Cathe’s Corner

Cathe' in GardenCathe’ Fish is pas­sion­ate about Per­ma­cul­ture. She has been work­ing as an expe­ri­enced dry­lands Per­ma­cul­ture Designer and Con­sul­tant since 1987. She has designed ranches, 40 acre farms to small sub­ur­ban plots and apartments.


Cathe’  has taught hun­dreds of classes and work­shops. She has been an inspir­ing pio­neer in per­ma­cul­ture edu­ca­tion in the US and inter­na­tion­ally and is a sought out instruc­tor. She was the founder and orig­i­nal edi­tor of the Dry­lands Per­ma­cul­ture newslet­ter in 1987 with Bill Steen, which later became the Per­ma­cul­ture Dry­lands Journal.


Cathe’ has stud­ied with Aus­tralian ecol­o­gist, eco designer, and all around char­ac­ter Bill Mol­li­son, who cre­ated per­ma­cul­ture wih David Holm­gren as an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary approach to land use and com­mu­nity devel­op­ment. In May 2008, Cathe’ spent two weeks at Geoff and Nadia Lawton’s Zay­tuna Farm work­ing with Geoff’s amaz­ing swales, dams and ponds, plant­ing food forests and bam­boo cut­tings and doing other farm activ­i­ties. In May 2008, she was also able to visit Tagari, Bill Mollison’s long term farm in Tyal­gum, NSW, Aus­tralia (aban­doned since 2001) with its amaz­ing still func­tion­ing earth­works: 43 bod­ies of con­structed dams, ponds, and water har­vest­ing swales, as well as many lush food forests.


Cathe’ has also stud­ied with sus­tain­ablity instruc­tors Tom Ward, David Bain­bridge, Bar­bara Kerr, Sally Fal­lon, Mary Enig, Elaine Ing­ham, Ian David­son, Ros­alind Creasy, Robert Kouric, Joel Salatin and Mark Shep­ard. She has  also worked with  Bar­bara Kerr who was a solar pio­neer and solar cook­ing inven­tor. Cathe’ has used and taught about  Prac­ti­cal Sus­tain­able Kitchens since 1996. She has been teach­ing about Prac­ti­cal Sus­tain­able Kitchens at Quail Springs Inter­na­tional Per­ma­cul­ture Design Courses.


Besides being a Per­ma­cul­ture Designer and Teacher since 1987, Cathe’ has been a Mas­ter Gar­dener since 1988. She is the Speaker’s Bureau Direc­tor for the Nevada County Mas­ter Gar­den­ers. Until 1999, she lived on a 1/4 acre per­ma­cul­ture home­stead for 25 years in the high desert town of Bis­bee, Ari­zona. She says, “Wher­ever you live, make water catch­ments and plant appro­pri­ate trees.” She was the gar­den­ing edi­tor for the Bis­bee Obser­vor for three years.


Cathe’ became a mem­ber of the Ari­zona Solar Action Team in 1980, trav­el­ing around the state of Ari­zona con­duct­ing Pas­sive Solar Green­house Work­shops. She has taught her Pas­sive Solar Green­house slideshow at AZ and CA State Mas­ter Gar­dener Con­fer­ences, as well as many Mas­ter Gar­dener classes, and Per­ma­cul­ture classes.


Cathe’ was involved in the renais­sance of super insu­lated straw­bale build­ings in 1987, and has taught pas­sive solar build­ing design at straw bale work­shops for many years.


Cathe’  loves trees, par­tic­u­larly rare fruit trees in food forests, and she has planted 1000s of trees. She was the pre­vi­ous direc­tor of Cochise County Global ReLeaf. She has helped sev­eral cities cre­ate tree pro­tec­tion ordi­nances, and was instru­men­tal in start­ing Chico California’s Tree Action. She believes the future is tree farm­ing and water harvesting.


She is a mem­ber of the Cal­i­for­nia Native Plant Soci­ety, NAFEX North Amer­i­can Fruit Explor­ers, Cal­i­for­nia Rare Fruit Grow­ers, Sierra Har­vest and the Local Food Coali­tion, and is a chap­ter leader of the Weston A. Price Foundation.


Cathe’ holds a Pro­fes­sional Diploma of Per­ma­cul­ture Design in the dis­ci­plines of both Site Design and Edu­ca­tion. She is a Course Teacher for the Per­ma­cul­ture Insti­tute of  North Amer­ica and  is known for well orga­nized, prac­ti­cal, high energy classes. She reg­u­larly teaches Per­ma­cul­ture Design Courses, and will cus­tom teach an Intro to Per­ma­cul­ture class or PDC for your group.  She has been to Mex­ico many times to work with local peo­ple. In July 2009, she went to Mex­ico to help low income fam­i­lies start a per­ma­cul­ture demon­stra­tion site. She has also taught in India, Jor­dan, and Cuba, and will be a speaker at the Inter­na­tional Per­ma­cul­ture Con­fer­ence in Hyder­bad, India in Novem­ber 2017.

In the early 1970s, Cathe’ lived in Santa Fe, New Mex­ico where she started a nat­ural foods cafe called the Coun­try Kitchen (now Harry’s Road­house). She built a lit­tle green­house out­side the cafe, where she grew the cafe’s toma­toes and greens. To this day, she refuses to eat dis­gust­ing  cor­po­rate taste­less food, espe­cially tomatoes.



As a per­ma­cul­tur­ist farmer, Cathe’ was selected as a del­e­gate for the Women’s Earth Alliance India Learn­ing Exchange Del­e­ga­tion in Oct 2009. She saw first hand the dam­age of the Green Rev­o­lu­tion in India, vis­ited organic farm­ing pio­neers, exchanged per­ma­cul­ture infor­ma­tion, and pho­tographed ancient water har­vest­ing sites. She was happy to visit Van­dana Shiva’s farm in North­ern India.


In Sep­tem­ber 2011, Cathe’ was a del­e­gate to the Inter­na­tional Per­ma­cul­ture Con­fer­ence and Con­ver­gence in Jor­dan. She vis­ited per­ma­cul­ture sites in Jor­dan, Pales­tine and Israel after the Con­ver­gence. In Novem­ber 2013, she was a del­e­gate to the Inter­na­tional Per­ma­cul­ture Con­fer­ence and Con­ver­gence n Cuba. In August 2014, and Sep­tem­ber 2016, she attended the North Amer­i­can Per­ma­cul­ture con­ver­gence. At all of these, Cathe’ gave a well received pre­sen­ta­tion on Prac­ti­cal Sus­tain­able Kitchens.


Cathe’ lives and works at the Prac­ti­cal Per­ma­cul­ture Farm School  on her  organic cer­ti­fied per­ma­cul­ture farm  “Sun­shine Works” in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia.  She is the direc­tor of the Prac­ti­cal Per­ma­cul­ture Research Insti­tute where she  teaches per­ma­cul­ture and solar design courses, gives per­ma­cul­ture con­sul­ta­tions,  and cre­ates per­ma­cul­ture designs. Cathe’ grows organic food and has a horse, sheep, pigs, ducks, chick­ens, rab­bits, bees and raises Old Time Scotch Farm Col­lies who  work with  her around the farm.  She is the co-organizer of Sierra Harvest’s Sus­tain­able Food and Farm Con­fer­ence which takes place every Jan­u­ary in Grass Val­ley, California.