Jonathon Engels

Facebook

In 2005, after earning a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Memphis, I pitched my tent abroad and began one of the few careers appropriate for people with humanities training: teaching English to foreign kids. Through the years, I’ve managed to keep the old writing dream alive, usually in the form of course guides and ESL exercise booklets, but from April 2010 to April 2011, I created a monthly newsletter for a Guatemalan-based NGO, Las Manos de Christine, as well as wrote much of the organization’s website content. Inspired by the success, in late 2011, I decided to explore freelance writing. After having some success on the travel writing scene, which is to say a few websites bought articles from me, published them, and made good on the payments, I felt content and inspired to try my hand at other topics. I’m a serious vegan and into activism, so I applied for a job at great website called One Green Planet. Somehow, they found it in their hearts to give me a shot, and we’ve been collaborating weekly ever since. As well, during my latest travel venture, a trip from Guatemala to Patagonia, volunteering the whole way down, I fell for permaculture and began writing about it as well. And so here we are, voyeur (of sorts) and voyager. To learn more about Jonathon please visit his website here.

Learning What the Dendritic Pattern Is (It Looks Like a Tree) and Applying It to Design

Dendritic Tree (romana klee)

Recently, I’ve been working my way through Geoff Lawton’s new online course, in particular chapter four, which concentrates on Pattern Understanding, as found in Bill Mollison’s Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual. It’s a topic that I do enjoy, though it sometimes feels a bit steeped in jargon, words formerly unfamiliar to me—tessellation and dendritic—appearing again and again. However, it’s the later, the dendritic pattern, that has recently captivated me, and I […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

20 Quick-Producing Perennial Fruit Trees, Vines, Bushes, and Grasses

Serviceberries (Courtesy of RichardBH)

Quick is a relative term, especially when it comes to fruit, but what we’ll generally boil down to is in this article is some form of production in three years or less. While three years is certainly longer than it takes to grow some green beans and tomatoes, in the scheme of creating a perennial food forest that will provide for years to come, it’s nothing. What’s more, with this […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

How and Why to Rotate Your Annual Crops

Veggies

Sure enough the bulk of us permies are working to establish perennial sources of food, cultivating food forests for high yields with low inputs. Nevertheless, annual food crops are often what our kitchen gardens are chiefly comprised of. It’s no big shock, really, as that has been what most of us have grown up eating, enjoy the flavor of, and thus want to grow. No doubt, we should be cultivating […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Building Ponds & Talking Liners

The pond looking over the veg plot

We all know that harvesting and storing rainwater is a huge part of designing a garden, and while swales are super functional and a fantastic way to hydrate a landscape, I—like many others—dream of an area replete with ponds. I want those permanent water features to attract wildlife, to swim in, and to use for irrigation if and when that’s necessary. Consequently, in daydreaming of some day soon owning a […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Donald Trump for One United People?

Donald Trump for One United feat

So it has come to be that Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States, yet the world has not ceased to spin and the rains—one assumes—will still fall. We still have to eat, we still need shelter, we still long to commune, and the earth is still all we’ve got to provide all these things. It would be a lie for me to say that I believe this president-elect will be a positive one for the planet.

Read More >
Shares Comments

The US Election, Standing Rock, Before the Flood, and How It All Ties in to the Permaculture Movement

Albany Wind Farm

Some time ago I wrote an article about permaculture as a political act, and as an idea, it was one of the more inciting that I’ve shared on Permaculture News. Many people wish to keep permaculture out of the political sphere, to view the goings on of the world as something we each address individually, not as a movement. There seems to be a fear, as seems often the case […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

How Plant-based Permaculture Is Possible

Eggplant

I get laughed at a lot. It’s frequent enough that, when I tell people of my intention to build a permaculture system without using domesticated animals, I sort of give a preemptive grin. While I believe most permies mean well in advising me, most seem pretty dead-set on the idea that a vegan permaculture garden just can’t work. In a lot of ways, I won’t lie, the proposition scares me, […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Gardens Aren’t Just for Plants, So What Else Is There?

Garden Patio

Like any budding permaculturalist, I spend a lot of my design time obsessing about what plants to include, how I’ll be piecing together this guild or time-sequencing that bed. I want my crops to fix nitrogen, provide food, deter pest, create mulch, make shade, prevent erosion, and, oh, how the functions add up. Who can help it? It’s a wonderful world we live in, and wonderful task we are involved […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Basil: What Every Permaculturalist Should Know

Thai Basil

In a design system in which we are looking for each element to perform multiple functions, there are few plants that can show off quite the way basil does. As a rule of thumb, things are expected to warrant their placement within our designs with at least two useful attributes, but basil performs well all over the show. It dazzles in the kitchen, the garden, the herb spiral, the food […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Money Is Not the Motive

Money Is Not the Motive

What’s the use of happiness? It can’t buy you money. Henny Youngman I can’t say money doesn’t matter. A lack of it, as well as some fairly stiff standards to meet, has prevented my wife Emma and I from buying land after two years of looking. It has led us to places we’d never planned to live but where we could afford to buy property. We have currently stopped looking […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Survival in Different Terms: A Healthy Ecosystem Is Not Based on Survival of the Fittest

Caiman in Panama (Courtesy of Emma Gallagher

As I’m working my way through and around Geoff Lawton’s online PDC course, I’m pulling out all sorts of nuggets, things that spur my thoughts or twist a smile onto my face. It’s great to hear about familiar ideas in a new light and to feel inspired once more with all the possibilities permaculture presents and all the possibilities to present permaculture. Video: Geoff Lawton’s PRI Zaytuna Farm Tour Somewhere […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Permaculture, a Holistic Solution, Is Applicable Empowerment to World Poverty on a Local Level

Kids in Casa Guatemala Who Helped Us with a Soil Rebuildng and Erosion Prevention Project

I worked for many years with NGOs, most of which were providing English education in order to provide people with the ability to make living in industries, like tourism or international business. Generally, I volunteered in communities where impoverishment was beyond anything I’d ever seen growing up in the USA: Houses were lean-tos constructed from randomly amassed scrap materials, schools often lacked electricity and/or materials and/or books, and people suffered […]

Read More >
Shares Comments