Name: Joshua Burman Thayer
Occupation: Landscape designer and permaculture consultant with Native Sun Gardens;
Urban Agriculture Supervisor, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation;
Advisor to Benicia Community Garden Project
Place of Residence: San Francisco, California
Background and Personal History: Joshua started his passion for food production and sustainability while attending Humboldt State University in the late 1990s. Starting as a farm intern through a campus-sponsored program in partnership with the two-acre Arcata Educational Farm, Joshua learned the ins and outs of community-scale food production and composting.
While custom tailoring his Bachelor of Science in Community Engineering, Joshua also had the opportunity to work at a Biodiesel production factory, Footprint Recycling. Joshua also studied appropriate technology and alternative energy.
In 2001, seeking to bolster his campus learning, Joshua was accepted into an exchange program of work study on a 20-acre permaculture farm in Costa Rica. Worldwide Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is a program which places volunteers on organic farms throughout the globe. Through this program, Joshua was able to travel and live work on farms in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and Belize. Upon return to California, Joshua worked as a laborer on organic Community Supported Agriculture farms as well as running farmers market stalls.
After completing his Bachelor of Science in Community Engineering (Summa Cum Laude), Joshua returned to the Bay Area to apprentice in ecological landscape design, as well as to oversee community gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area. As an apprentice in ecological landscape design and as a native plant field researcher, Joshua has continued to receive horticultural and taxonomical plant knowledge hands-on in the field. This combining of food and habitat forged Joshua’s focus of drought-tolerant perennial food design that feeds both people and the habitat.
As a lead designer, owner and operator of Native Sun Gardens, Joshua’s approach unites ecology with aesthetics: Beautiful, productive natural systems that work with nature to foster bounty are created for a healthy ecosystem while producing organic food on a community scale. Having created over fifty gardens of low-water food production, Joshua shows how to design in drought lands for community benefit. He has co-taught permaculture design at Merritt college in Oakland, California, where students learn in a 2-acre living food forest.
As the Urban Agriculture Supervisor for the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation in San Francisco, Joshua guides four rooftop food gardens in downtown San Francisco. These gardens provide food for low-income housing residents while serving as learning labs to empower locals with the skills of planting seeds and harvesting fresh food.
Current Projects: Joshua is working on projects for the Civic Center Farmers Market Food Distribution, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation Rooftop Garden project, People’s Garden food production and Merritt College Permaculture. Joshua is also writing for Edible Silicon Valley Magazine.
More Places to Find Joshua on the Web:Earthworks article