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Meet Jean Sarmiento of Sunkeeper Environmental Solutions

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jean Sarmiento.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My mother is Costa Rican; my father is Cuban, and I was born in San Jose, Costa Rica, I started there. My father always had a home here, but we came to live in Miami as I was about two or three, I grew up here, so this is my home, and I have a lot of love for it. Some of my best memories as a child are from going fishing in the Everglades, and I suspect that’s where my affinity for Nature might have come from.

At an early age, I began creating art, drawing, painting building things, etc, which is why now I like to tell folks my art has mainly transformed into designing gardens. As I grew older, I pursued art thru out school and college, but something that blew my mind as a child in elementary school was an experiment our teacher did germinate bean seeds. That always stuck with me!

And is still equally mind blowing how you can combine a seed, soil & water and a life springs forth. I’ve been fortunate in my life to have come across so many good people, good parents, teachers, elders, mentors, lovers, friends and folks that without a doubt have helped me become a better version of myself and have opened my perspective up to so many different worlds.

That perhaps without them the qualities that have brought me to love the plant kingdom, to love our Everglades, our children, to respect and have compassion towards each other, may not have flourished. So I am grateful. And a lot of praying has helped. I find myself now with a beautiful partner raising our precious daughter. ” which is really our real fulltime job. : )”

Along with doing my best establishing my Native plant business and raising awareness of the Environment particularly the Florida Everglades thru our non-profit Love the Everglades Movement. I always knew plants were an important part of the Everglades and we were already doing educational tours and giving out plant info that one day it hit me and I began to learn everything I could about FL native plants.

And basically being there for my family is my motivation. The last thing I would like to mention whilst I’m speaking about motivation is we all have a certain catalyst in our lives and many of the “problems” we face have set the context for people to care and take action in their own unique ways that address these Environmental issues in our community.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone whos had a smooth road, and it sure hasn’t been that way, but it also hasn’t been devasting, and I feel I’ve been very blessed to be able to trust in life and know that this great mystery somehow someway conspires to help you out.

I don’t want to throw a book at you guys so to keep it simple I would have to say the biggest challenge may have been a part of my life when I was getting in a lot of trouble, I was neglecting many responsibilities, at the time nothing I tried was working out, I had no money and overall didn’t have a clue of what I wanted to do or was gonna do with myself or what really gave my life meaning.

Fast forwarding a bit after getting things in order and coming to better understandings and a deep caring for the Everglades I found my challenges while trying to raise awareness on issues concerning the Everglades being apathy from so many people that it would be discouraging at times.

Other challenges as an eco-friendly business and non-profit is sometimes you have clients and people with whom you have to argue, compromise, educate, convince and seek to inspire folks to steer them towards the Environmental ideals we hold dear. And with so many battles going on in Florida and for the Everglades its a challenge in itself to stay on top of all the information constantly coming out.

Of course, the most beautiful challenge happening right now is that of being a father and husband, making sure bills get paid at home, and everything that comes along with running a small business that I’ve had to learn along the way. Time management is a challenge but learning to navigate it all with balance is something we’re finding ourselves getting better at.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Sunkeeper Environmental Solutions – what should we know?
The name of my company is called Sunkeeper Environmental Solutions, I create Florida friendly Landscapes and recreate ecosystems whenever I can. I specialize in FL Native species for the benefit of wildlife like birds, bees, butterflies and all the other equally important pollinators. I think I’m most known for being one of the co-founders of Love the Everglades Movement and the airboat tours we host as well as a go-to guy for Native plants and Native plant information/education.

As a company, I’m most proud of being able to contribute to the bounce back of endangered species thru creating these gardens in a tangible way, it’s a gratifying feeling when you can see plants and animals start to bounce back and its one of the best ways to help our Everglades. Its tough for me to answer that but I’ll try by saying that I feel committed to a mission to help the Everglades the best I can.

My way after much prayer evolved into combining my love for the Everglades. My wanting to be close to the plant Kingdom, plus I could still be an Artist at the same time, and it grew into a new love which is designing gardens. Ultimately, I do it because I care and understand what’s at stake and as long as I’m here I want to do my best in restoring, conserving and preserving our endangered species.

Id also like to inform and remind everyone that this is not a game and not to be taken lightly this work is very important. Pollinator species are dying at an alarming rate and we stand on the brink of an ecological collapse that can have severe consequences in our lifetime.
You can also learn more about the problem here
In summation the Dangers are vast, serious, and very real, but the benefits of re-introducing Native plants are Wide and the effects far reaching, and its something we as private citizens can take it upon ourselves to make happen, without relying or expecting any Authority to do it for us. I don’t believe we can get out of the Environmental pickle we’re in without a massive re – introduction of Native specie initiatives happening in the near future.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I have to say there are many people that deserve credit, and it reminds me of how we are all so interdependent here on Earth. But if I had to break it down first, I would have to honor my parents that brought me here. I would say all my spiritual teachers and friends that have helped me with understandings and appreciation.

My good friend Houston Cypress that has always no matter what supported my work and ideas. He is also one of the co-founders of Love the Everglades movement and if he calls me the backbone he is surely the heartbeat along with the rest of the team Flash and Anne.

I have to give credit and acknowledgment to one of our ex-board members, mentor and elder who supported our work in a big way financially and with advice, to Michael Lemus of Lemus Natural Medicine. When I decided to officially open the company, he believed in me and gave me his house to be my first project along with the best news a guy like me can hear. Heres the money do whatever you think I trust you just make it beautiful!

Shortly after that, I was hired to do two more houses on the same block! And after that, it really gave me the courage to keep going.

Pricing:

  • Beginners garden range from $700 – $1200
  • Restoration garden range from $1200 – $4999
  • Master Habitat range from $5,000 – beyond

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Robin Maines Herrill

Getting in touch: VoyageMIA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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