The Little Permaculture Things – The Perchance Wood Chipper

So I’m coming home from this walk that I do with my neighbour in the morning. That’s another story

I’m trying to be quiet so I creep creep creep. Shoes off at the door, I slip gently as Gem sleeps. I slide into the kitchen, switch on the water for the tea..

Then I hear BRRR BRR BRRR out on the street

It frightens the life right out of me.

What’s all that whirring, I’m up off my feet. My heart is skipping to the beat. As I climb on the back of the seat to throw open the curtain to have a look-see.

Hell YES. I do a massive Cheshire Grin. Today is just beginning and I’ve already got a win. Don’t worry, Emmy, you didn’t miss the bins…

I’m straight up, shoes on, get the buckets from outside and head over the road.

A chipper, mate. I am CHIPPER mate.

So, the sound I was hearing was this industrial-sized wood chipper and it’s cutting down trees from a neighbour’s garden. I’m a bit apprehensive because I’m not really sure if they’re allowed to give away the chips of trees.

To me, I’m looking at a treasure mine of mulch. Naturally-grown trees, straight from the street I live in, all chipped up and ready to spread on my beds. Mostly carbon with some dicey bits of nitrogen thrown in from what looks like yucca leaves.

Anyway, chance me arm, as they say.

I go over, bits are just flying everywhere. He’s got all the gear on. High-vis bloody everything from coast and tails to a nice shiny helmet. Nobody can miss him. But he’s got those plastic goggles and it’s spitting rain so he’s having trouble seeing stuff and he’s got ear defenders on because it’s so brain-jarringly deafening.

So I approach through the tornado of leaves and thunderous engines and he sees me last minute and has to turn everything off. I feel bad now, like maybe I’ve wasted all his time for two measly buckets-worth. Maybe he’ll be like, ‘Nope, boss don’t let me because of insurance and law suits and this, that, and the other nonsense red-tape barrier’.

Anyway, long story short, I put my anxiety aside and ask anyway. He’s glad to give me some. Happy about it, even. He’s chatting to me about how he puts it on his allotment, I’m telling him about how to use it to make some compost-type teas. He’s giving me good ratios to spread it.

What’s the takeaway from this? Get out in the community and ask! You’ll find people are willing to help you out after a little face-to-face conversation and a little chuckle.

I ran out after and gave him a cheeky beer. Hopefully the weather clears up and he can enjoy it in his allotment later!

If you liked my articles on regenerative businesses and would more, sign up to my FREE fortnightly newsletter. Tips, tools, and resources on creating eco-businesses using regenerative permaculture principles, that I’m personally finding helpful each week.

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Until the next odd permaculture thing happens in my community – ciao! x

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13 Must-Read Ecopreneur Books in 2019 – for Regenerative Startups & Permaculture Founders

The summer is fast approaching, and no doubt, at some point, you’ll be finding yourself kicking back with a cocktail and a good book soaking up the sun.

So why not make summer 2019 a productive year for reading and learning? Combining the concepts of ecopreneurialism and permaculture can really help to square you away as a viable regenerative startup founder – therefore, immersing yourself in lessons from the experts is an inevitable and invaluable part of the journey.

Over the last year(s), I’ve been fortunate enough to voraciously inhale a myriad of really helpful books – books that I feel will be extremely useful to assisting you on your journey, thanks to their unique angles on business, relationships, and systemic operations.

So if you’re a bookworm looking for something to get your teeth stuck into this summer, check out these gems.


The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

Tim Ferriss is an academic and entrepreneur, and is a wizard when it comes to systems-thinking. I read this book a long while back and it’s one of my go-tos when I want to reconsider the systems I using for efficiency in my life and work.

This book breaks down the habits you form with your own operational patterns and seeks to reimagine and reconfigure those patterns to create new habits that are more productive and fulfilling.

I highly recommend this book if you feel like you’re working tirelessly without results. This book provides real actionable tips that will help you to recognise opportunity and reach goals without having to sacrifice work-life balance.


Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by Michael Braungart

While we’re often urged to ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’, this book puts pay to that idea, imploring us to start again at the beginning with different systems of making things. Rather than working on the ‘cradle to grave’ model, this book is about regenerative design as a way to recreate the products and services we need in the world. In fact, this is a bible for regenerative entrepreneurs looking to really consider how they can make an impact with brand new economics.

Using the permaculture theme of looking to the patterns of nature, this book invites us to reconsider abundance and the natural cycles of this that occur – take the fact that a tomato plant will produce hundreds of seeds! In this sense, this book is a guide on how to design products in the same way.

If you need ideas on what you can create as a regenerative entrepreneur, and how to go about it without repeating the patterns of poor business practices and linear economics, this is the book for you. I like that it’s short, concise, to the point, and extremely practical.


The Empowerment Manual by Starhawk

When we’re starting regenerative enterprises, it is integral to consider the human element of our work. Ensuring that our team are working collaboratively, effectively, and happily is very important to the success of the overall vision.

This is one of my favourite books for getting this message across in a practical and visual way. Starhawk uses a hypothetical scenario of a Transition Town to explain the struggles you may come up against and how to deal with them. The manual also includes actual activities you can use to facilitate mediation, communication, deal-making, and conflict resolution. It addresses some of the key global issues we’re fighting against, as well as showing you how to manage effective collaborative organisations.

This is a key read for anyone who is trying to manage the human element of their operations – which is every regenerative ecopreneur!


The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Habit is one of the many things that unconsciously drives our lives. Whether it is compulsive phone checking or needing a coffee every half an hour, we’re not always conscious of how habitual routines are controlling our lives and therefore our efficiency in business, and our practical decision-making.

I love this book because it makes you really reflect on the habits you have formed, and gives hands-on tips on how to break those habits and redesign useful and purposeful habits that lead toward the outcomes you desire. This book has a bunch of cutting edge science, which is super interesting.

This is a great one if you feel stuck in a rut, as reconfiguring your own pattern will help you to see where you can redesign to push the pendulum again.


Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Seth Godin is one of the most influential entrepreneurs of today. He’s a straight talker, with advice that comes from his myriad experience out in the field. Both a teacher and an innovator, Seth Godin isn’t afraid to make the point that sometimes we fail because we’re just not being remarkable.

This book really helped me to understand the importance of standing out, and of providing something that’s niche enough while pushing boundaries. Seth uses his experience to outline what makes companies different and how you can employ these methods to your own work.

If you feel that your product or service is lacking in some way, or is struggling to stand out from the crowd, this is the book that helps you to work out not only how to market it better, but how to literally make it a better product or service.


Starting Green: An Ecopreneur’s Toolkit for Starting a Green Business from Business Plan to Profits by Dr Glenn Croston

One of the main problems I find with seeking to be an ecopreneur, is that there is little literature that addresses the techniques needed for this exact type of business structure. While we can learn lessons from traditional entrepreneurs, there are new ways in which ecopreneurs need to work to ensure we;re not using destructure methods of capitalism to further our ventures.

This book is a hands-on, practical guide to help you work out how to find green opportunities in business and work to design them appropriately and effectively. I like this handbook because it gives great tips on how to seek actual opportunities and recognise them and the power you have to fulfil them. Equally, Dr Glenn Croston helps you to create a viable business plan to carry your idea, while giving actionable techniques for measuring and surpassing competition, without negating the value of cooperation.

This is an exceptional tool for those looking to structurally outline their vision and create a plan to move forward.


Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

While profit isn’t necessarily the most important element of regenerative business, right now the transitional period from society’s current economic system to the next requires us to understand the value of money. Often, the problem with green business founders, is that the financial elements evade us while we focus on the impact of our company’s ideas.

This book gets you up to speed with the financial side, as much as it may seem to be the antithesis of what we’re trying to achieve. Understanding the beast helps to work to fight it! This book will help you to build a healthier relationship with finances to make better decisions that enable your eco-business to remain viable.

This book is very important if you’re trying to work out how to fund your vision, and works equally well on principle when we apply the theory of diverse revenue types.


When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink

I actually drew your attention to Daniel Pink before in my newsletter. Daniel Pink talks about timing. While we often discuss the importance of the ‘how’, ‘what’, and especially ‘why’ when we consider regenerative endeavours, we rarely branch out to truly understanding the ‘when’. Though we know that implementation strategy is integral to permacultural design, we forget to apply it in business.

This book draws your attention to how important ‘when’ is. The psychology, biology and economics of timing are discussed in this book, providing surprising insights into why certain business decisions work or fail depending on the implementation schedule. I love how this book gives you useful tricks on how you should leverage timing in your interactions, deals, and decisions to lead toward higher levels of effectiveness.

This is a must-read for any eco-founder as it helps you to understand how to define an implementation strategy, not just across the long-term but also in daily activities.


The Permaculture Market Garden: A visual guide to a profitable whole-systems farm business by Zach Loeks

When we look at building regenerative businesses, the permaculture ethics and principles are a great way to understand the entire cyclical process of generating and regenerating without waste. However, many permaculturists struggle with the viability of making a ‘profitable’ entity with their small-scale systems.

This book helps you to understand how you can use permacultural skills to live a viable life. While it focuses on being a market gardener, the techniques within the book serve as a useful guide for helping you to understand all the elements you need to consider when it comes to any green venture.

This certainly has a strong sway toward the agricultural side of ecopreneurship and is a great resource for anyone looking to become a market farmer, however it’s also a great resource for anyone looking for practical information on how to design systems that take into account all integral elements for viable profitable opportunities.


The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

When we’re coming up with a vision for our future idea, the end goal can often seem very overwhelming, and we become frozen, unable to start because it all seems to much. The ‘lean’ concept is actually not too dissimilar to practices we employ in permacultural thinking – observing, testing, learning, and repeating.

This book gives real examples of companies that employ this method, and the hurdles they’ve faced, and how they’ve dealt with them using the practical techniques associated with lean thinking. From asking yourself the ‘5 whys’ to getting started with a lean business plan, this book provides excellent methods for testing your ideas and learning from them as you go.

If you’re having trouble getting started – this is the ideal book for you.


Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H Meadows

When it comes to running businesses, systems are vital for measuring success, efficient working, and benefiting from the power of interconnectedness. As permaculturists, systems are the basis of the toolkit that we use to minimise input and maximise output – a principle we should be using in our entrepreneurial ventures.

This book uses methodical thinking and conceptual tools to outline the way systems function, and how they should be designed to provide the most effective routes to working without waste. It helps you to conceptualise the issues with working on elements in isolation, and invites you to reconsider the way you are analysing your own operations. I love this book because it gives you a whole host of ‘aha!’ moments, while deconstructing complicated ideas into easy-to-digest mechanisms for working.

This is a must for anyone designing a venture as it enables you to create and use feedback systems that can help you measure your real impact, while averting crises, and advancing through using systems within systems.


Making Ecopreneurs: Developing Sustainable Entrepreneurship (Corporate Social Responsibility) by Dr Michael T Schaper

This book is more of an overview of the emergence of the ecopreneur and the value that green-thinking entrepreneurs are bringing to the table in addressing issues of waste, productivity, environmental problems, and economic mishaps simultaneously.

This is a great read providing first-hand case studies of how green entrepreneurs are changing the dynamics of market forces. It gives your both insights into what works and what doesn’t work in changing perspectives and influencing behaviour through green ways of operating. This is an important book as it helps you to understand policy decisions and recent developments that are shaping innovation and business on a global level.

For those looking to work with governments, NGOs and large organizations, this book helps to give you the broader reaching perspective.


Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by E.J Schumacher

I once heard this great saying: If we’re on the edge of a cliff, it’s okay to turn around and take a few steps back.

This book was written a long while ago and considered economics as though we weren’t working on a system of neo-liberal classicism, as though we weren’t considering resources as infinite. If this system of economics had been employed when this book was written, perhaps we would have a very different world today.

As an ecopreneur, this is an important book that helps you to understand how to put peoplecare to the forefront of the systems your designing for your venture. This book looks at the damages of excessive consumption, both on the wider level and in more personal scenarios, and invites you to critically analyse the wasteful processes used in business practices today.

What I love about this book, is that it helps you to consider your own wasteful practices and perhaps unconscious forms of waste and overconsumption in your operations, and invited you to redesign them with peoplecare at the centre.

16 Regenerative Bee-Based Business Ideas to Smoke Out Your Inner Beekeeper

As the start of this week was World Bee Day, and we are all very much aware of the bee crisis unfolding in front of us, I would like to draw your attention to the importance of bees and the harmonious relationship we (should!) have with them

For the world, they’re some of the most important pollinators, ensuring we can enjoy a vast array of flora, fruits, and vegetables. Equally, traditionally, bee byproducts have been somewhat of a staple in producing natural products – such as candles, fuel, lotions, and creams.

Unfortunately, the oil revolution led to many bee products being replaced with oil-based products, such as paraffin wax, which are not only harmful to the environment but also to our bodies.

To buck this trend, I’d like you sustainable soldiers to consider the possibilities of encouraging the development of apiculture through growing regenerative enterprises that focus on bee-based products.

Here are a handful of bee-related business ideas that you could get your teeth stuck into, while supporting your local beekeeper, or even raising bees yourself.

Sourcing Bee Products

Now, when we look to build regenerative ventures, we’re looking to reorganise our economic and social patterns. Rather than just scalping cheap beeswax and honey online, it’s best to look for local producers of bee products in order to keep your business local, reinvesting into your community, while supporting the growth of the bee population and reducing your carbon footprint.

Here are a couple of handy resources to help you find a local beekeeper:

Apiary Map – They have nearly 6000 beekeepers registered on their site, located all over the globe.

Bee Culture Directory – This is mainly for US-based beekeepers

The British Beekeepers’ Association – A resource to find British-based beekeepers

Local Honey Finder – This is more useful for sourcing honey and is limited to the US

Bee The Cure – This is an Australian source, mapping honey suppliers and beekeepers down under.

Bee Product Business Ideas

Honey (Obviously!)

Honey is the most obvious of all the bee products, with bees producing a great deal extra that can be used for making products.

You can test out various different flower honeys by either locating your bees near certain plants, or by buying from beekeepers who do this.

Alternatively, why not try making honey products, such as honey stirring sticks for tea.

USE CASE: Farmer Gene’s Organic, Raw, Local Honey

This honey is made utilising the wildflowers surrounding their 4 Oregon farms, contains no preservatives or synthetic chemicals, and comes from their very own, all-natural apiaries.

What I like most about this is that you have to buy it directly from Farmer Gene’s farms (or online shop) sending the profits straight back to the maker.


Solid Lotion Bars

Solid lotion bars give you a great way to moisturize your skin without drenching it in synthetic chemicals that later dry out the skin. They’re easy to travel with, giving you a great audience in eco-backpackers and you can use reusable tins to package them.

If you want to get started creating lotion bars for your enterprise, here is an easy-to-follow 3-ingredient recipe to make your own coconut oil beeswax lotion bars: Coconut Mama: Coconut Beeswax Lotion Bar

USE CASE: Honey House Naturals Small Bee Bar Lotion

Honey House Naturals began on a farm near Puget Sound, Washington, by a lady called Ruth Willis, who was using bees to enhance the production of her fruit trees. In an attempt to help her friend’s cracked, drying hands, she created this bee balm – and now provides a whole range of bee cosmetic products.

What I like most about this is that the bees aren’t just being used for their products, but also in the multi-functional purpose of increasing orchard production – in true permaculture style.


Lip Balms/Lipstick

The soothing qualities of beeswax can be combined with essential oils and natural pigments to create lip balms and lipsticks that aren’t harmful to your customer’s faces, while moisturizing their lips simultaneously.

One of the great entrepreneurial things about lip balms and lipsticks is that they can be easily added to a cosmetics range or a toiletries range, or can be posed to customers that do outdoor activities, work in the sun, or live in cold climates – they can be aimed at fishermen or fashionistas, it’s up to you and your marketing!

Get started on creating beeswax lip products using this easy tutorial: Wellness Mama: Simmer Lipstick

USE CASE: Moon Valley Organics Coconut Lime Beeswax Lip Balm

Moon Valley Organics make a whole range of natural cosmetics and toiletries, including this deeply moisturising lip balm. Their products are certified organic, while most of their ingredients come from their permaculture farm, home to artisan farmer, herbalists and beekeepers. They aim their products at healing their customers while sticking to the virtues of regenerative agroecology.

What I like most about Moon Valley Organics is their dedication to supporting organic farms and farmers, as well as the example they set themselves. They combine various forms of ancient medicinal healing with regenerative methods of farming, to create all-round well-being for the earth, the wildlife, the producers, and the buyers. Even their packaging is 100% recyclable!


Beard Wax

One for the fellas, beeswax beard and moustache wax is a great natural alternative for male grooming, that moisturises the face while helping to tame the beast.

In terms of entrepreneurship, creating your own beard waxes means you can target, not only the male population, but also B2B customers such as barbers.

Start bashing out your own line of beard waxes with this simple recipes from Beardoholic.

USE CASE: Harvest Beard – Premium Beard Balm for Men (Sandalwood)

Harvest Beard was created as a way to encourage stewardship and dignity in men, by reviving the art of beard and moustache maintenance. They dedicate themselves to using high quality products that reflect their dedicated to eco-friendly practices.

What I like most about Harvest Beard is that they’re creating a chic image around the concept of environmental sustainability, utilizing only top quality natural products to create their beard balms. I feel that there is a great deal of emphasis on women using natural cosmetics, but Harvest Beard are dedicating their time to encouraging this behaviour in male grooming too.


Surfboard/Snowboard/Ski Wax

This is a little more of an obscure idea, but a niche product that has a very large audience. When we consider the damage done to the oceans and rivers (mountain run-off from snow) from plastic and paraffin-based products.

Providing a natural alternative encourages sports lovers to respect the natural environment that provides them the thrill. Business-wise, there aren’t that many companies offering this product, making it a great choice for those looking to break into bee-related products that help the environment.

Surf/snowboard wax is quite easy and cheap to make in comparison to other bee-based products, so why not start creating your line today using this recipe from Surfer Today.

USE CASE: My Manoa – Organic Surf Wax

Based out of Manoa Valley in Honolulu, My Manoa makes a whole range of organic soaps and cosmetics, as well as this surf wax. Based in beautiful Hawaii, My Manoa are dedicated to ensure they preserve the environment they love. This surf wax is handmade, and includes organic coconut oil in the recipe.

What I like most about this is that it not only provides a wax that’s environmentally safe, it also moisturises your skin while you surf!


Crayons/Oil Pastels

When it comes to art supplies, many of the acrylic paints and paraffin wax crayons we use are harmful to the environment and our own skin. Not only that, if you have young children, the prospect of them gobbling a paraffin wax crayon is pretty high – which really isn’t good for their health.

Beeswax crayons make an eco-friendly, non-toxic alternative that are safe for artists and toddlers alike, as they use all natural products, including food-grade natural pigments. Enterprise-wise, beeswax crayons have a wide target audience, from Mums of small children, to environmentally-conscious art students, through to kindergartens and nurseries.

If you’d like to start a business making beeswax-based natural art supplies, check out this recipe which also gives great ideas for natural colourings: Hippie Homemaker – Natural Crayons

USE CASE: Honeysticks – 100% Pure Beeswax Crayons Natural (12 Pack)

Honeysticks make both beeswax crayons and soy/beeswax bath crayons from 100% natural raw organic ingredients and non-toxic food grade pigments. Based in New Zealand, the company prides itself on being sustainable and low-impact, from the sourcing of their ingredients through to their packaging.

What I like most about Honeysticks is that they’re not only made from ingredients sourced from sustainable plantations and farms, they’re also ergonomically designed to help children in the development of their writing and drawing skills. Equally, they’re completely non-toxic so it doesn’t matter if your kiddie chews on one.


Firestarters

Wood stoves are becoming increasingly fashionable, while the idea of burning wood pellets is becoming a more environmentally sound option that gas or coal fire heating – especially if one is sourcing their own wood.

In this sense, there’s a great market for fire starters – both in BBQ season and in the winter periods.

Here’s a really easy way to make beeswax fire starters the recycles egg boxes and sawdust, created by Harmonic Mama – you may want to pretty them up if you intend to sell them!

USE CASE: Forest Fundamentals – Beeswax Infused Jute Twine Fire Starters

Dedicated to providing high quality bushcraft and outdoor tools, Forest Fundamentals are designing products that help their customers get close to nature. These fire starters are designed to get a campfire going, but can also be used in the home if necessary.

What I like most about Forest Fundamentals is their tribute to the forest and keeping it natural. By using these jute twine fire starters, you’re not producing any harmful waste, returning the natural ingredients to the soil.


Grafting Wax

For farmers, agroforesters, and agroecologist, grafting is a part of everyday life to produce consistent yields. Unfortunately, many farmers now use paraffin-based grafting waxes, which are harmful to the trees and plants.

There aren’t many beeswax alternatives out there, creating a hole in the market for any ecopreneur interested in filling it, as it provides a product ideal for organic farmers, urban gardeners, and orchard managers.

You’ll find a simple recipe for beeswax grafting wax here.

USE CASE: Trowbridge’s – Grafting Wax

Trowbridge’s Grafting Wax is probably the oldest and most well-known grafting wax for organic farmers. It’s super simple to use, with just a little heating and applying it with a stiff brush.

What I like most about this particular brand is that because it is made using all natural ingredients, it can also be used as a seal to help heal wounded trees, as well as for grafting.


Wood Polish

Wood needs to breathe while also obtaining moisture to stop it cracking. Yet despite this, modern day polishes filled with toxic chemicals create a sheen on top of the wood, which doesn’t moisturise it, but instead just makes it look shiny.

There is a solid market for beeswax wood polishes, especially when it comes to high quality long-lasting furniture and outdoor furniture in hot countries (that easily cracks in the sun).

You’ll find that by pursuing this angle, you can either sell to individual customers, or place your products in furniture shops or sell it to furniture makers – as well as home builders and those that create wooden structures, like sheds. You can also benefit from this if you’re a carpenter/woodworker yourself.

Lovely Greens has the most basic recipe for beeswax wood polish, and demonstrates how to use it, for those looking to turn their hand to the woodcare business.

USE CASE – Three BEEautiful Bees – All-Natural Beeswax Polish with Jojoba Oil

With all-natural ingredients, Three BEEautiful Bees wood polish is designed to condition the wood, as well as providing a protective layer between the wood and dirt, grime, water and food. Using organic Jojoba oil, this wood polish moisturises deeply into the wood, restoring its natural shine.

What I like most about these wood polishes is that they’re created by an energy healer, who combines them with calming and refreshing essential oils that heal the mind and soul and create a calming atmosphere in the room where the wood is being kept.


Deodorant

If you’ve ever tried to source a decent natural deodorant, you’ll know the hassle. Nobody wants to pong like a ‘smelly hippie’, yet all-natural deodorants rarely do the trick. That said, beeswax deodorants tend to be extremely effective.

In this sense, you have an ideal product to market to both men and women concerned with eco-friendly cosmetics and toiletries – that actually works! As a daily-use product, you’ll find you can easily create return customers to your brand.

Dabble in all-natural deodorant making using this recipe from Don’t Mess with Mama

USE CASE: Bee Fresh – Natural Deodorant

Containing 100% organic natural ingredients, Bee Fresh deodorant not only keeps you from whiffing, it also has natural antibacterial properties that help to create healthy skin, while balancing the pH levels.

What I like most about this deodorant is not just that it works, it’s that the company are dedicated to ethical practices, testing only on humans (never animals), while sourcing from sustainable producers. Also this product allows the skin to breathe, without blocking pores, but stops you from kicking up a stink!


Food Wraps

Cling film or plastic wrap is simply a terrible product. While snap boxes and tupperware can replace these, you’ll find their discolour over time, while leaking chemicals into your food.

Natural beeswax wraps are a great alternative. With the ‘reuse’ trend coming into full swing, it’s the ideal business opportunity – especially since you can recycle old materials, giving you a cheaper headstart.

If you’d like to jump on the ‘reuse’/’zero waste’ trend, you can learn to make beeswax wraps from Mountain Rose Herbs.

USE CASE: Lottie and Bo – Beeswax Wraps

With a variety of shapes and sizes and fun patterns, Lottie and Bo was started from the founders’ kitchen in response to the overuse of plastics and the sheer volume of environmental degradation. Lottie and Bo have a range of wraps and will hand-make to order. Their wraps are 100% natural and antibacterial by nature.

What I like most about Lottie and Bo wraps is their story. The founders are using this business opportunity to showcase a better way for their children to leave – leading by example, as well as leveraging personal entrepreneurship to break away from the grey monotony and limiting boundaries of the rat race.


Candles

Perhaps one of the other most obvious examples of beeswax use, candles have gone back for centuries. Producing natural candles using beeswax is relatively simple and cost-effective, and also provides opportunities for aromatherapeutic healing, by combining the beeswax with essential oils.

In terms of a business opportunity, this is quite a saturated market, however organic products of this type are still few and far between. Creating products with unique healing properties and incredible handcrafted style tends to be the way to go.

While you’ll need to make the product your own to sell it, you can learn the basics of beeswax candle making from Hello Glow.

USE CASE: Honey Bee Candles

Created by two female founders, these beautifully crafted beeswax candles are all made from ethically sourced beeswax that supports traditional beekeepers and their families. Not only are the candles aesthetically stunning, all packaging is plastic-free and zero-waste.

What I like most about Honey Bee Candles is their commitment to zero-waste living and to ensuring that beekeepers are supported for their work.


Mead

Mead is a very old fashioned alcoholic drink that is making its way back into the popular eye thanks to the craft beer movement.

With the craft movement open to new ideas, there is a great deal of room for unique mead flavours and micro-brew batches.

You can learn to make mead from mead master Jereme Zimmerman, in his comprehensive book: Make Mead Like a Viking: Traditional Techniques for Brewing Natural, Wild-Fermented, Honey-Based Wines and Beers

USE CASE: Hexagon Honey Mead

The only organic mead in New Zealand, Hexagon Honey Mead is made from an old recipe, which has been enjoyed for generations. Named after the old hexagona hut on the founders’ family commune, this mead is simple yet delicious, carrying a long history behind it.

What I like most about this mead is that the company has been involved in beekeeping for over 50 years, which gives them a wealth of experience in keeping bees healthy, as well as producing fine mead! I also love their motto: ‘Enjoy with gladness and happiness of heart’.


Bee Pollen and Propolis Tinctures

Bee pollen tinctures are incredible allergy relief medicines, as well as being excellent liver tonics, immune system boosters, and stress relievers. Bee pollen tinctures are often used to relieve menopause symptoms too. You’ll also find bee pollen tinctures are used as a dietary supplement

Propolis tinctures are used to heal wounds, relieve burning, and for cancer symptoms.

Business-wide bee pollen and propolis tinctures appeal to a wide-ranging audience, from older women to those who suffer from allergies to anyone suffering from sunburn!

If you’d like to know how to make tinctures such as these, you can follow this tutorial from Humblebee and Me.

USE CASE: Ecstatic Earth – Organic Bee Pollen Extract Tincture

Ecstatic Earth produces a whole catalog of herbal tinctures, with their bee pollen variety being just one of them. All their ingredients are either wild harvested or sourced from organic suppliers, while everything is tested for bacteria, mold, and heavy metals before being sent out.

What I like most about Ecstatic Earth is that they try to forage many of their products, yet still test them for herbicide and pesticide contamination – ensuring you receive the purest medicines.


Soap

Using natural beeswax, you can combine it with lye, honey, and other natural and essential oils to create various natural beeswax soaps. This naturally antibacterial and moisturising, as well as being entirely biodegradable, as not to pollute waterways.

While there are many people creating beeswax soaps on the market today, they’re easy to do and you can combine them with unique herbal combinations for aromatherapy treatment in the bath.

To get started on creating your own line of beeswax soaps, check out this guide by Soap Recipes 101.

USE CASE: Hudson Made – Organic Scullery Soap

Operating out of the Hudson Valley area, Hudson made not only provide all natural, organic soaps, they also source all their ingredients locally to reduce their carbon footprint and to support local economies. Their soaps use flowers, vegetable oils, mineral, and essential oils, blended perfectly to create a harmonious balance in each bar.

What I like most about this company is their commitment to supporting the ecosystem by only using natural, non-toxic ingredients and biodegradable packaging, combined with their dedication to supporting local economies and farmers through their sourcing and production processes.


Bee Balm Medicines

For the vegans among you, the concept of using bee products may not seem so appealing. However, you can support bee populations with your entrepreneurial spirit by creating homes that bees love to frolic in.

If you don’t want to become a beekeeper yourself, you can always grow flowers such as bee balm, which a big favourite to bees. You can either sell these for their aesthetic beauty or you can turn them into medicinal products, such as bee balm teas and tinctures.

Homespun Seasonal Living gives 5 great entrepreneurial ideas for making products from bee balm, that are easy to follow and cheap to make.

USE CASE: October Fields – Bee Balm Tincture

This bee balm tincture is soothing and antimicrobial and is used for flus, colds, and fevers, It is a digestive tonic, as well as an anti-sickness medicine. You’ll find that if you’re experiencing heavy coughing or menstrual cramps, the antispasmodic properties in this all natural, organic tincture will help to calm these symptoms.

What I like most about this company is that it has honed its target audience and leads by example, as a cruelty-free, vegan brand that uses traditional alchemy to bring self-awareness to their products. They believe in intuitive simplicity, which has allowed them to create an incredible line of ethically made medicinal products that work with the rhythms of nature.

To sum up…

As regenerative entrepreneurs, it is vital for us to recognise the importance of protecting all the components of the world, and working in harmony with them.

As permaculturists and environmentalists, it is is our responsibility to help increase the bee population. Whether this is by supporting local beekeepers or by planting diverse ecosystems that attract bees for pollination.

By providing these environments for bees, we create a mutually harmonious connection, where bees can thrive and where we can benefit from bee products, without disturbing the balance of give and take.

As a regenerative entrepreneur, therefore, it is INTEGRAL that if you are creating a revenue system from bee products, that you are sourcing them ethically or producing them ethically yourself. This means organic production, careful consumption, and reducing carbon footprints as we go!


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8 Ecopreneur Podcasts for Permaculture & Regenerative Startups

When it comes to the best resources to get information across, I find there’s nothing more captivating than a good conversation. Podcasts present the perfect opportunity for experts, advisors, visionaries, and movers and shakers to divulge some of their best secrets on how we can all achieve.

As ecopreneurs, permaculturists, holistic managers, and regenerative startups, immersing ourselves in as much information as possible is invaluable. However, sometimes reading books and watching documentaries can take up a little too much time.

Podcasts are a great way to wander around topics, gain some great actionable insights, and still have two hands to get stuff one!

Here are some of the most valuable podcasts I’ve found really help me with improving my strategy, providing insider secrets to help boost your productivity when building a sustainable, viable business.


The Disruptive Entrepreneur

What It Is: Hosted by Rob Moore, triple best-selling property author, keynote speaker, entrepreneur, and investor, The Disruptive Entrepreneur offers a variety of content, including interviews with founders and entrepreneurs, as well as educational content from some of Rob’s own lectures and lessons.

Why You Should Listen To It: Rob provides actionable insights for businesses looking to grow, from marketing tips to leveraging social media to putting accountability measures in place. Have a pen and paper for each episode, because you’ll walk away each session with a myriad of steps you can take straight away. This is an especially good podcast if you’re looking to increase customer awareness and infiltrate your target audience.


The Rise of the Ecopreneur

What It Is: This interview-style podcast is hosted by Shelbi, a well-known sustainability vlogger. Each episode jumps into deep conversations with ecopreneurs, environmental experts, sustainability stakeholders, and regenerative start-up founders. It explores how and why these people are successful, providing tips on how to reach the same level with your own endeavours. Aimed at those who are passionate about regenerative action, this podcast is a winner for those looking to expand in green business.

Why You Should Listen To It: Shelbi has a great array of approachable guests on who provide touchable advice that you can follow from the get-go. Instead of talking about how money breeds money, this podcast gives you great insight into how to get going with what you have, how to deal with some of the conflicts that come between eco-friendliness and entrepreneurship, and provides a comforting backdrop that allows you to see how each entrepreneur pursued their goals. This is ideal if you’re a founder or visionary wondering how to get up and go.


Mixergy

What It Is: Hosted by Andrew Warner, who built a $30mil/year company in his 20s, this podcast is a place to learn from really successful, proven entrepreneurs from all sectors. While not focused directly on ecopreneurship, this podcast dives right into the creativities used and barriers faced from real-world founders. This podcast has a mix of interviews with high profile guests, as well as some lecture style podcasts rom experts, and some updates on what’s going on in the business world.

Why You Should Read It: Use cases provide excellent examples of what we need to do to get from where we are to where we want to be. Andrew’s easy-going interview style doesn’t stop him from asking the tough questions we all want to know the answers to. This podcast is a great resource for actionable steps to increasing revenue and decreasing working hours, while building sustainable structural systems within your own venture.


The Permaculture Podcast

What It Is: Hosted by Scott Mann, permaculture practitioner and computer scientist, this podcast is dedicated to education in permaculture, sustainability, and holistic management. One of the longest running permaculture podcasts, Scott provides an environment for listeners to learn from those who are making it work first-hand – the practitioners, the experts, the enterprises, and the educators. Each conversation explores the interviewee’s experience and as well them divulging their personal secrets to success.

Why You Should Listen To It: Scott Mann brings on realistic guests who live their lives running permaculture and eco businesses. These guests give valuable insights into the realism of the struggles that occur and the shortcuts that can be used. The advice is extremely specific to running permaculture style businesses, as opposed to purely entrepreneurial podcasts, allowing you to understand what to expect and to plan for this. You’ll also get very specific tips to help you out.



Permaculture Voices

What It Is: A permaculture-themed podcast aimed at farming, business, and life, this show is hosted by Diego Footer, who also organizes the Permaculture Voices Conference. In this podcast you’ll hear from experts who have chosen paths to follow in permaculture and farming. Diego asks hard questions and opens honest conversation to piece together what it takes to build business in these arenas, with practical advice that listeners can follow – whether than be crop selection,time management, goal setting, or soil regeneration techniques. The podcast has a great range of both tips and techniques, as well as heart-felt honesty and debate on global topics.

Why You Should Listen To It: This is one of the most practical podcasts providing useable techniques to help build business. Not only does it provide help on the actual skills needed and specifics on how to apply them, it also looks into business practices that need to be employed to plan and strategize the viability of your enterprise. This is a great podcast for those specifically looking to create business from farming and agroecology.


0 To 7 Figures

What Is It: While permaculture and regenerative entrepreneurs are not necessarily looking to make huge sums of money, the methods to meeting the final goal of success usually follow similar patterns of strategy. This podcast, hosted by Brandon Gaille, provides quick, snappy tips for helping you to redesign your patterns for better success. Many of the podcasts come as top 10 tips, and cover topics such as sleep, time management, funding, productivity hacks, and startup tips.

Why You Should Listen To It: The fast-paced nature of this podcast gives you great insights if you’re time poor – with many episodes being 10 minutes, you can fit one in over your morning coffee. You’ll find that they give a brief overview of important topics you might not be considering that affect your working practice – such as nonverbal communication, negotiation tactics, stress, and self discipline – but can serious help you make behavioural changes that alter your systematic strategies.


The Regenerative Business

What Is It: Hosted by keynote speaker, author, and executive educator, Carol Sanford, this podcast seeks to bring you responsible entrepreneurs and capitalist investors who are helping to shape the sustainable business arena. In each episode, Carol guides conversation that breaks down how each of these people has made their own endeavour work, what they propose for the future, and how they feel others should approach the startup tasks ahead of them. Particularly focused on the growth of regenerative businesses, this podcast provides and open and honest look inside the lives of those who are working successfully in many arenas of regenerative entrepreneurship, without focusing solely on farming.

Why You Should Listen To It: While this podcast isn’t providing the most practically applicable tips,it does give you an overview of real-world hurdles and starting points. By understanding these use cases, you can see patterns across each entrepreneur which you can mimic, while also avoiding their pitfalls. It’s engaging and authentic and provides education as well as entertainment.


Next Economy Now

What Is It: Founder of Force for Good Fund, Ryan Honeyman, hosts this podcast that singles out the leaders in the sustainability and regeneration fields and asks tough questions about what they’re doing and what we should all be doing in our lives and in our businesses. Some episodes address practical topics like visioning, strategizing, and operations, while others delve into the social, environmental and economic issues faced within business and across the globe. A great mix of science and opinion, each guest is captivating and charismatic, while Ryan leads strong and worthwhile debate.

Why You Should Listen To It: This podcast has some very high-profile guests who help you to understand practical applications of regenerative techniques on a larger scale. With a wealth of experience at their fingertips, these experts bring issues to the table which you may not have considered in your own working practice, while relating them to wider global outlooks. Insightful debates, tough conversations, and well-rounded opinions provide the backbone of this podcast.

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Learning to Learn – Outlining My Permie Learny Journey

So I’ve embarked on this adventure to complete my Permaculture Diploma in Applied Design. That means I need to complete 10 designs in a minimum of two years. Obviously, I would like to do this as quickly as possible while broadening my knowledge, gaining hands-on experience, and really trying to become a well-rounded permaculturist.

We’ve all got goals. We also all have things we want to learn. But all too often I hear the murmuring cries of ‘Oh I wish I’d learned to play an instrument’ or ‘I’d love to know how to draw’.

Sometimes it seems like we constantly feel like we’re past our sell by dates, as if learning is limited to school-age individuals. As if the familiar adage ‘ you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is actually true. I think it’s as true as you make it. After all, if you don’t even try to learn how will you ever learn?

I think it’s not as simple as setting your mind to something and going for it. Often we have a menagerie of things we’d like to learn but we have no time/money/resources/inclination/*insert excuse here* to do it. Instead, we trundle along as bundles of sad faces wishing we were more than we’ll ever become.

One thing about the diploma is it teaches you, nay, forces you to set a learning path. A learning yellow brick road if you will. Sometimes the overwhelmingness of the amount of things we want to learn causes us to collapse into a ball under the pressure and we never even get started. I felt so blown over by the prospect of starting this self-taught diploma that being able to devise a learning plan for myself felt like too much, as though I needed all the information at once and had to learn everything simultaneously like an orchestra conductor forced to play all the instruments while trying to keep the symphony together.

Pen to Paper

After a deep breath, and a kick up my own bum, I decided to start small. I tapped myself on the shoulder and asked myself why I’m taking this journey and what I’d like to learn along the way. Yes, permaculture embraces complex agricultural techniques, logical applications of water systems and all manner of complicated social structures so intricate my brain might burst, but I don’t have to start there. And I don’t have to be restricted to those things either. So I asked myself, what do I want to learn in life?

And here’s the trick of the trade, my fellows. GET IT DOWN ON PAPER. As the ink slips out that pen you start to colour your own learning landscape. You start to see how you can bring those skills together to stack functions, with one following on from the other, utilising one to help learn another.

Here’s where I started:

Learning_Objectives_for_Life
Learning Objectives for Life

Seeing it on paper helps to ruse that go-getter in you. My good friend and amazing blogger Super Lucy J has jumped on this bandwagon to become inspired on her learning journey; as soon as you see it being laid out, it really gets your toes tapping.

Beginning, Middle, and End

So you have this paper peppered with possibilities of lucrative learning. But where do you start? For me, I wanted to tie in these skills I want to learn with where I need to go with my diploma. So I asked myself, ‘where am I now and where do I want to be?’.

Right now, I’m just dipping my toe in the concept of designing permaculture systems and I want to be in a place where I can strategically design, implement and manage complex social structures. I know that where permaculture uses the patterns in nature, I need to understand the basics before I’ll ever get there.

Like a child writing a story, I looked at my beginning, middle, and end. I need to start with the practical basics, somewhere in the middle I will start to focus on social permaculture, and toward the end I want to be looking at more complex social systems. Then I broke this down further to ask myself, which 10 steps do you need to learn?

I have decided that I need to learn about:

  • Garden Design

  • Water Design

  • Waste System Design

  • Renewable Energy Systems

  • Methods to Economic Sustainability

  • Fairshare Volunteer Programs

  • Outreach Educational Methods

  • Food Security Programs

  • Community Empowerment Methods

Tying Together the Symphony

Now I know my beginning, middle and end, I can look at what I’d like to learn and ask myself where it fits in that journey. What skills do I want to learn and how are they going to complement the steps I’m taking in order to lead to developing my all-round knowledge and capacity? Place the skills from the first mindmap with the steps you want to take. This final step helps you to know where to start.

Permie_Journey_Steps_and_Skills
Permie Journey Steps and Skills

For example, I can’t draw. I just can’t. It’s like my brain has this amazing idea and then my hand is drunk. It just wiggles on the paper and mocks my internal creativity. However, if I want to be a permaculture designer, I need to practice this skill; I need to learn to draw. So that’s where I’m starting. I tie together the first step of garden design with the first skill of drawing and I begin to practice, hence the somewhat horrifically child-like drawing of my timeline to follow (logically, the picture probably should go here, but I need to warn you in case you wanted to wear sunglasses or cover your eyes).

I can now look at that first step on my learny journey and say to myself ‘OK, Emmy, chill out. This is what you need to do’:

  1. Find a place/project that specifically pertains to garden design

  2. Order the skills logically that you’re looking to master

  3. Use that time to implement those skills

When you start to get these rushing streams of ideas down on to paper, you start to see the connections and the chronology more easily. For example, take the first step of learning garden design. The catastrophe of skills I’d like to learn seem to order themselves when you think logically. Take a look.

Permie_Learning_Journey_Step_1
Permie Learning Journey Step 1

Straight away you can see that the need to learn to draw goes before learning to use Adobe Illustrator, as I’ll be digitalising the drawings after I’ve made them. Equally, learning to make compost tea will come after making garden ferments, as I’ll make the ferments at the same time as I make the compost and I’ll have to wait for the compost to develop before I can make the teas. When you see it laid out, it dances together to form its own logical sense to you.

The Permie Learny Journey

Here’s my first attempt at drawing out my learning journey. It’s rudimental to say the least, but it’s a start. Next time you see it, it’ll be jazzed up in Illustrator and you’ll be convinced I’m a professional!

Permie_Learning_Journey
Permie Learning Journey

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Only Fools Rush In – The Site-Specifics of Sheet Mulching

Permie_Emmy_Sheet_Mulch
Raking it in

Anyone who works on their garden knows that compost is the thing you put on plants to make them do well. Few people know why unless they’ve dabbled in a little soil science.

While this blog doesn’t aim to repeat the knowledge imparted by most other permaculture blogs, it does seek to divulge some of my personal experiences in permaculture techniques, to help prevent you from making the same mistakes as me. So we’ll cover a quick background here and then go on to my most recent foolishness.

Why is Compost so Damn Good?

I’m not going to give you a science lesson but simply, when we employ permaculture techniques, the idea is to accelerate the success of plant growth. In our dying world, it is no longer enough to sustain ourselves; we need to go further to regenerate the mess we’ve made and to do it with a little urgency. Succession in agroforestry terms basically refers to the stages in which ecosystems move through, from the first pioneer plants (or weeds as you laymen like to refer to them), up to a mature forest.

The soil is also making a personal journey in that time, most basically moving from bacteria to fungi. Bacteria breaks down green stuff like leaf drop, feeding on the nitrogen in the plants. Fungus breaks down brown stuff like straw and dried leaves, feeding on the carbon. In order to accelerate succession, we need both. Compost is a lovely amalgamation of both of these things with bacteria and fungi bumbling along in there, breaking down the stuff we put in, building soil for the plants we want to grow. A rough calculation for this is that you need 40% green stuff, 40% brown stuff and 20% high nitrogen (manure or kitchen scraps, but manure is better). I’ll address how to make quick hot compost another time, but for now, this is about my adventure with sheet mulching.

What in the Heavens is Sheet Mulching?

When we make compost, we tend to make it in a nice, neat pile, relatively close to the garden. However, this still requires that we distribute it around the garden with our back-breaking labour. Sheet mulching is a beautiful technique which increases efficiency by building compost on the spot, pertaining to the permaculture principle of relative location. Not only does this make our lives easier, it also keeps the ecosystems that develop in the soil undisturbed. While turning compost and moving it to put it in place allows oxygen to enter, which helps to fire up the decomposition process, it also disturbs the complex life systems forming inside. Imagine you’re a happy little basteria, building a life for yourself down then, having built your own community and home with other bacteria. You’ve got yourself a bacteria job and you’re putting bacteria food on your bacteria table for your bacteria kids, taking them to their bacteria extra-curricular activities and having a bacteria pint down the bacteria pub with your bacteria mates. Then all over a sudden the dreaded natural disaster of the ‘spade’ wipes out your whole bacteria life and family, and you have to start over again from scratch, or worse, you get burned up in the process. Sheet mulching keeps those systems intact and undisturbed, and keeps them happily working away.

It’s basically making compost in the bed, which improves the soil straight off the bat. Recently I was reading a blog by a highly Christian, middle of America, homesteading Mummy who referred to this technique as ‘lasagne beds’. This made me chuckle but I really liked it as a descriptive title.

Collecting_Brown_Carbon_Sheet_Mulch
Collecting Brown, Carbon Material

So it’s this simple…or so I thought. You dig you bed. Then you place a layer of high nitrogen (manure most often), followed by a layer of green material (weeds, leaves, etc), followed by a layer of brown material (dry leaves, straw, rice husks). This brown material should be wet. You need generously thick layers of each and over time you pile these up over and over, which decomposes making rich composty soil in place. Not only this, the covering of the soil suppresses weeds, preventing erosion by rain, and holds water in the soil.

So Where Did I Go Wrong?

The tropics are luscious, thick eco-systems of pure production, but the nutrients are held in the plants, and not so much in the soil. The moment it gets in the soil, these overarching trees are sucking it up and expanding their growth. Not only does this mean you have to constantly feed the soil, it means that as quickly as you work to manage the growth, the jungle extends its spidery tendrils to take the land back.

When I laid down my sheet mulching, I thought it would be most effective to hoe the land first and clear the weeds out, to prevent them growing through. You can, in fact, just leave them and pile on top and the deprivation of sunlight from the other layers will kill them off, allowing their nitrogen to leech back into the soil. That was my first mistake; doing too much work for no reason. Just too in love with my hoe.

Mulching_hoe_permieemmy
Mulching with my hoe

My second mistake was thinking those weeds would die once I pulled them up, because logically that’s how life works no? No. These weeds are resilient little beggars.

I used dried leaves as my brown layer as we had an abundance around the site, but I found that the weeds underneath that I had pulled up, continued to grow searching branches, weedling through the leaf layers to find the sunlight, while their roots struggled to find solid ground. Often I feel like I’m personally doing this in my daily life, so I could most definitely sympathise. While the majority of stuff was decomposing under the top leaf layer, there were a selection of more viney weeds that would just not give up!

After speaking with one of my permaculture mentors, Itai Goldman, (when I say speaking, I mean freaking out and having a mild nervous breakdown) what I realised I should have done was the old bio-cardboard trick. Luckily, I’d been fermenting up a good old witch’s brew of nitrogen weed fertiliser in the background so I had that at my disposal to use. Rather than digging up all the weeds, I should have soaked the cardboard (make sure it has no ink on it) in the ferment and laid this over the weeds. That way this opaque layer would really stop them getting sunlight. Then I build my lasagne layers on top.

I did this in the end over the layers I had already put down and just piled more over the top and it worked. It stopped those weedy greens struggling to come back through. I was also a little more picky on what I laid as green material. I used cut-grass as the lack of roots meant that the grass would die off quickly without struggling to regrow.

Sheet_Mulched_Raised_Sunken_Beds
Sheet Mulched Raised and Sunken Beds

The beds are happily mulching away now. I haven’t planted in them yet although you can plant pretty much straight away. As I used raised beds, when it rains the water collects in them and the mulch holds them. If it’s dry, at the beginning, I would water the beds a little to encourage the brown leaves to decompose, as when they dry out they do nothing but sit and sometimes blow away in the wind.

What I Learned?

You can read all the books in the world about this stuff. You can indulge in all the blogs with different techniques. Only when you start to do it, do you realise that everything really is site-specific. I didn’t realise the voracity that these vine weeds would seek to stay alive and no blog or permie book really talks about that; because it doesn’t occur on their sites.

Next time, I’ll stand back and observe for longer and really take into account what is occurring on my site and what is likely to be a setback for the generic technique I’m applying, or should we say a hurdle I may need to overcome. Just because our PDCs taught us a little knack we can use for growing, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be consistently thinking about how our site specifically will work with this technique, and what feedback loops the system might throw at us. As our good buddy Elvis taught us ‘Wise men say, only fools rush in’.

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