Ryan Herring – Master Composter
October 2, 2016
Ryan is a Master Composter/Recycler, a Master Gardner, and is also actively involved in the Permaculture community of the Inland Northwest. He lives with his wife, Kelly, and their four young children in Spokane Valley.
Ryan went to Spokane Community College to pursue a degree in Drafting and Design. He graduated from SCC and immediately landed a job doing HVAC and plumbing design. While working in his new career, Ryan realized that he had become very disconnected from the outdoors and what he loved to do in his childhood. Growing up in the Spokane Valley, Ryan did not have a lot of exposure to gardening or farming, he felt a strong connection with nature. He realized, however, that one of the reasons for his disconnect was because of his lifestyle and health.
“I weighed 220 pounds back then; about 100 pounds over what I am right now. And so I applied some of the principles of what I had learned from engineering about sustainability and efficient ways of doing things. I took a very analytical approach to dieting and wanted to make sure my diet was sustainable.”
Ryan read the book Year of Plenty by Craig L. Goodwin. In this book, the author explains how he changed his lifestyle by adopting the practice of eating and buying locally. This made Ryan realize that he could also make changes in his own lifestyle by sourcing food locally, finding higher quality food, and growing his own food. He wanted to reduce his carbon footprint by purchasing food from local sources, which he also believed would have a higher nutritional content.
This was also when he started to garden. He began reading, researching and taking classes and over the next several years he single handedly re-designed his entire yard, applying many of the principles he was learning, and using a trial and error approach until he was satisfied with the results. Even now the yard is a work in progress; an ever changing landscape that reflects his practice in permaculture. “Permaculture is the connection between the ideas you have, the systems you have, and the routines you have. It’s about your approach, your start pattern, and what you thought during the process. The end design is ever evolving and changing. You think about everything that is encompassed in your life. Observation is the biggest part of it…you have to observe”.
Ryan has developed a special interest in soil testing, and has recently also begun to work as a consultant for the Washington State Department of Corrections Sustainability in Prisons Project, where he teaches inmates about soil testing and worm composting. He will also be co-teaching an “Introduction to Permaculture” series of classes this fall at the WSU extension office. Next August, he will be one of the instructors teaching the first Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course for university credit.With all of the activities that Ryan is involved in, there is a commonality that ties everything together: “Getting to help people. That is the biggest thing”.
The Inland Northwest Food Network is fortunate to have Ryan as an active advocate for sustainability practices in our food system and appreciate his contributions to education and outreach. Thanks for all that you do Ryan!