Working With Natural Systems To Grow Abundance – Brad Lancaster









Great Big Ideas & Takeaways:

  • Collect rainwater from the streets… before it disappears down the storm drains forever!
  • Passively harvesting street runoff to irrigate food-bearing trees.
  • Building simple water-channels with on-site rock.
  • Foods you can safely grow and eat from street run-off.
  • How to make simple bucket drip-irrigation systems.
  • Tips for spreading water across your landscape.
  • The 3 elevation zones that you need to harvest water.
  • Getting community support for your water-saving projects.
  • Dramatic BEFORE & AFTER photos that show you what’s possible.

About The Speaker:

Brad Lancaster is the author of the award-winning book series, Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, and he’s the co-founder of

In the Sonoran Desert, with just 11 inches of annual rainfall, Brad and his brother harvest about 100,000 gallons of rainwater a year on an eighth-acre urban lot and adjoining right-of-way. This harvested water is then turned into living air conditioners of food-bearing shade trees, abundant gardens, and a thriving landscape incorporating wildlife habitat, beauty, medicinal plants, and more.

Brad’s goal is to empower people to change their lives and neighborhoods by harvesting and harnessing free, on-site resources—especially water, sun, wind, shade & community!

QUESTION: What was your biggest takeaway from Brad’s presentation?   Now that you’ve watched, do you see any local rainwater harvesting opportunities on your property or in your neighborhood?


  1. Inge Leonora-den Ouden

    I wanted to give this as much stars as possible, even more, but something went wrong … there came only 4 stars!
    Although I live in a wet and rainy country, harvesting the rain, use it for plants (food) and other good purposes, not to let it ‘go down the drain’, is what I like!

  2. Leslie

    What an inspiring presentation. Seeing what can be done- and done personally to make a change in the environment gives me hope. Everyone should take a look at this information with their own property and community in mind. Thank you!

  3. Pat

    Wonderful presentation! 10 stars.

  4. Esther

    For some reason, I am unable to get access to rate this video. I want to give it a 5-Star rating.

    1. Esther

      I finally got access, thanks.

    2. Danny

      I on the other hand tried to give it 1 star – because I was unable to get it to play on my computer. I have been to get only one or two of the lectures of this whole webinar and I have gone through the process of trying to download again the proper chrome app to make it work and getting the message again that it doesn’t work for chromebooks, and then sometimes getting it to work. I have read in some of the comments that other people have also had difficutlies like this. It could be partly that people on the other end, sending these lectures out to the ethers are doing something wrong or their equipment is malfunctioning.
      But, in any case, I missed out.

      1. brunski

        Danny… giving 1 star because your computer isn’t functioning well is rather foolish. The tech problem lies with you, not the website. Most of us can and did view the presentation properly. Therefore you should rate yourself a ZERO! All in good humor 🙂

      2. Lee F

        Danny: I have not had any problems with any of the videos this week. Your Internet speed may be too slow, your computer may have problems, etc. I do not use Chrome, so that is not the only resolution.. I use the Safari browser on a Mac. Perhaps you can determine your computer issues and get them resolved before another on-line summit like this is offered. It must have been frustrating for you this week.

      3. Sandra

        Dany, I am so sorry to hear it does not work for you. It can be so frustrating. when also you do not feel you want to purchase it. Please do not lower the average by voting something poor that you had no chance to listen to.

  5. Marjory Wildcraft

    Hi Esther, glad your video is working now!

    Pat – yes….I would give this 20 stars. The world over has much to learn from Brad!

  6. Kay

    what kind of mesquite did you grow for pods that could be made into flour,etc?

    1. Brad Lancaster

      Velvet mesquite (Prosopis velutina)

  7. Dorothea Lowe

    Wow, that was absolutely stunning! Very inspiring. Thank you so much!

  8. Katherine

    My absolute favorite presentation of the summit!

  9. Jean

    My county has been doing just the opposite of this, ditching and scraping waterways by roads. Are there any educational resources aimed at public officials that you would recommend?

    1. Jon

      See if you can trace the contracting work to politicians. Many times these things are good old boy actions so to speak. You want to rule that out.

    2. Marjory Wildcraft

      Hi Jean,

      I’m sure Brad has some excellent resources he can recommend to you. Please visit his website at and look for the link to contact him directly!

  10. Jon

    Amazing work and I thank you.

    I have much love for Tucson and played in Old Tucson as a child long ago.

    I appreciate how you discuss how to make the legal changes to enable such works. I admire your work and ethics.

  11. Chynsia

    My property has several springs that needs working on, so this seminar was good with helpful tips. Thanks

  12. Jacqui

    Good presentation and ideas that can be put to use. Thank you.

  13. Tami

    What is the story of my place? It was an area developed via rugged-individualism and productivity. Today, it shifted to welfare-dependent citizens, high crime rate and insatiable government growth with accompanying high taxes. The government grows through crisis development strategies. One such crisis–enormous amount of waste along street ways and illegal dumping on vacant lands due to exorbitant landfill fees. Government solution–mandatory trash collection tied to water utility charges at every residential home. Some people make 1/2 bag of trash, while others fill to overflow–both pay the same flat fee. Rather than place a single trash bin and recycle bin at the top of each street, the gigantic trash trucks wear down the public streets, stink up the neighborhoods and increase noise and exhaust. Ultimately, power lines and street signs shift via the asphalt movement under enormous truck weight; water, ice and snow events lead to more potholes due to the wear; and streets are repaved more often. Money, money, money. I tend to believe we must act in civil uprising to undo the webs of government job creation that are killing the private sector and hurting those on fixed income.
    I am impressed with the spirit of Tuscon’s transformation. Seemingly small changes (such as cutting a curb) can have enormous impact on people’s lives. It has my wheels spinning!

    1. brunski

      Unfortunately many politicians create their job security via problems that never get solved at the core level, just treatment symptoms over and over again.

  14. FreeOregon

    For another perspective on building landscapes that drain rather than store water, check out Sepp Holzer’s book, Desert or Paradise.

    Yes, our system is degenerative. That includes not just cities with hard surfaces that accelerate runoff flows but also industrial agriculture which mines and degrades soils, destroys fertility, our reservoirs that drain the surrounding landscapes, and our destruction of polyculture forests that harvest and store water.

  15. Pam

    Excellent presentation which I almost didn’t watch, not living in a southern urban area, but lots of information there which applies to any number of places other than that. Very positive changes and routes to follow to make them. Kudos.

  16. Johanna

    I live at the edge of the bad lands. Some interesting ideas. I’ll probably get the books as well. I grow most of my veggies and some fruit. Paying for water definitely cuts into your gains. Here you are charged for incoming water and out going water. They just announced an other price increase.
    The only concern is the spring run off from all the snow. There is salt from the streets and side walks.

  17. Lenny Henderson

    Arizona rocks! Living in Mesa AZ and cycling for 40 years I have learned so much these last 5 years since I was exposed to these permaculture and water harvesting concepts. Brad I admire your clear planning and explanations of what you are doing south in Tucson AZ. Keep on keeping on, planting and harvesting.

  18. eli

    Wonderful information

  19. Jean-Guy

    Important Information … 🙂

  20. Bea

    Brad Lancaster brings a refreshing deep breath to a world of motivation by fear and suspicion. His books and videos are filled with viable solutions to serious problems. Thank you, Marjory for inviting Mr. Lancaster to encourage and equip us on this last day of the Summit.

  21. Jean

    Brad, thank you again for the inspiring presentation of a plan well executed which is literally changing a city and state!
    Two questions:
    1. Are there any educational resources aimed at public officials that you would recommend?
    2. How do you keep the coarse mulch from floating out of the deep vertical catch basins?

    1. Brad Lancaster

      Velvet mesquite (Prosopis velutina)

    2. Brad Lancaster

      Mulch does not float away from the vertical mulching as I use coarse prunings packed together, in addition all is in an eddy basin.
      See more here

      and send public officials to my books and website

  22. Julia

    Wow! I didn’t think that I was going to watch the whole video, living in rainy Washington. I was just curious because my father lives in Tucson (and he is diabetic, by the way) and I used to live in Las Vegas. So much information was presented! Thank you, thank you!

  23. Nancy

    Thanks for the detailed, helpful and easy-to-understand presentation. I can use the principles and encouragement while designing water management systems on my “floodplain” land in SW Virginia!

  24. Barb steiner

    Does this attract mosquitoes?

    1. Brad Lancaster

      No, because you infiltrate water into the soil, rather than storing it atop the soil. All infiltrates within 24 hours or less. So the mosquitoes cannot access the water.
      Thus these practices reduce mosquito problems.

  25. Renee Lynn

    I am having serious problems with the audio freaking out, starting at about the 25-minute mark. It happens on both Firefox and Microsoft Edge, and on Safari (iPad) as well. Haven’t tried Chrome or Explorer. Has anyone else had this problem? Hasn’t happened to me on any other video I’ve watched on Firefox, just this one.

    I’d like to be able to finish watching this, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to understand it with corrupted audio! 🙁

    1. Lee F

      Renee Lynn: the audio problem corrects itself and does not happen again during the rest of the video.

    2. Rita

      I had the same thing happen on Chrome. It resolves at around 28:15 and audio is clear again.

    3. Renee Lynn

      Thank you both!

  26. Barb Steiner

    Does this attract mosquitos.

    1. Melissa Williamson

      Hi Barb,

      No. The water is infiltrated into the system too quickly to attract mosquitoes. That’s the beauty of the mulch pits. There is very little standing water at all on the surface.

  27. Marilyn

    A very, very good presentation, clearly put forth and full of important information. One of the summit’s very best. Thank you, to Brad, and to Marjory for including him. I’m with the person above who voted it 20 stars!

  28. Kim

    Great presentation. My place has a problem with melting snow runoff that refreezes creating dangerous conditions. Too much cement! I’m not sure our city even has an official that deals with these type of infrastructure challenges.

  29. Riesah Prock

    Like many others here I am inspired to learn of this wonderful work you’re doing and others too. I live where the Prairies meet the Rockies, the source of most water that is carried eastward, away from where I live. Frankly, I’m filled with inspiration, but feel stymied as to what to do and where to begin. Here we are in early November, with 22’C temperatures, high chinook winds drying it out even more and me wondering if this will be another warm winter without much snow. It is deeply worrying, as we depend on the melt for our well. While I have rain barrels to collect 200 gal of rainwater, without the rain, this is moot. Can’t even take advantage of the warm temperatures to plant another crop, because I don’t use the well water for the gardens. Guess I’ll need to check out your books or others that are more relevant to where I live in SW Alberta. Thanks for all your good works; you are making a difference to so many. Blessings

  30. Tammy Ritchie

    It’s raining in my little part of Texas right now and after hearing your presentation I’m feeling like figuring out ways to keep the rainwater the next time it rains. Thank you for this informative presentation, Brad!

  31. George Debs

    “Leaves are called leaves because we’re supposed to leave them”

    I LOVE IT!
    Don’t worry, it’s not all I learned from the video! haha

    Thank you for all the work you do, Brad!
    A fan of your books here, so much I’ve from you.
    All the best!

  32. Rick Powell

    This presentation is chock full of awesome information especially since I also live in Arizona… However, I’m having an issue. I’ve tried listening to this presentation twice, once before and once after restarting my computer with a time difference of approximately 2 hours. In both cases at 25:44 the audio starts getting distorted and by 25:55 it’s a double audio, essentially an echo. I haven’t had this issue with any other presentation and I’ve watched them all except Day 1 (unfortunately away from computer all day). It gets difficult to understand what he is saying, and I Really want to understand what this man is saying! Help!

    1. Jimerson

      Hi Rick! Would you try clearing your browser cache and seeing if that helps your issue? Thank you!

    2. Renee Lynn

      I had the same problem (see my post above). Apparently it corrects itself at about 28:15.

  33. Clairemarie

    Thank you so much, Marjory, for including Brad in your amazing and generous Summit! I have been very much inspired by your presentation, Brad, and thank you for your wisdom. You appear to be a rare union of poetic flights of visionary excellence with earthy practicality. You have enriched your own community through the right use of water and its heavenly touch upon a place weary with dryness. You have created astounding abundance through working well with Mother Nature. I suspect that wherever you go, there will be blessings showered upon all the life that lives there, as you are the good friend of the land, the people, the plants, and all of the creatures of the earth. I am a better person for having attended your presentation. My sincerest thanks.

  34. Sandra

    Dear Brad, dear Marjory,

    brilliant, radiant, nourishing. This presentation is crafted like exactly what you do, Brad… A joy for the senses, heart, hands, mind and calling for inclusive implementation. Great news from America!

    I will apply the principles into all areas of life… It is such a great reminder and so practical. Thank you for showing so well all the powerful impact it has.

    Here, in my hometown in Central Germany, a citizen initiative saved an old linden tree alley next to the well-known Naumburg Cathedral, and complete greypaving the area was prevented.

    I also support the Galsan-Tschinag initiative for tree-nursing and replanting in the West Altai region of Mongolia to prevent desertification. One way to contribute to a country where I spent some experience-rich childhood years.

    Project Green Hand plants trees for minimal costs in where they are said to grow fastest and impact world climate in Tamil Nadu, India.

    May it all in the big picture help to bring back the river to Tuscon community. I love the focus of connection to our native places and how it promotes connection with the larger whole.

    Thank you, Marjory, for creating this flourishing place here!

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