Jonathon Engels

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The financially unfortunate combination of travel enthusiast, freelance writer, and vegan gardener, Jonathon Engels whittled and whistled himself into a life that gives him cause to continually scribble about it. He has lived as an expat for over a decade, worked in nearly a dozen countries, and visited dozens of others in the meantime, subjecting the planet to a fiery mix of permaculture, music, and plant-based cooking. More of his work can be found at Jonathon Engels: A Life About.

10-Plus Healthful Teas from the Herb Garden

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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 […]

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14 Sites to Help with Your Permaculture Practice

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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, […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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10 Edible Perennial Vines for Vertical Gardening

Courtesy of Deborah Austin

Vertical gardening is a concept that is well promoted these days, especially when considering urban and suburban gardens in confined spaces. A quick search on any server will reveal a great collection of reused plastic bottles or PVC pipes suspended alongside walls and fences, little bunches of salad greens poking up periodically. Everything from old pants pockets to upcycled dressers to old pallets are used to grow food beyond just […]

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A Site Specific Nuts and Bolts of Zone 1 Gardening in Rio Dulce: Tropical Wet/Dry Climate

feat Sweet Potato, Chaya, Habenero, Okra, Cuban Oregano, and More - Copy

Recently, I put together an article outlining the (or my) basic theory of Zone 1 gardening, both for a specific NGO project I’m working on as well as in the hopes that it might be helpful for others in similar situations. For it, I wanted to present broad, accessible ideas that could apply across the spectrum of climates and, in the case of charity projects, cultural practices. Ultimately, though, we […]

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A Basic Introduction to Zone One Garden Theory

What Isn’t Path Is Growing Food (Emma Gallagher) Feat

Recently, my wife Emma and I were asked to introduce zone one permaculture to women in about 15 or so indigenous villages around Rio Dulce, in southeastern Guatemala. Seeing as we had only a couple of weeks to get the project completed, my initial reaction was one of panic. Suddenly, the DRAs (daily recommended allowances) of these women’s families were on our shoulders, and somehow we were supposed to visit […]

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