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.

Fermenting Beverages

It was some time ago, over a year to completely admit the extent of my procrastination, that I was working through a breezeblock of a book entitled The Art of Fermentation, by Sandor Katz, the modern Moses of the dark and mysterious process. It all sounded so fun, so magical for a guy who loves a tip of the tipple but has never made his own, and I couldn’t help […]

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Defining Permaculture Away from the Garden

I’ve recently been interacting with a lot of people who are new to, but completely interested in, Permaculture, and in general, they think of it as a type of gardening. Most often, the explanation I hear of what newbies think Permaculture is revolves around using raised beds. And, honestly, I can remember once feeling much the same. It seems it’s the question so many of us —permies— are forever trying […]

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Green in Guatemala, or Planting the Perennial Seeds of Permaculture

Earth Lodge, Aldea El Hato, Guatemala My wife Emma and I have recently been offered roles in two separately exciting projects that are striving to bring permaculture to two very different audiences. One is working with an indigenous community near (as in a two-and-a-half hour bus ride, crossing rivers that have no bridges, into the thick of the jungle) Rio Dulce, Guatemala, one of the most bio-diverse stretches of land […]

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How to Grow a Seedling into a Plant

Star fruit started from seed in a yogurt pot It’s as natural as natural can be: Plants, from trees to chives, start small and get bigger. We can’t really escape that fact. The trick for those of us looking to cultivate, to instigate food forests and healthy polycultural gardens, is somehow getting from our seedlings to something that will provide us with food, or timber, or chop-and-drop mulch, or windbreaks, […]

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A Little Sauce on the Side: Your Guide to DIY Condiments

Homemade Condiment Collection For all of the growing and eating of fresh produce most of us do, or aspire to do, condiments often survive our purging of processed and problematic foods. Ironically, many of us are growing the exact ingredients we need to make our own homespun condiments, free of food industry chemicals and additives but stocked with real nutritional value and flavor. Plus, once the basics are in motion, […]

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Household Waste and Its Place in the Garden

Seedlings in an Old Plastic Container Flat-out, no arguments, the debate over, we as a society are producing far too much waste, and we’ve been doing it for far too long. It’s not sustainable. The earth is suffering, the environment giving way to the age of rubbish, to swirling masses of garbage in the ocean and oceans of garbage on the land. And, while there is much blame to be […]

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How to Make Cider, Cider Vinegar, and Why You Should Be Doing It

Apple Cider from Above I ran into a funny story in a Michael Pollan book not long ago: The American pioneer legend, Johnny Appleseed, used to stay two or three hops west of the colonial expansion in the USA, buying up large swaths of riverside land and planting apple trees. In most historical accounts (the Disney version), he is depicted as an angel of virtue, making sure that everyone got […]

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How to Make a Productive Patio

It would be great if we all had an acre or two, the time, and inclination to grow our own food, but the realities of the day are that the majority of people have moved into more confined, urban and suburban settings in order to be closer to jobs, entertainment, school districts, conveniences, and whatever else tickles our fancies. It’s the world as it is: Over half of us live […]

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The Magic and Mystery of Constructing a Herb Spiral and Why Every Suburban Lawn Should Have One

Herb Spiral (Panama) One of the first permaculture projects I did was building an herb spiral, and to be honest, the design has never ceased to delight me. Undoubtedly, that one and the few spirals that followed are amongst the most beautiful garden beds I’ve made. More importantly, they are also amazingly productive and a great way of getting into the mindset choosing the right spot to plant stuff, both […]

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Planting in Pots and Other Ways of Playing with Permaculture in the Big City

Growing your own food doesn’t require expanses of acreage. It doesn’t require a tractor. It doesn’t require complete self-sufficiency. As we all well know by now, it doesn’t require chemicals, either. It doesn’t even require a garden, at least not in the way we’ve come to picture one. In some instance, it doesn’t even require soil. There are so many things they are not necessary for anyone to start growing […]

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How to Grow a Medicine Cabinet

Chamomile Bunches It has crept up on us slowly, perhaps without the initial intentions of what we are now left with: prescription medicine. Medicine, for all of the valuable attributes it provides, has been an equally destructive force. Like the chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture, the onslaught of fix-it-all antibiotics and a pills-over-health mentality has put us in more need of more and stronger medicines to combat the highly […]

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Two Hands Are Better Than One (and Other Reasons to Buy Secondhand) and Why It All Pertains to Permaculture

Shopping secondhand starts off for most as an act of frugality. We notice that buying a car, a computer, a TV, furniture, guitar, sweater … anything! … is so much cheaper if it’s been used for a year or two prior, maybe even shows a bit of wear, that unsightly scar on the paint job or the stain from an errant cup of coffee. We take joy in finding stuff […]

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