Brad Lancaster

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Brad Lancaster

Brad Stewart Lancaster (born 1967) is an expert in the field of rainwater harvesting and water management. He is also a permaculture teacher, designer, consultant and co-founder of Desert Harvesters, a non-profit organization.

Lancaster lives on an eighth of an acre in downtown Tucson, Arizona, where rainfall is less than 12 inches (300 mm) per annum. In such arid conditions, Lancaster consistently models that catching over 100,000 US gallons (380,000 l; 83,000 imp gal) of rainwater to feed food-bearing shade trees, abundant gardens, and a thriving landscape is a much more viable option than the municipal system of directing it into storm drains and sewer systems.[1]

Lancaster helped legalize the harvest of street runoff in the city of Tucson, Arizona, with then-illegal water-harvesting curb cuts at his and his brother’s home and demonstration site that made openings in the street curb to enable street runoff to freely irrigate street-side and in-street water-harvesting/traffic-calming landscapes of food-bearing native vegetation.[2] After proving the concept, Brad then worked with the City of Tucson to legalize, enhance, and incentivize the process.[2][3][4]

Lancaster co-created and now co-organizes the Neighborhood Foresters program which since 1996 has coordinated volunteer crews of neighbors to plant and steward over 1,500 native food-bearing trees and hundreds of native food-bearing understory plantings within or beside water-harvesting earthworks in his neighborhood, while helping and training volunteers from other neighborhoods to lead similar efforts in their neighborhoods.[5]

Desert Harvesters, a non-profit organization Brad co-founded, teaches the public how to identify, harvest, and process many of the native-plant foods neighbors are planting in their neighborhoods.[6] Desert Harvesters also makes the utilization of native foods easier by organizing community milling events that mill native mesquite pods into nutritious and delicious mesquite flour which is utilized by a growing number of restaurants, breweries, and home kitchens.[6]

A 2009 project involved acting as a representative for the U.S. State Department on an educational tour in the Middle East.[7]


Lancaster lectures at the ECOSA Institute; the University of Arizona; and Prescott College.[citation needed] He has been a guest speaker at the annual Bioneers Convergence; Green Festival USGBC’s Greenbuild Conference;[8] Texas Natural Building Colloquium;[9] the New Mexico Xeriscape Conference; the Green Festival;[10] the 2009 Water Conservation & Xeriscaping EXPO; the New Mexico Organic Farming Conference;[11] and various Audubon Expeditions.[citation needed]


Lancaster has designed integrated water-harvesting and permaculture systems for multiple projects, including the Tucson Audubon Simpson Farm restoration site, the Milagro development, Stone Curves co-housing project,[12] and the Tucson Nature Conservancy water-harvesting demonstration site.[13]



Published articles[edit]


  • MOCA Local Genius Award: Tucson (2016)[14]
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) (2015)[15]
  • Bicycle Commuter of the Year: Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee (2014)[16]
  • Cox Conserves Hero: Arizona (2013)[17]
  • David Yetman Award: Tucson Audubon Society (2013)
  • Award of Excellence/Personal Recognition from American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (2008)
  • Arizona Department of Water Resources/Tohono Chul Park Xeriscape Contest Award, First Place – Homeowner under $10,000 (2005)[18]
  • Arizona Department of Water Resources/Tohono Chul Park Xeriscape Contest Award – Best Water Harvesting (2005)[18]
  • Arizona Department of Water Resources/Tohono Chul Park Xeriscape Contest Award –J.D. Di Melglio Artistry in Landscaping (2005)[18]
  • City of Tucson and Pima County Good Neighbor Award (2001)
  • Tucson Weekly voted Dunbar/Spring Organic Community Garden the Best Neighborhood Garden (2000)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Telis, Gisela. "The Care and Watering of a Neighborhood", Tucson Green Magazine, January 2008, p.13
  2. ^ a b April 27, Tony Davis; Now, 2015 From the print edition Like Tweet Email Print Subscribe Donate (2015-04-27). "Tucson's rain-catching revolution". Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  3. ^ Kraker, Dan. "Rain Man: How one Tucson resident harvests the rain". Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  4. ^ "American Oasis". Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  5. ^ Kreutz, Douglas. "Neighborhood foresters work to beautify their slice of the Tucson community". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  6. ^ a b Media, Arizona Public. "Native Harvest". Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  7. ^ Khan, Fouzia (April 21, 2009). "American Speakers at Earth Day Celebrations". Saudi Gazette, P.3.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2010-02-04. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2010-02-04. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^
  12. ^ Hamilton, James L., Stone Curves Development Manager, personal communication, February 10, 2010
  13. ^
  14. ^ Hoch, Heather. "MOCA Announces 4 Local Genius Award Recipients for 2016". Tucson Weekly. Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  15. ^ "Hall of Fame - Brad Lancaster - American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association". Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  16. ^ "Brad Lancaster Wins 2014 Bicycle Commuter of the Year along with Juan Mungia". Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond by Brad Lancaster. 2014-05-02. Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  17. ^ "Brad Lancaster Named Arizona's 2013 Cox Conserves Hero". Newsroom | About Us | Cox Communications. Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  18. ^ a b c Poole, B. “Design With the Desert in Mind”, Tucson Citizen, March 2006, p.4A.