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.

Perennial Vegetables and The Other Reasons You Should Consider Them for Your Garden

Turkish Rocket (Courtesy of Eric Toensmeier)

Luckily for me, my mother was the sort who insisted that I taste something before deciding I didn’t like it. The habit has served me well in later life. As a traveler, I’ve been able to shift my palate from one country’s cuisine to the next, enjoying whatever ingredients seem common to the local fare. As a vegan, those versatile taste buds have kept the doors open to many more […]

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Why It’s Better to Use the Slow Approach to Charitable Permaculture Projects

An abundant expanse of food—flax, chia, beans, corn, quinoa, mustard, etc.—growing at Project Somos in Guatemala. It feeds at-risk families every day.

I began working with international nonprofits about eight years ago, first as an English teacher in Palestine and Guatemala. Having elected to retire early (at about 35) from the teaching game, I’m now regularly approached by organizations interested in including permaculture projects in their game plan. For me, this switch has been very exciting. I am able to continue to work towards a better future for and with others, while […]

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10 Ways to Use Palm Fronds in the Home and Garden

palm fronds

For those who read the pages of Permaculture News regularly, you may have stumbled upon an article or two by me, and if that were anytime recently, then more than likely there will have been some part of that article devoted to my newfound fascination and appreciation for palm fronds, specifically those of the cohune palm, which is native to my current, likely permanent, location of Central America. But, the […]

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It’s the Time of the Season and the Moon is Bright: Time-Stacking, Planting by the Moon and Other Marvels Tic Toc-ing Along

Time-Stacked Garden Bed

To be completely honest, the time element of permaculture is something that hasn’t gotten its due attention from me, but coming to this realization, it’s also an idea that I’m spending more and more moments pondering. No doubt, timing can make a huge difference when planting, creating guilds, pruning, harvesting, and countless other –ing activities. The cycles of the moon, the change of the seasons, the rate at which things […]

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A Lesson in Building So It Won’t Last

Palm Thatch Rooftops

For many years now, decades even, I’ve heard people talk about how things aren’t built the way they used to be. Cars don’t last. Toys break after a few play dates. Computers seem to require replacing much more frequently. Cell phones are much the same. Pots, pans, appliances, electronics—everything has gone the way of cheap production and “bargain” sales. The cynical side of me sees industries manufacturing substandard products so […]

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What Happens When One Walks in the Garden

Sitting for a Spell

I believe in gardens, not as magical fairy lands with gnomes and smoking caterpillars on toadstools (though I wouldn’t kick them out) but as places in which we should appreciate as fully as possible. We should use them to grow food, of course, and we should also use them to grow medicine. But, that’s not all. Gardens have the ability to teach us about the world, how plants, animals and […]

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A Fowl Arrangement Between Us All

The Mulch Makers

Every morning I get out of bed to the sound of turkeys and chickens parading around my cabin en route to a spot behind the outdoor kitchen scullery where scraps of food are tossed every day. It’s a beautiful permaculture set-up, feeding the fowl by merely scraping the plates over the counter. By the next morning, the birds are happy, and any evidence is gone. Occasionally, the dogs get in […]

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What It Means to and Why It Matters That We Buy Local

Fresh apples in baskets on display at a farmer's market

Buying local is quickly becoming a trend, and though some folks may not have noticed the slow change in supermarkets and the growing numbers of farmers’ markets, only occasionally visiting the US (where I was born) or the UK (where my wife was born) has really made it have an impact on us. Each time, we notice more. We are excited about the change. It’s great to go back a […]

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5 Simple Ideas for Transitioning into a Permaculture Garden

Small Space Intensive Food Garden

I meet a lot of people who are new to the idea of permaculture, or more so, they’ve heard of the term but aren’t quite certain what it entails. It’s using raise beds, right? Generally, I try to be broad in my description, including elements of sustainable housing, renewable energy, cyclical systems, small bonded communities, and the whole shebang…But, largely, people have heard about permaculture through the food movement and […]

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Making the Most of Coconuts in the Kitchen

which came first feat

Generally, caught up in the construction of a garden, I think of plants for their purposes in design. This one is nitrogen-fixing, this one deep-tapping. it’s good for chop-and-drop mulch, a bug-deterrent, a perennial version of something annual, shade-tolerance, water-resistance, or any combination thereof. Sometimes I get so lost in those elements of cultivation, that I forget the real reason much of the cultivating is done: To eat. Of course, […]

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On the Relevance of Aesthetics in Permaculture

Hiding in Natural Beauty

(With the Special Mention of Five Techniques I Often Employ to Turn Heads) Often as I contemplate how to make a garden more beautiful, thoughts I find myself having more and more, there is something within me that questions my inclination to do so. I feel like permaculture doesn’t really concern itself with beauty, at least not in a theoretical way. In reading a manual or the latest article, I […]

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Made in the Shade: Tropical Trees and Plants That Ain’t Starving for the Lime’s Light

Made in the Shade

I’m getting excited. I can’t help it. The deal is in the works, and my wife and I are but a few steps—however indefinitely long they take—to purchasing our own piece of land. We’ve decided that the tropics is the right climate for us. We couldn’t resist the year-round temperatures suitable for growing. We couldn’t resist the fantastic tropical fruits—the pineapple, mango, cashew apple, lime, coconut, jackfruit…there are so many!—and […]

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