About Lisa Rayner

Lisa Rayner at home showing off a jacket that she made.

Lisa Rayner is a writer and activist based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Lisa has written four how-to books about food, beginning with a book about gardening, and continuing with books about solar cooking, baking, and canning. Each book is informed by Lisa's concerns for the environment, animal welfare and human health. The themes of permaculture and Transition are evident in these books. Lisa has also written extensively on other topics, most notably the fiber arts, with weaving being a special focus.

The child of a chemist and a biologist, Lisa has long had an interest in the natural world. As a young person, Lisa was an avid collector of sea shells, rocks, bird feathers and more. Lisa spent much of their time exploring the forest around their Delaware home. Lisa's mother introduced Lisa to weaving on a floor loom at a young age. (Pronouns used here reflect Lisa's preference as a person of non-binary gender.)

Lisa is a self-directed person who has long preferred to focus on creative pursuits. One exasperated teacher wrote in a second grade report card, "Lisa tends to play with little books, paper, yarn, etc. and rushes through assignments."

As an adult, Lisa does not rush through projects, but takes the time called for. Each of Lisa's books has taken years of painstaking work to complete. Lisa not only did the research and writing but also selected illustrations and did the design and layout work.

Lisa lived in Flagstaff, Ariz. for nearly 30 years. Lisa has a 1991 Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resource Interpretation from Northern Arizona University. Lisa is a graduate of the 1993 Black Mesa Permaculture Project's Design Certification Course and 1994 Coconino County Master Gardener Program. In 2008 Lisa won the Martin-Springer Institute Moral Courage Award and the Friends of Flagstaff's Future Livable Community Award. Lisa was also a Garden’s for Humanity 2009 Visionary Awardee.

Lisa Rayner in her kitchen with a variety of foods she has prepared.

Lisa hated cooking growing up. Then, in 1985 Lisa became vegetarian, and soon after, vegan. Lisa spent the next year-and-a-half teaching themself to cook and in the process discovered they enjoyed it. Lisa's reasons for being vegan include animal welfare, world hunger and environmental sustainability.

In 1993 Lisa was teaching a vegetarian cooking class when they realized that they wanted to learn about which foods grew in a cool, dry mountain environment. Lisa began to learn all about growing and cooking bioregionally-appropriate foods.

In 1996 Lisa found a word processor in a dumpster and wrote the first edition of Growing Food in the Southwest Mountains: A Permaculture Approach to Gardening Above 6,500 Feet in Arizona, New Mexico, Southern Colorado and Southern Utah. The first edition, printed on a tired and temperamental photocopier, was closer to a pamphlet than a book. The fourth edition of the book (280 pages) was published in 2013. During the years that Lisa spent revising her garden book, Lisa became the coordinator of the Juniper Street Community Garden and gardened there for eight years. Over the years Lisa has also  gardened in small backyard plots, both in Flagstaff and Santa Fe.

In 1996, Lisa got to know their future husband, Dan, at monthly vegetarian EarthSave potlucks. From 2000 to 2002, Lisa and Dan published a monthly newspaper that advocated for the protection of northern Arizona's environmental riches, the preservation of Flagstaff's small-town charm, and social justice issues. Lisa also ran a community currency program.

Lisa has been a solar cook since 1995. Lisa started off using a cardboard CooKitTM panel cooker from Solar Cookers International bought for $10. Later Lisa purchased the Sun Oven™ which was used extensively in Flagstaff on Lisa's south-facing townhome balcony. Lisa published a second book, The Sunny Side of Cooking: Solar cooking and other ecologically friendly cooking methods for the 21st century in 2007.

Lisa has baked their own bread with a sourdough culture since 1995. In 2009 Lisa published Wild Bread - Hand-baked sourdough artisan bread in your own kitchen.

Jars of canned food on a rack.

A canner since 2003, Lisa was unsatisfied with most canning books because they did not explain the principles behind safe canning methods. Lisa also wanted to can with only natural, sustainably-produced ingredients. After much research, in 2010 Lisa wrote The Natural Canning Resource Book: A guide to home canning with locally-grown, sustainably-produced and fair trade foods.

At age 12, Lisa bought a Navajo spindle in Tuba City, Ariz. but did not have the opportunity to learn how to use it until many years later. In 2011, Lisa added spinning and knitting to an ever-growing do-it-yourself repertoire. After learning to spin, sock knitting became a bit of an obsession. Lisa also learned to dye plant and animal fibers with natural, non-toxic dyes like indigo. Lisa is also an acclaimed weaver. Her Mermaid scarf was featured on the cover of Handwoven magazine.

Lisa's interest in geology revived with the peak-oil movement, which later morphed into the Transition Movement. Lisa's lifelong interests in do-it-yourself urban homesteading tie in perfectly with the need to economically relocalize and downsize this century.

Prior to the Covid pandemic, Lisa volunteered for many years as a political activist who attended many city council meetings and protest events. She also wrote many letters to the editor of the local newspaper. Lisa has volunteered for non-profit organizations that exemplify Lisa's values. Lisa is concerned about maintaining democracy as civilization shrinks its ecological footprint.

In 2016, Lisa moved to Santa Fe with then-husband Dan. Like Flagstaff, Santa Fe is a high-altitude town (7,000 feet) with a semi-arid climate in the Southwestern U.S. Lisa was also attracted by Santa Fe's vibrant local foods and fiber arts communities.

In 2021 Lisa was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a genetic connective tissue disorder with systemic health effects. Lisa now requires supplemental oxygen. EDS has greatly limited Lisa’s ability to weave, garden, cook and write.

Since the start of the pandemic, Lisa can be found online blogging, selling their e-books and weaving patterns, and doing online activism for the disabled and LGBTQIA+ communities.

Frida Kahlo Self Portrait.

Today Lisa lives in Santa Fe with their wife LynnAnnRose and their cats. Lisa identifies as a "non-binary, autistic, physically disabled artist, writer and activist." Lisa has been inspired by the painter Frida Kahlo, who became one of Mexico's most famous painters despite suffering from polio and a crippling streetcar accident in her youth. Like Kahlo, Lisa continues to explore new ways to be creative despite ongoing health challenges. 

In accordance with the terms of their divorce, Lisa's ex-husband Dan manages this Web site and all sales of the related printed books as part of his own business with no connection to Lisa. Dan also occasionally updates this page. (Updated April 2022.)

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