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Quail Springs Sustains Major Flood Damage

Editor’s Note: This pains me. I took a PDC at Quail Springs in August 2008. The Quail Springs team are amongst some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and the work they’re doing is just plain awesome – pioneering research that all of society can benefit from. Please support the team at this challenging moment.

We wanted to share with all of you that we’ve just come through two days of major flooding that have altered the face of Quail Springs. First of all, we are so grateful that no one was hurt or lost. This is a huge blessing for which we are all thankful.

Beginning on Friday, October 1st, we had a storm that dropped a little over 2" of rain in about an hour that caused extreme channel flooding that ripped out our lower gabion, silted up our larger swales and caused damage to about 10% of the garden. We wish that this was the extent of the damage yet mother nature had another story to share with us.

On Saturday, October 2nd, at about 12:30pm, a second and much more ominous thunder storm descended on our valley down from Iwihinmu (Mt. Pinos) beginning with a huge hail storm followed by torrential rains and heavy winds. The lighting and thunder stood right over us for what seemed like a lifetime yet was just a few minutes. In just a half an hour, over 3 inches of rain fell directly on Quail Springs and much more in the canyons that feed the main canyon. Little rivers began to flow down the secondary and tertiary canyons, and then it happened.

A wall of water we could have never imagined in our wildest dreams and ruminations made its own thunder as it careened down the canyon. This wall of water tore at trees, ripped out our largest gabions and breached the walls of our incised stream and created a rushing river that spanned at some points over 1,000 feet across the canyon. It was a sight to behold and an event that made your heart nearly stand still.

There was nothing could stand up to this deluge. Even large cottonwood trees were ripped out and hurled down canyon. Everything in its wake was destroyed. This included our entire garden, half of our new food forest, our pond is gone, all of our water harvesting structures that fed the sweet Quail Springs waters to our entire operation, our well was badly damaged, all of our irrigation systems have been buried, much of our fencing buried or washed away, chicken tractors gone, a trailer now lives down canyon several hundred yards, our settling tanks torn apart, and many tools and countless other parts of our infrastructure are missing or buried. Amazingly, our buildings fared rather well other than some flooding in the main barn that was quickly cleaned up. For this we are also grateful.

All in all we estimate over $40,000 in damage was done and countless hours that were accumulated into years of work.

As the water receded, we were stunned and humbled to see the damage and feel in our hearts the loss that had just occurred. Nearly six years of our work building soil and laying infrastructure was washed away in minutes. Once we realized everyone was safe, we shared tears and a bit of laughter. We are having to remember that we are working on a 200 year plan and that these events will help us redesign and rebuild in a way that is more appropriate for the vagaries of this ancient spring canyon and the place we call home.

Over the next weeks, we will be working to rebuild the water systems and preparing for the upcoming Permaculture Design Course (which is nearly full).

We will undoubtedly ask for help once we settle on a game plan and will put a call out for volunteers.

We will especially need assistance financially and would appreciate any donation you might be able to make to help us with the huge task of rebuilding and remaking the systems that are the very essence of our work out here.

Tax-deductible donations may be made by check or online.

Checks can made out to “Quail Springs” and mailed to: Quail Springs, 35070 Highway 33, Maricopa, CA 93252.

Online donations can be made securely via Donate Now.

Thank you for any assistance you’re able to give, and for your thoughts and wishes.

We would not be able to touch the world in the ways that we do without you and the extended network of people who have been supporting us for so many years. We send our gratitude to the waters, to thunder and lightning, to all the land that sustains and to the beauty of the ever evolving story that is Quail Springs….

In Humility,

The Quail Springs Stewards

Warren Brush

Warren Brush is a global permaculture design consultant, educator, lecturer and storyteller. He has worked for over 25 years in sustainable systems design for communities, private and public organizations, households, small holder farms, and conservation properties worldwide. He is co-founder of Quail Springs Permaculture, Regenerative Earth Enterprises, Sustainable Vocations, Wilderness Youth Project, Casitas Valley Farm and Creamery and his Permaculture design company, True Nature Design. He is also an advising founder of the Permaculture Research Institute of Kenya. He consults for the USAID’s TOPS (Technical, Operations, Performance Support) program where he trains technical field staff, for their African Food for Peace programs, in a Resilience Design Framework. He works extensively in North America, Africa, Middle East, Europe, and Australia. He has taught the following courses: Permaculture Design Certification, Earthworks for Resiliency, Resilient Smallholder Farm Design, Permaculture for International Development, Rainwater Harvesting Systems, Ferro-Cement Tank Building, Community Design Using Permaculture, Permaculture Investing, Spring Rejuvenation and Watershed Restoration, Compost Toilet Systems, Water for Every Farm, Drought Proofing Landscapes, and Ecological Restoration. Contact or write: [email protected]. Websites:


  1. Hello and Thank you for telling us about this terrible tragedy. You seem to have put on a very brave face and are taking the heartbreak in stride. Maybe I can help volunteer when I return to NA later this year.

    Good luck, Matt

  2. Warren,

    Are you guys accepting people on to the farm who want to help with the rebuilding process? I am sure there would be some people in this neck of the woods who would be interested in helping you guys out.

    I am really sorry to hear about all of the damage!


  3. Nature is truly awesome and always reminds to be humble. I know you will show us all how to take such devastation and come back from it. I’m heartsick for the damage, but grateful no one was physically hurt. You are survivors and a blessing in the world. Keep us up to date on ways to help.

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