Working with farms, residential properties, and community organizations to design regenerative, diversified, and locally adapted models of food production.
The most sustainable growth and change happens slowly and is fueled by daily routines and intentional practice.
We are in a time of great transition as we face the global climate catastrophe and an exponentially increasing population. There is a need to develop systems of food production that seek balance between increasing yields and enhancing ecosystem services. Furthermore, the average age of farmers in the United States is approximately 60 years old. We need creative design to inspire young people to become land stewards without sacrificing their quality of life and earning living wages. The more we support local food production, investing in ecosystem services, and cultivating closer relationships with the land, the more resilient to climate change we will be.
Regenerative design offers viable solutions as we transition. It focuses on soil health, watershed resilience, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration. As farmers and land stewards, there is potential to create more profitable and responsible enterprises. Let's continue learning together and explore locally adapted models that work for real people and the land.
Michael G. McMillan
Michael is an emerging professional ecological designer in southwest Colorado. Practicing professionally since April 2019, Michael is incrementally growing Solstice Sown Designs LLC to serve larger acreage agricultural properties to develop drought resilient and food producing landscapes. He has worked with a diverse range of clients developing residential vegetable and ornamental gardens, the Dolores River Brewery edible forest garden, custom irrigation for cattle ranching operations ~ 300 acres, and small farm and ranches ~35 acres. He brings eight years of experience in horticulture, education, project management, and design.
He is passionate about developing biodiverse, dynamic, multi-strata forest garden systems unique to the southwest bioregion. Michael is part of a regional effort to restore the historic orchard economy in Montezuma County in partnership with MORP by planting heritage fruit varieties, pruning, grafting, and educating about holistic orchard care. Living out his values for serving the community, he is a member of the newly formed Next Generation Advisory Board for the Montezuma Land Conservancy and also a naturalist educator at a local public charter school in McElmo Canyon teaching high desert ecology, primarily through nature awareness games.
Michael’s path has been winding, growing up in New Mexico and Colorado the youngest of three brothers. His upbringing included summers backpacking and moving up ranks in the Boy Scouts while learning outdoor and survival skills in the Rocky Mountains. Through college, he worked as horticulturalist for the parks department. Earning a B.S. in Environmental Science and B.A. in Spanish language from Regis University, his senior thesis was based on a grant-funded community composting and food-rescue effort to create a closed-loop food system in a North-Denver neighborhood and with the University.
Michael is a fluent Spanish speaker with experience living on a permaculture farm in Monteverde, Costa Rica while studying sustainability and tropical conservation biology. He continued engaging with Central American communities through scholarship travels to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Prior to moving to Four Corners region, he has lived and worked in Ecuador, California, and throughout Colorado.
He finds purpose and joy in supporting others to connect with the land and become more responsible stewards.