The Permaculture Student

A resilient, abundant future starts with permaculture education.

How Will We Regenerate Our World?

Matt PowersComment

How are we going to restore the biodiversity, rebuild the soil, regrow the forests, sequester the carbon, clean up the pollution, clean the oceans, and rewild our world?

This question has been on my mind for years - it can't just be isolated individual changes as we have seen so far. It has to become the new normal. It has to become part of our core culture: part of education (that which creates the foundation for our culture) and part of our economy (that which reinforces and builds our culture). Education is the key - I've been working on this for years, and now this is the moment we make the bridge from K-12 to professional. It's time to take that LEAP of Faith in Humanity & Nature, so we can make regeneration a way of life and so we can regenerate our degrading world. 

Change Your Life, Change The World - Join Us Today:

Get your Advanced Permaculture Certification - learn a diversity of advanced paths and practices within permaculture from experts, so you can delve deeper and more holistically with your own projects, homestead, and business. Styrofoam into trees, regreening deserts, permatecture, holistic management, sociocracy, mead, mycology, hemp, Korean natural farming, biochar, bokashi, plant breeding, nonviolence & more - the most up-to-date, advanced, and inclusive permaculture course yet. Our program has more teachers in it than most students in high school encounter their entire time there. This program will complete your knowledge of holistic permaculture and guide you to holistic mastery or a regenerative career in a 4 month program + we enroll signups in our entrepreneurship and educators program for free when they join the Kickstarter. Help your local economy take off as you learn to educate and share the patterns of nature with your friends, neighbors, and family. Help others, make it your lifestyle, or make it your business to grow soil, grow forests, preserve or generate biodiversity, and/or restore the landscape in your daily life. 

Join us in the Regeneration! There's so many bonuses & amazing teachers in this course! I'll be designing it like all my materials to be easy to understand and incorporate. Check it out:

Grow Abundantly, Learn Daily, & Live Regeneratively,

Matt Powers

Why We Only Eat Organic In My Family

Matt PowersComment

It's personal.

It's real.

It's our story.

This is why we only eat organic or better in our family. 

It's also why we plant gardens everywhere we go.

Are you searching for answers? Are you looking for healthy foods? Often the only answers and truly healthy foods we can find are in our gardens. I hope that you find a local farmer that is beyond organic or start growing it yourself.

I'm running a new course to try to make this a normal part of life, so we can stop the cancer epidemic which is only caused by: deficiency and toxicity. Both of which can be addressed largely with good food.

Thank you for reading,

Matt Powers

PS: The Kickstarter is still going - we are 50% through the campaign & 50% Funded!!! Help us reach our goal & help the world and our culture to find a regenerative path. Click Here to learn more:

Gardening with Deer? It's Possible!

Matt PowersComment

YOU CAN GARDEN WITHOUT FENCES - they can be really expensive and inconvenient when plans change. They might also attract wildlife. Hide your food with plants - create living fences! Use native cousins that are edible on your edges, use polycultures, use contour, and use inedible edges just past your edible edges (which are semi-interesting but edible) - this created a living fence. Anyone can do this with their own areas polycultures.

Grow with the Wildlife!!

Learn What's Possible with the Advanced Permaculture Student Online

Matt PowersComment

Are you Dreaming of Regeneration too?

I've been dreaming of a rich and abundant world that doesn't exist, of stable and prosperous cultures that don't exist, of rich, diverse forests and oceans that don't exist... yet. I've been dreaming of you, our communities, our friends and families, and even our governments and schools all working with nature to create an entirely new world. Today we are taking a huge step towards making that world a reality. 

Working with an Amazing Team of Teachers from across the spectrum of applied-permaculture, I'm so honored and excited to announce the Kickstarter Launch for The Advanced Permaculture Student Online - the first regenerative trade school!

Check out the Campaign here & See What's Possible:

Thank you for helping spread the regeneration of our world and cultures,

- Matt Powers

PS: If you have a  moment, can you share the above video on your Facebook or twitter? Thanks!

How to have an Epic Garden with a 9-5 Full-Time Job

Matt PowersComment

Have you ever wondered how some people who wrk full time right alongside you have epic gardens with yields all summer long? 

How do they do that? They make it look effortless. Meanwhile you’re struggling to get things watered, to amend the soil, to prune, to harvest, to chop and drop, and it kind of steals the fun from you?

I was there! A lady up the hill grew 10,000 lbs of tomatoes on a 1/4 of an acre! What was she doing!? I actually have a video of what she was doing on my Facebook page and Youtube - I’ll link to it in the description - she was irrigating her gardens and orchards with her duck pond water - with duck manure! It fed those tomatoes superbly! I didn’t have the money, ducks, permission, or really mechanical know how to pull her system off on my land. Plus it was so dry where we were the debate over water was always always an issue. Perpetually pouring new water into a pond didn’t make sense for us. How could I get from point A to point B with no real money! 

Well I figured it out and did it while still a public school teacher struggling to make ends meet - I scaled up to a full 2 acre garden managed with nothing but a knife, a shovel, manure, animals, straw, pallets, some fencing (in the early stages before I stopped using them), and animal feed - it took a progression, one you can see on Powers Permaculture Family Farm on Facebook if you’d like to go back in time and see my trial and error! It took some tinkering and some places are more stubborn than others but I changed our barren decomposed granite into rich deep dark chocolate colored loam in only a few seasons and in some places within a season (due to placement in the landscape.) 

The Key is to Partner with nature & its cycles:

Small Animals - soil prep, manure, landscape prep, weed removal, old bedding for composting & mulch

  • Goats - whethers are usually sold cheap - these are fixed males, so they aren’t as aggressive and don't have that distinct stink! Goats can clear land for your chickens to get in there and finish what they started - you can follow, thin further if need be, and plant after them.
  • Chickens - roosters are sometimes free if you have friends hatching their own chickens. While they may not lay any eggs, they are hard workers and can till, scratch, shred, manure, and work the chicken tractor as well as any chicken. I find they do not fight without ladies around and the ceiling is too low for them to that classic jump spur pounce they love do as their opening move.
  • Rabbits - get two of the opposite and you’ll have plenty and they’ll provide amazing manure - like MAGIC MANURE - and they perform well as lawn mowers in a tractor but need the bottom fenced in for sure otherwise they’ll travel onward. 
  • Ducks - like chickens but different - they do well in humid wet conditions whereas chickens do better on the drier side - though there’s overlap for sure and you can make things work, this is a general rule of thumb that works well. Duck tractors in Hawaii work extremely well for instance but would be harder to use in Tucson AZ. 


  • Use Natives: chop & drop, compost, hardy edges, & hardy tree guilds
  • Seed Saving - Save Money & Get TONS of Seed
  • Mulch Plants (fertilizer/OM)
  • Legumes/Nitrogen Fixers (fertilizer)
  • Willow (rooting hormone)
  • Aloe, Lemon Balm, etc. (medicine replacement)

Partnering with the Soil Food Web

  • Fungi, Bacteria, pH & Nitrogen Cycle
  • Compost, Compost Tea, & Compost Extract
  • Mulch & Organic Matter (listen to Simple Soil Solutions)
  • Inoculating with Mycorrhizal Fungi: AMF temporary but so significant, 1 of many players (trees & plants)
  • Nitrogen fixing bacteria - inoculate your soil once with legumes & rhizobia bacteria (there’s other forms of Nfixing bacteria too that’s non-nodulating like azotobacter bacteria). 
  • Growing Mushrooms: shiitakes on small manageable sized logs
  • King Stropharia Paths
  • Using the birds to catch pests with attractant/distraction plants
  • Beneficial Insects: “Predator insects, with such fantastic names as minute pirate bug, assassin bug, soldier beetle, mealybug destroyer, and damsel bug, can be attracted to the garden. There are many others with less fantastic names as well: earwig, green lacewing, wasps, some flies, ladybugs, praying mantises, and more. These bugs are primarily attracted to plants in the Apiaceae family (carrot, fennel, parsley, celery, cilantro, etc.) and the Asteraceae family (sunflowers, daisies, lettuce, artichokes, calendula, dandelion, dahlias, yarrow, zinnias, etc.) Planting a diversity of plants and letting them go to seed is important for pollinators and all the cycles they support and that support them.” - The Permaculture Student 2

By Design: 

  • Zone Planning - How many steps to each activity? Design so the things that need the most attention are closest to home.
  • Earthworks - Water harvesting, water diverting, shade, windbreak, sound barrier, & more. Earthworks perform many functions, and can save you money, time, and effort if you put in the effort initially - I was able to install 2 acres of swales by myself over the course of 2 years (except there was one class where we installed the longest swale on the property, a shallow one on the lowest side of the hill), but it is possible for you to do it all DIY. 
  • Multiple layered canopies - this creates the shade and moisture holding capacity I needed in the central valley, and every food forest needs in general. 

Through Education:

  • Take a Course - there are many permaculture introductions offered free online as well as locally almost everywhere in the world with new advanced courses just starting to appear on the scene - we will be running a Kickstarter for our team’s advanced course in Sept. 
  • Read a Book - Permaculture, Holistic Management, Food Forestry, Agroforestry, Silviculture, or Agroecology - lots to choose from but I alway recommend going with the best to save you time and money. For the fastest way to understand and put into action the PDC information that everyone is paying 500-1000 for is The Permaculture Student 1 which is written at an 8th grade reading level so you can get all the high level concepts down pat in an afternoon or two of reading, and start building your homestead the way you want immediately. 
  • Visit a Local doing it Right - every region no matter their label or system or practice has someone doing something right that you can learn from - you might have to do some digging to find them but it will be worth it. 

I read everything I could, tested everything I read, watched all the Youtube videos I could, talked to anyone that would answer, finally took Geoff Lawton’s Online PDC, and everything took off from there to entirely new levels. The information isn’t rocket-science either! It’s stuff we should all be learning in elementary and middle school but we never had a chance - that’s why I make books at lower reading levels with what we call today ‘graduate school level information’ but someday we’ll call common sense.

I’m Matt Powers: grow abundantly, learn daily, and live regeneratively. 

An Advanced Permaculture Online Course in the Works with a Dream Team of Teachers!!

Matt PowersComment

Have you ever wished there was a professional career path for Permaculture, not just gardening or farming, but as in all regenerative work?

Me too! As a high school teacher who’s job it was to prepare young adults for their careers, I was always searching for better options for my students. When I took my Geoff Lawton Online PDC in 2014 I realized that there was nothing designed for K-12 - I was appalled!

How’s anyone supposed to make a living at this? 

How were we supposed to change the world with this incredible, amazing, life-changing information if we couldn’t turn it into livelihoods, so I wrote and Kickstarted The Permaculture Student 1 for middle schoolers and then The Permaculture Student 2 for high school and college students to show the world what is really possible today with permaculture. It also updated and expanded what most people knew to be Permaculture - it goes beyond gardening and food forestry and includes alternative energy, mycology, holistic management, Keyline design, and much much more. It’s the only peer-reviewed, edited and approved Permaculture textbook currently available - it took over 20 experts and two years of study and 1:1 work with them to make this possible. These experts have greened deserts, holistically managed giant herds, grown tons of soil per acre per year, made professional-level mycology accessible to the home cultivator or start up mushroom farm, trained professional landscapers in permaculture, redefined soil science and composting as we know it, started their own and fostered the develop of several meaderies, converted organic orchards to permaculture, discovered that mealworms eat styrofoam before Stanford published on it, started one of the largest permaculture farms in America, and more! These are people you know and love: Dr. Elaine Ingham of the Soil Food Web, Peter McCoy of Radical Mycology, Neal Spackman of the Al Baydha Project, Erik Ohlsen of the Permaculture Skills Center, Stefan Sobkowiak of The Permaculture Orchard, Joel Salatin of Polyface farms, Troy Martz of OffGridPro, Grant Schultz of Versaland, & more. These books are being used in schools, orphanages, permaculture programs, and humanitarian aid in diverse locations on all continents but Antartica. They’ve been translated into Spanish, Polish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Arabic, and I’ve built online courses around the books with hundreds of students and dozens of school districts, but none of the courses are as advanced as The Permaculture Student 2 because it was created with this amazing team. The future of education is online and video-based. Schools and Colleges want videos, textbooks, workbooks, and an instructor’s guide, so that’s why this September with an amazing expanded team, we are running a crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter for the Advanced Permaculture Student Online - an Adv PDC program that will show you all the possibilities for permaculture inside and outside the garden - in Permatecture, Alternative Energy, Fungi, Urban Permaculture, Aquaculture, Ocean Permaculture, Invisible Structures: Commerce, Community, & Governance. Learn how to use natural patterns in all aspects of your life - see how you can make it a career by learning from those who are making money doing it right now. Get your Advanced Certification. Learn where you fit in the Permaculture Spectrum of Regenerative Solutions - Natural farming? Biointensive? Alternative transportation? Wetland rewilding? Herbal Medicine? There’s no box to contain you, only places for you pursue your passion and help the future of all biodiversity at the same time.

The reality is folks are making a living regeneratively - we just need to include the rest of our culture in the new economy.

The reality is folks are making a living regeneratively - we just need to include the rest of our culture in the new economy.

The Advanced Permaculture Student Online is a Collection of Regenerative Solutions & Career Paths for high achieving high schoolers, college students, and adults looking to quit their jobs and start on something meaningful that helps the environment, is profitable, proven, and helps their community.

This is the ONLY Advanced Permaculture Certification course based on a current, up-to-date advanced textbook and taught by experienced professionals from diverse regenerative career paths. 

It’s the ONLY advanced permaculture course blending disciplines outside the garden and farm scope of permaculture design and into a broader application of permaculture into everyday life, business, architecture, and governance. 

so STAY TUNED, Subscribe to our Mailing List - it’s ONLY available through our Kickstarter Campaign which will start Sept 4th, so make sure you are on our mailing list, LIKE our facebook, subscribe to our youtube, or wherever you are in the world find me and join us in ushering in the next step in permaculture education: The Advanced Permaculture Student Online.

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Climate Change is Simpler than You Think

Matt PowersComment

When you disrupt the water cycle, you change a climate locally.

When you remove the forests, you change a climate locally. 

When the topsoils are eroded away, you change the local climate. 

The annual ranges and patterns for ambient temperatures, precipitation, and soil temperatures as well as plant communities define what we call “climate” - we’ve been changing factors that control and affect those key climatic features in all parts of the world at an accelerated rate in recent decades and even centuries, but it is a 10-12,000 year old problem that began with agriculture. The simple act of tilling soil destroys soil structure and releases carbon.

History has a long record of humans exhausting the soils of the lowlands then climbing the hills to deforest them and then plow their soils until they ran down into the lowlands - whereupon we’d return to the lowlands and then sometime later after we’d exhausted that return to the hills to remove the newly grown forest. This pattern sped up natural erosion, led to wars, famine, and collapse of many civilizations. We can return sequester the carbon we’ve let loose, and we can do that by bringing back the components of the original natural cycles: the forests, the soils, and the biodiversity.

Climate change while not trivial in the slightest is very reversible - we just have to move quickly and change our patterns. An abundant future awaits!

Advanced Seed Saving

Matt PowersComment

How do we get pest and disease resistance, vigor, earliness, drought tolerance, and high germination rates? 

It comes down to how you interact with your seeds and plants, so let me save you some time, effort, and maybe even some money. 

and it’s not just my soils or any amendments, my seeds have been proven to out perform most other commercial seeds in a diversity of climates, soils, and gardens, so it’s not my soil - it’s the seed.

First how I’m saving seed is vital:

  • Select seed from the Best Plants in the Worst Soils or Conditions - Resilience, Drought Tolerance, & Wind Tolerance - usually high germ rate
  • Select seed from the earliest plants and save them separately from all the other seed you harvest - this can maintain the earliness and increase it! This is how we have super short day corn varieties like Painted Mountain Corn.
  • To find disease or pest resistance, first you grow a large amount of that plant type and then let the disease or pest attack your crops and see if you have any plants that survive it or are tolerant or resistance to it. Those are the ones to save seed from.
  • I also am a rough and messy seed saver: I save seed by hand and tons of seed gets blown out with the duff. Only the heaviest seed remains: the densest, largest seeds. This makes for the most nutrient dense and mature seeds only. 

Pest and Disease resistance also starts with healthy soil so if you have healthy soils you can avoid a lot of those problems. 

Advanced Seed Saving is the path to seeds like you’ve never seen! Plants beyond your dreams!

Partnering with nature is Seed Saving - We can do it, and I believe that we can be Nature’s hands and partner with the locusts, bees, and butterflies, and pollinate our plants by design and even sometimes by hand, and before you know it, you’ll have a fridge full of seeds, but if you need some amazing seeds to start with, you can certainly visit my store at or Tune in for our seed, book, and course giveaways and LIVE Q&A on Facebook wednesdays at 4pm. I’ll see you there, until then:

I’m Matt Powers. Grow Abundantly, Learn Daily, & Live Regeneratively!

Weeds are Reparative Mechanisms

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Weeds: the plants no one wants. They have names too though we may not know it. They are also telling us stories if we pay attention close enough. Dandelions try to break up compaction - they drill deep into the soil: that's why they are hard to pull out. Bermuda grass holds together loose soil, so when you rototilled it so it was "perfect", it was perfect for that weed to come and help hold together that loosened soil. After fire, phosphorous is burned out of the topsoil and that's why we see a special set of plants arrive after fire: they're returning the phosphorous and generating the mulch that will recalibrate the soil. Each plant in addition to physically interacting with the soil is also creating a unique response to the soil's and soil life's succession. Every plant accumulates a spectrum of nutrients that remain when that plant breaks down to soil - it does range depending on the soil and conditions, but those are ranges within an established spectrum or unique circumstances like toxins being taken up by plants. Rice for instance is an aquatic filter as are all aquatic plants to a degree, so the unsafe arsenic levels we are finding are simply the plant trying to clean the water and/or soil. It may be the case that years of using arsenic-laden pesticides have imbued the soil with arsenic loads even in now established organic paddies.

Listen to your weeds: they are trying to tell you about your soil conditions and what needs to happen to improve them. You can pre-empt your weeds, chop & drop them before they set seed so you return the nutrients to the soil, and then plant something more vigorous and desirable that does the same function in their wake. If your weeds are thistles, plant artichokes or cardoon! If your weeds are dandelions, plant daikon radish! If you have bermuda grass, plant white clover and smother it: you can plant directly in clover or chop and drop it to the nubs and then throw sow plant in it. I've done it following Masanobu Fukuoka's example: it works. It's a really easy and fast pathway to healing a landscape. Listen to your plants, your birds, your soil! They are all trying to tell you something if you just give them the time and attention. 

Hope & Climate Change

Matt PowersComment

Have you ever thought about the magnitude of the Climate Change problem? How many people there are now? How little there is left of pristine nature? Has it ever just eaten up your hope?

It’ll ruin your day - it could ruin a week, a month, your everyday - your island might be washing away, BUT the power, rapidity of regeneration, and awe inspiring capabilities of nature will always inspire those of us willing to observe.

Learn to live a life of Hope & Regeneration with The Permaculture Student 2:


Lessons of the Loess Plateau

Greening the Desert with Geoff Lawton

From Sand to Soil in 7 Hours (Nano Clay)

Eddy Garcia - Mealworms Eating Styrofoam and Healing Hawaii - Episode 64 An Abundant Future

Matt PowersComment

Have you ever wished we could easily recycle styrofoam?

Have you ever wondered if there's more than red wigglers to the vermicomposting picture?

Join us in a conversation with Hawaii's Eddy Garcia talking about turning surfboards into vegetables, solving pollution, and learning from Mother Nature.

Check out Eddy's AMAZING Work:

Learn more about Living Earth Systems here:

Actions Not Labels Defines the Future

Matt Powers1 Comment

Permaculture. Holistic Management. Natural Farming. Biointensive Farming. Agroforestry. Agroecology. Biomimicry. Organic. Biodynamic. Regenerative. Syntropic.

What is the deal with the name game?

We often give names to things to create ownership in business to protect ourselves and differentiate ourselves from others in the market, but in all reality there's more to the picture: synchronicity in nature and in invention has occurred throughout time and history. We are all arriving at this same conclusion because our surroundings imply the same solution: we must work with nature. All these labels are simply synonyms for the same general idea. Names can help us if the unify or hurt us if they divide, and as always: actions speak louder than words. If we are all acting regeneratively, the names we use doesn't matter.

The 5 Steps to an Abundant Future

I came up with the 5 steps to focus on actions over labels within the regenerative community but only after spending several years reading books by other people in this space and boiling down their teaching into my book. We are all in essence just trying to guarantee an abundant future for all life which means we need an abundant and vibrant natural world that has people systems patterning with it ethically and regeneratively.

How can I start on these steps?

You can start today by registering for a FREE 3 video series on How to Fight Climate Change Holistically. I'll cover the 5 steps & show you how you can start on these in your own life, so you can live freer, more abundantly, & regeneratively.

The 5 Steps to an Abundant Future, Live at Golden Coast Mead - Episode 63

Matt PowersComment

How are we going to reverse Climate Change?

How are we ever going to navigate the soup of names and terms within the regenerative space? What if we focused on ACTIONS not LABELS?

That's the entire idea behind the 5 Steps: list what actions will reverse climate change & guarantee an abundant future for all. The 5 Steps are: Build Soil, Grow Forests, Restore Oceans & All Water, Restore Biodiversity, & Rewild Human Culture! It's really just that simple! That boils down all of permaculture into a simple set of steps we can communicate to anyone.

From there Frank Golbeck had the idea that we have locals representing the 5 steps speak after I did and you can hear for yourself how it went right here:

If you'd like to start your own 5 Steps event in your town or city with me as host, please contact me at

How do I start a Regenerative/Permaculture Business?

Matt PowersComment

What's your Passion?

Are you into mushrooms? Cows? Holacracy? Helping the elderly? Working with kids? Gardening? Regenerative workers come in all fields and serving both the earth and people. Find what makes you smile wider than you thought your mouth could stretch! What gets you wired more than coffee ever could? What gives you meaning?

Find a Need

What needs are there in your community? What are the stressors in your life that others share? How does your passion fill others needs? Can you connect the two?


When we align our passions with our business with serving people and our bioregional ecosystems, we see incredible things happen. The integrity that all of us desire naturally arises out of doing what you believe in: that rightness or congruency is rooted there. We must walk the walk and talk the talk in public and behind closed doors, in times of ease and stress, with loved ones and with strangers. We must be one consistent message both to ourselves and the world. Only then will our regenerative message be its most clear, loud, and inspiring. Find your alignment and then hammer out a rhythm... and join the new course where we are learning to do this in a group I facilitate with others who have been doing this for years as well as starting out. 

If you feel called to this work, please join us in the Regeneration:

Justin Bithel of Abundant Gardens - Episode 62 - An Abundant Future with Matt Powers

Matt PowersComment

Matt Powers is joined this week by Justin Bithel of Orange County California to talk about how bees can solve climate change & how we need to make it easier for everyone to work with bees. His amazing hive can be constructed without glue, nails, or screws. It's marine-quality wood too!

Check out his hives here:
Discount code is in the podcast (listen close!)

So easy my 5 year old built it!

Subscribe to An Abundant Future with Matt Powers on iTunes here:

What if You Could Create Three New Tomato Varieties a Year? What if We All Could?

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A Natural Twist of Fate

Brad Gates of Wildboar farms didn't start out with intention to change the tomato world, but a natural twist of fate intervened. Brad Gates started out conventional and switched to organic and heirloom when he experienced their quality, taste, resiliency, and marketability, but that's not what changed tomatoes as we know them though it allowed for the opportunity. By just being an organic farmer, Brad's fields allowed pollinators to access his tomato flowers which led to a striped heirloom cross (what would become Black & Brown Boar) that would inspire him to become a tomato breeder. Since then, he has moved from putting stripes to anthocyanin blushes on every size and color tomato he can find - totaling over 60 new tomato varieties in 20 years.

Black & Brown Boar - one of his first! click the image to learn more.

Black & Brown Boar - one of his first! click the image to learn more.

What does this mean for me and you?

Making new varieties is not that hard! When I visited Brad at his Napa Valley farm a couple years ago, he shared with us how we all can make our own unique varieties. Not talking about adaptations to local climates, but truly NEW and UNIQUE varieties of tomatoes. It just takes doing the work of the pollinator first hand.

This same concept works for peppers and eggplants in the nightshade family (with potatoes you have to let them flower and then produce seed - YES there are true potato seeds!). For the EASIEST introduction to how hand pollinating works, start with squash (winter, summer, pumpkin, etc.). Their flowers are gigantic and obvious. With peppers and tomatoes, you may have to use a paint brush or tickle them with your finger as some do. 

Breed Your Own Varieties! - click on the image to see more from The Permaculture Student 2

Breed Your Own Varieties! - click on the image to see more from The Permaculture Student 2

I've been working on new varieties and landraces of corn, mustard, kale, amaranth, and squash for several years. They are fun and easy to work with. The plants tend to grab the most useful traits out of the mix offered when crossing. It gives a plant that's been bred "true" for so long a sudden burst of genetic options to upgrade in the face of the new climate, management, or other condition. This is why Brad Gates' tomatoes are so disease resistant; they latched onto the disease and pest resistance of the original wild tomato used in the cross. They are superior to other tomatoes. I can even throw sow them without adapting them to my area or throw sowing for a season - they just thrive. We can all make incredible new varieties possible OR make the impossible adaptations of yesterday possible today with microclimates and permaculture sense.

"Impossible Corn" - Pisscorunto/Chuspi Sacred Valley Peruvian Corn. Grown for the first time to seed in Coarsegold, CA.  Photo Credit: Laura Stilson/BakerCreek.

"Impossible Corn" - Pisscorunto/Chuspi Sacred Valley Peruvian Corn. Grown for the first time to seed in Coarsegold, CA.  Photo Credit: Laura Stilson/BakerCreek.

Impossible to Adapt

Little did I know but when I bought one pack of each type of rare corn I could from Joseph Simcox's Explorer Series I'd be doing something no one else had. I read online that it was daylight sensitive, and I figured I'd plant it under the shade of giant oak trees on the shady side of a hill that only got direct sun in the afternoon. The silks matched the pollen release & it stayed dry and hot enough long enough. It took a a full seven months from planting soaked seed in May to harvesting the whole plant in November (210+ day corn) - then a month of hang drying the entire corn stalk with the corn still wrapped and attached for the most mature seed possible.

In addition to trying to adapt these corns, I crossed two varieties: K'uyu Chuspi & Pisscorunto. This gave the cross a choice between a wider variety of genetics to use to adapt to the new hemisphere, elevation, and sunpath. None of the other plants were successful like these were, and the area they were in isolated the two varieties to their own rhythm and clock - nothing was as late as they were! The second year I grew this variety, it shaved an entire month off its timetable. It's the 3rd year adapting my Impossible Purple Speckled Corn, and I'm hoping this year the corn does well in our test sites all over North America. If it does, it truly has adapted fully to our hemisphere in only two seasons!

It wasn't hard at all.

I soaked the seeds overnight, planted them in a cleared area (on swales on a hill), and watered them with a sprinkler on a timer initially - that was all I did. Later in the season once the silks came out, I pulled the sprinkler and hand watered and flood irrigated the swale in rotations (I could leave the flood irrigation on a timer and walk away and water the deeper root systems not just the surface). I cut the stalks at their base to leave the root zone (rhizosphere) intact and then they were hang upside down to dry under an awning for a month. You can do it too. You just need the long growing season. I hope to cross my peruvian corn with painted mountain corn to get the short and fast growth habit - both are flour corns.

You too can make your own adaptation or cross in your own garden this season. There's still time; flowers are forming as you read this. Speaking of projects, you can help me with one of mine: I'm trying to turn traditional native american popcorn all purple. I crossed Cherokee White Eagle flint corn with traditional native america white and yellow popcorn. By selecting for just purple when seed saving and planting, we increase the amount of cobs with purple and the percentage of those cobs that are purple seed. 

If you'd like to work on this project with me, you can acquire seed here:

If you'd like to work on this project with me, you can acquire seed here:

Everyone can be a Plant Breeder.

Plant Breeding using Traditional Means is the Future.

We can Bring Back Biodiversity 1 new backyard variety at a time.

We need everyone. If we just had a 100 hobby breeders following Brad Gates' rate and example, we'd have we'd have 1200 new varieties of tomato in just 4 years. Imagine if we did that with all the food types? We need to, and it'll be fun, fascinating, advantageous on so many levels, and delicious!

Join us in the Regeneration of our Food Biodiversity! 

Coming Soon! Brad Gates Online Courses & Books!!

PS: Another component of this would be wild biodiversity, foraging, and helping foster habitat as part of our daily living, but we'll save that for another blog ;) - Matt

Brad Gates, Creator of 60 New Tomato Varieties in 20 Years - Episode 61 - An Abundant Future with Matt Powers

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Brad Gates of Wildboar farms in Northern California talks with Matt Powers about starting out and how he found his way to organic, heirlooms, stripes, and even anthocyanin splashed tomatoes! Brad shares us his rationale behind his work and the incredible discoveries he's made along the way. 

Brad started out working on a conventional tomato farm and witnessed firsthand the difference between it and organic. When he saw the health of the plants (and higher survival rates), Brad switched to organic. When he saw and tasted heirloom tomatoes he was converted, and when he realized you could save the seeds, he was hooked. Only by a natural accident did Brad start down the road of breeding tomatoes. First it was stripes for Brad, then it was the anthocyanin blush from a wild tomato cross that created an entire new branch to the tomato family. 

Today, Brad teaches classes and talks on tomatoes and tomato breeding with a new book and new courses on the horizon. Follow Brad's work on his site and on social media.

Brad Gates' Wild Boar Farms homepage:

Here are the GameChanger Tomatoes that were turning points in Brad Gates' Career!! Grow the Best Tomatoes Available: 

The Porkchop:

The Black & Brown Boar:

Berkeley Tie Dye:

and one of my favorites - Black Beauty:

Permaculture vs Permaculture Design - Herein Lies a Confusion... & a New Solution: the Permaculture Mastery Checklist

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Photo by Matt Powers.

Photo by Matt Powers.

Micro vs Macro

Permaculture design ethics and principles range in definition, wording, and scope, depending on which co-creator of the word permaculture you adhere to, yet the reality is that the cultures Bill Mollison and David Holmgren studied and distilled their ideas from used Permaculture as a lens - as a way of seeing everything, not just gardening or tree crops. In other words, the distilled concepts that Bill and David were playing with came from cultures that would recognize their "examples" of permaculture in action as part of giant interconnected whole which encompassed their culture, daily lifestyles, ambitions, and limitations. They didn't see all these things as separate - permaculture was a holistic reality to them. If you didn't partner with nature to any extent, you soon found yourself living in a wasteland and starving - which is not to say the last 10,000 years of "civilization" are not a long chain of ecological degradation via agriculture and natural resource liquidation: the examples that inspired by Bill and David were long-standing cultures with regenerative skills. For me, I saw the principles being applied to everything, making it a HUGE concept, but maybe that came out of my permaculture design course itself...

Natural principles, the 3 ethics, and regenerative design principles can be applied to almost anything. I applied it to gardening in a recent course. It can be applied to business, architecture, alternative energy, and much more. Image by Matt Powers.

Natural principles, the 3 ethics, and regenerative design principles can be applied to almost anything. I applied it to gardening in a recent course. It can be applied to business, architecture, alternative energy, and much more. Image by Matt Powers.

Permaculture as an Adjective

Geoff Lawton was likely the first person I heard use permaculture as an adjective, not just a noun - I was in his online PDC in 2014. Permaculture is often used as a synonym for regenerative action. Often after a PDC, students "see" permaculture in all sorts of places despite those things being designed without permaculture in mind - like the way Sepp Holzer adopted the term because someone convinced him his work qualified as permaculture. Geoff is also a leading example in the perpetual innovation of the PDC model - recently he launched the PDC 2.0 despite having the most popular PDC online course in the world already! Permaculture has been transforming into something beyond just the original 5 principles of Bill Mollison's big black book to David's expansion to 12 principles - it is a regenerative lens, a way of seeing the world.

The Fibershed is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping communities and business establish and maintain a localized soil to soil garment and textile industry. It is truly a permaculture non-profit. Image from The Permaculture Student 2, by Matt Powers.

The Fibershed is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping communities and business establish and maintain a localized soil to soil garment and textile industry. It is truly a permaculture non-profit. Image from The Permaculture Student 2, by Matt Powers.

Beyond or Within the Permaculture Umbrella

Many teachers, renowned practitioners of all stripes, and students alike recognize permaculture as being a lens through which all regenerative practices from Bokashi to Holistic Management to Vertical Ocean Farming to Regenerative Investment can be seen in an organized system. Permaculture is simply seeing the world through nature's eyes - using nature's systems and cycles to solve problems and to beneficially and regeneratively take care of people and environmental systems. That means we see permaculture an attempt to map the holistic system of syntropy - fully knowing that we can only humbly estimate the infinite and complex interplay of in situ natural cycles and processes at work on any given site. This allows for permaculture to mature beyond the "design science" strictures and makes it a unifying movement that organizes all regenerative work into a framework of ethics, principles, and practice.  

Designing our sites is often the first step in a long journey of adaptation in our lives, landscapes, and communities. Illustration by Wayne Fleming from The Permaculture Student 1.

Designing our sites is often the first step in a long journey of adaptation in our lives, landscapes, and communities. Illustration by Wayne Fleming from The Permaculture Student 1.

A PDC is an Introduction to Design & Permaculture, the Concept

A PDC is 72 hrs of information. There are 180 school days in a typical school year with usually means you are with your students once a day for 45 minutes. That's 135 hours of learning on that one subject in a school year - a PDC is like a semester of information that usually is condensed into a 2-week experience tied to homesteading skills that can be hands-on but sometimes they are purely informational. It teaches skills and the concept of intentional design and analysis while it introduces ecological understanding and historically backed common sense. For many it is like a breath of fresh air while for some it sounds a lot like common sense, just iterated and intentional. The PDC is amazingly transformational for most who take them, but it is only step 1 in a process that evolves past the PDC. Many who have taken PDCs do not go on to share their information or even implement their designs. The list of reasons for why are many, but it is likely because the PDC stops at the design and the homestead. Many instructors have suggested or used permaculture as more than a set of design science steps, but few have expanded its meaning and application likely because many felt there was no medium to do it through or example to follow. 

The Permaculture Student 2 organizes a wide spectrum and diversity of regenerative practices into a cohesive, organized system that is easy to understand and connect to a path of higher learning. I created it to serve this need - for students to see past the PDC and apply permaculture to everything.

A Permaculture Mastery Checklist

Criteria-based assessments are ancient and effective - you learn by doing, and by doing, you gain mastery. It is simple. We can add a checklist of skills or activities that nearly every permaculture teacher could/should/would know how to do on a global level and then perhaps additional climate-specific checklists. The local biome's own checklist can only come from local experts. Higher level mastery will ALWAYS come from local masters who have had the time and experience in that biome: in every area there are endemic species and climate considerations. Feel free to start your own checklists, to download mine, to modify it, or to invent something else entirely new. The more we discuss and reflect on teaching, learning, permaculture, and the needs of our people and environment, the more we will improve at doing those things. 

Please Note: If you've read this far, YOU ARE AWESOME!! Thank You!

Permaculture Student Mastery Checklist 6.jpg

Join our Mailing List & Download the Mastery Checklist: 

Have a great week! Tune in Monday for a New Podcast Episode on An Abundant Future with Matt Powers on iTunes & Soundcloud, Wednesday for the Seed & Book GiveAway 4pm LIVE on Facebook, & Friday for another new blog right here. Thank you for reading!

-Matt Powers

Natives, Invasives, Names, & Choices

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Are you eating Natives?

While some rush to protect wild plants from humans even approaching them or interacting with them in a natural context, most plants need interaction to thrive. We've already removed the majority of biodiversity and put in means to prevent easy reconnection (fences, roads, suburbs, pollution, desertification, extinction, etc.) Many plants if not grazed or browsed upon will not thrive. Animals are needed, and we too are animals and part of nature. We are at fault for removing, displacing, or poisoning these ecosystems, so we must clean them up and restore them.

In order for native plants to be valued, they must be part of our lives - we not only protect what we love, but what we include in our daily lives. A superb example of this concept is found in Sean Sherman and his work as the Sioux Chef to reimagine and revive native american cuisine - he is an inspiration. Sean is Oglala Lakota and a chef that recognized the connection between diabetes in the native american community and food - using the traditional ingredients of his culture's diet, Sean is helping heal his community. On top of that, he is preserving and protecting native plants through their recognition as food and having value in his own community as well as by the great many people and communities in contact with his work. 

"Blossom Moon Second course: Smoked Turkey Cranberry Pemmican Soup • Wild Rice Cake • Fiddlehead Fern • Popcorn Shoot • Sorrel • Cranberry Wojapi Broth" by Sean Sherman, The Sioux Chef.

"Blossom Moon Second course: Smoked Turkey Cranberry Pemmican Soup • Wild Rice Cake • Fiddlehead Fern • Popcorn Shoot • Sorrel • Cranberry Wojapi Broth" by Sean Sherman, The Sioux Chef.

Pascal Baudar is doing similar things: connecting communities with their local "terroir" - the local territory's flavor! 

"Raw Country Elderberry Wine" by Pascal Baudar 2017.

"Raw Country Elderberry Wine" by Pascal Baudar 2017.

What's Invasive?

Many people lament the plight of our Native Plants being overrun by Invasives - they will pour huge amounts of emotion, resources, and chemical into the defense of this concept of purity being tainted. It is essential anthropogenic in its conception: foreign invaders are moving in and taking over! The real problem with this idea is that - in terms of biodiversity - everything at one point was invasive. I recall Toby Hemenway talking about how Douglas Fir trees were invasive less than 2,000 years ago, and that makes sense - how does Darwinian or even Syntropic Evolution work? Every adaptation would be labeled "invasive" right? Making the concept itself anti-nature at its core. 

Are you eating Invasives?

Pascal Baudar teaches foraging all over the world. He was raised in Belgium and lives now in Los Angeles. He even teaches students how to eat invasives and natives in such a way to promote native habitat and biodiversity. His work is often controversial in the No-Touch world of native plant enthusiasts and ecologists who believe in only non-action and observation as ways to interact with nature (which assumes that humans are not part of that system which is ludicrous as well as climate change requires non-action rather than action).

In reality, there are no Invasives: All are Invasives. The same goes with Nature & Humanity: Humans are part of nature, not separate. The global landscape has been affected and shaped by human activities long before the industrial age exponentially increased it though it was long recognized hundreds and thousands of years ago that human activity (agriculture) was destroying landscapes. What we need to do is flip our behavior upside down and start living syntropically.

The concept of eating invasives extends outward and embraces this idea that you consume your problems turning them into food, making the problem a solution. How can we Eat the Invasives in our own lives, systems, and designs?

"Weeds and insects Dandelion salted, rinsed (to remove some bitterness) and steamed. Foraged and pickled mustard seeds (black mustard, mediteranean mustard, etc...). Sesame oil and soy sauce for dressing. Roasted grasshoppers (Chapulines) - Shaved aged Parmesan." by Pascal Baudar.

"Weeds and insects

Dandelion salted, rinsed (to remove some bitterness) and steamed. Foraged and pickled mustard seeds (black mustard, mediteranean mustard, etc...). Sesame oil and soy sauce for dressing. Roasted grasshoppers (Chapulines) - Shaved aged Parmesan." by Pascal Baudar.

Names Have Power

When we give something a name like Invasive or Native, we automatically create division and build in value-judgements wherein nature there is only fluid change over time and no good/bad roles to be had. Instead of honoring and respecting these plants as individuals, whether wanted or unwanted, we fail to recognize that they indicate soil conditions, climate change, disturbance, pollution, and more. Looking holistically, we can readily see that the local climates are changing dramatically all over the world and native plants are suffering. Invasive or destructive insects, fungi, bacteria, or plants are an epidemic in forests across the globe. They are drawing those natives (which are often in a monoculture of evergreens for timber) down to the soil to restart the system (often earlier in succession, so we get pioneer species that show up: weeds and invasives). All these ecosystems are rebooting - we have to prevent this if we are to survive as a species. 

What Patterns will you Choose to Adopt?

The hour is later than we can grasp, but there's still time to blunt or prevent the environmental disaster that looms in the near future. It is now that we must intentionally adopt new patterns to become what we need to be to change what must be changed. Eating invasives and natives, planting natives in our systems, partnering with nature and using whatever plants work regardless of origin to reverse desertification and sequester carbon are all critical steps to take now in our own systems, cities, and towns. Whatever dislocation exists in our communities and between peoples and governments, banks, and/or corporations must be addressed soon to make widespread change. The good news is people are waking up - looking for change. The time is here to open their minds to the greater patterns that play around us continually in the natural world. Now is the time for garden, food forests, soil building, composting, mycoremediation, phytoremediation, restoration, regeneration, and much much more. The time is now, and the regenerative field is a wide open space just waiting for hard-working, ethical, and informed individuals to take charge. 

You can use my courses and books to learn more about how to live regeneratively and see with the eyes of nature: 

You can learn to forage with Pascal Baudar by following his work here:

If you would like to learn more about Native American culture, cuisine, ethnobotany, and more, check out Sean Sherman's work: