Rebecca D. Thomas

A Values-Driven, Sustainable Lifestyle Blog, seeking innovative and forward-thinking ideas in business, travel, food, fashion, and beyond!

My Internship Life Part One: The Rosebud Continuum Experience

Hello, my friendies! 😊 As I mentioned in my 2019 Subject List tab, my next three posts will be homework assignments that will eventually be posted to the University of South Florida blog. Without further ado, here is my first post, recording the first part of my internship:

Greetings! My name is Rebecca Thomas, and I am a Food Security major with the University of South Florida, Patel College of Global Sustainability (PCGS). My time with the PCGS has been very rewarding and eye-opening! I am so excited to finish this last leg of my journey by participating in a dual-internship with The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Sustainability Institute, and The Rosebud Continuum Sustainability Education Center. This post is part one of my three-part blog series, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it! First up, my educational and experiential tour of Rosebud Continuum.
Me, and my Rosebud Tee! I live in North Florida, so I ventured to Land 'O Lakes for my first leg of the internship. I met with Jerry Comellas, Rosebud Director and Internship Supervisor.

The Rosebud Continuum is an outdoor space that promotes and supports Reclamation and Restoration Ecology, Syntropic Agroforestry, and Regenerative Agriculture. It serves as an incubator where creative minds can participate in experiments, and projects that utilize aquaculture, hydroponics, food forestry, bio-digesting, bio-char, and beyond!

The Rosebud Continuum is just under 20 acres, which includes a four-acre wildlife woodland, a one-acre pollinator garden, two acres dedicated to sustainable food production, and several acres of land for animals. The property is zoned for residential, commercial, agricultural and educational use.

Rosebud is dedicated to preserving indigenous cultures and practices through active community engagement and awareness activities that support healing and restoration to indigenous people.

A primary goal of this visit was to discover what types of fruits and vegetables grow here, and to compare this with what grows (and does not grow) in northern Florida. I look forward to discussing this in my second post.

In this post, I will focus on four key practices of Rosebud: Syntropic Agroforestry (also known as Food Foresting), Bio-Digesters, the production and the use of Bio-Char, and the cultivation of Edible Plants.

The Syntropic Agroforestry area includes Banana and Guava Trees, Cranberry Hibiscus, Katuk, Sorrel, Turk’s Cap, and Avocado Trees. The area also utilizes Companion Crops such as Tree Daisy and Mexican Sunflower. These crops add nitrogen to the soil, and help to protect the other trees. The Avocado Trees are planted off of the ground on a berm to keep their roots out of the water table - Apparently, they don’t like to get their feet wet. 😊

The Food Forest mulch consists of layers of soil, earthworms, black and white newspaper (the worms like the ink!), and cardboard. This is the base for the Syntropic area.
This is the dedicated Syntropic, or Food Forest area, where banana, guava, and avocado trees thrive, along with Cranberry Hibiscus and Mexican Sunflower, an important companion crop that is useful for insect control and animal fodder, and as a soil fertility amendment.

Rosebud utilizes several Bio-Digesters. All come with a garbage disposal, and sink. By grinding food, you can produce gas within 24 hours. Bio-Digesters produce methane and carbon dioxide.

The main “Dragon Bio-Digester” has three pipes; A feed pipe, where the grinded material is poured (dragons mouth), a slurry pipe, which overflows fertilizer to use in the garden and hydroponic systems, and a gas pipe to utilize the methane. Adding Moringa leaves increases methane yield to 83 percent.
I was able to grind food waste, and add it to the dragon's mouth!

If you want to learn how to feed a dragon, this is the place to be!

Bio-Char increases surface area, and increased surface area equals higher food yield. Bio-Char is used liberally at Rosebud, though it is controversial in some circles. It is made from the fallen branches on the Rosebud property. 
Russell, and his Biochar workshop! He is very knowledgeable in the production and use of biochar, and he spoke with me about Florida's sandy soil. I highly recommend a visit!

Rosebud is growing a wide array of edible plants. Cultivating edible plants is important for ensuring Food Security. Moringa, Neem, Chaya, Vegetable Amaranth, Winged Bean, and Hibiscus are all present at Rosebud Continuum. Moringa seeds are useful for purifying water. Chaya is a type of tree spinach, thriving at Rosebud. Neem contains antibacterial properties. Moringa Leaves are rich in protein, and the Cranberry Hibiscus in the Food Forest is delicious!

Chaya, an important edible plant for food security.
Team Rosebud!

Behind Jerry and Adam is the greenhouse that holds the aquaculture and hydroponics stations, and many research and experiential learning activities. Pictures of the greenhouse are in my video below.

We ended our day with a tour of the beautiful and unspoiled Rosebud Lake. Great things are happening at Rosebud, including an extensive composting program, Hugelkultur, thriving gardens full of brussel sprouts, cabbage, and even food growing on hay bales!

This post just scratches the surface of the Rosebud activities. I hope that you too will visit and become a Rosebud Reporter! :) I know that you will be positively impacted and amazed, just as I was. Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ.” Sioux Lakota language , meaning “We are all related.”

I created a brief video using the pictures from my Rosebud Continuum Experience. I welcome your comments and feedback, and thank you for reading! I will see you next time, for another internship update!


  1. As always, great post, Rebecca. I always learn something new from your posts, and today I learned about Syntropic Agroforestry. It's pretty interesting! Thank you so much for sharing your insights from your internship experience at Rosebud. Look forward to other parts as well!

    1. Thank you, Jigeesha! The post is long, so hopefully that doesn't scare people away! :) I appreciate you stopping by!! Glad you liked the blog post,

  2. This is really amazing place and your post is as always so interesting!

    1. Thank you so much for taking time to read this long post :) I appreciate it!

  3. Thanks a lot dear Rebecca! I see this is definitely an interesting internship and thanks to you I learned now some new things. I'm always fascinated about flowers and plants and see them as one of the huge wonders in our world.
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    1. Thank you Rena, I’m glad you liked the post! Thank you for visiting! Vielen Segen für dich!

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