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.

How to Make Your Own Plant-based Cooking Oils

oil in non-stick frying pan

On the road to self-sufficiency, there are lots of everyday items we run across that seem either impossible or too far-fetched for home production. In some cases, this is true: One can’t very well grow rice in England or wheat in the tropics, so the right answer is probably to minimize or cut out the use of certain things with regards to what can be produced locally. Such is life, and such is the case with cooking oil.

Read More >
Shares Comments

Cut Your Chickens Feed Bill by Fermenting

Cut Your Chickens Feed Bill by Fermenting feat

Fermentation is nothing new to most of us. We’ve either used it with our surpluses for natural food preservation, or we’ve taken advantage of the probiotics, those beneficial bacteria, that fermenting something creates. As health-promoting element of our diet, its importance is not up for debate; as a part of industrialized lifestyle, its absence has now been recognized as a serious flaw in the system.

Read More >
Shares Comments

How to Filter Your Own Drinking Water

How to Filter Your Own Drinking Water feat

My wife Emma and I have been looking for property in Central America for over a year now. During the search, we have been volunteering on different spots, learning from those who have already been there and done that, as well as experimenting with ideas we have for our own future farm. One of the things that is always on our minds is water. Of course, aiming to be as […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

10-Plus Healthful Teas from the Herb Garden

lemon-splash-132464345

What’s not to like about tea? And, what’s not to like about being healthy? For that matter, what’s not to like about growing plants to make healthy teas out the garden? Odds are, if you’re the type scrolling around on the pages of Permaculture News, you already have a load of useful plants for making medicinal teas growing outside in the garden (or maybe even inside). Most of us think […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

14 Sites to Help with Your Permaculture Practice

questions answers ask the right question and get an answer road sign indicating online help or support desk solving problems

These days I design more freely. I’m comfortable assessing where a good place to plant might be. On a good day, it might even occur to me what to plant and how to plant it. I have experience finding contour lines, installing swale systems and collecting water, and I know how to find or create on-site resources to make fertile garden beds. I’ve worked some with construction-grade bamboo, with cob, […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Why Our Lawns Are Bad for the Environment and How to Change Them for the Better

feat Why Our Lawns Are Bad for the Environment and How to Change Them for the Better

Lawns were a European invention, England to be precise, and they were the undertaking of the fabulously wealthy, seeking to bring the glade closer to home. Originally, they were cultivated with more useful (though not necessarily used) plants like chamomile or thyme. However, the trend moved towards closely cropped grasses, first maintained by grazing sheep then by men with scythes and finally, eventually, moving along (in fast forward) to the […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Great, Free (or Cheap) Gardening Resources for the Small-Time Farmer

feat Rooftop Allotment (Courtesy of David Barrie)

Much of the modern food movement, the one that is shedding large-scale monocultures and promoting local self-sufficiency, is predicated on small farms. Our suburban lawns are being transformed into zones of food production. Our urban balconies become miniature ecosystems, complete with animal habitats and edible gardens. Vacant lots and public parks are converted into food forests and/or allotments. At the beginning of this transition, we are relearning some skills—seed-saving, organic […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Gardening What Grows: Using Nature’s Choices a Year Later

Cranberry Hibiscus

About a year or more ago, after eighteen months of traveling, my wife Emma and I returned to the closest thing we have to a home: an eco-lodge in Guatemala, in a small village outside the tourist hub of Antigua. Earth Lodge has been the place we go when we run out of steam. It has been a haven and space for personal growth, and it comes with the benefit […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

Home Cooking with DIY Kitchen Equipment

Cooking by Fire (Courtesy of Josh Larios)

I’m a huge fan of home-cooking and, even as a teenager, learned to prepare meals from scratch for myself, which was pretty miraculous in the 90s but even more so these days. Whatever the case, cooking at home with real food is a huge part of the permaculture lifestyle. After all, we have to do something with all the fruit and veggies we are growing. Having a decent grasp on […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

The Casa Guatemala Permaculture Project: Phase One

A Starting Point

It had been several months of being in touch with Heather, the director of Casa Guatemala, before my wife Emma and I finally visited the once orphanage turned school, a sort of haven for children from impoverished families in which parents can’t afford to support them. Otherwise, daytime students commute from surrounding villages to take advantage of the better quality education on offer, as well as a free meal and […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

8 Common Plants to Grow for Their Medicinal Benefits (All Great for Indoor Container Gardens)

Oregano (Courtesy of cyclonbill)

Just about the same time I started getting into permaculture, I began developing an interest in the power of food as a preventative medicine. Permaculture appealed to me because it seemed obvious that the way we were cultivating our food with an overabundance of chemicals was destructive to the planet and to our own health. When it came to farming, doing what came naturally seemed, well, the natural solution. Letting […]

Read More >
Shares Comments

What Fair Share Can Mean in the Permaculture Community

More Than We Can Eat

The quiet third permaculture ethic, “fair share”, gets much less press than the two headliners. With a grand mission that includes sustainable energy, conservation, ethical practices with animals and agriculture, and a steady rebuilding of the damage humanity has already caused the planet, earth care is something with many easily identified branches and movements to adopt. And, with its movement towards fair trade business models, safe working conditions, and personal […]

Read More >
Shares Comments