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Zen Den Food Forest | Tampa Heights

 

April 5, 2018

Kendrick T. Henry, M. Arch

Zen Den, Final Site Plan

March 2018

 

 

Zen Den Holistic Wellness, Inc. is a non-profit 501c-3 retreat center & educational resource space located in Tampa Heights, Florida, promoting awareness of physical health, mental & emotional well-being, while providing education, encouragement & guidance, sustainability & consciousness practices, with a focus on nature and nutrition for the body and the mind.

 

The founder and director of Zen Den, Rose Bryant-Khan, is a very distinguished and celebrated naturopathic practitioner, 500 hour certified yoga instructor and expecting mother.  She studied permaculture design and also received her PDC through 'Grow Permaculture', with Koreen Brennan.

 

Rose, a Portland, Oregon native, moved to Tampa, Florida in 2015, with aspirations of having a lush year-round garden. Since then, she has organized local designers, WWOOFER's and garden enthusiasts to help build a food forest garden that provides an abundance of food for the surrounding neighborhood.

 

Rose and I met in September of 2015, while attending 'Grow Permaculture' and received our Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) together, in May of 2016.  On the first day of class Rose expressed interest in developing her non-profit space to create a food forest garden in Tampa Heights, I was very interested in helping, so we formed a design group and began sketching the Zen Den space as our  final PDC graduation project. 

 

We were both very eager to begin planting so before too long, equipped with the permaculture design tools, we began to plant some trees and grow our own food, in the urban food forest now known as, Zen Den.  

 

Let's take a look at Zen Den before breaking ground.  

Zen Den, Front

Summer 2015

 

Zen Den is a corner lot that sits on 1/8 of an acre, a 100' x 150' plot and original concrete (CMU) house, built in 1951.  The 1980's flat roof addition in the front of the house added a private room + bath and extended living area.  The main part of the house now features a beautifully redesigned island kitchen, office and two additional bedrooms + shared bathroom in the rear.

 

The outside structure maintained a low profile featuring a covered porch and side deck, while the front yard had a few palm trees, citrus trees and well kept lawn with access to the back yard from both sides of the property. 

 

The backyard provided a clear canvas and showcased a beautiful coat of fresh teal paint, Rose's favorite color.

 

In my opinion, the most exciting feature about Rose's new house is the well. That's right! The original owner from the '50's kept the well intact and serves the house today, inside and out. One of the key features and future success to her garden goals. 

Zen Den, Back

Summer 2015

 

A birds-eye view of the property reveals potential to create a garden-oasis.  Zen Den is just 1 mile north of downtown Tampa.. A yoga retreat and educational facility in the heart of the city, creating a 'Zen-Den' for holistic health and wellness.

Zen Den, Before

Summer 2015

 

We began observing the site and practicing our new found permaculture skills by creating a series of sketches and drawings to guide each phase and to decide where desired programs could be placed throughout the property.

Zen Den, Sketch 

October 2015

 

Initially, Rose and I focused our efforts on the back yard, not to make any sudden changes to the open front yard.  Organic flow was very important in the overall design concept of Zen Den.  We wanted to reduce the amount of straight lines already present within the boundaries of the property, Spaces in question were left blank, allowing nature and the neighborhood to guide us in the direction we should go. 

Zen Den, Zone Map

December 2015

 

Creating a Zone Map allowed us to design more accurately based on needs of the house.  Herbs and edible vegetables are best situated close to the entrances, for easy access.  Then, we designed for seasonal and perennial crops in main open areas and larger fruit trees were planned to be placed towards the perimeter to create natural borders and edible 'food hedges', also known as fedges. 

 Zen Den, Rough Site Plan

December 2015

 

For our PDC presentation, Rose and I gathered a list of items, on paper, necessary to move the project forward in phase 1, such as: pergola structures, gateways, bridges, potential chicken coop and base our plant list on the remaining areas. We located ponds & banana circles, compost areas, raised beds and water catchment spaces. 

 Zen Den, Phase 1

March 2018

 

It's taken 2 years, from the first set of drawings to get a feel of the space and allow the seasons to help us make better decisions.  In April 2016, I graduated from USF with a Master's in Architecture and moved into Zen Den to oversee the food forest transition full time.  Since then, phase 1 has come full circle and mostly all of the plants have been strategically positioned in their current places. 

 

One of the first areas we started building soil was the north east corner of the back yard.

Zen Den, Sacred Space

April 2016-April 2017

 

 

Here, Rose is creating a trench along the fence to place stumps, sticks, twigs, leaves and even our food scraps. Also known as Hugelkulture.

 

Being the lowest elevation, on the property, we wanted to slow water  run off, store it and allow it to sink into the plants.

 

It seemed like a great place to build a burm or swale to hold water that would fall in the corner and create a natural retention area or small pond with bananas placed around the edges.

 

Symbolically, one walks over the the small bridge, above the pond, as a cleansing ritual and moment of reflection, clearing the mind to reach the furthest most sacred space in the back yard.

 

We planted a small bodhi tree in the back corner space and have most recently placed bamboo trees, provided by Pete Kanaris, the owner of GreenDreams.  Check out his YouTube Channel. (Click Here)

 

We've designated this back corner area as the sacred space, for meditation, a moment in time to reflect from the day, close to the water, as it reflects on the bottom of the banana leaves.

 

Water from the pond evaporates moisture and collects on the bottom of the leaves in this area, which runs down the banana trunks to naturally water them.

 

Bananas happen to be very thirsty! 

 

Highlighted within the circle is the pond, bridge, sacred space and miss bodhi tree.  

Zen Den, 1st Mulch Delivery,

January 2016

Exposed soil is like an open wound.

 

To keep moisture and nutrients in the soil, nature drops leaves on the forest floor.

 

As a way to replicate natural systems, we asked a local tree trimming company to drop a load of fresh oak mulch at Zen Den.

 

Local municipalities hire tree trimming companies to cut dead or rotting trees in parks or even overgrown trees hitting powerlines.

 

Tree trimming companies actually have to pay to dump fresh cut material at specific locations, usually county owned facilities, which could be across town from the tree trimming job.  In an attempt to save travel costs the tree trimming companies offer to drop off mulched material for free, for anyone willing to take a huge truck load of mulch like the one pictured here.

 

Just give a local tree trimming company in your area a call and ask for a 'chip drop'. Specify oak mulch, no pine or palm tree material. 

 

Zen Den has received about 5 huge truck loads of mulch over the past two years since converting from grass lawn.  It is a process to rebuild soil so be ready to spread some mulch!

  

Zen Den, Breaking Ground Before and After

January 2016-April 2017

 

 

There are many different pathways to utilize throughout the Zen Den food forest.  Notice the main arteries and widest pathways for wheel barrels and gathering people are much larger than the more narrow walkways around the perimeter of the property.

 

Secondary and tertiary spaces, along the edges,  are much smaller passages, designed for intimacy and privacy.  The touch and feel of a leaf or branch as you pass by may be NRG the plant needs to grow stronger that day. 

 

Much like the flutter of a butterfly wing, passing by a tree, helps to generate wind to make them grow big and strong. 

 

Plants need love, affection and interaction daily, just like people and animals.

 

Here, Buddha sits in the garden classroom space, reminding us to just be, in silence, and listen to the plants grow as we grow with them.

 

One of my favorite books that talks more about the scientific research conducted on plants, from which I was introduced to read by a local Buddhist, Bill Billadeau (SUAC),titled 'The Secret Life of Plants" was inspirational while designing this private classroom.

 

Namaste.

 

 

Taking a look at more technical aspects of a food forest, power generation, water collection and distribution seemed to be very important strategy in maintaining the system for years to come.

 

Currently, 2 areas of rooftop collect rain water. In purple, the flat roof drains into 2, 30 gallon tanks.  Rose and I attended a rainwater collection workshop through City of Tampa and Hillsborough County extension office and received these tanks for free. We use them to water, by hand when needed, the north side of the backyard. We planted more drought tolerant species of plants along the back fence in a row of moringa trees.

Zen Den, Systems

March 2018

 

 

The light blue rooftop catchment is the RainCube rainwater collection system, which collects rain water in 5 separate, 275 gallon IBC tanks, on the north side of the house.  Then, using solar powered motors that regulate each zone the wireless connection of the RainCube App can be turned on. From the convenience of our cell phones we can water almost all areas of the backyard. Thanks to Anthony Paglino and the RainCube team for making this system a dream come true. Watering made efficient and easy! 

 

Shown on the Zen Den Systems map, the dark blue areas on the south facing part of the yards are well watered areas. We turn on the drip line irrigation during warm-dry months in the front. We also have a zone of well watering for the greenhouses, just inside the backyard gate.

 

 

 

Rose had 31 solar panels installed on the roof, making Zen Den a net zero property,

 

Here, she is inspecting the newly installed solar panel system.

 

Thanks, Tampa Energy Solutions! A great team of installers. They were very helpful, trained and knowledgeable. 

 

Zen Den is constantly making strides in becoming more energy efficient.

 

Each month, Zen Den pays a connection fee to the power company, but doesn't necessarily pay for power.

 

During the day, energy is created from absorbing sun rays and powers the house 100%.  Any excess power generated is sent back to the power company and stored in a metered collection system.

 

Then, at night when Zen Den is drawing power from the grid, we buy back the excess energy generated from the day, at a discounted rate.  

 

So, for now, if the neighborhood loses power, so does Zen Den, but the prices of battery systems have gone down tremendously in just 2 years. Zen Den  may be able to upgrade the solar system very soon!

 

During the hurricanes of 2017, the beehives were strapped down to concrete blocks and the bees managed to survive the storm. 

 

The 2 yellow boxes, shown on the systems map are rooftop beehives!

Bees pollinate the Zen Den food forest's collection of flowers and herbs for our consumption.

 

Thank you Queen Bees!

 

Due to the proximity of space and safety concerns for visitors within the food forest, and for our love of bees and general concern for the overall health of bees around the world, we decided to place the beehives on the roof.

 

Rooftop beekeeping is a very popular strategy in many areas around the world.  We're actively educating and training local beekeepers in the Tampa Bay area to utilize this strategy as well.

 

The bees seem to love it up there. Lots of water puddles to drink, full sun to keep the pest control down and full range and access to all the plants in the garden.

 

Not to mention, they are safe from other predators and wildlife that may be looking for a sweet meal.

 

Once bees pollinate flowers, if it's a fruit tree, they tend to turn into delicious fruit. We have many fruit tree varieties on the property.


In other cases, pollinated flowers can turn into beans and seeds for us to harvest and collect for the next season of perennial food crops. 

 

Every food forest and home garden should have a beehive or 2.  They can be managed very easily with the right setup.

 

 For tips on how to run a successful beehive, I took USF Botanical Garden's Beekeeping Class.

2 beehives are currently located on the flat part of Zen Den's roof.

 

Here, I inspect the hives for pests and see if there is any extra honey for us to harvest.

 

Sure enough, we're able to make small harvests of honey, several times a year.

 

Bees keep honey in the top part of the bee hive, furthest from the bottom entrance. 

 

They store honey in case of an apocalypse or in any case if there may not be any nectar or flowering plants around town.

 

Generally, Florida mainains flowers throughout the year, especially with the #1 pollinator plant 'bidens alba' (spanish nettle), but in extreme weather conditions, like a night or 2 of frost, the flowers can be wiped out very fast and the little queens may need to utilize their honey reserves.

 

We love and care for the bees with respect. Thank you mama nature for providing such abundance. 

 

If you have a beehive in your area, to reduce any loss of bees due to mosquito spraying, register your beehive and notify the city of the location and they will not spray within a number of feet of your beehive,

 

SAVE THE BEES!

 

Harvesting by hand, on this type of scale, is much different than commercialized mechanized honey extraction.

 

No bees were intentionally harmed in the making of this honey!

 

Below, Rose took a video of me using a homemade honey extractor made from a water barrel, hand drill and some spare wood.

 

Watch here, it's on our Numa Nursery YouTube channel. Injoy!

Consuming local raw honey can help alleviate symptoms associated with asthma and allergies. 

 

Meet with us for local honey, every Saturday from 9am-1pm, at the Temple Terrace Farmer's Market. We partner with Pajo, our local beekeeper to provide honey, propolis, wax, bee pollen and handmade products from local bees.  For hive relocation and swarm removal, give us a ring. 

 

Now, lets take a look at how we managed to obtain free material for a bamboo fence!

At all costs, try to build with free materials.  Not only do you feel accomplished when creating something that cost next to nothing, but the ability to recycle materials and re-purpose them is even more valuable to the environment. 

 

There was a huge clump of bamboo on the side of the road and I would pass it regularly thinking, wow, I could build a house with that much bamboo!

 

Then, after a few more passes thinking what else could it be used for, I stopped to ask if it would be okay to harvest some bamboo and there were no objections. 

 

Rose even came out with me a few times and we made good fun out of the trips.

Summer 2016 was fun! As a recently graduated architecture student I was given the opportunity to explore my interests in sustainable materials outside of the classroom at Zen Den. 

 

Utilizing some basic construction techniques, with a hand saw and drill, I made a frame using 4"x4" posts and dug them into the ground about two feet deep. 

 

Then, using 1"x4" horizontal supports, drilled each bamboo shoot to the wood with a pilot hole and screws.

 

Now, the bamboo fence has been sealed and protected from the elements, to last several more years. 

The bamboo fence is located in the front yard on the edge of the deck.

 

Each top of the bamboo was cut at undulating heights to resemble the rhythm of a song. 

 

Doe, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Doe

 

The gentle chune of a bird's call can be heard while practicing yoga on the deck, with the bamboo backdrop as a privacy making screen to separate participants from the street, just a few feet away.

 

The bamboo fence creates an entirely new outdoor room and gathering space.  We've given many demonstrations as the bamboo backdrop accents instructions for making exciting new spaces within the garden.  

 

Rose and many of her AirBnb guests enjoy doing yoga on the deck now that it's much more private. Visit her AirBnb page here. At an angle, you cannot even see the neighbors houses. Sometimes people passing by do not even know we're enjoying sunset on the deck.

 

Adding another layer of protection, boat sails span the space between the new bamboo deck and south facing wall of the house. Before putting up the sails, this space was extremely uncomfortable to occupy.  The sun was beating down on the house, heating up the concrete walls on the outside, making the inside living room heat up in the daytime. 

 

Even the neighborhood cat, Leila, enjoys the sails for a chill nap!

Zen Den, Yoga Deck

March 2018

 

One of the the goals for Rose's non-profit, Zen Den Holistic Wellness, Inc. is to provide an educational resource center to the surrounding neighborhood and share with local garden enthusiasts the benefits of health, nutrition, sustainable practices and even the health of our mind and relationships with people and plants. 

 

Since we both love yoga and permaculture, Rose and I decided to begin offering workshops and free yoga classes at Zen Den during the summer of 2016.

 

The cover of this flyer is a hand drawing of the backyard pergola with passion fruit vines, fruit trees and herb garden.

We've hosted several events at Zen Den since 2016, opening up the space to hundreds of people, making advertisements on Google +InstagramFacebook, NextDoor and many other social media platforms.

 

Zen Den has hosted thousands more, who were in search of a place to find zen within themselves, a place they know is not too far away, in hopes of adopting a more permaculture + yogic lifestyle. 

 

In many ways, each of us are plants!

 

We're each on our own path and journey, coming together to practice yoga for ourselves and to care for the earth, for others.

 

Practicing yoga can be done almost anywhere. Planting a garden can be done almost anywhere as well, but being able to create an environment to do yoga within a garden space, while being in the middle of the city is so rewarding.

Thank you Rose for all your love and support.

 

One of our favorite permaculture principles is 'the invisible structure'.

 

Much like the branches of a tree, we may not see the structure holding up the leaves behind their dense and collective nature.

 

Symbolically, we take a look at Zen Den and even large scale farms for example and gather, there are a lot of moving parts to make an idea on paper successful in real life.

 

The leaves are the ideas and the structure is the collective unit of society, holding every idea we have up, making them a reality.

It takes a community to build a functioning space like Zen Den.

 

In order to harvest a successful crop and maintain profitable yields, farmers invest in their local communities. 

 

Farmers regularly allow people come into their fields and harvest for themselves the plants they grow, allowing us to see how its grown, what their growing practices are and how they manage their workers and products going out to local stores. 

 

Zen Den was envisioned to harvest self and the fruits of nature.

It takes a community to build a functioning space like Zen Den.

 

In order to harvest a successful crop and maintain profitable yields, farmers invest in their local communities. 

 

Farmers regularly allow people come into their fields and harvest for themselves the plants they grow, allowing us to see how its grown, what their growing practices are and how they manage their workers and products going out to local stores. 

 

Zen Den was envisioned to harvest self and the fruits of nature.

I am grateful for the moments like these, practicing free yoga with friends on a deck that may have never been used for yoga before.

 

 

Yoga has taught me to innerstand that although we may not be exactly where we want to be in our life, know we will get there in time and know that we are exactly where we're meant to be in that present moment.

 

We're so very thankful for every moment on earth, she is beautiful.

 

There is beauty in the struggle.

 

Each new day is awakening, forgiving myself of mistakes, allows me to achieve all of my goals.

 

Currently, my goals are to grow roots and my hair, plant a tree daily, sprout a seed within myself and in real life seeds within others, drink more water and know that each breath has everything my body needs to live healthy.

 

Be full of love and spread joy at every moment, laugh more, talk to the trees, whistle with the birds, play in the garden and walk barefoot more.

 

Zen Den has allowed me to sit in silence, close my eyes and stare at the sun, watch the sunset more, stretch my body and move slowly more, create new paintings, be more creative, listen to my heart, gut feelings and feel more love.

Living at Zen Den for 2 years has also allowed me to stop and smell the roses.

 

 

 I have noticed the perception of ourselves is a reflection of natural systems.

 

Simple actions can create the biggest ripples.

 

Practicing yoga with Rose has taught me to calm the mind, be more conscious that every non-action is just as important as each action.

 

Being apart of Zen Den's manifestation has been the most rewarding and challenging task to date.

 

When someone asks me for help, are they asking for me to help them? Or is the universe giving me an opportunity to help myself?

 

Each day that I pulled weeds in the blistering sun or watered the garden for hours at a time I realized more and more that this opportunity was to teach me more about nature and exciting new ways to teach others.    

 

Rose wanted to create multiple classroom spaces at Zen Den,

 

Zen Den is an educational resource facilty aimed to raise the vibrational frequency on the planet.

We're raising vibes and collective consciousness within this highlighted area pictured above, in the south east corner of the backyard under the newly built pergola, which shows me conducting a permaculture workshop.

 

 

One important aspect of teaching is to allow those that want to learn, time to grow, and offer the opportunity for them to participate in the learning process.

 

Here, at Zen Den, Rose offers free compost drop-off. 

 

The conscious action of keeping food items out of the trash is an in-valuable lesson and teaches people more responsible practices, versus throwing things away, especially food scraps.

 

It's 2018, no food scraps should be going into a landfill.

 

Many people contribute to Zen Den's compost, making dark matter, melanin rich soil for the property.

Zen Den produces excess soil and worms to offer the neighbors who have also been able start their own gardens and compost bins.

 

 

 We spread fresh composted soil around the garden regularly, adding bio-available fertility to feed the plants, which provide us with so much abundance and fresh food in return. 

 

One of the first areas we began to build soil, in early 2016, using the donated compost was on the north side of the property.

 

Most trees in Florida need to be raised up on slight mounds, allowing water to drain from the root base during rainy months.

 

We dug long trenches in the pathway areas for water to drain into and inversely hold some moisture in time of drought. 

 

Then, we covered the pathways with cardboard to prevent weeds from coming up, then covered them with mulch.

 

Now, Zen Den has a row of tropical fruit trees to the right of these temporary potting tables and a fedge row of moringa and papaya trees along the north fence.

 

We built pergolas down the pathway to provide structure for summer vining plants like passion fruit, loofah and squash.

 

Each pergola also serves as a place holder. I find people resting at the threshold of these moments, where before it was just a walkway, now has multiple purposes and pauses.

 A challenging area to design for was the north side of the building.

 

The pathway leading from the rear side door to the back yard receives full sun most of the year, but there seems to be a strip of ground next to the house that would get very little, to no sun at all.

 

This is because

the sun is in the southern most hemisphere part of the year, shading the north side of the house.

 

 Even in the summer, when the sun is directly overhead, the overhang from the roof still shades the ground. This is good for keeping the sun off the windows, but difficult to successfully grow anything in that area.

 

There are several plants, like Aloe Vera, that can grow in little to no sunlight.

 

Some plants even photosynthesize from reflective light bouncing off objects in very low light conditions, say at the ground level of a rain forest. 

 

The fact that there's light outside at all can produce enough energy for some plants, but to grow and produce fruit and or flowers and seeds, we want to place something there that would thrive.

 

Plus,we're on a time schedule.

We don't necessarily want to wait ten years for something to reach full maturity, in that space, if we can better manage for multiple uses, especially since space is limited on the property.

 

 

 It just seemed like every option we came up with, or we could afford at the time, would not be as beneficial as using the space more efficiently, somehow someway.

 

And that's permaculture!

Having multiple uses for a space is ideal when designing.

 

Here, along the north fence, it receives full-sun all year long. Even in the winter time, there is a small sliver of light that reaches over the top of the house and hits a small strip of ground, from day to night, 365 days a year, stretching from end to end on the north side of the property.

 

 It only seemed fitting to put plants that could thrive in that space with little to no care or maintenance, in full sun, and still provide multiple uses.

We don't necessarily want to wait ten years for something to reach full maturity, in that space, if we can better manage for multiple uses, especially since space is limited on the property.

 

 

 It just seemed like every option we came up with, or we could afford at the time, would not be as beneficial as using the space more efficiently, somehow someway.

 

And that's permaculture!

Having multiple uses for a space is ideal when designing.

 

Here, along the north fence, it receives full-sun all year long. Even in the winter time, there is a small sliver of light that reaches over the top of the house and hits a small strip of ground, from day to night, 365 days a year, stretching from end to end on the north side of the property.

 

 It only seemed fitting to put plants that could thrive in that space with little to no care or maintenance, in full sun, and still provide multiple uses.

That’s why, the northern most edge of the back yard fence is planted with moringa.

 

 

 Respectively, the reason we chose to place RainCube's rain water harvest tanks on the north side of the house, is because it receives little to no light, mostly all year. 

 

When water is stored in a bin, it can tend to get bacterial growth or even form algae, especially if the storage tank is exposed to light. To further protect the rainwater catchment, Anthony Paglino, the founder of RainCube, also protected the 275 gallon totes with a plastic covering.

 

Here, you can see Anthony connecting each of the IBC totes with tubes to link each of them to one main line.  By doing so, they became equalized and drain precisely together to water the Zen Den gardens. Now, with ease, we can water using fresh harvested rain water. 

 

 

Sometimes, when the heat just gets me a little hot and bothered, I'll treat myself to a quick caveman rinse.

.

#CaveManClean

 

 

 

Luckily, we installed a rain water harvested shower, positioned atop one of the walkway pergolas.

 

The rain falls on the roof, into the gutter and is directed to the 1,100 gallons of storage tanks along the north side of the house. 

 

With the use of small irrigation motors, we can create separate zones throughout the backyard and utilize the RainCube app to turn them on using our cell phones. 

 

This is done with special software developed by the RainCube team. 

 

Before stored rain water reaches the garden, and for the use in the shower, Anthony added a micron-filter to reduce the amount of living particles in the water.

 

There are options to add-on a UV light to further reduce bacteria and algae from growing inside the tanks as well.

 

RainCube is responsible for tracking moisture levels within the garden with an array of add-on services many people in the neighborhood are begininng to take advantage of.  

 

 Even the St. Pete Eco-Village has RainCube!

Subscribe to RainCube's Internet of Rain Youtube Channel

 

The price of water has increased by  1,000% in just a few years.

 

Although, Zen Den is on a well, we are still conscious that if everyone is in drought, we should take further precautions to avoid being reliant on such a strenuous system. 

 


 

Watch Anthony explain the importance of harvesting rain water and share with us the next generation of modular, easy to install, rain catchment techniques using RainCube . 

Since we're on the topic of water, let's go with the flow and introduce you to the

Zen Den greenhouses.

 

 

 As you can see, the backyard was pretty barren.

 

The soil had turned to sand and it was difficult to even grow grass.

 

By October of 2016, the summer rains had ended and my first Fall season at Zen Den had arrived.

 

During the hot dry days, I was watering mostly everything we had just planted over the year by hand and hose, just to keep them alive.   

 

I was also concerned about the approaching cooler months, wanting to prepare my first ever round of kitchen greens for winter.  

 

With recycled materials, from a free Craigslist find and a little ingenuity, I pieced together a pvc-frame and grabbed some irrigation line from TWC, along with that little round light-blue computer (solenoid) to regulate the flow of water with an integrated automatic timing system,  

 

The water regulator only has one-zone and cost about $100, but that's all we needed to get started.

 

Then, we wrapped the pvc-frame with greenhouse plastic to keep the water from hitting the house.  It also kept direct sun-rays from hitting the sprouting plants.  The plastic wrap also keeps moisture inside the greenhouse walls. 

 

It also prevents the plants from freezing!

For several years, I worked and volunteered at a small, but very successful plant nursery in Seffner, FL.

 

From that time, I gained the necessary knowledge to care for young seedlings and utilize space more efficiently, in a more intensive production-style setting.

 

Here, I built these tables from reclaimed materials and raised them 2 cinder blocks high, in order to place worm beds underneath. 

 

It also saved my back from bending over and also prevented the young baby plants from washing out due to floods.

 

Florida has extreme weather conditions, we're happy to report these greenhouses survived the destructive forces of Hurricane Irma.

 

The water regulator (solenoid) also reaches this side of the greenhouse because we extended the water line under the pathway and raised it up at the end of this side and extended it down along the spine of this reclaimed roof structure.

 

The hose is punctured every foot with 360 degree spray misters, making sure every square inch of the potted seedlings on all the tables get the proper moisture to sprout. 

Generally, we like to set the automatic timer, 2-times a day, one watering in early morning, one in mid afternoon for a about 3-5 minutes of mist each time.

 

 

 

Daytime watering allows the soil to dry completely after each cycle, before turning the automatic watering system back on.

 

 For the most part, watering should be done in the daytime so it can soak into the soil feed the plants and still evaporate quickly. This prevents fungus and bacteria to grow on the soil.

 

 

 

Water should not sit on the soil at night either, it may not dry fast enough, which could cause fungus and bacteria to form as well. 

 

Any of these factors could reduce the germination rate.

No pre-soaking required when growing local seeds in a greenhouse like this!

 

Just put the seeds in some good composted soil and allow the automatic misters to keep them moist and on a scheduled watering system.

 

From the greenhouse, newly sprouted seedlings can be planted directly into the ground.

 

Lots of beans, squashes, melons, fruit trees, kitchen garden veggies and root crops have been started in these greenhouses, in just a little over a year after being built.

 

 

Pictured in the greenhouses here, are moringa trees! 

 

 

 

From the Zen Den greenhouse, moringa tree seedlings are are placed in larger pots to prepare them for distribution around the Tampa Bay area.

Zen Den is an incubator space for The Moringa Grower's Co-op.

 

Moringa is an ancient tree that has been consumed around the world as a staple food vegetable for thousands of years. 

 

Even today, the nutrient rich leaves are used to help combat malnutrition. 

 

A serving of moringa leaves can boost the immune system and can prevent many illnesses.

From Zen Den, we distribute moringa trees throughout the Tampa Bay area.

 

With the help of several moringa enthusiasts, we manage and grow moringa trees on their properties as well.

 

If you, or someone you know would like to grow moringa in the Tampa Bay area, please contact us.

 

Moringa Grower's Co-op

Sign-up

Moringa trees can be managed at many different sizes, depending on your function and necessity.

 

Zen Den grows a range of moringa trees, fitting for each area of the food forest. Along the fence row, they are more densely planted together for a hedge row effect. 

 

As we reach different zones in the food forest, around pathways, we spaced them further apart, allows for more veggie garden protection.

 

And to fill in open spaces, we planted moringas furthest from each other so they can get much bigger, which provides more seed pod production. 

Moringa Oleifera, also known as 'The Miracle Tree' grows along the north fence at Zen Den.

Along the north end of the property, Zen Den's moringa trees receive full sun all year and are placed on mounds which allows water to drain into the pathways in rainy months and store moisture in dry months.
 

Together with neighbors & landowners, The Moringa Grower's Co-op has blossomed into a local share-cropping initiative dedicated to growing moringa trees throughout the Tampa Bay area.

 

 

The Moringa Grower's Co-op is a network of small scale bio-regions located within the urban environment aimed to develop prosperous relationships between humans and nature.

One of Zen Den's greatest achievements is creating a sense of community with

The Moringa Grower's Co-op.

Incorporating moringa into your home and garden space can be very beneficial in many ways for pollinators.

 

Zen Den also serves the community by pollinating people.

 

 Garden enthusiasts visit Zen Den from around the world.

 

Rose is a Superhost on AirBnb and regularly provides accommodations for friends and family, 

 

Rose and I also give food forest tours of the property, daily. 

 

To help grow a prosperous and harmonious community within a community, maintenance and more assistance was needed to grow Zen Den's urban farm,

 

So, Rose registered Zen Den, on WWOOF.net, as an urban farm in need of extra hands!

 

WWOOF is an acronym standing for "Willing Worker's On Organic Farms'

Here, WWOOF.net came to take a video of us swinging around Zen Den Gardens,

Injoy!

 

In return for daily tasks on the urban farm, Rose hosts WWOOFER's, Airbnb and treats visitors with yoga and good vibes. 

 

Rose even provides locally sourced food and shelter for their time visiting.

Special thanks to Rose!

 

So much gratitude, love and respect to her and all the friends and family that have made

Zen Den possible. 

 

Please Visit:

ZenDenHolisticWellness.org

 

keep up to date progress at:

Zen Den Facebook

 

I am extremely excited to see , taste, smell and experience all the new growth Zen Den has to offer in the future! 

 

Prosperous Growing!

Allow me to share more experiences with you today.

 

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Kendrick T. Henry, M.Arch

 

 

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Call or Text  |  Kendrick:  813.690.6516      

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