Monday, December 10, 2012

Upcoming Permaculture Immersion

Simple Living Institute is hosting a Permaculture Immersion Program with Tia and Terry Meer at their Econ Farm this winter.

Join us January 3-6 at the Econ Farm in Orlando, Florida for a 4-day immersion into permaculture principals, food production, natural building, and community experience.
Cost: $350 per person. $50 discount for Simple Living Institute members.

Our Permaculture Immersion Program is structured using Permaculture’s concept of zones: zones of interaction and influence starting with your self and your home, and moving out into the garden, orchard, pasture, production forest, wild lands, and political and financial structures. Our teachers bring their experience to the table to help students best design and integrate the dynamic components of a sustainable lifestyle.

The Econ Farm is a permaculture homestead with the mission of being a living model of sustainability. As a well-established yet ever evolving 10-year-old site, The Econ Farm is an excellent working classroom for the development of hands-on skills.  You will learn about living off the grid, grow food in the garden, foraging for wild edibles, tending a fruit orchard, building alternative structures, solar power, community living, worm composting, humanure, whole foods and nutrition, cooking and more.

This all-inclusive 4-day immersion program includes workshops, healthy meals, and on-site camping. For more info contact Tia Meer, certified permaculturalist, at 321-217-8492 or email

More at

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Volunteers needed!

Happy fall!

Simple Living Institute has an increasing number of requests from our community to promote sustainability, assist with new garden start-ups, and educational events.  Please consider helping us in our work by joining as a volunteer for our programs, helping to steer our organization as a board member or advisor, or helping with our monthly program the 3rd Wednesday of each month at Leu Gardens.  More info on our volunteer page at

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Simple Living President, Tia Meer, just returned from teaching in Colorado.

Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute was just blessed with a wonderful Introduction to Permaculture Workshop taught by Tia Meer from Orlando, Florida. The day started with a group discussion of the history and definition permaculture. Tia emphasized how permaculture is a design process and as permaculture designers it is up to us to put all the elements in the right place to maximize the functions and relationships of each element. We talked about permaculture principals by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren and the ethics of permaculture, which are earth care, people care, and the concept of fair share. Next, Tia presented on zone and sector planning and stressed how important it is to put the high maintenance areas such a vegetable gardens close to the house and also the importance of having a zone 5 where we can learn from nature and be inspired.

In the afternoon we learned about plant guilds and the benefits of perennial polycultures, which is basically companion planting of plants that live for a long time. Tia created a very useful plant list that highlighted the functions of the plants found in this region of Colorado showing if they were edible, nitrogen fixers, or dynamic accumulators (plants that bring up nutrients from deep in the soil).

The day ended with a chop and drop activity where we helped the cherry, apple, and plum fruit trees grow by mulching with fresh trimmings from nitrogen fixers, carbonaceous materials, and dynamic accumulators of Siberian pea shrub, cattail harvested from the pond and comfrey respectively. We had a great day, an awesome lunch, and everyone learned a lot. The feedback from the students was great. CRMPI intern Sarah Morehouse said “Tia’s teaching technique is very inviting and informative. “

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Simple Living Update with Tia Meer

Natalie Costa recently interviewed Simple Living Institute's president, Tia Meer.  Check out her Backpackers Journal blog at to learn more.  The interview covers what Simple Living is going, other community organizations to get involved with, and a little Simple Living philosophy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Central Florida Fair

With Spring in full swing around Central Florida I was truly looking forward to the Central Florida Fair.
It was an unusually rainy day for us (of late), but we headed out on the last day of the fair to see what this year's festivities brought.

Okay I think I've officially become a Floridian, as the rain made it cold!
Especially inside at the table, where we sat and greeted folks who came in from the yukky weather to take a look around. We were positioned at the far end of the hall. The weather made it a light-traffic day, but we spent our timing talking with a number of interesting people. One was a women who was a master gardener and enthusiastic about Simple Living's display, especially the food guide and our classes for kids. Another gentleman came to get information about the Organic Grower's meetings, as he and his wife have been inspired by successfully growing tomatoes, to find others who they can talk with about growing Florida friendly plants.

The best part for me, was after more than a year of growing plants here in CFL, I was able to share my personal experience's, not just those of my fellow Simple Liver's. I made lists for a number of people of my favorite heirloom plants that are/were flourishing in my growing space. It was a very relaxed day of talking butterflies, plants and recommending places to get seeds/ plants that work well here.

Thank you for those who set up the display it was great; from the irrigation, the sweet potato, the butterfly sheets, the Central Florida Food Guide and the kids classes board - there was definitely something for everyone to be interested in.

I love being inside this hall with the stamp collectors, wood turners, stone polishers and various other crafters. It reminds me that the time for all these important arts is still NOW. That the knowledge is alive and being shared with those willing to take a moment out of their busy world to slow down and enjoy a quiet rain free room with many passionate folks to explain their wares.

If you missed this year's fair, mark 2013 for early March and head out. It's a great way to spend an afternoon enjoying Florida and all the variety we have to offer.  Make certain to stop by the Simple Living table and take a look.

We hope to see you there!
Until next time.
Ann S

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thank you Simple Living Volunteers!

I would like to thank all the people who contribute to the existence of Simple Living Institute! To all of our volunteers, members, educational partners, and people who attend our events, THANK YOU! We recently celebrated and showed our appreciation of our volunteers at our Volunteer Appreciation Dinner hosted by Ethos Vegan Kitchen. Visit our photo gallery on our website at to view the photos of the event. We are always accepting new volunteers too! Please email us at and learn more about our volunteer opportunities. We are currently in need of volunteers to help with administration, garden start-ups, outreach events, and our Organic Growers Meeting.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Study: Only 10 percent of big ocean fish remain (CNN)

You may have noticed some recent press drawing attention to the quick decline of big ocean fish species.  Sadly, the human appetite for these fish is bringing some of them to the edge of extinction.  As with any ecosystem, the balance is very delicate, and mysterious.  It is not yet clear what the loss of these big fish will mean to our oceans.
View this old article (2003) from CNN to learn more: More at CNN

What can you do?  As a consumer, it is best to avoid eating fish that are in peril.  Download a regional seafood guide (care of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium) and have it handy when you're picking out a seafood meal.
Get the Guide!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Seeds, seeds, seeds

I don't know about you but I'm SO EXCITED for February to be upon us. Living here in Central Florida, it still amazes me how much time I can spend outside. This month symbolizes that re-connection of really being able to be in the dirt for me. Of course, it all starts with our wonderful seeds.

Did you know that Simple Living Institute hosts a Seed Exchange this month? It is part of their ongoing effort to connect people to growing with sustainable, local, non GMO varieties that truly work in our region. The August Exchange was my first experience and wow did I have a great time helping behind the scenes. This event myself and DS will be helping at one of the tables. We are looking forward to it.   

Mark your calendars - you won't want to miss it!!! 
Wed. Feb 15th from 6:45 - 9:00 at Leu Gardens Camille Room

Simple Living has done this event for a number of years and gotten fairly efficient. Here is a "how to" so you can get the most from the experience......
* Arrive EARLY - this is a very popular event
* Please cap yourself at 30 packets (so everyone has a turn)
* This is an exchange. Bring 10 diff types, get 10 new types
* Pre-sort seeds - if they aren't you will have to do so there
* Info on each packet should read:
   1. Seed Type  For example: Green Beans- Bush, Tendergreen
   2. Number of Days until Harvest  60d/ bears 3 wks
   3. Planting Guideline – Direct, transplant, 6”apart, ½” deep, Sep-Nov.
   4. Seed Source  My Garden Green Beans or Parks Seed Catalog
So it might look like this on the packet:   
My garden Greenbeans / Bush, Tendergreen / 60d bears 3wks / direct, transplant 6" apart, 1/2" deep from Sept-Nov
* Exchange tickets can be purchased for $0.25 (4 for $1)
* Please provide feedbackIf you have gotten seeds from the exchange previously let us know how they did so we can ensure future seeds purchased for the exchange are even more successful. 
* Any unredeemed tickets can be refunded at the end. 

The event will have tables set up in these categories:
o Cucubits: Cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, melons, etc.
o Flowers, Fruits &  Trees: Papaya,  nasturium,  sunflowers,  eucalyptus, hibiscus, citrus
o Greens: Lettuce, brassicas, spinach, chard, collards...(turnips & beets are also roots)
o Herbs: Basil, chamomile, lemon grass, mint, and oregano, etc.
o Legumes: Beans, peas, pigeon peas, peanuts, etc.
o Roots: Beets, carrots, onions, radish, turnips, chives, etc.
o Solanaceae: Tomato, pepper, eggplants, tomatillo, etc.
o Other: corn, grains, okra, unique seeds like wild Florida cotton

So that's the exchange in a nutshell. It's so much fun and a great way to connect with like minded folks. We look forward to seeing you there! 
Happy gardening.
Ann S.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New videos of Simple Living Institute

Over the holiday break I had some free time to google search on the internet and I found some video footage of our Organic Growers Meeting and our newly released Local Food Guide on YouTube. I posted them on our media page on the website. Check em out at