Bob Randall, PINA Board Secretary
Houston, TX

PDC, Diploma in Teaching, Diploma in Design, Bob has been a food systems activist for more than five decades. After youth in the mid-Atlantic states, he spent two years teaching high school in the rural Nigerian Sahel and followed it up with an MA looking at the food systems there. He then went on to pursue an Ecological Anthropology doctorate from UC Berkeley. For several years, he researched fishing-farming system change in the Basilan Strait between Mindanao and Borneo. He got his doctorate, taught anthropology, and wrote about the Philippine poor, their problem-solving skills, the destructive international economy, and the deteriorating ecosystems caused by it. 

While teaching in several different bioregions, he also began to garden fruits and vegetables and he became active in organic food co-ops in several states and British Columbia.  Just before he moved to Houston in 1979, he read and began applying the Mollison-Holmgren first permaculture book.  In 1987, he quit academic life and became a professional food activist first as a community gardens specialist at a hunger-fighting agency, and then 7 years later as E.D. of a new non-profit: Urban Harvest, Inc. ( )

He began teaching habitat-friendly organic fruit and vegetable gardening in 1986, and taught aspects of this in PDC’s in the early 1990’s. He met and visited with Bill Mollison three times in the early nineties, and finally completed the PDC in 1996. Since then, he has been a main teacher and facilitator for PDC’s in Houston. Under his 14-year leadership, Urban Harvest grew from nothing to an $800K budget when he retired in 2008.


He used permaculture principles to help organize many diverse residents to design large, successful programs in:

  • Community Gardens
  • School Gardens
  • Farmers’ Markets

He helped develop an organization of organic landscapers ( ) and what is probably the largest one-day fruit tree sale on the planet ($160K). 

Bob has been active in design in rural and urban settings only in the Metro-Houston area, but he has also provided consultation in many other states and cities and continues teaching permaculture and horticulture. Bob was a 4-year treasurer of the 10th Continental Bioregional Congress at The Farm in Tennessee.  He joined the PINA Board representing the South Central U.S. in 2016 and became Board Secretary in 2017.

If you are interested in learning more about our Houston successes and failures, contact Bob through PINA.