Farm Small Farm Smart Daily

Talking to Stefan Sobkowiak of The Permaculture Orchard.  We touch on why he decided to speak at PV2, what he would do differently if he had to start over, and the value of networking and sharing ideas with others.

For more information on PV2 you can visit:

Direct download: PV2-12302014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:40am PDT

Zach Weiss of Holzer AgroEcology discusses his experiences working on projects designed by Sepp Holzer. He also gets into Sepp's ideas and design philosophy.

This is the recording of a presentation that Zach gave at a workshop at VersaLand in October 2014.

Show Notes:

Direct download: b014-12262014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:50am PDT

Zach Weiss of Holzer AgroEcology discusses his experiences working on projects designed by Sepp Holzer. He also gets into Sepp's ideas and design philosophy.

This is the recording of a presentation that Zach gave at a workshop at VersaLand in October 2014.

Show Notes:

Direct download: b013-12182014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

Taylor Walker from Green Dreams Florida joins me.

In this episode we talk being a designer, propagating and selling plants, and we get into specific plant species. Some of these are zone specific; some are more universal, like Mulberry. Towards the end of the episode Taylor goes in depth about 5 not so common plant species that make up a nice permaculture plant guild. He’s growing these plants in Zone 9 in Florida, but maybe you can find some microclimates in your own climate zone to take advantage of some of these species.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP099-12122014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

Neil Bertrando joins me to talk about the broadacre and farmscale permaculture design workshop we both attended at Grant Schultz's Versaland, Darren Doherty of Regrarians, our thoughts on both of those guys and broadacre design, and Neil's design experiences in the high desert of Nevada.


Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP09812052014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

Kevin Hauser of Kuffel Creek Nursery in Riverside, CA joins me to talk about growing apples in warm, dry climates. Despite popular myths many varieties actually do really well and thrive in these types of climates.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP097-11282014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 6:02am PDT

This episode is a replay of Dr. Elaine Ingham’s keynote talk, Building Soil Health, from PV1. To introduce the talk, Dr. Elaine Ingham says…

A revolution in our understanding of soil has been taking place. “Conventional” agriculture requires ever-increasing inputs and energy into the system to maintain production, while natural systems reduce the disturbances in the system, while increasing production. Historically, soil science ignored or dismissed soil life as important, in large part because the methods used to study organisms in soil were mis-leading, inaccurate and missed about 99% or more of the species present in soil. With the advent of microscope methods and genetic assessment of soil life, we are beginning to unravel the mysteries of the soil. Understanding soil life is critical if we want to be sustainable; we need to work with nature, instead of waging war on natural laws as we do in our agricultural systems, to the detriment of people and the planet.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP096-11232014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

If you are doing the life that everyone expects of you, what are you doing to explore that. Everyone has the capacity to really make the choice to really live life, to be engaged, and live a life of vitality. It's never too late to start living.

That’s what Matthew Abrams of Mycelium and I are exploring today. Creating the conditions for pull learning, learning about what you are interested in, doing work that you love, finding out about what brings you alive and living your life.

Show Notes:

PV2 Info @

Direct download: PVP095-11222014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

Steve Gabriel author of Farming the Woods joins me to talk about forest farming. Growing agriculture crops within the forest, beneath the already existing tree canopy. We could grow things like mushrooms, ginseng, medicinal herbs, berries, all while harvesting nuts and tree saps. Economic yields coming out an already established perennial system, no plowing required.

Show Notes:

PV2 Info:

Direct download: PVP094-11212014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 7:23am PDT

This episode with John Pugliano is meant to get you to start thinking in a different way and to plant some seeds in your head. I think that everyone can benefit by starting thinking more like an entrepreneur.

We will touch on business idea generation and John will cover some value add type businesses that anyone can start with low capital. They aren’t directly permaculture, but they are related. The theme being like start where you are, take a step in that direction.

Show Notes:

PV2 Info:

Direct download: PVP093-11202014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

Maddy and her partner Tim started the magazine back in 1992 out of their home office. At that time the readership was tiny. But they had a vision for something bigger. A vision of world where permaculture could provide solutions to some of the problems that the world was facing. But in order to make that vision a reality, they had to help get the word out there.


And going from the home office with a readership in the hundreds to the hundred thousands took some work.

As Maddy says, "I'm not going to pretend it was easy. It was really, really tough."

But she put the work in with her team and today they are a working model of a 22 year old permaculture business, one that looks at the business through a whole systems lens, minding the triple bottom line, not just the single bottom line. Let’s get into it and see what’s possible when you mix business with permaculture..

Show Notes:

PV2 Info:

Direct download: PVP092-11182014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

This show is a conversation that I had with Mark Shepard about the process of starting up his farm, New Forest Farm, in Viola, Wisconsin. 

How did he start?

What was the process like - both on the land and off?

What were the real life financial struggles and challenges that he went through and faced?

Hint... It wasn't easy.

Show Notes:


Direct download: PVP091-11182014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 6:17am PDT

How can we start to broaden the reach of permaculture and start to involve areas outside of permaculture in the greater movement of permaculture? How can we use the permaculture toolkit to make more effective use of resources in other areas? How can we start to include willing, able, and highly skilled individuals and groups that don’t’ have a land focus and have previously felt excluded from the permaculture conversation in the conversation.

I am joined by Jessica Schilike and Nick Wooten to talk social permaculture. They both have done a lot of work on the social side of things and are actively involved in bringing more groups into the permaculture conversation.

Show Notes:


Direct download: PVP090-11172014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:40am PDT

Joel Salatin's talk on Stacking Fiefdoms from PV1.

"The whole idea is to create customized fiefdoms so that people are autonomous and have the authority to run their own fiefdom within your own umbrella, and you can't believe how many things you can get done that way."

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP089-11142014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,business -- posted at: 2:19am PDT

Engineer and permie Rob Avis from Verge Permaculture talks about building and designing passive solar greenhouses.

Key Takeaways:

Orientation. In Northern hemisphere orient it South or within 45 degrees of South.

Higher the glazing transmisivity is, the better it is for the plants.

Don't underestimate the value of good insulation in the walls of the greenhouse. Rob uses R-20 in Calgary. Keep in mind insulation doesn't stop heat loss, it just slows it down.

In lower light conditions look to plants that are adapted to growing in lower light conditions. A hoop house may be a viable alternative in lower light conditions.

It is very important to have thermal mass in the greenhouse. Thermal mass absorbs the surplus heat during the date and radiates it back out at night.

Know what your goals are for the greenhouse. Why are you building it?

You can't over-vent a greenhouse.

Thermal curtains can cut heat loss drastically through the glazing.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP088-11072014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 12:30am PDT

Luke Callahan author of The Complete Guide to Growing and Selling Microgreens and the co-founder of Seedwise joins me to talk about starting and running a microgreens business.

It’s a business that can make some serious money when you are selling the product of that business for $50 to $150 per pound. With those prices, and selling at scale we are talking about the very realistic possibility to generate $1000 to $2000 a week in sales.

This isn’t conjecture, these are real numbers. The real sales numbers that my guest today, Luke Callahan was taking in running his microgreens business. It was a very successful business that generated some good revenue. The prices that he was getting per pound for his product, $50 to $150, and the $1000 to $2000 are a week are attainable. It isn’t some get rich quick scheme.

You are going to have to go out there put in the time and grind, it does take hard work. It does take a lot of relationship building and pounding the pavement. But it’s doable.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP087-11042014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,business -- posted at: 7:55am PDT

While American Guinea Hogs are suited to a wide variety of environments and will do better than most breeds on low grade forage, they prefer lush pastures with clover along with access to minerals, kitchen scraps, quality hay in winter, clean water to drink, access to a muddy wallow, minimal shelter from precipitation and wind, dry bedding, and perhaps a small amount of grain. They thrive where ranging and grazing is a constant activity giving them plenty of exercise. They are minimal rooters when good grazing and adequate feed is available.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP086-10312014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

This is the very real story of Chad Stamps and his unromantic journey into farming.

It's the reality of life that makes this story unromantic, versus the common romantic notions that you hear when someone speaks about going into farming. Long hours, driving, and hard work are par for the course. Entry into farming is often a grind. But it is that grind that has become some people's destiny.

People like Chad.

Chad has gone from no farming experience to now full time farmer. He looked for land for 6 years and started with just 4 feeder pigs and the rest is history. As Chad says in this episode, "The perfect time will never come. Start before you are ready. If you wait, you'll never get there."

And, oh yeah... This episode was recorded 4 days after Chad quit his job to farm full time. This is as real as it gets.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP085-10282014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,business -- posted at: 5:54am PDT

Today’s guest is Joe Baird.  Joe and his family are taking on the task of restoring the village of Veglio. It is a place that has family ties and ties to when things were much simpler. The way of life in Veglio, then and now, is a stark contrast to the way of life in Joe’s current home in Orange County California. Despite the contrast to today’s technological world, much of what was done in Veglio for hundreds of years provides incredible lessons for us to thrive for hundreds of years into the future. And it those lessons that we are talking about today. Building the future by uncovering and rediscovering the past, The Veglio Project. with Joe Baird..


Small village in northern Italy near the Switzerland border.

Originally only accessible by foot.

Estimated to be about 1000 years old and at one time it supported 250 people.

Currently restoration efforts are underway to restore many of the original stone buildings.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP084-10242014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

Key Takeaways:

-Even if the worst happened and the business failed. How bad would it actually be?

-Learn stuff as you need to. You don't have to learn everything up front. Doing is more important that constantly trying to learn more and know it all.

-Often times a hard commitment or commitment to deliver is what can really make you go out and take something on and work it out and make it happen.

-If it has been done before, then it can be done.

-Realize the power of saying no. You can't do it all.

-Don't over complicate the model. Get it up and working and stable, then innovate, tweak and push the limits.

-Consider the value of your time. Are you spending your time doing high dollar activities?

-80% of your profits come from 20% of your crops. What crops are you focusing on?

-80% of land is dedicated to high and medium value crops.

-You don't have to quit your job to do this. Start on the side.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP083-10212014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 7:45am PDT

-Key Takeaways:

Hugelkultur mounds are usually positioned perpendicular to the wind.

Sometimes used as a staging process to dispose of wood and build soil which can then be spread onto crop land.

Think of a hugelkultur as a produce aisle raised bed.

Make sure the design fits into how you live your life and how you want to live your life.

-Hugelkultur Benefits:

Soil building structure.

Semi-permanent planting bed.

It creates microclimates.

Lifting the soil surface towards the sun and that adds degree days.

with Javan Bernakevitch of Permaculture BC.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP082-10172014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

This episode is a compilation of interviews that I recorded during PV1 - March 13-16, 2014.

The general theme of this episode is how business can benefit from permaculture. How we as the permaculture community can positively impact the future of business.


Bill Bean of the Green Planning and Coaching

Ryan Harb of

Curtis Stone of Green City Acres

Dave Boehnlein of Terra Phoenix Design

Paul Greive of Primal Pastures

Xavier Hawk of Permacredits and Colony Earth

Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP081-10142014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

This show is an interview with Peter McCoy of Radical Mycology.

Radical Mycology is a movement and social philosophy based on accessibly teaching the importance of mushrooms and other fungi for personal, societal, and ecological health. Radical Mycology differs from classical mycology in that classical mycology generally focuses on taxonomy, identification, mycophagy (eating mushrooms), and the more personal benefits of working with fungi while Radical Mycology is about using fungi for the benefit of larger communities and the world.

As a concept, Radical Mycology is based on the belief that the lifecycles of fungi and their interactions in nature serve as powerful learning tools for how humans can best relate to each other and steward the world they live in.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP080-10102014.mp3
Category:permaculture,mycology -- posted at: 4:25am PDT

In Woody Agriculture, crops would be planted only once in a lifetime. The use of woody perennials for agricultural staple commodities production would result in little or no use of tillage, as well as the presence of a permanent cover during both the growing and the dormant seasons. Not only would this lead to a vastly lower rate of soil loss and less runoff into water supplies and aquatic environments, but there would be a reduced need for the fossil fuels consumed in plowing and tilling. In addition, use of pesticides needed for the establishment of annual plants could be sharply reduced. A further important benefit would be the reduction of soil compaction, since far fewer trips through the fields with heavy equipment would be required.

Key Takeaways:

Breeding: You cannot work with more than two traits at the same time. The most important trait is to have a population that actually survives.

When you sell products off of your farm (like nuts) you are exporting a lot of minerals. It is important to remineralize your soil. You can use sheep and chickens in hazelnut systems to remineralize and fertilize the soil.

Hickory and Pecan work well with hazelnuts. Chestnuts don't do as well given different soil pH requirements. Find the old timers growing tree species that you want to grow in your area. They may have long tested genetics suited for your area.

Hazels are wind pollinated, so you don't' need immediate close proximity for insect pollination.

Coppicing to the ground every 10 years can help to rejuvenate the plants.

Direct download: PVP087-10072014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 8:40pm PDT

This is an interview with Neal Spackman. And while you probably haven’t heard of Neal the work that Neal is doing to regreen an area of the Saudi Arabian desert is monumental. The work that he is doing is every bit as great as the work that Geoff Lawton has done. And I mean that. We are talking about regreening a portion of the desert that gets 3 inches of rain a year on average, but lately they aren’t even meeting the average. Greening the site by using true cost water accounting, meaning that they only use the equivalent of water that falls onto the site to establish the vegetation. With minimal rainfall, no pre-existing plant life and 100 plus degree summer temperatures, it is no easy task. Throw in the economic and social challenges of the village that he is working with and the task becomes even harder. But despite those challenges, progress is being made, and the sounds of crickets are now being heard. Life is coming back. The upside potential here is huge. And as Neal says, “"There was some real risk, but in the end I didn't think I was going to end off any worse than I was.... And the potential opportunity was exponentially greater than what I was doing at the time."

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP078-10032014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

The episode is a compilation of interviews that I recorded during PV1 - March 13-16, 2014.  Each of the interviewees was a speaker at PV1.  The general theme of this episode is how we can use better management practices and plants to improve the land, increase it's resiliency, and reverse desertification.


Allan Savory of the Savory Institute

Willie Smits of Masarang

Phil Rutter of Badgersett Research Corporation

Dr. Elaine Ingham of Soil Food Web

Joseph Simcox

Miguel Uribe

Peter Hirst of New England Biochar

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP077-09302014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 7:00am PDT

Today’s show is a pretty inspirational one.

What would you do if you only had a year left to live?

And if you aren’t doing that now, why not?

Keep that phrase in your head during this episode with Fraser Bliss of

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP076-09232014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

This book is about designing sustainable human settlements, an preserving and extending natural systems. It covers aspects of designing and maintaining a cultivated ecology in any climate: the principles of design; design methods; understanding patterns in nature; climatic factor; water; soils; earthworks; techniques and strategies in the difference climatic types; aquaculture; and the social, legal, and economic design of human settlement.

It calls into question not only the current methods of agriculture, but also the very need for a formal food agriculture if wastelands and the excessive lawn culture within towns and cities are devoted to food production and small livestock suited to local needs.

This book is Permaculture, A Designers’ Manual.

And this show is Geoff Lawton covering the whole Permaculture Designers’ Manual in about an hour at PV1 in March 2014.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP075-09192014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

Given the amount of confusion that I see on a day to day basis, and the fact that there seems to be a lot of unknowns out there about PDCs, I created this episode to try to answer a lot of the questions that I was getting regarding PDCs.

Now, I am not a PDC instructor and I have only taken one PDC, so I turned to eight well respected PDC instructors (names below) to get their thoughts on ‘What’s a PDC?‘

Combined these eight instructors have taught hundreds and hundreds of PDCs over the last 30 years and each brings their own twist to the PDC. I asked them all the same questions and compiled their thoughts into two easily digestible episodes.

At the end of each episode Byron Joel, a PDC instructor himself, joins me and we recap and discuss what we heard, and give our thoughts on PDCs based on our experiences with them.

To keep things interesting the subject matter was broken up into two pieces…

In Part 1, episode 073, we take on the task of answering, What is a PDC? and What isn’t a PDC? In the next episode,

Part 2 we will answer the questions, What is the value of taking a PDC? and How do I choose and evaluate which PDC is right for me?

Hopefully this show will help answer some of the questions that you had about PDCs, and indirectly give you a better idea of what permaculture is all about..

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP074-09162014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:27am PDT

Given the amount of confusion that I see on a day to day basis, and the fact that there seems to be a lot of unknowns out there about PDCs, I created this episode to try to answer a lot of the questions that I was getting regarding PDCs.

Now, I am not a PDC instructor and I have only taken one PDC, so I turned to eight well respected PDC instructors (and former PDC students themselves) to get their thoughts on 'What's a PDC.'

Combined these eight instructors have taught hundreds and hundreds of PDCs over the last 30 years and each brings their own twist to the PDC. I asked them all the same questions, and compiled their thoughts into two easily digestible episodes.

At the end of each episode Byron Joel, a PDC instructor himself, and I recap and discuss what we heard, and give our thoughts on PDCs based on our experiences.

To keep things interesting the subject matter was broken up into two pieces...

In Part 1, this episode, we take on the task of answering, What is a PDC? and What isn't a PDC?

In the next episode, Part 2 will answer the questions, What is the value of taking a PDC? and How do I choose and evaluate which PDC is right for me?

Hopefully this show will help answer some questions that you had about PDCs, and indirectly give you a better idea of what permaculture is all about..

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP073-09122014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:49am PDT

This is the real world view of an organic farmer who is serving a community by producing food on scale, farming organic or better, for over 30 years. It hasn’t always been easy, and every day isn’t a tea party, but it has been enjoyable and resulted in a lot of great friendships and memories. This is the story of Nigel Walker and Eatwell Farm.

"Communication is the key, and it is the number one priority for the whole farm for me every week."

"Make your best educated guess, then see what happens and have a contingency."

Key Points brought up by Nigel: Money is the energy to do things. Realize the importance of understanding money. Run the numbers and use the numbers to help think of things on the farm and make priorities. When buying land think of the water situation. Is there a stable water source? Keep all of the water on the farm. Harvest every drop that falls from the sky. Always be looking for new business opportunities and value adds. There are big benefits to shelf stable products. You can sell those products over time. Listen to what customers are asking for and them make that. Easier to make more for existing customers than acquiring new customers. Talk to customers and find out what they want. Consider all of the businesses based on the land-base even if some are small, they all add to the farm income.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP072-09092014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,business -- posted at: 7:37am PDT

As my guest today David Pagan Butler of says, "If you want really healthy water, you want it full of life; not devoid of life."

That is what today's show is about. Creating the conditions for life to happen within the water in natural swimming pools. Natural swimming pools unlike their chemical counterparts use no chemicals. The pool water is cleaned biologically by plants and organisms within the water. No smells, no chemicals, no pathogens, biology creating water so clean you can drink it.

David has developed a system of building natural pools that is both cost effective and ecologically enhancing. Natural pools that utilize natural biological processes to keep the water clean. The classic case of nature doing something equal to or better than some chemical made in a factory - clean, pathogen free drinking water, in swimmable form.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP071-09052014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 7:43am PDT

I want to talk about something which I call the impossible task. It is something that each one of us struggles with. We all have something that that we really want to do yet we don't think it is possible, at least not easily possible, and we don't try it. I am here to tell you today, that it is possible and worth trying for.

I want to start today talking about a woman name Bronnie Ware. You probably haven't heard about her, but she is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. As humans at the end of our lives we have very clear visions as we look back. Everything comes to the surface. Bronnie would ask them "do you have any regrets, would you do anything over?" One of the top five regrets was:

I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP070-09022014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

I think we are in the perfect storm right now for regenerative agriculture and permaculture. The economy isn't great. We have a huge number of people dissatisfied with their jobs who are looking for a fulfilling and creative outlet. People that want to work and make a difference. The environmental side of things is a mess. So much so that we have big scientific meetings in Beijing talking about it. We have a food and water crisis brewing that is legitimately viewed as a looming global problem. But all of these crisis's have created an opportunity. An opportunity for permaculture to step to the plate be the solution.

The tools are there.

And this is the hard part of the game now because it is early in the game, but it isn't as hard as it was 20 years ago or 10 years ago. Forward progress will be made, but I think it is going to take some balls and strategic planning. We need to realize that we are pioneers forging a new path and and we don't have a ton of models to refer to and to fall back on. But there are some - Mark Shepard, Darren Doherty's work, Peter Allen, Kevin Woltz at the University of Illinois, and of course Grant.

It won't be easy, but the path is there. It is just a bit of a bumpy, winding dirt path right now, not a smooth asphalt road straight into the future that most of use are used to. For some of us it is time to adult unschool and put the boots on the dirt and hit the path. And it is on that path where we live between easy and dangerous where really feel alive and are at our best. So if you want to go for it, there is no better time. The perfect storm is here and like Grant says, "You do have to jump on it; you have to go now because tomorrow might be too late."

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP069-08292014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,business -- posted at: 7:08am PDT

While many of us will never use permaculture outside of our own backyard or community, there is a whole world out there than can benefit from permaculture design. Places where small incremental changes that can have huge effects. Life is hard in places and Rosemary is someone who has lived her life helping hard places. She has dedicated her life to teaching and helping people. She is a true permaculture pioneer and an inspiration.

People often ask, does permaculture work?

From a western standpoint, the definition of work is usually form of ultimate abundance, some unrealistic expectation of what the land should be producing on a huge scale with little input; in other words, a miracle. When those results don't magically appear, people are disappointed and say, see it doesn't work.

When I asked Rosemary if permaculture worked, she said absolutely, she has seen in. She has spent most of her time in the harshest places on the planet; places where the miracle isn't ultimate abundance. The miracle is merely having more today than you had yesterday and having reasonable assurance that it can continue for the foreseeable future. Places where a little more calories means the difference between starving or not. And in places like that, permaculture does work, it performs miracles.


Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP068-08222014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 8:38am PDT

My guest Pete Kanaris is a serial entrepreneur. He has started a whole bunch of businesses, some have worked, some haven't. Despite the failures, he has always found a way to push on and try new things to ultimately get to where he wants to be.

That also references another unique point in Pete's story. One of Pete’s most successful businesses was a lawncare business. It was a business that Pete ran for over 10 years and it was really successful. But it wasn't something that Pete liked doing anymore. Along the way he became exposed to permaculture and it became clear that the pathway into the future didn't involve cutting grass, it involved permaculture. So he put it all on the line and started a permaculture design company, Green Dreams. It wasn't about the money; he wanted to do something that he loved doing and something that he believed in.

Given the risk and uncertainty involved in starting any new business it would have been easy to take the safe route and stick with what he had, a thriving lawncare business. But he didn't take the easy route, and he put in the hard work to make Green Dreams a reality. Pete's continued push to innovate and try new things has already paid off and Green Dreams is growing. His story is inspirational for anyone out there looking to take that hard first step. As he says, “start small and when the door opens, go big and never look back.”

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP067-08192014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 7:31am PDT

"Instead of trying to support 1000's of people, let's get really good at supporting 150 people and we'll duplicate it."

Once we do that we will have models that we can refer back to. Models that can be used to train people to go start other small impact zones. Then we start getting more and more impact zones, and suddenly the picture looks a lot brighter. But that will take time, and it's early in the journey, but the conditions are ripe for change. We just need to kick start it, by incubating innovation.Creating the conditions for success and sustainability to happen, something that I learned from Larry.

In fact it's one of the many things that I have learned from Larry. Larry has a wealth of knowledge and the experience to back it up. He's a permaculture pioneer having involved with permaculture since the 80s. He has travelled with Bill Mollison. He's worked on countless projects in the country, the city, and other countries. He gets it. And in Southern California when you mention permaculture, there is one name that comes to mind.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP066-08152014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

This is a real story, about a real farm based business, that is now profitable. In a world filled with reasons why things won't work and with stories about why your children shouldn’t grow up to be farmers, this is story about why they should.

Philippe's story is another story about what is possible. He will tell you that anyone could do this, he wasn't unique, but it does take work and time. But that’s the nature of farming. In an industry where the median farm income was negative $1453 in 2012 you can decide how your time is spent.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP065-08122014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,business -- posted at: 8:25pm PDT

Today I am talking with David Sachs. David is working outside of the farming world and is trying to transition to working within the farming world. His family owns and operates a farm in Virginia; his dad runs the farm and David sees a future where he takes over the farm. David is a big believer in permaculture and sees his future on the farm involving more permaculture design incorporated into the farm's operations. But it is easier said than done within a family dynamic. Because within the family they are trying to balance the running of the farm and paying the bills with potentially incorporating more permaculture strategies. Not an easy to make decision. Add in the fact that the family is relatively new to farming and getting all sorts of advice from everyone out there - neighbors to the agriculture extension offices - challenging to say the least.

Never the less they are progressing ahead with the farm and doing some great things. In an area that grows a lot of corn, they are now the only organic wheat grower in their area. They are starting up a small scale mill to value add that wheat by turning it into flour. They are making a go of it and starting to look at a future that might involve grazing animals and strategically managed woodlots. They are approaching the transition strategically and systematically, working within the context of reality.

Hopefully something within this episode strikes a chord with you.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP064-08082014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

As my guest today Akiva Silver will explain, you can start a small scale nursery with very little space. Putting a lot of plants on really tight spacings;I mean A LOT of trees on REALLY tight spacings.

When you hear it intuitively your first thought is probably, that's way too close. The trees will suffer and the roots will tangle up.

But that is not the results that Akiva Silver has had. Akiva has a small nursery business where he grows over 1000 trees on a half an acre. Thousands of trees plant tightly together in loose, friable soil. Very tight spacings that force trees to grow tall and straight in competition with their neighbors resulting in a lot of nursery stock that can be sold in the first year.

How many people out there have some extra space where they could grow a few hundred trees? Trees to use in the development of your own property or to sell. If you sold each tree for $5 or $10, then we are talking about some significant money given the amount of space it takes.

It is simple, but it does take time, it is hard work. We aren't talking about any sort of gimmicks here. It is about putting time, work, and care in to nurse these trees along to the point where you can sell them.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP063-08052014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 6:19am PDT

This episode today isn't just applicable to farming. Ronan's story and what he is talking about is a metaphor. These ideas are applicable to everything under the permaculture umbrella and beyond. It all comes down to starting something small, making some mistakes, and learning and adapting along the way.

Ronan' story is so simple, so common, yet uniquely inspiring; IT IS GREAT.

This is a real story from a real person. Starting with 75 chicks eight years ago and growing that to over 10,000 today. Going from the corporate world to full time farmer; Ronan didn't start as a farmer, he became a farmer.

In a world of negativity there are a lot of people out there doing absolutely great things. People just like you. People that listen to this show. Ronan is one of them. These are the stories that inspire me to keep doing what I do and give me hope in a better future. The change is happening out there. You might not see it yet, but it's happening..

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP062-08012014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,business -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

This episode is actually the audio from Jack Spirko’s talk titled just that, Building a Profitable Permaculture Business from PV1. This is his actual talk, verbatim.

In this presentation Jack gives a lot of great insight into creating the framework for a profitable, meaning sustainable, business. He touches on different traits that a successful business should have including a well-defined mission statement and a well-defined revenue model.

Jack also throws out some ideas for building a business around permaculture.

Whether you are a farmer, a consultant, or someone looking to take all of that permaculture knowledge that you have up in your brain out to the world, then this episode is for you.

This episode is full of real world, practical advice that you can apply today.

It is advice that can make you money.

It is advice that can hopefully help get you thinking about that career in permaculture that you are always thinking about. And that is a lot of what I am about, getting people thinking about taking permaculture from a hobby, to a right livelihood, a career in permaculture. If that is your thing then hopefully this episode delivers some value to you.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP060-07222014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

How can both people in the relationship fit both of their dreams into one life together?

We explore some of these ideas in this episode. We both draw from our own experiences of having relationships while going after our own permaculture dreams. We take a honest look at these issues, it is is very real.

Maybe your relationship is OK. Maybe things are fine. But that's now. The big question is - how fine are things going to be down the line when the pressure is applied? Is your relationship anti-fragile? As my guest for this episode Joey Delia says, "it's not until s*** breaks loose that we start to scramble." But sometimes it is too late.

That is what we are talking about in this episode. Putting the work in ahead of time, and all of the time, to help increase the resiliency and make relationships anti-fragile. We aren't therapists and we aren't suggesting specific techniques or steps, but what we are suggesting is that you should consider doing something. Maintaining clear communication and goals on an ongoing basis. I think everyone out there can say that if they put a little more time consistently into their relationships that they would be better.

Have the hard conversations. Have the uncomfortable conversations. Make yourself vulnerable and make the relationship stronger.

Don't forget or sacrifice the relationship for that thing that may be fleeting. Put the time in and do the work. There are tools our there than can help. Give the relationship the respect it deserves.

I hope this episode gets you thinking and most importantly I hope you do something with this information.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP059-07152014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

An interview with Phil Rutter of Badgersett Research Corporation.

We talk about why perennial based woody agriculture is important and how chestnuts and hazelnuts fit into that. We also talk a lot about plant breed and using mass selection to find genotypes that have the traits that you are looking for.

This episode is pretty dense and has a ton of information in it for anyone looking to breed plants. Phil is brilliant and I think I learned more about plant breeding my conversations with him than I ever have anywhere else. Given how much information is in this episode and how long this episode is, I have split it into two parts. This is part 2 of 2.With the first part as episode 57.

Take it all in, enjoy it, and most importantly do something with this information.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP058-07112014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 6:11am PDT

An interview with Phil Rutter of Badgersett Research Corporation.

We talk about why perennial based woody agriculture is important and how chestnuts and hazelnuts fit into that. We also talk a lot about plant breed and using mass selection to find genotypes that have the traits that you are looking for.

This episode is pretty dense and has a ton of information in it for anyone looking to breed plants. Phil is brilliant and I think I learned more about plant breeding my conversations with him than I ever have anywhere else. Given how much information is in this epsidoe and how long this episode is, I have split it into two parts. This is part 1 of 2.With the second part dropping this Friday, July 11 as episode 58.

Take it all in, enjoy it, and most imporantly do something with this information.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP057-07082014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 7:58am PDT

On April 11, 2009 there was the shock heard around the world, when a women from Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland walked on stage to sing.

Just prior to singing she was asked "What's the dream?"

"I'm trying to be a professional singer?" she replied.

"And why hasn't it worked out so far Susan?"

"I've never been given a chance before, but here's hoping that it will change."

With that she went on to sing her version of I Dreamed a Dream and suddenly the world new who Susan Boyle was.

She became an overnight success and YouTube sensation and her debut I Dreamed a Dream album went on to sell over 9 million copies.

A truly remarkable story. And one that could have easily never been told had she not taken those steps to make it happen and have her voice heard.

It all came down to putting it out there and seeing what would happen; in her words "I've never been given a chance before, but here's hoping that it will change."

And that is what today's show is about, getting something out there because you never know who is going to see it.

Today I am talking to Olivier Asselin and Stefan Sobkowiak about their dream and the steps they took to make it a reality. From concept to final product we go through the making of The Permaculture Orchard.

Now you may say, Diego, that's great, but I don't make videos. And I would say, the making of the video is a metaphor for anything that you go out there and do - focusing on quality over quantity and making it happen. Just like permaculture design itself the principles are applicable to a wide range of topics.

But like anything else, it goes beyond the technique to taking the steps to actually make it happen. Ideas are great, but execution is paramount.

As Stefan says, "anytime you have an idea it really comes down to what are you going to do with it. If you just let it sit you won't know if it flies or not."

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP056-07012014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 7:18am PDT

My guest today was persecuted and ridiculed for his ideas for over 50 years. In his words, "people have often asked me how I have been able to put up with so much abuse, ridicule, and damage... attempts to destroy me financially and so on, and it comes down to in my case - caring enough. If you care enough about your something then it's not casual, you will do whatever you have to do, even if give up your life for that cause." Fortunately he didn't have to give up his life for the cause, but he did have to keep pushing forward with his ideas and beliefs year, after year, after year, while few people listened..

That all changed in Longbeach, California in 2013. At the age of 77 after 50 plus years of ridicule, it would all change in 20 minutes. It was then and there that Allan Savory went on to deliver his epic TED talk that would go on to captivate the world. Now he was a hero. Suddenly everyone was interested in hearing what Allan Savory had to say.

Persistence and his belief in what he stood for had paid off.

The world suddenly cared. But would they act? For that only time will tell.

As Allan goes on to say in this episode, there is a world of opportunity out there and it is critically important that all hands are on deck. Whether you are a landowner or not, you can help. You can help by spreading the word because No organizational institutions will accept paradigm shifting science ahead of public demand to do it. You are the pubic, and you must demand it. You can make a difference. Don't ever forget that.

Together we can all make a difference.

Keep that in mind as you listen to this episode.

The future is in our hands. Where do you fit into it?

The story of holistic management and the struggle and success that went with it, a conversation with Allan Savory..

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP055-06272014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

Today I am talking to two people who are changing the model of the modern farm. They are operating within the current system of rules and regulations, but approaching farm development and operation with a different model, a model they call PermaEthos.

Jack Spirko and Josiah Wallingford join me to talk about the launch of their flagship farm Elisa's Spring and the PermaEthos concept. PermaEthos is a permaculture farm model that is built and designed around permaculture principles and community.

The goals are to design, implement and operate profitable farms while creating educational opportunities and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to empower themselves by establishing on farm businesses. The model gives people a chance to help out and participate in changing their future, and the future of the food system.

Like Jack says in this episode, "there's so many people that would put in a full days work if they just had something meaningful to do." PermaEthos is now officially underway and there are a lot of people putting full days of work to make it a reality.

Farm number one is in progress and there are more lining up for future development. This concept has the ability to change the way that farms are developed, and the way that food is produced. It changes the system, not by protesting, but by changing the model.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP055-06242014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,business -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

My guest today is a self proclaimed plant nerd that is really into trees. He has worked with Geoff Lawton and Darren Doherty, and now he runs his own design firm in Australia, Oak Tree Designs. My guest today is Byron Joel.

In addition to being a plant nerd, Byron is what I would call a permaculture realist. Realizing the potential of permaculture, while not over promising on results and truly being aware of the newness of the permaculture movement.

In this episode of we talk about the newness of the permaculture movement and how it is evolving. And of course, we talk a lot about trees.

A view of the permaculture of today and tomorrow, Plants and the Evolution of Permaculture with Byron Joel..

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP053-06202014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

I welcome Frank Golbeck of Golden Coast Mead on the show today.

Frank story is a great example of someone who went after their dreams in a smart and systematic way. He isn’t any different than any of us. He didn’t start with a huge some of money or some other advantage. But the difference between Frank and a lot of people is that took on the scary unknown, the hard part starting.

Fast forward ahead a few years and the dream has become a reality. Things still aren’t easy, but they are very real and Frank is enjoying every moment of it.

No matter where you are at in your life, I think Frank’s story is inspirational and highly copyable. Hopefully something in here will resonate with you and will inspire you to start that thing that you always wanted to do.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP052-06172014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 6:19am PDT

Today I am talking to someone who killing it farming 1.5 acres. He is doing over $140k in sales on that 1.5 acres, supporting himself and his family in the process. Of that $140k 40% is profit. Compare that to corn and soybeans which net about $280 an acre. And he is grossing that $140k working 9 months a year and average length works days. We aren't talking about burnout workload here. Think about that. $800 per acre versus $90000.

I am happy to welcome Jean Martin Fortier, the author of The Market Gardener to the show.

Jean Martin is a great example of someone who is out there maximizing efficiency and productivity on a small piece of land. His whole grow bigger, not better philosophy echoes this. Jean Martin focuses on growing biointensive and the use of appropriate technology to work with his permanent raised beds. And he designed the farm with the intent of keeping it manageable for the scale that he was at. He maximizes productivity and quality of life.

For anyone that wants to get into farming, but is having trouble getting the numbers to work, this is the episode for you. This is a model that works. This is a paradigm shift.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP051-06132014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,market gardening -- posted at: 6:15am PDT

What really matters most to you?

Have you ever thought about it? As in thought about it serious enough to say if you stripped away a lot of the facade from your life then this is what is left, this is what truly matters.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP050-06102014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

This is the one year anniversary of the first episode of this podcast which was published on June 5, 2013 - Gasification and Wood Gas. Since then 60 other episodes have been published.

Thanks for a year of support. There is a lot more to come.

In this episode I highlight the top 10 episodes that were most impactful to me.

Going forward... What do you want to hear more about? Who would you like to hear from and what subject matter and content really help you? Let me know and I will try to work that into the podcast schedule.

"It is easy to focus on what you don't have and how much something costs. What you need to do instead is focus on what have and what you can do to make it work. People undervalue what they have, and overvalue what they don't have or want."

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP049-06062014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 8:27am PDT

Every story has a beginning. Including our own. So many of us want to live out our own story and go from A to B. But where do you start and how do you prepare for that journey.

I am happy to welcome Bill Bean from to the show today.

Bill is going to talk about business plans and planning for business. As Bill defines it figuring out a way to go from point A to point B using organized common sense. It is about thinking about things ahead of time. Focusing on things in a rational way so when problems hit you don't react emotionally because you've thought it through - you have a plan.

Part of the planning process is also about understanding the magnitude of change you want to take place. Do you want a big change, or a small change. Where do you want to be in three years? Figure that out and now you have a direction to head in. Then you just have to build a plan to get there.

This is not an episode about creating pro-forma financials or filling in a template or boiler plate plan. This is more about the higher level thinking that goes into the creation and skeleton of the plan itself. Once you figure this part out then the details will fall into place. In any business you don't have to know all of the details at the beginning, just that it is a unique viable business that provides value to specific set of customers, and you can deliver.

Remember, this episode is about thinking about your plan and the process. If you take the time to think about the things that are scary or intimidating up front, when no risk is on the table, it makes taking them on a lot easier because suddenly they aren't so scary or intimidating anymore.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP048-06032014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

Darren Doherty discusses Holistic Management planned grazing, energy, and farm marketing.

This is the sixth podcast that takes you to one of Darren's open consultancies. The consultancies themselves are workshops that center around a real world farm planning and development process. The hosts and Darren open up the process so you can learn from a real world application of theory.

This audio was recorded at Darren Doherty's Regarian Open Consultancy at Markegard Family Farm on October 22 and 23, 2013. The workshop was open source, so thanks to Darren for allowing me to share this with you all.

Topics covered in this episode:
Grazing plans.
The Holistic Management Bullseye
Energy Systems: veggie oil and wood.

Show Notes:

Direct download: b012-05302014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,regrarian -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

Today's story is one about a unique focus. Someone who has dedicated a whole lot of time on mastering one subject. One subject that is dually quite simple yet extremely complex: water.

Today I am talking to watershed restoration expert Craig Sponholtz. Craig has made a career of consulting on water related issues - everything from water harvesting to stream restoration to watershed management. He has worked in drylands and temperate regions and everything in between. Studying techniques from native peoples to the latest in fluid dynamics; simple, yet complex.

Water has the ability to transfform landscapes, both for the better and the worse.These changes can take place rapidly when a lot of water shows up in one place. Maybe the landscape is ready for it, maybe it isn't. Regardless that water will leave its mark on the landscape. Craig said it best, 'flowing water has energy to spend and it's going to spend it on something.'

"If you take the time to learn what is going on and if you understand the problems and opportunities of a given site you can come up with some really elegant solutions that blend seamlessly into the landscape and they turn out naturally beautiful. And one of the outcomes of that beauty and that process of getting there is that they work really well."

Show Note:

Direct download: PVP046-05232014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture -- posted at: 6:18am PDT

How many people want to be a homesteader?

Living off the land, off the grid, working for themselves, and around their family - The Good Life, just like Helen and Scott Nearing described so many years ago.

A lot, or at least some version of it, so I think. Well not many people actually do when it comes to put the boots on the ground and head out to the woods. Today I am talking to someone who has. It's Cliff Davis from Spiral Ridge Permaculture.

Cliff is currently living off grid in Tennessee with his family. He doesn't work for the man, he works for himself as a farmer, a teacher, and a consultant. Along the way I think he has acquired an absolute ton of knowledge about the land, and about life. He is a wise dude that loves the life he lives and what he does, something I think that will be obvious when you hear him talk.

If you've ever considered homesteading or starting a permaculture farm, consider taking a trip out to Tennessee and Cliff's farm. I am sure you will learn a lot from Cliff, not just what he teaches, but what he does. I don't think you'd regret it...

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP047-05152014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 7:25am PDT

Darren Doherty discusses his farm setup and various broadacre topics - perennial grasses, silvopasture.

This is the fifth podcast that takes you to one of Darren's open consultancies. The consultancies themselves are workshops that center around a real world farm planning and development process. The hosts and Darren open up the process so you can learn from a real world application of theory.

This audio was recorded at Darren Doherty's Regarian Open Consultancy at Markegard Family Farm on October 22 and 23, 2013. The workshop was open source, so thanks to Darren for allowing me to share this with you all.

Direct download: b011-05132014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,regrarian -- posted at: 9:38am PDT

This is the full presentation from one of Greg Judy's talks from PV1.

Greg and his wife Jan are farmers from Rucker, Missouri. On their farm, Green Pastures Farm, they raise cattle, sheep, horses, goats, pigs, and chickens on grass pasture in balance with nature. They don't use any antibiotics, no hormone implants, and no grain. The livestock graze rich pasture 100% of their lives.

They use rotational grazing on their farm, which means they are constantly moving the livestock to fresh rested pasture to graze and let the previous grazed pasture rest so that it can grow back undisturbed. Their pastures are rich in clovers and many species of natural grasses. They don't use any chemical fertilizers or herbicides on any of the pastures. Large populations of birds, ants, worms, butterflies, spiders & bees build soil and control pests.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP045-05082014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 6:20am PDT

Chad Sentman of Action House Productions joins me to about video, permaculture, and business. Chad is the videographer that filmed PV1. He is also an permie entrepreneur who started his own video production company. Now he is using those skills to get more involved in permaculture.

In the podcast we talk about the idea of permaculture looking at itself more holistically - getting more people from other fields involved in permaculture. Lawyers, financiers, real estate agents, etc. - not just permaculture designers and agriculture related fields.

Chad will talk about filming video and give you some tips on producing good video.

And we will finish up the podcast talking business.

"Instead of focusing on why something isn't possible, focusing how you can make it happen."

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP044-05062014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 6:30am PDT

Shannon Jones, a young farmer from River Hebert, Nova Scotia joins me to talk about what it is like to be a young farmer on her farm, Broadfork Farm. She started the farm with her partner Bryan Dyck in 2011.

Both Shannon and Bryan farmed on other farms for many years before they started their own farm. The lived simply and knew what they could get by without. That made the transition to farming a lot easier. Their path of frugality is one path into farming. But like Shannon said, find what works for you and don't just copy what someone else did.

At the end of the day it is very clear that Shannon loves what she does. Living her dream, working her dream job, as part of the next generation of farmers.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP043-05022014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 7:49am PDT

Michael Jordan, The Bee Whisperer, joins me to talk about bees and bee keeping.

Michael is a holistic bee keeper who is doing beekeeping the right way. He has worked tirelessly to promote sustainable bee keeping, that respects, not exploits the bees, and gets the youth involved. You can find out more about Michael via A Bee Friendly Company.

I tried to keep this episode on the positive side. How can we work beneficially with bees in a way that is sustainable? There is so much talk out there about bad bee practices, I really wanted to try to focus on the positive side of things, instead of just talking about the problems that are out there. BEEcause the way I see it if did things the right way in the first place then we wouldn't be having all of these problems with the bees.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP042-04252014.mp3
Category:permaculture,bees,beekeeping -- posted at: 8:37am PDT

John Pugliano of Investable Wealth joins me to talk about navigating the fear of leaving one job and starting a fresh career.

One key theme that I hear from a lot of people is that they want to transition from their job doing X into doing Y (something related to permaculture). But that desire to make the transition is often overshadowed by fear, fear of the the unknown.

Common fears include:
How can I afford my mortgage, insurance, food for my kids, etc.
What if my business fails. I will be financially ruined.
I have too much debt, so I can't afford to quit my job.

These are some of the many reasons that John and I have heard from people when it comes from giving up income 'certainty' for the unknown income volatility that comes with being self employed. These reasons, may or may not be justified. Often times these are just quick excuses that someone comes up with for why they really don't want to do do what they say they are going to do.

That's all totally fine. Follow your own path But if things really seem scary, then take some time to run the numbers, ask the tough questions, and figure out a way to de-risk things. Maybe it really isn't as bad as you first thought..

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP041-04222014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 6:26am PDT

Ben Falk and Grant Schultz join me to talk about permaculture as a survival preparedness strategy. How can we use whole systems design to create systems that work passively to increase our resiliency. In our modern day world we are quick to throw money at technological, mechanical systems that are complicated and brittle. In an emergency situation you could have a generator, but if that breaks or you run out of fuel, you are out of luck. If you have a wood fuel based system, it is going to work no matter what, it's bulletproof.

Ben and Grant are both a wealth of knowledge when it comes to homestead technology, both simple and complex. They are living the lifestyle. Using and building the systems that they talk about. They are both builders and tinkerers, therefor they understand how these systems work, and can break down. You will learn how important it is to buy high quality tool that will last a lifetime (and the tools to service the tools); often times those tools were built 80 years ago and can be bought on the cheap. They have an appreciation for good quality tools and things you can craft by hand. Simple is beautiful, simple is resilient.

This isn't typical prepper talk of buying generators, storing fuel, and MREs. This is all about designing systems that will work before and after SHTF.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP040-04182014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 10:11pm PDT

Mark Shepard of Forest Agriculture Enterprises joins me to talk about the future of agriculture.

Mark has a pretty clear view on how he thinks the future of agriculture could be.. restoration agriculture style farms dotting the landscape with animals roaming through grasslands dappled with trees, a perennial polyculture system that builds soil instead of destroying it, a system that sequesters carbon instead of volatilizing it, a system that utilizes all of the water that falls on a piece of land, a system restores the land, and importantly a system provides nutrient dense food on scale - bulk calories and makes money doing it allowing a farmer to earn a decent living in the process. These systems could restore the land and rural America. I think it is totally possible, and when you hear Mark speak I think you will feel the same way. This is the future of agriculture.

This is probably one of those episodes that you will need to listen to a few times to get every little juicy nugget out of it. Whether you want to farm broadacre or not, this episode is busting at the seems with knowledge and wisdom.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP039-04122014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,business -- posted at: 8:46am PDT

Bob Hamberg of Omega-Alpha Recycling Systems and Dragon Husbandry joins me to talk about anaerobic digestion and biogas. How we can use "waste" to close the loop and get beneficial by-products in the process. The anaerobic digesters can be integrated into permaculture and homestead systems by incorporating them within greenhouses and tying them into pond systems.

As for "waste disposal," we've got two mis-defined terms resulting in an abominable oxymoron. In nature there is no such thing as waste. All residues serve as resources for further growth - there is nothing to be disposed of. Nothing is thrown away. Indeed, there is no "away". Everything must go somewhere. The misconception of waste disposal must be superseded by the concept of residue management.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP038-04042014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 9:05am PDT

I am talking to my friend Tall Paul who helped out at registration with PV1.

In this episode we talk about why I did what I did when I planned out the conference and what my goals are for the future.

Specific issues we touch on include:

Why weren't there more women speakers?

Why the heck was it at a casino?

Why was it so expensive?

What is a professional permaculture confernece?

I talk about all of these issues and where the conference is headed.

We have already started planning for PV2 which will be held in San Diego, CA in March 2015.

Direct download: b010-03312014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 8:20am PDT

Toby Hemenway joins me to talk permaculture - how permaculture has changed and how we can work more permaculture into our lives.

Toby also talks about being one of instructors for the new Ecological Landscaper Immersion Program that is being put on by the Erik Ohlsen and the Permaculture Skills Center.

Key Takeaways

It really benefits anyone in almost any field to be able to think in whole systems. Someone who embraces permaculture can do a lot more than teach and design property. Apply permaculture techniques and principles to what you do.

Find good mentors. Many people want to help others. You just have to ask.

Some standard economic training is good. You can get a great toolkit and then apply it however you want. Standard training is a tool, a means to an end if you goal is ecological design.

Catch kids while thinking in whole systems. Before they are trained out of it into compartmentalized thinking.

Starting with soil fertility and building organic matter is a good idea. It is almost a universal panacea along with being careful with water.

Move to the highest generalization. For example, do you want to open a store, or do you want to make a living providing good products for your community.

Find the things in life that you are really good at and do those things. It gives you good feedback and then you start building confidence and making forward progress.

Want to transition careers? Find ways to make it less scary - lower expenses.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP037-03282014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 8:05am PDT

Darren Doherty discusses soil mineralization, value adding on farms, and farm water systems.

This is the fourth podcast that takes you to one of Darren's open consultancies. The consultancies themselves are workshops that center around a real world farm planning and development process. The hosts and Darren open up the process so you can learn from a real world application of theory.

This audio was recorded at Darren Doherty's Regarian Open Consultancy at Markegard Family Farm on October 22 and 23, 2013. The workshop was open source, so thanks to Darren for allowing me to share this with you all.

Direct download: b009-03272014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,regrarian -- posted at: 8:01am PDT

Darren Doherty walks Doniga and Eric Markegard through some basic farm design. Working with contour maps. Where to hold water in the landscape. Various uses for tree systems on the farm.

This is the third podcast that takes you to one of Darren's open consultancies. The consultancies themselves are workshops that center around a real world farm planning and development process. The hosts and Darren open up the process so you can learn from a real world application of theory.

This audio was recorded at Darren Doherty's Regarian Open Consultancy at Markegard Family Farm on October 22 and 23, 2013. The workshop was open source, so thanks to Darren for allowing me to share this with you all.

Direct download: b008-03262014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,regrarian -- posted at: 10:31am PDT

b007 - Permaculture Plants - A chat with Dave Whitinger of All Things Plants

Dave Whitinger of All Things Plants joins me for a to chat about different [permaculture] plants that he grows.

Most of these plants are class permaculture plants. They are plants that perform multiple functions within a system. Many of these are sadly considered weeds - comfrey, lambs quarter, dandelion, yarrow, mint, and more.

Dave talks about his experiences with each of the plants, what functions they perform, and some of the ways that he is using the plants in hi system.

Dave also talks about potato growing and how he uses plants to feed his chickens in a paddock shift system on his Texas homesite.

Show Notes:

Direct download: b007-03102014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,plants -- posted at: 8:18am PDT

Kevin Muno is on the show talking about his new start-up restoration agriculture style farm, Montado Farms.

Kevin talks about why he is doing what he is doing against a lot of heavy odds - highland prices, limited water in Southern California, and he doesn't come from a farming background. He touches on all of the big issues like how do you fund a $1M farm as start-up.

Kevin is approaching the farm as a business and we address everything that goes along with that - the farm business structure, raising capital, and cash flows.

If you don't think anyone besides Mark Shepard is farming these types of systems, you are mistaken. These systems are starting to come on line and Kevin is one of the ones leading the ay.

There are a hundred reasons that you could give Kevin on why he shouldn’t do what he is doing and why it might not work. But, I don’t think he cares about why it can’t be done, because he is focusing on getting it done. That’s what makes his story different. He doesn’t have that farming background that you would expect him to have, but he has the drive and determination to leverage the skills that he has to figure out a way to make his dream happen.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP036-03032014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,business -- posted at: 1:20pm PDT

Rob Avis of Verge Permaculture joins me to talk about the business of permaculture - a right livelihood.

We live in a world where we are surrounded by environmental liabilities that have a real economic impact. So why not solve those problems and earn a living in the process?

Rob talks a lot about approaching permaculture as a profession. What opportunities are out there. What works in permaculture based business and what doesn't. And how we in the permaculture community should embrace business, charge an appropriate price for our services while we solve the world's problems.

This episode should dismiss the myth of the pauper and permaculture. There are legitimate large scale problems that need to be solved. And permaculture provides a matrix of solutions to solve those problems. There are a huge number of business opportunities out there do what you love to do, earn a living, and make a better world. The hardest part? Just getting started.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP035-02282014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 9:03am PDT

Grant Schultz joins me to talk about developing a perennial polyculture in the middle of row-crop corn and soy country Iowa.

He discusses a lot of the innovation and developments taking place on his farm, including some really innovative ways of doing GPS keyline design.

We spend a lot of time talking about the business of farming. The importance of monitoring cash flows and being cash flow positive. And how Grant is using USDA funds to help pay for pieces of his system and getting moving in the right direction.

Key Takeaways:

Importance of making your operation cashflow the whole time. Expenses will pile up so start getting cashflow and a customer base early.

Consider buying rootstock and graft it over later. It is much cheaper to go that route and grafting isn't that hard.

Get plant systems going early on. It is fairly inexpensive and gets the system starting to advance.

Have a plan but evolve as you go. Having an end in mind gives you a goal and a direction to head in, but things will change along the way as you learn the intricacies of the system.

Plant the earliest maturing fruit trees downslope. That way when you are browsing them the manure runs downhill.

How do you want your system to look at maturity and what are the action items to get you there? Then the thing to do is the one with the most impact. What has the earliest yield to get you to the move to the next impact item.

Do not underestimate the importance of monitoring and planing out cashflows.

When you are farming on broad acres you have the same advantages that conventional farmers have. Crop insurance.

Consider using a nurse crop that also cash flows. Grant's example of raising oats for cover crop seed.

Consider the balance of high value versus high labor. Is the value worth the labor?

There is a huge need for more local genetic permaculture plant material.

Recognize the importance of planting dense. Buy trees in mass. It gets cheap and doesn't cost you more to plant at high density. You take advantage of genetic selection and protect yourself against losses.

Irrigate your trees if possible - think keyline, swales. Growth rates of trees that are irrigated versus those that aren't is huge when the trees have consistent water availability. Consider the economic impact of the yield with water versus no water. The work now can make you a lot more money down the line.

Take advantage of all available resources: USDA, NRCS, EQIP. When starting out pre-sell as much as you can. Build a local customer base from Day 1.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP034-02212014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 6:32am PDT

Patricia Foreman the author of City Chicks joins me to talk about backyard chickens, chicken tractors, and general chickenery.

We will talk about all of the great things that chickens can add to a permaculture homestead - fertilizer, pest management, food, disturbance, baby sitters.  :)

Pat will touch on soil building using chickens in composting systems and chickens tractors.  And how chickens can be used to close the loop on our waste stream... and in some case even save tax payers money.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP033-02142014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture -- posted at: 10:01am PDT

Darren Doherty walks Doniga and Eric Markegard through the Holistic Design process.

This is the second podcast that takes you to one of Darren's open consultancies. The consultancies themselves are workshops that center around a real world farm planning and development process. The hosts and Darren open up the process so you can learn from a real world application of theory.

This audio was recorded at Darren Doherty's Regarian Open Consultancy at Markegard Family Farm on October 22 and 23, 2013. The workshop was open source, so thanks to Darren for allowing me to share this with you all.

Direct download: b006-02122014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,regrarian -- posted at: 1:27pm PDT

Javan Bernakevitch of Permaculture BC joins me today to talk about finding your niche in permaculture.

Javan will take you through some of the insight he has for finding your niche.

Javan is a permaculture teacher and designer who has worked with countless students helping them sift through the everything that is permaculture to help them figure out what really fires them up, and what’s just OK.

If you want to turn permaculture, or anything, into a career, just having the knowledge isn’t enough. You need to really think about where you fit into it all. Where do you want to go and what will give you a the fulfilled life you want? One key piece of figuring that out is discovering where opportunity and your passion overlap.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP032-02072014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:31am PDT

Geoff Lawton joins me today to talk about permaculture. Geoff talks about his early days in permaculture, where we are in permaculture today, and where we need to go in the future. He touches on what he has learned along the way and what he finds most valuable.

Geoff then goes on to answer a lot of audience questions about tree systems, water harvesting, his new chicken tractor for composting, and his upcoming online PDC.

Key Takeaways:

Consider starting a community group. They provide a whole lot of support to keep things moving in the right direction.

Realize the ability of pioneer plants and succession to work for you. One of Geoff's early mistakes was not allowing plants to work more for him. Later he embraced and accepted plant rampancy.

Don't just do things in patterns for the sake of patterns. Rationalize and legitimize every placement and connection you make.

So many people are stuck in the matrix. They know things, they just don't do anything.

Permaculture needs to focus on feeding people in urban and peri-urban areas.

Use chickens in your composting system. There is a huge benefit to using chickens at the beginning of a composting cycle.

Consider aquaculture as a use for wetlands in temperate wetlands. Whatever you dig in wetlands you gain in soil, so you intensify the water. You get drier land and wetter water using a temperate climate chinampa.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP031-01312014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture -- posted at: 7:04am PDT

Paul Wheaton of joins me to talk about intentional community. Paul discusses his views and experiences with variety of different intentional communities that he has been a part of, both on the leader side, and the follower side. He talks about what works, and what doesn't.

Paul also touches on some of the projects taking place within his community on his land and how we need to help increase the velocity of permaculture.

And we discuss Paul's latest Kickstarter for his Permaculture Earthworks DVD.

Key Takeaways:

-Possibly consider the central leader model over consensus. Consensus can take a lot of time and stall projects to resolve conflicts.

-There are a lot of advantages to having fiefdoms overlaying each other on the same piece of land where each fiefdom is inadvertently helping the other fiefdoms.

-Focus on the audience that get it and stop worrying about focusing on everyone else. Focus on the 1 person out of 20,000 that gets it.

-Embrace a lot of failure as part of the process to move forward. It takes a lot of trial and error to ultimately achieve success.


Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP030-01242014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:40am PDT

Darren Doherty presents the regrarian platform. This is Darren's introductory presentation that he gave an open consultancy in October 2013. The presentation lays out the ten key components of the regarian platform - climate, geography, water, access, forestry, buildings, fences, soils, marketing, and energy.

This is the first podcast that takes you to one of Darren's open consultancies. The consultancies themselves are workshops that center around a real world farm planning and development process. The hosts and Darren open up the process so you can learn from a real world application of theory.

This audio was recorded at Darren Doherty's Regarian Open Consultancy at Markegard Family Farm on October 22 and 23, 2013. The workshop was open source, so thanks to Darren for allowing me to share this with you all.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP029-01172014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,regrarian -- posted at: 7:03am PDT

Will Harris III from White Oak Pastures joins me to talk about his inspirational journey of converting his one time factory farm to a beyond organic farming operation that celebrates polyculture and closes the loop on wastes.

Will runs the largest USDA organic farm in Georgia farming 1200 owned acres and 2000 leased. He has over 2000 head of cattle and raises 60,000 pastured chickens. He has built two abattoirs on site - one for red meat, one for poultry. He has an organic vegetable CSA and heirloom orchard.

His farm closes the loop on sustainability through rotational grazing, solar power, and the recycling of all of his various "wastes" from his animal operations. All of the wash water, bones, and other animal "wastes" end up back on the land, building the soil over time.

But it wasn't always that way. Prior to 1995 White Oak Pastures raised cattle in an industrial system, a monoculture. Then Will made the decision to change what he was doing. So began the conversion over the beyond organic, mulch-species thriving farming operation that it is today.

Will's story in an inspiration, and another example of what is right in modern day agriculture.


Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP028-01102014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 6:30am PDT

Ben Falk from Whole Systems Design, LLC joins me talk about permaculture design and what he has learned on his research site over the years.

He talks about how to break into the business as a designHe touches on cold climate infrastructure and heating with wood. And he goes into his thoughts on designing a property and why it's important to understand the land's capability and how you should relate that to your goals.

We also spend some time talking about the mass selection of plant genetics for a site, stressing the importance of over stacking the system in the beginning to see what works and what doesn't.

Key Takeaways:

Get some experience working with the land and systems before you start designing properties as "a designer."

You can reduce your wood usage by 30-40% by drying wood well versus haphazardly drying it.

Cold humid climates have a low tolerance for bad moisture detailing in structures. When designing a home detail carefully to keep the home dry and get water out.

Grow tree multi-purpose tree species for fuel wood. Consider black locusts - fixes nitrogen, fast grower, rot resistant wood, good fuel wood, and makes great saw logs.

Have goals but understand the land's capability so you can adjust those goals as needed. Don't fight against the land's tendencies and capabilities, work with it, not against it.

Most people have more land than they can manage well. Moving down in acreage might be advantageous. It is better to manage 5 acres right than 100 acres wrong.

Most people can have most of their needs met on 5-10 acres. Unless you have a commercial aspect or grazing component.

Have a good access plan for your site. Don't box yourself out. Start and maintain a clear access pattern which is based on the water flow throughout the site.

For site selection general location and access are a quick way to filter down a list of a lot of properties. Then look to the Keyline Scale of Permanance. Consider water security and controlling as much of a watershed as you can.

Focus on manageability with regards to plantings. Plant based on water access with on contour swales.

Not all permaculture techniques will work on all sites. So don't expect that.

Practice the mass selection of genetics. Identify the best genetics from your site by growing trees from seed. Plant as many tress as you can on a site, way closer than you would ever imagine, and cut out the ones that don't do well.

Use the first 3-5 years on a site to learn what does well. Years 5-10 are when you focus on plants and families that really want ot grow on your site - microclimate - aspect - soils. And there is no way to know which ones will work unless you start putting a lot of plants in the ground.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP027-01032014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture -- posted at: 6:43am PDT