Food Forest San Antonio – Tamōx Talōm… fire spirit! 

Creating a Food Forest on the San Antonio Southside.

Ever since moving here to San Antonio, giving back to the community, and staying active, especially on all things that love the Earth- has been an important task for me.

Over the past year or so, I have had the honor extending to include being a volunteer first, and then a member of the executive committee tasked with creating a food forest.

That food forest is the Tamōx Talōm food forest at Padre Park, on the Southside of San Antonio. 

More about that, but first, here is a definition of a food forest for the uninitiated. 

According to Wikipedia:

Forest gardening is a low-maintenance, sustainable, plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans.

Brandon at Pittman Sullivan Park
The author (pictured in red) with volunteers at Pittman Sullivan garden.

My local introduction to community gardening began with a volunteer day at the Pittman-Sullivan community garden on the city’s historic East Side a few years ago. 

A micro park, on the outskirts of the local Martin Luther King YMCA was granted permission to become a green space for the commyunity. 

The small park has a small stage built into the corner, and had a water rain catchment system available as well. 

Like so many parks, community gardens, and group projects like this, that require a strong volunteer force to keep them going- this park has gone through it’s ups and downs. 

Nonetheless, it was a great introduction for me to volunteer, get outside, put my hands in the dirt, and give back in a meaningful way to the community that I live in. 

Over the next couple of years, I invested a bunch of my time building community via events, and serving musicians and bands as a promoter and manager- booking gigs, and getting paid opportunities for growing artists. 

It was during this time, that I met with friends and pitched the idea of creating a sustainable music and arts festival, all done in a zero-waste manner. 

My first calls were to a local friend Christopher Moken, that was at the time leading a mattress recycling nonprofit he created. 

And next, to Caddymack Moses of the East Side San Antonio- Cadillac Muzik band. 

The festival was something we all loved but just didn’t come together at that time. 

But along that trail, one of our first stops in doing so was reaching out to the local community that we thought may be interested in supporting an event with the holistic approach that we were envisioning. 

Gardopia Gardens, a local nonprofit, community garden was one of our first stops. 

I had previously met their founder, Stephen Lucke while doing some earlier garden volunteering. 

Gardopia was a great place for me at the time, I was able to immerse myself in community building, and grow my strengths as a community catalyzer. 

A veteran of the armed forces and friend-Ed introduced me to a river paddling hippie by the name of Woody Welch, that’s teaching permaculture to the world through his platform of Earth Repairian. 

Next, inviting him to visit with us at Gardopia, he and his associate videographer Andrew blessed us with the amazing video you see above. 

If you still haven’t – please give it a watch. 

Gardening is incredibly healing, for both the local environment and the soul. 

In the garden, we were given the opportunity to come together with others that shared a mutual interest in growing food- or wanting to know how to grow food. 

That connection that happens between farmer Stephen there,  and whoever is stewarding your nearest community garden becomes a conduit to the local food community. 

If you want to grow food, and are looking for a place to get involved, a community garden is a great place to look. 

And if you have none in your area, consider creating a food forest or other ecological paradise to be enjoyed by you and your neighbors. 

Woody and his crew created a beautiful video. 

Please be sure to check out the Earth Repairian channel as well, where Woody shares some educational permaculture insights. 

Thank you Woody and Andrew for the wonderful creativity and skills that you shared with us.

After spending a couple of years of all-volunteer energy going into a community garden, and an organization that was still outside of my family, I decided to re-arrange my priorities. 

One of the permaculture values that inspired this thinking was that of permaculture zones- and zone zero being the nearest to you… that being the land or area that is easily accessible from where you sleep. 

It was very difficult for me to pull myself away from the garden, and volunteer work meant a lot to me. 

But alas, all things must grow, and growth was calling me home. 

With a young toddler (you can see him in the Earth Repairian video) in tow, and increasing responsibilities at the home front, it was time to make a decision. 

That decision re-focused my efforts on my own home, my own tended garden, and choosing to invest my energy into growing what was really growing me. 

What a joy to see the fruits of my labor at home. 

What began with the request of placing a quart-sized glass jar handy on the counter for scraps, turned into a homestead now with BOTH outdoor compost and a swirly bin that makes compost quickly and without any odor. 

More importantly, my teenage daughters and my new son were not only observing the ways we were living more sustainably- but they were active participants as well. 

We now grow swiss chard, broccoli, squash, mint, oregano, cilantro, pineapples, blueberry, asparagus, tomato, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, and more. 

We also have some fruit trees; pear, apple, citrus, mulberry, Haupt fig, and apple, and we tend some bees that we got from a connection at the Gardopia Gardens as well. 

In honesty, our little urban homestead is far from perfect, far from a great permaculture design, and far from supplying us with all of our food needs- but it is plentifully great as a garden. 

And our imperfect garden provides us with healthy, fresh produce that we often grow from scraps or seeds, and our imperfect little garden is also a source of inspiration for so many friends and family that visit in our home and then leave sharing stories of how they too, are now starting a compost bin in their kitchen or growing in their front yards now. 

That is the power of growing food.

It is a return to the land. A return to nature.

A return to self-reliability and budding confidence that comes with knowing you can survive in a world where food systems all around us are showing cracks. 

To be able to teach children, and share with them to the confidence that they are capable of feeding themselves, or knowing basic husbandry skills that have long since gone out of fashion, but will forever serve a hungry human. 

For me, it was always the environment first that brought me to gardening, sustainability, stewarding the land, and creating outlets for my own community to grow and nurture their love of life and one another. 

Over time, the realities of trying to change the world became so heavy, that I resigned to change more of myself first. 

Easier to be an example, than set an example. 

One beautiful thing about taking responsibility for yourself is that you DO change the world. 

Where my words failed me, my actions spoke. 

If I ever felt that deaf ears and blank stares befell me, I made the decision to still continue to sow seeds, and harvest fruits. 

Learning to compost, and putting that skill set into action brought me closer awareness of a whole community beyond myself, trying to live their best selves as stewards of humanity and planet as well. 

It is my feeling that we are all one.

That is how I perceive the world. 

As such, if a brother or sister is not fed and I am able- it is my duty to plant seeds and to teach what I know. 

For the same reasons, I am deeply in gratitude of all of the amazing souls that are so passionate about food, educations, systems, caring, cooperation, and being a positive change. 

Thank you.

Thank you sincerely each and every one of you. 

When the student is ready, the teacher appears. 

And time after time this is true. 

The form is of no matter when you are ready to receive a lesson. 

Musicians, poets, rappers, teachers, students, master naturalists- policymakers… each and every one of you has a role to play.

And each of you inspires the rest of us every day just by doing. 

If my little part in helping to catalyze people around the idea of growing food, abundantly for all can inspire the next- it has already been worth it. 

And the benefits to my own sanity, fitness, and ability to immerse myself outdoors- all of them and a hundred more are reasons  we will continue to grow food. 

Growing food is fun!

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Here’s a little video that my daughter Madi captured from one of our first events at the Tamōx Talōm food forest. 

We hosted a sitting circle and a listening ceremony where we invited the public to share input and stories from the land and the local area. 

A native tribe from the local area blessed the land and the ceremony before we came together to plant a food forest. 

On a beautiful day in which smoke raised to the heavens and birds danced around above the field, we sang offerings of love and commitment to steward together our local community. 

Tamōx Talōm food forest at Padre Park
Scan this QR code to learn more about the Tamōx Talōm food forest.

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See a clip of volunteers from spring planting, here.

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