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.

15 Productive Plants That Are Evergreen and Suited for the Temperate Climate

For me, this year has been full of exciting information about the temperate climate. Having spent most of my permaculture life in Central America, moving to North Carolina has had me say goodbye to many old favorites and marvel at a host of new possibilities. It wasn’t until November, however, that I realized just how naked the forest and garden would be due to the cold. I’ve spent quite a […]

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Thoughts on a Permaculture Kitchen

For Emma and me, our permaculture fantasies involve building our own home, growing 90-plus percent of our food (I guess it’s 100% if we are going full-blown fantasy), and living largely in whatever space we can find for ourselves. We hope for at least a couple of acres, one of which has already been cleared because we don’t want to cut down existing forest. We envision a “natural” swimming hole […]

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Using Gray Water When It’s Too Late to Design Your Home for It

Recently, I wrote an article about passively heating and cooling homes when they haven’t been designed well for it, and to my delight, lots of people left comments, many of them appreciative, regarding the tips. Within those post-article conferring, someone asked for a similar article in relation to gray water usage, so here I sit with that task at hand. Before delving too deeply into it, I just want to […]

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Money & Permaculture

Money, though valuable in its own way, probably should not be the motivating factor for adopting a permaculture lifestyle, that is unless the idea is to escape the perils associated with it. Nonetheless, how and where money will come from seems to be one of the more frequently asked questions when I tell people my plan for setting up a small homestead somewhere, building a home, and growing food. Most […]

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Heating (and Cooling) Passively When It’s Too Late to Design Your Home for It

One of the more difficult things about taking on a permaculture lifestyle when we already have an established residence is that, because the practice is based on efficient design, many times we having seemingly come to the game too late. Once a brick-and-mortar house is built and our savings are invested, it’s no small task to start renovating it to have a built in grey water system or south-facing aspect. […]

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Challenges of Choice

Even before permaculture vernacular had become commonplace to us, my wife Emma and I were active in our pursuit of living more in keeping with how we wanted to treat the planet, its animals, and our fellow humans. We were already ardent boycotters, believers in fair wages, in animal rights, in corporate responsibility. We signed petitions. We were vegans who mostly cooked from scratch. We even shopped locally, utilizing farmers’ […]

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33 Books That Have Enriched My Permaculture Life

There was a time, some years ago, in which I aspired to be a fiction writer, and in those years, I found inspiration in the words of authors who wrote fiction (Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Robbins are two that feel prominent). From there, I entered the world of travel writing, and I studied the works of people (Pico Iyer, Paul Theroux, Tim Cahill, Bill Bryson) prominent in that field. I […]

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Assessing a Property Before Designing It

For the purpose of this article and the scope of which I’m looking to explore, we are going to begin by assuming a hypothetical property is already bought and paid for. In short, we won’t be going into all of the legal assessment ideas that might be involved when buying a property, though many of these thoughts could help in choosing one to buy. Instead, we’ll be looking at assessing […]

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12 Autumn Activities for the Temperate Homestead

For those who have followed my articles over the years, you might be aware of two things: A recent relocation and the fact that, in fact, I do not yet have a homestead of my own. My wife Emma and I spent quite nearly over two years in search of a piece of land in Central America, and in the end, we watched a couple of deals fall apart and, […]

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Manure: An Overview of This Shi…ning Addition to the Garden

Organic gardens really benefit from manure, and that is no mystery. However, it’s important to be aware of what kind of manure is at your disposal because they are not all equally desirable. Some manures, dare we say, are choice garden additions, while others take a lot of coaxing, a slow and patient cook, from composting gurus. Chicken manure is vastly different from cow manure, which is largely different dog […]

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How Do You Use Urine?

Composting toilets are a great thing. They take what has become a problem in modern systems—human excrement—and make it into something useful: rich compost. Despite simple and effective ways of making composting toilets, humanure does still bring about some controversy with those who are worried about pathogens. Confident composters won’t hesitate to put a well-rotted humanure compost in vegetable gardens, whereas less trusting composters opt for applying it to fruit […]

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How to Forage Safely as a Beginner

Disclaimer: Always seek local advise prior to consumption of wild mushrooms. I guess, to be completely honest, the best ways to forage as beginner would be to either hire a guide to take you or attend some sort of class. However, I’m going to come at this thing assuming most people are at least somewhat like me and bit tight with the budget. Truly, and even still, I plan to […]

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