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Meet Brandy Hall of Shades of Green Permaculture in Decatur

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brandy Hall.

Brandy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started the inquiry into sustainability (before I knew what that was) as a kid, after watching my mom and stepdad suffer severe reactions to common pesticides/herbicides in the nursery industry. One time, when I was in second grade, my mom had been exposed to some herbicides at a nursery where she was making a delivery. Within an hour, she and my stepdad picked me up from school to rush to the emergency room. By the time we got there, her hands we curled up next to her chest, her tongue was so swollen it wouldn’t fit into her mouth, and she was convulsing so hard, she shook the door panel off of the car door. That makes an impression, to say the least. I grew up knowing: there has to be a better way.

I wanted to build. I’ve always loved working with my hands and making things, crafting, sewing, and drawing. So, right out of undergrad, I became a general contractor. I then apprenticed for a year as a stone mason. I’ve always been interested in doing work that “women don’t do.”

I started the company in 2004, first as a general contractor in North Carolina, building with my Dad, when I was 21. But I still had a traveling bug, so I spent a year in Central America, hitchhiking between farms, went sailing with friends for a few months in the San Juan Islands, and eventually landed at a permaculture farm in Rappahanock County, Virginia, where they also had a bed+breakfast, a summer camp, and a farm school for 6-10 graders. That illuminated a lot for me–I didn’t have to choose between building or teaching or making beauty. When I finally took a Permaculture Design Course, by world was blown open, and I knew that this was exactly the intersection of philosophy, health, and authentic living I had felt was true in my heart since I was a child swimming  in the pristine rivers of Western North Carolina on one hand, and seeing the effect of toxic poison on my convulsing mother, on the other hand.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We are a design/build firm specializing in permaculture land-use planning. At the heart of our work, we want to connect people to the living world around them. We know you don’t have to flee to the woods and be off-grid and holed up in a cabin somewhere in order to have a positive relationship with the natural world. Every time a client texts us a picture of a bunny eating from their strawberry patch, or a chrysalis hanging on a pawpaw branch, we succeed.

We work to integrate humans into the landscape while creating responsible, regenerative ecological systems which manage on-site water and build water sovereignty, create nutrient cycling for low-maintenance plantings, restore food security, revitalize existing soils and ecosystems, and value biodiversity.

We are set apart from traditional landscaping and landscape design in that we have a vested interest in the long term health of our planet. We are interested in creating living systems and making sure clients have the tools to understand and interact and enjoy their spaces–creating responsible, informed global citizens. Something so close to home actually can have such a huge impact. The revolution is in the fertile soil, the fruit trees, the pollinator habitat, the rainwater harvesting, getting ourselves unaddicted to chemical fertilizers, and claiming our health and our children’s health in our own front yards. Sounds unachievable and intimidating? We’ll show you how.

We are also a company of creatives, and this means we go out of our way to make this accessible to all kinds of folks on all kinds of sites with all kinds of budgets, be it a patio gardener in midtown, a brewery on the BeltLine, a 2000-acre farm in Newnan, or a school yard in South Dekalb. People have a right to clean water and healthy food.

In addition to our design/build, we also do a lot of education and programming, through our 72-hour Permaculture Design Certification course, one-day workshops, and volunteer events.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think our capacity to meet clients where they are, and walk them through the design/build process, and provide ongoing support is definitely a key. We build lasting relationships with our clients. We don’t judge. So much of our work is about inspiring people to believe that a meaningful relationship with nature is possible; that you begin exactly where you are, and make decisions that directly impact the health of the living world around you. You can capture rainwater and help build resilience in these times of drought; you can build soil fertility; you can grow organic food and medicine; you can provide habitat for species that are struggling, like honeybees. I think our work provides a roadmap to restore hope.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
headshot: Virginie Drujon-Kippelen
class photos: Lauren Ladov
plant photo: Lauren Ladov

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