Staci Matlock Santa Fe permaculturist Nate Downey has made a career out of designing rain-harvesting landscapes.

Now he's put all that knowledge into a book. He'll be signing copies of Harvest the Rain on Saturday at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. He hopes the book will make people think differently about rain, as indicated by the book's subtitle: "How to enrich your life by seeing every storm as a resource."

The book covers the use of cisterns, gray water and various landscape designs that make the most use of every drop of water landing on it. Concise illustrations by George Lawrence are sprinkled throughout the book.

Downey had written an earlier small book — Roof Reliant Landscaping — published online in 2008 at the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer website.

Downey sees a multitude of benefits to water harvesting: It saves water; it grows beautiful, stronger trees that provide shade and fruit; and it increases property value.

Designing a rain-harvesting landscape takes time. Downey urges patience and taking the long view.

"You have to do a little bit each year," he said. "The key is not to be overwhelmed with the work ahead but to do it in phases. Do gray water one year. Do swales one year. Do cisterns another year."

More than anything, Downey hopes people discover that "harvesting the rain is fun."

Contact Staci Matlock at smatlock@sfnewmexican.com.

IF YOU GO

What: Nate Downey signs his new book, Harvest the Rain (2010, Sunstone Press).

When: 7 a.m. to noon Saturday

Where: The water tank at the Railyard Center near the Santa Fe Farmers Market

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