375 2nd Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Facebook pages: New York Permaculture Exchange, Permaculture Festival NYC
Director: New York Permaculture Exchange
Director: Environmental Education, The Old Stone House
Claudia Joseph, a permaculture consultant and teacher in Brooklyn, New York, is the Director of Environmental Education at the Old Stone House (OSH). Since 2004 she has designed and maintained an interactive, educational, public landscape that refers to the Dutch colonial period. Comprised of eight garden areas in Washington Park and two areas at the adjacent Middle School 51, the combined gardens reinterpret the historical uses of a landscape. Shaped by permaculture principles and cooperatively installed with students and volunteers, themes of self-reliance and environmental stewardship are reflected in plantings for food, medicine, craft material, wildlife support, stormwater capture and drought tolerance. Development of the beds using onsite materials demonstrates bio-remediation and soil building techniques.
The OSH gardens’ butterfly populations having risen from zero to ten species, with butterflies breeding on the site. Numerous songbirds now pass through or reside in Washington Park, enjoying the benefits of the gardens – Red-tailed Hawks nested there in 2016. Caregivers, children, Parks Department workers, neighbors and visitors also enjoy the gardens’ bounty. The gardens and landscape are used for photo shoots, weddings and other celebrations, as well as educational tours, classes and workshops. The gardens are open all day, every day, and the physical and social designs co-evolve according to public use and need.
Social programs engage Park users and urban gardeners; volunteers and students of all ages. Ms. Joseph continues to develop these useful gardens and related programming, offering numerous workshops and tours. Internships, community service and partnerships opportunities strengthen the social network around the Park. Ms. Joseph is currently developing a program for City-wide Climate Gardens to educate on the capacity of soils and plants to store carbon. She is also developing zero waste strategies for Washington Park in conjunction with parents and teachers at MS 51.
Ms. Joseph has helped build and manage the 14-ton compost system at the Garden of Union (GOU), a communally operated garden founded in the mid-1970’s, in partnership with the Park Slope Food Coop – a 16,000 member organization – since 2003. The training program and input schedule were also redesigned. Replicating this success, six large capacity units have been constructed at the OSH-MS 51 site under her guidance: she is considered an authority on community compost systems and was President of Board of GOU from 2003 – 2015.
Her community garden work also involves mentoring others on non-violent communication techniques, consensus process, growing gardeners and building membership. She was President of the Board of Directors for GOU for many years and is Treasurer, now. Her tenure began by spending two years leading the rewriting of operating structures for the garden in a consensus process as well as transforming the compost system from an unhygienic nuisance to a model system.
Ms. Joseph also engages as a consultant for public and private property in both urban and rural areas. From Brooklyn brownstones to schools and from farms to balconies, any space can be made more useful. She began consulting for the UN Headquarters Food Garden in 2016 and continues to assist them. She also contributed to the art project S.W.A.L.E. through planting advice, plant donations and a workshop.
Ms. Joseph has taught permaculture design at Merritt College (Oakland, CA), Berkeley Ecology Center, Oakland Botanical Demonstration Gardens, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York Open Center, Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, Just Food and The Old Stone House, as well as participating in numerous other panels, workshops and gatherings. She also teaches Organic Gardening Techniques and Composting: The Key to Urban Farming, at the New York Botanical Gardens.
Ms. Joseph was raised on a Virginia horse farm, worked in arts and music production in Washington, D.C. and lived and gardened in California for ten years: she brings elements of her past into her present work.