Farm Small Farm Smart Daily (permaculture)

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 PST

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 PST

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 PST

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 PST

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 PST

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 PST

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 PST

Owen Hablutzel joins me to talk about patterns in permaculture and the power of setting a goal.

Key Takeaways from this Episode:

Patterns are the shorthand of nature. They take a large complex system of forces and processes and simplifies it down.

What is the long term vision of the project? A lot of designs fall apart on the social impact side of the project.

Take the time to set and write down a goal. That process greatly increases the likelihood that something will happen in the direction of your goal.

Think about setting a Holistic Goal.

"If you can understand patterns and what causes them to become the way they are, you can tell an awful lot about the processes that created it. And if you understand that, then you can create a design pattern that is going to best work with those forces."

"Begin with the end in mind."

"Without a goal it's tough to know exactly what you are designing for."

"If it's not written down then it is not likely to happen, or much less likely to happen."

"Don't buy the suit to match the tie."

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP024-12132013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 7:47am PST

Joey Delia of Tipuana Farm joins me to talk about overstory trees in permaculture systems.

We touch on species of overstory trees that grow in our area and the benefits of those trees to a system. Dealing with too much shade. Finding fast growing species and other thoughts that we have on the subject.

the b reels: episodes of the Permaculture Voices podcast that just weren't a fit for the main weekly show. This is content that I have that is worth sharing, but it will be a little more raw, unedited, and no show notes. The b reels can come out at anytime, while the main weekly interview based version of the podcast will always come out on Friday.

These episodes are part experiment, so hopefully they give you as the listener some valuable information. Especially for the listener who just can't get enough permaculture in their life. Enjoy the show, and go out and be a part of the positive change.

And let me know what you think, I would love to hear from you. Thanks for listening and thanks for support us, and permaculture.

Direct download: b002_-_Overstory_Trees_with_Joey_Delia.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 9:54am PST

What do you do with 350,000 gallons of rainwater runoff that enters your property with a high velocity causing erosion?

One option is to harvest that water, slow it down, and take away the erosion by constructing some permaculture earthworks.

Alden Hough of the Sky Mountain Institute joins me to talk about some earthworks that were constructed on his 7 acre property last March during a Paul Wheaton earthworks workshop.He will also talk about some of the upcoming events at the 2013 Fall San Diego Permaculture Convergence that will expand these earthworks.

Joey Delia of Evoke Hope and Tipuana Farm also joins the conversation to talk about the plant systems that were put in place after the earthworks construction.

During the workshop last March we constructed a pond and a long swale to capture the 350,000 gallons of storm water that were running off of the road onto Alden's property, causing a lot of erosion in the process.

The dam was constructed at the highest part of the property allowing Alden to gravity feed the water down-slope and zig zag the water across and down the property through a series of swales decreasing its erosive qualities and hydrating the landscape in the process.

The earthworks have turned the problem (high velocity, high volume water) into a solution; providing water to grow native habit and food in a winter rainfall area, where water isn't cheap.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP018-11012013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 5:22am PST

Darren Doherty of Heenan Doherty and Regrarians joins me from Australia to talk about the regrarian philosophy that he has put together and how it can be used to regenerate landscapes and farming enterprises.

This is a system that borrows and includes tools from multiple disciplines like permaculture, keyline design, the transition movement, carbon farming, and the work of of people like Joel Salatin, Paul Stamets, and Dr. Elaine Ingham. These tools give you the ability to design a system that ultimately regenerates land while producing numerous agricultural products. The system deals with everything from the work done on the land to how you can synergistically stack multiple enterprises in the same system, and ultimately how to market and distribute those products to the people that actually want them. The system emphasizes participating in all 4 legs of the farm income stool - production, processing, marketing, and distribution. This allows you to be a market price setter, not a price receiver.

If you are involved in an agricultural enterprise, or if you want to be involved in an agricultural enterprise, then you need to pay attention to the regrarian system and learn this information. The current status quo of agriculture isn't working; it isn't sustainable, it's degenerative. The regarian system IS regenerative. And it gives you the tools to produce the products that the consumers ultimately want, all while living the farming lifestyle that you want to live. It won't be easy, and it will be hard work, but hey that's farming. And I think farmers that farm in systems like this have fun and enjoy their life because they can make good living while restoring the land.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP013-09272013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 7:12am PST

Doniga Markegard of Markegard Family Grass-Fed comes on the show to talk about ranching, permaculture, and the regenerative power of rotational livestock grazing.She is a real life rancher, who is out there successfully doing things the right way. On her ranch she is using cattle, sheep, and pigs to build the soil and supply the San Fransisco Bay area with high quality food.Doniga discusses why traditional ranching methods often fail and lead to degenerative cycles with the soil; and how a more holistic, permaculture approach can actually repair landscapes. She talks about how they use permaculture on their ranch to increase species diversity and to increase the water holding capacity of the soil. She touches on how to get into ranching, the advantages of small herd dairy, and the importance of leasing land.

Key Takeaways from this Episode:

-The healing power of using proper livestock rotational management on a landscape is tremendous. Doniga often sees the benefits after just one or two rotations. The disturbance created by the livestock starts to build organic matter in the soil, sequester carbon, increase water infiltration, and that then leads to increased species diversity.
-The big impact of stock ponds. Early keypoint dams have played a huge role in the health of their farm. Water is kept on site, instead of running off site, causing erosion. Retaining this water has helped to rehydrate the landscape.
-Don't be afraid to lease land. Land is prohibitively expensive in California, so leasing is a good option for ranching. It will require some work, but a lot of land is available.

Visit for show notes.

Direct download: PVP012-09202013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 9:31am PST

What if you could gross $100,000 per acre in a small sustainable agriculture operation? You could make a good living and/or you could afford to pay someone a decent wage. If you can gross roughly $2.50 per square foot, per year, then that translates into a gross revenue of $100,000 per acre, per year. How can permaculture techniques be used to accomplish that goal?

Chris Young of SoCal Shrooms and Closing the Loop joins me to talk about just that. His goal is to show that you can gross that $100k so you can hire one person to work an acre of land and pay them a good wage to work it. He aims to achieve this by reducing input costs and stacking revenue generators, all while improving the quality of the land and producing a high quality product.

Key Takeaways from this Episode:

-Oyster mushrooms have a nice advantage of having a quick turn around. They can start creating cash-flow in 4 to 6 weeks. Similar to selling sprouts and micro-greens which have a 2 to 3 week turnaround.

-If possible tap into an existing distribution network. This gets you contacts right out of the gate.

-Get more out of the same amount of land. Property taxes will go up the future, water costs will go up in the future, and more and more land is being developed away from farmland. So try to be more productive on the same amount of land while improving the quality of that land.

-Consider the cost of your own time in the business. And pay yourself.

-You have to do the real numbers for you business.Don't fudge them. The numbers won't lie. If something isn't working, then look at the numbers and see where you can start making changes to make the numbers work. When you have exhausted all possibilities, then it is time to move on.

-Start broad and control your risk at the beginning. Then look at the numbers and refine down overtime to optimize each system or business.

-Celebrate the small victories. There is a lot of drudgery that goes along with business and farming, so enjoy the good times.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP011-09112013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 8:22am PST

Joey D'Elia joins me in this episode to talk about why people are afraid of embracing the order that comes in the "disorder of nature." We also ask why should anyone even care about food forests. Along the way we touch on embracing the "messiness" of permaculture and the importance of over-stacking the system with pioneer species early on.  This saves time and adds resiliency.

Are people afraid of order? I know I can be. I tend to think in terms of straight lines and right angles, so embracing a swervy, zig zaggy permaculture system can be hard for me. I am sure other people encounter this as well. So how can a straight line thinker adapt to a permaculture system that wants to have the system follow nature's not so straight lines.

The messiness of permaculture. Geoff Lawton has talked about this. In the beginning a lot of permaculture systems look messy. That can be hard for people to accept. Yet, that is the way that nature systems evolve. They aren't clean and tidy.Again, this is another challenge that some people have to overcome.

Visit for show notes.

Direct download: PVP009-08302013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 1:53pm PST

Paul Greive of Primal Pastures joins me to talk about being a grass farming entrepreneur. He talks about how the thought of Primal Pastures went from an idea to a reality one weekend while sitting around with his in-laws. This small step was the catalyst that helped develop Primal Pastures into a thriving beyond-sustainable meat business. Today they are continuing to grow the farm, their community, and the soil, but this isn't without its challenges. Paul discusses these challenges, and successes that he encounters on a daily basis as new farmer entrepreneur. He stresses the importance of connecting with your customer via Social Media, the advantages to starting out in the pastured poultry business, and the big advantages of leasing land over purchasing it.

Episode Takeaways:

-Don't undervalue and underestimate the value of connecting with your customers.
-Stop focusing on the why it won't work, and go out and actually do something.
-You can establish a profitable sustainable agriculture business with a small amount of land and a small amount of initial seed capital.
-Learn as you go and learn from your mistakes.
-Take advantage of direct marketing.Sell product and take payment online and deliver to drop points.
-Looking into leasing land instead of buying it. It is much cheaper, so it it opens up a lot of land that was previously unattainable. Provide utility to the land owner.

Visit for show notes.

Direct download: PVP008-08232013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 8:39am PST

Sarah Aubrey of Prosperity Consulting joins me to talk about being an entrepreneur, starting a business, and her journey. Like many entrepreneurs she started her "career" in the corporate world and quickly realized that life wasn't for her. So she took her skills from the corporate world and applied them to a business that she could stand behind.

Takeaways from this episode:

  • When you start down the road of forming a business do a lot of research on why a business would or would not work, the costs involved, the benefits to the customer, the risks involved. Most people don't do enough front end research.
  • Be unique and differentiate yourself from your competition.


Visit for show notes.  H

Direct download: PVP007-08052013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:09am PST

Want to be a farmer? Always dreamed about having your own farm? Lessons from a family farmer who has gone from grassroots to prosperity in 8 years. If you are young and thinking about starting your own farm, then this podcast is a must listen.

P.S. It wasn’t easy and required A LOT of hard work and sacrifices, but it was done. And that means that you can do it too.

Adam Klaus of Bella Farm joins me in this episode to talk about his journey into the small farm business. Learn how he bought an abandoned apple orchard with his wife at age 25, and in 8 years they have turned 12 acres into a thriving small family farm that raises dairy cattle, a market garden, chickens, and multiple tree crops.

Adam definitely brings it in this episode. It is absolutely jammed with knowledge and tidbits that you can use to improve your existing farm or plan your journey into the world of small farming. He keeps it real, and he might shatter some people’s romanticized views of farming with his emphasis on how much work it will require and the possibility of a big change in lifestyle. But he might also motivate some people to change their lives. It is hard to not feel the happiness when he talks about his farm and his lifestyle. I think that a lot of people will listen to this and think “I don’t talk about my job that way. What he is doing sounds pretty awesome. I want to live more like that.” And we all can by just focusing more on really matters the most to each of us.

At the heart of Adam’s story is the biggest benefit of running a small family farm, his family and going through life with them. He is a living a life that he wants to live, working his land with his wife and kids, and to him that is what being rich is all about.
Adam talks about what worked and what didn’t work along the way; and he doesn’t sugar coat it. He will get people thinking. His story is educational and inspiring, and it proof that if you have a plan and put a lot of hard work and thinking behind it, then you can succeed at farming.

If you enjoy this podcast with Adam, you can see more of him next year at the Permaculture Voices Conference. Adam will be giving two talks, one on small farm dairy and one on biodynamic farming.

Visit for show notes.

Direct download: PVP006-07182013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 8:32am PST

'Building a better world, one permaculture brick at a time.'

The full and complete audio from Paul Wheaton's standing ovation keynote presentation at the Southern California Permaculture Convergence on March 9, 2013 in San Diego, CA.

"Most folks that want change tell a dozen people how bad people should stop being bad.  Over a ten year span of time, they may have told 100 people about which bad people to be angry at.

I believe that conflict come from difference of knowledge set.

I play the long game:  hundreds of tidbits of knowledge spread out over many years

If I say “permaculture” after each tidbit, then eventually a person might think “I keep hearing this word associated with cool things” and then search for more permaculture stuff on their own.

This is my strategy for world domination." Paul Wheaton

Paul presents 72 different permaculture based strategies for changing the world.  Some of these strategies are big and some are small.  Some can be done very quickly, some will require a significant amount of time.  Odds are that some of the permaculture strategies will resonate with everyone.  If each person just does a few of them, then we are all changing the world.  "Rather than being angry at bad guys, I want to share a thousand bricks for building a better world." Paul Wheaton

Visit for show notes. 

Direct download: PVP005-07132013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 11:49pm PST

How do we get more food forests into suburban yards? We can start by planting a legume anytime that plant a fruit tree.

Then what?

Joey D'Elia joins me in this episode to discuss just that. How can people start down the path of building their own food forest in their suburban backyard.

What are some easy ways to identify trees that will work in your system?

How to not get caught up in the design phase forever and start planting now.

This will be the first episode in a multi-part series about permaculture food forests. In this episode of the podcast we ask - If food forests are the coolest thing in permaculture, why aren't there more of them? And what strategies could anyone do to start planning their food forest today.

Visit for show notes.

Direct download: PVP004-07112013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:32am PST

In this episode of the Permaculture Voices Podcast I have my friend Ben Kotnik of Suburban Food Farm on the show to talk about the recent presentation that he gave to a local permaculture group, 12 Months of Fresh Fruit. The first part of the presentation highlights some of the varieties that can be grown in Southern California to achieve the goal of a year round fruit harvest. While the varieties that we talk about are specific to SoCal, the theory behind how why the varieties were selected can be applied to any location. The second half of the presentation focuses on different techniques that can be used to grow more varieties of fruit in a given space. And these techniques can be applied anywhere in the world.

In this episode you will learn about:

  • A variety of 13 fruits that could be grown in Southern California giving you 12 months of free fruit. The trees are specific to SoCal, but the theory is applicable anywhere.
  • Ben’s favorite sweet citrus varieties.
  • The beauty of the forgotten fruit, the white sapote. And why everyone should be growing it in SoCal.
  • Why you should remove some of the fruit from a tree in the early years.
  • Techniques for growing more fruit in a space.
  • How to use dwarfing rootstocks to your advantage. -Why to prune and train your trees.
  • Grafting several varieties onto one tree, multi-graft trees.
  • Working with neighbors to grow more trees.


For Show Notes Visit:


Direct download: PVP003-06282013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 10:00am PST

In this episode of the podcast I am happy to welcome Brandon Williams from Iron Edison battery company to talk about long lived nickel-iron batteries and why they are so much better than the more common lead acid batteries for off grid home power applications.  These types of batters are applicable to preppers, the average home owner, and permies who have remote homesteads or need mobile power sources.

In this episode you will learn about:

  • How batteries fit into permaculture design.
  • The history of nickel-iron batteries.
  • The science behind nickel-iron batteries.
  • General maintenance for battery systems.
  • Advantages of nickel-iron over lead acid batteries - long lived, less toxic, wider temperature range of operation, greater depth of discharge.
  • ROI of nickel-iron vs. lead acid.
  • How the average suburban household can benefit from a battery backup system.
  • Solar panel and battery system integration.
  • Mobile power applications.
  • The difference between mobile batteries and stationary batteries.

Visit for show notes. 

Direct download: PVP002-06212013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 10:47am PST

Gasification and Wood Gas: How to Grow Your Own Energy and Get Off the Grid

Our very first episode!

In this podcast we focused on the topics of gasification and wood gas. Local experts Troy Martz and Jared Pisell of joined us to talk about their company Off Grid Pro and the line of gasifiers that they are rolling out, the future of wood gas, how gasification fits into a permie or prepper's plan, and why you should never build a fema gasifier.


For Show Notes Visit:

Direct download: PVP001-06042013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 6:32am PST