Meet Our Team Leaders


Paolo Tantarelli

Owner  ·  Principal  ·  Project Manager

Paolo has worked with some of the top gardeners and builders in California, growing food and practicing sustainable building at places like the Solar Living Institute, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, and Golden Nectar Farms. His garden work and style reflect key principles of permaculture, the bio-intensive method, and biomimicry.

Paolo received his Bachelors Degree from Chico State University in Cultural Anthropology, with a Minor in Italian. He has traveled extensively through Central and South America, following a passion to study human behavior as well as healthy food systems throughout history.

Jeff Shields

Project Manager  ·  Water Systems Specialist

Jeff grew up in the Bay Area and has lived in Sonoma County since 2008. He first worked on community-driven garden projects in San Francisco with the Department of Public Works and their Community Garden Program.

After working in the public sector and interning for SF Environment, Sierra Club, and Emerald Earth Sanctuary, he began managing ornamental and edible gardens at private retreat centers such as Mayacamas Ranch and Mark West Lodge in Sonoma County. During this time, he also installed private gardens, integrating his experience and skills with sustainable water systems and native and site appropriate plant materials.

In 2010, Jeff co-founded Community Soil and the Larkfield Community Garden and Learning Center.

Josho Somine, MLA, BFA, CPI

Lead Designer

Josho is a Bay Area native who first encountered permaculture in the late ‘90s, studying, working and teaching nationally and internationally over the next 10+ years. He earned a BFA in sculpture and public art from CCAC in ‘02, and worked in nonprofit garden-based education for several years.

Seeking more design rigor, he completed a Master’s in Landscape Architecture at UW Seattle in 2010, and worked at a high-end design firm for 5 years before joining Community Soil.

Devoted to aesthetics and a stickler for details, he likes to connect big-picture thinking with intimate built details, and seeks to cultivate legibility and spatial dynamism in the landscape.



Design Services


We offer a free, half-hour site assessment visit for prospective clients in Sonoma county.

Once we have seen your property and heard about your aspirations for it, we can tell you how we would approach the process of designing and implementing your site improvements.

Usually one quick visit is enough to tell if we are a good ‘fit’ for your needs.

To develop a custom design proposal, we provide an introductory landowner’s questionnaire, conduct site research at the county level, and schedule a longer interview and site tour.

For a deposit retainer, we create a comprehensive, tailored design proposal to transform your intentions and our observations into working plans for the whole property.

Final design documentation packages typically include one or more schematic site plans, a planting palette, and itemized cost estimates for construction by Community Soil’s crews.

Ingredients and details vary for each project, but a typical site design timeline and fee schedule is usually 2-3 months and $5-10k from starting to finish documents.

If you have a more expansive property or prefer a DIY approach, we also offer site consultation services.

This involves walking the land together, providing specific observations and suggestions for the property. Taking notes is encouraged, and we can provide diagrams as needed and limited follow-up references.

For some land owners, a good consultation may be enough to give them the perspectives they need to begin working their land in an informed and beneficial manner.

Design Approach



Many properties get developed gradually, project by project, as time and money permit. While this process can provide basic functionality, it often results in a hodge-podge of elements that don’t quite fit together into a cohesive scene or enable smooth circulation of people, vehicles and materials.

We emphasize the value of comprehensive master planning, which outlines how all the essential aspects of a site design will fit together. Once you have a master site plan developed, you can build out parts of it gradually while still knowing that the finished results will integrate with and complement each other.

This type of planning also tends to reduce overall costs, as process efficiencies can result from comprehensive preparations.


Landscape architecture is a professional discipline grounded in millennia of human land development practices.

After a thorough analysis of the setting and intentions, it begins with landforms and infrastructures, circulation routes and built structures, and finishes with improved soil health and robust plantings.

Thoughtful design should result in clarity, beauty, and ease of use, and help the owner connect more deeply with their landscape.


Permaculture is a whole-systems ecological design methodology, developed in Australia in the 1970s. It integrates modern and traditional land-use strategies and techniques with design principles and environmental ethics to create abundant and regenerative human habitations.

Beneficial connections are emphasized between elements on site, and between the built environment and the natural context.


Many modern approaches to development and land use have resulted in negative ecological impacts to local environments and the planet as a whole.

We prioritize design details, material selections, and maintenance regimes that can reverse these trends, improving soil health, recharging groundwater, and enhancing habitat value, while providing beautiful spaces for landowners.

Resilience is the ability to withstand and recover from stressful and challenging experiences. In the era of climate change, landscapes can be subject to drought, flood, fire, wind, and other potentially catastrophic impacts. Mindful site design incorporates strategic resistance to these forces, and can buffer the impacts and reduce damage from local calamities.

Design Process


A complete sequence of steps is outlined below — depending on your property and intended scope, all or just a few of these ingredients may be included in your combination of design documents & requirements.


All available site documents are compiled and synthesized with field observations to create a scaled working map of the property.

The more detailed the map, the better the design can respond to and enhance the conditions of the landscape.


Early design studies are diagrammatic, showing alternative configurations of major elements and circulation routes.

At this stage, design intentions and options are confirmed with clients before developing the elements to further levels of detail.


A well-developed design scheme shows the placement and scale of all the major elements in a new, improved arrangement for the property.

This level of detail is generally sufficient for ballpark construction estimates, although the construction details for some aspects may not be worked out yet.


A landscape construction plan shows all the details from the schematic plan, with detailed notes and measurements for the builders.

This type of enhanced plan is typically needed for detailed cost estimation and effective project planning.


Plants are the ‘icing on the cake’ of the site development process.

While general notes about plant types and groupings typically accompany the schematic plan, a planting plan calls out exact species, varieties, quantities and sizes of plants with which to populate the newly configured landscape.

This also enables detailed estimation of installation costs.


Before building any new, custom structures, scaled construction drawings are developed to work out and confirm the details and provide precise data for cost estimation.

A few hours of drafting can save countless hours of construction headaches.


Built elements sometimes change over the construction process, in response to particular site details.

At the owner’s discretion, design plans can be updated to include alterations and utilities, for accurate future reference.

Landscape maintenance best practices can also be compiled and specified in a custom site manual, to ensure the proper care of the new landscape design during its establishment and future stewardship.


Sonoma, Mendocino & Napa Counties  ·  California
707-889-1744  ·  moc.liosytinummoc@ofni