscape has gotten us here, and we can change that through ecological landscaping, and regenerative farming. As we go through the process we also learn how to connect with one another in new ways and start to see that our social systems are much like ecosystems in the ways we interact.  We can have detrimental, parasitic relationships to each other, or we can have regenerative mutually beneficial relationships.  When we deepen with this work we see ever more clearly the interconnectedness of everything.  Working with that perspective is very powerful and we are just now starting to see what kinds of transformation is possible as the examples of the previous generation of permies matures, and new models begin to take shape.