It’s rare to see Gulfport staple Albert Risemberg with shoes on.
Risemberg, a retired airplane mechanic, is Gulfport’s designated earthy-granola homestead farmer, and founder of Moon Landing Yoga.
A figurehead for community meditation and sustainable farming in Gulfport, Risemberg cringes at the thought of even one of his farmed earthworms falling to its demise.
“I really try to focus on doing the least amount of harm,” Risemberg said. “I’ve learned to not put myself above any other living creature.”
He’s also The Gabber’s 2021 Gulfportian of the Year.
Long before the now-bearded Risemberg knew that Gulfport, Florida existed, he was traveling the world by bike – once from Portland to San Francisco – and plane.
Today, the 62-year-old Gulfport resident’s main form of transportation is bicycle, but pre-retirement, Risemberg repaired airplanes for United Airlines for 21 of his 30-year career.
“I didn’t get laid off, but I came close,” Risemberg said. “I ended up taking an early retirement at 47 years old and embarked on some adventures.”
That included living in an Oregon forest full time, sailing to Bermuda and climbing the highest peak in the western hemisphere, Mt. Aconcagua, to name a few.
In 2013, globe trotting Risemberg moved to Florida in a truck with his sailboat trailing behind. His first choice was Miami, but he landed in St. Petersburg, and, eventually, Gulfport.
“Every time I cross the Howard Frankland Bridge, I feel like I’m coming home,” Risemberg said. “I felt that way the first time, even before I’d ever been to St. Petersburg. I still feel that way today.”
Since then, he’s made that trip hundreds of times.
“I started following my spirit guides once I moved to Gulfport,” Risemberg said.
In the last seven years, Risemberg’s spirit guides have pushed him to start Moon Landing Yoga, a beekeeping business, worming classes, and a small homestead nursery in his backyard. He also sits on the board of directors at Sacred Lands.
Over the Moon
People in Gulfport have a habit of naming their homes, Risemberg says.
He’s coined his, overgrown with banana trees and guarded by a nocturnal cat named Doliber, “Moon Landing.” It’s there that Risemberg started his beekeeping endeavor and earthworm fertilization situation – a series of bathtubs that house worms – in 2013.
He started with a sandwich bag of worms and one hive, and now proudly owns four “worm tubs” and eight buzzing hives. The bees can leave anytime they want; there are no walls in Moon Landing land.
The jarred honey goes quick, and the Risemberg hives produced a record 40 gallons.
Instead of blindly selling the worms, which he fears results in a slimy death for the creatures, Risemberg occasionally offers classes that detail how to carefully raise the fertilizer suppliers.
“I try not to interfere with their lives,” he said. “Animals thrive in as close to a natural setting as possible.”
That could be why Risemberg himself thrives in Gulfport: He’s a wild animal in a natural setting.
“The bees dropped in my lap, the worms fell in my lap, the chickens fell in my lap … instead of forcing some agenda I let things happen,” he said. “Money has to come because we need it to live, but you shouldn’t do things just for money.”
It’s that reason the barefoot farmer continues to offer Moon Landing Yoga classes twice a week on Gulfport Beach, for free. He accepts donations, and Risemberg says people are quick to give.
“I only miss a class if I have to work,” said Moon Landing Yoga devotee Jody Robinson.
Robinson started attending Risemberg’s sandy classes religiously five years ago.
“I love Albert, he’s so comforting,” Robinson said. “That’s one thing about him, he tells you you’re special, and you believe him.”