When their children developed severe food allergies, Dave and Nicky Schauder knew they needed to reimagine how to feed their family. Gardening was a way for them to know exactly what was going in their produce.
“Our journey began five or six years ago,” says Dave. “I have been gardening for a while, but I wasn’t getting a lot of results. We discovered permaculture on a bookstore date that we went on.”
According to Permaculture Research Institute, permaculture “is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems.” Nicky says it is a manner of agriculture that mimics nature.
“It isn’t just an organic growing method,” she says. “It’s a whole system of design where the system supports your human existence and community existence in a whole cyclical economy. Nothing gets wasted.”
“For us, it means thoughtful and holistic design based on observations of the natural world in order to bring about sustainable and abundant living,” Dave adds.
Dave and Nicky started growing food in their small townhouse in the suburbs of DC using permaculture methods. Additionally, there was an unused courtyard at their children's elementary school, so Nicky coordinated with a teacher to apply for a whole food grant to recreate the space as an outdoor gardening space. That started a school whole food program four years ago.
Once Dave and Nicky realized how important it was to share the lessons of permaculture gardening to others, they decided to launch a website to teach people online—and so Permaculture Gardens, LLC was born.
“We launched our business where we educate through blogs, webinars, and other events to teach people how to grow their own gardens in a small space, urban, or suburban,” says Dave. “We’re in a townhouse and we’ve converted our front yard into a food forest. We have a hundred different annuals and perennials that we grow in our area. So we’re trying to teach people how to do that in their own small space.”
They aspire to educate and nurture a global community of families who provide for themselves with food, medicine, and spiritual connection through ecological gardening. Their success and ability to genuinely connect with others have gotten them featured on the Huffington Post, Permaculture Research Institute - Australia, and Green America. Permaculture Gardens LLC is a Green America Climate Victory Garden and a Green Business Network member.
“One of the best ways you can affect the planet is to grow your own food,” says Dave. “You can generate a significant portion of your food budget from your own garden and you can go a long way in conserving resources.”
“We’re just trying to show people that even a small space can make enough of a difference,” adds Nicky.
Now the family manages to supplement 25 percent of their food from their front yard garden. They successfully grow 300 pounds of produce a year in the middle of a city—and while they’ve amassed a following via blogs, webinars, and community outreach since then, their mission to feed their family nutrient-dense, organic, and tasty foods remain the same.