Permaculture & Sustainable Living

We modeled our community and land use  based on models found in the land around us.  Our goal is to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs while harmoniously co-existing with our land around us.

Rainwater harvesting

This part of the Southwest has two rainy seasons, but the summer “monsoon” and winter rains together amount to only 12" of rain per year.

At Milagro, we see rainwater as a precious resource that we harvest and use to nurture the community gardens.

The roofs of the buildings at Milagro are designed to collect and direct rainwater either to our garden areas or to our cisterns for storage.

The garden areas around our houses are landscaped into retention basins and swales that trap rainwater and let it drain slowly into the soil rather than running off.

Composting and Mulching

Whenever possible we try to return organic material like food and garden waste to our soil. Several of us at Milagro run compost bins where food scraps, grass cuttings etc. are slowly allowed to rot and eventually dug into our gardens.

Tree branches and prunings are chipped and converted to mulch which we spread over the soil surface. This reduces evaporation and discourages weeds, and the chippings eventually break down and get incorporated into the soil

EM Bokashi

Some of us use Effective Microorganisms™ (EM) Bokashi for recycling our food waste. This system, which has its roots in Japan, uses a fermented compost starter made from wheat or rice bran and Effective Microorganisms™, to ferment and transform food waste into nutrient-rich compost in less than half the time of conventional composting and without unpleasant odors. The microbes are a mixed culture of naturally occurring, beneficial microorganisms such as those used to make cheese, bread, yogurt, miso, and other foods. With composting, we not only reduce the amount of solid waste that is increasingly choking our landfills and creating toxic methane gas and acidic leachate; we also enrich our soil.


At Milagro, part of ecological living is to encourage a responsible attitude toward the waste we produce. We subscribe to Tucson’s citywide recycling system and provide community members with a separate dumpster for recyclables such as paper, plastics and glass. Yard sales, community exchanges, donating and shopping at thrift shops, along with local programs such as Freecycle, our own ingenuity, all help us reduce what we send to the landfill.