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!


If you enjoy these articles, please support me on Patreon by clicking here: Permie Emmy on Patreon


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Permie Entrepreneurs Are Go #6

Hello again you regenerative rascals, and welcome to your weekly dose of actionable insights and inspiration to help grow your regenertaive startups!

This week, we’re exploring the concept of visioning. When we start out, it is so very tempting to jump straight into strategy, knuckle down and run away with an idea. However, having a vision helps us to know what we’re working toward, to predict the ongoing hurdles we may face, and to practically mesaure our success.

So let’s take a look at some of the experts I’ve encountered this week on my entrepreneurial journey, and decipher what they have to say about visioning.


Self Care

Motivation, Meditation, and Finding Peace in The Information Era by Deepak Chopra (Entrepreneur Mag)

Deepak Chopra is an expert of alternative medicine and advocates this famously through his books, keynote speeches, and presentations. Not only is he well known for his spiritual advocacy of meditation and other forms of energetic healing, Deepak is an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School and an extremely successful entrepreneur in his own right.

In this podcast, Deepak discusses the methods he uses to cope with overstimulation in this world, including the 9 step process he has honed for coming up with ideas and advancing their capacity into a workable solution – whether that be in life or in business.

Lessons from Deepak Chopra

  1. Insight comes from a quiet mind – In the information era, it is hard to find a place to rest our minds. However, if we’re constantly overstimulated, there is no room for the brain to relax and form connections that bring about new ideas. Meditation and quieting techniques are integral to reaching new insight.
  2. The 9 ‘I’s toward new ventures –  Intended outcome, selectively gather Information, Intense dive into analyzing this information, Incubate the ideas by completely letting it go, Insights as spontaneous breakthroughs, leading to Inspiration, Implementation in a small way, Integrate this with everything, Incarnation
  3. Have a morning routine that outline intentions – Deepak starts his day with 4 intentions: To have a joyful and energetic body, To have love and compassion in his heart, To have a reflective, clear mind, and To have a lightness of being. These intentions allow him to face each day with a way to get over stumbling blocks toward his vision.
  4. Stop comparing and redefine success – When we compare ourselves to others, we measure the wrong things to appear successful. Deepak urges one to have a progressive realisation of where you’re going and that if you’re on that path, you are succeeding. Visioning is a great tool to measure this metric.
  5. Long-term success needs passion and joy – You’ll quit if you’re not passionate. Audiences are drawn to those who are enthusiastic and willing to share.

Deepak Chopra is a world-renowned write, who combines entrepreneurial success with spiritualism, connecting the self to the world around it. You can learn some in-depth lessons from his highly acclaimed book –

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams


Entrepreneurial Strategy

4 Steps to Communicating Vision by Michael Hyatt (Lead to Win)

Michael Hyatt is a leadership mentor, who has written and spoken extensively on leadership, goal setting and planning. He is the former chairman and CEO of publishing company, Thomas Nelson, and now leads a podcast to help coach new entrepreneurs into managing business better.

This episode states the importance of visioning as a tool and how we should go about it. As entrepreneurs, we love to dive right in without planning, but this wing and prayer approach leaves us without measurable metrics to understand success, and without a clear action plan to follow to reach any goals we may have. Michael Hyatt uses this episode to run through how and why we should create a vision before asking about strategy, and why this narrative helps us to clearly define products, markets and impact.

Lessons from Michael Hyatt

  1. Visions need to point to a larger story – In order for a vision to be something that remains sustainable, it needs to inspire more than just yourself. The vision needs to hold purpose beyond your own personal success, that points to change in the outside world, as this inspires innovation in thinking across your whole team over time.
  2. Stand in the future and work back – When writing a vision statement, don’t write it as a ‘we will’ document. A vision statement should be written from the future as though you have achieved those things already. In doing this, you can sketch out the details later to fulfil that vision – through reverse engineering, but by putting yourself there, you can truly create a visceral and clearly painted picture of what that future looks like. It should be so compelling, that people want to follow you to that future.
  3. Vision affects hiring – You’ll be hiring people who will make personal decisions on behalf of your company. With a clear vision, you can find people who will represent this and make decisions that fall in line with your overall goal.
  4. Vision statements are powerful filters and decision making tools-  When a question comes up in business, you should be able to run it through your vision statement. If it fits this statement, then the decision should be to go ahead – whether that be a new piece of software, new product, new employee, etc.
  5. Inspirational, Concrete, Practical, Visible – You need to make sure that your vision statement inspires people to want to follow it, while also being clear in its internal culture and outward message. It should be practical, guiding people into exactly how you’ll pursue it and showcase it, while also being visible to the public – this means communicating it constantly and consistently through social media, your website, media, PR, and so on.

Michael Hyatt’s books on leadership and strategy provide easy-to-follow plans for success – starting with vision. If you’d like a step by step guide to success, here’s a great one to get your teeth into.

Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals


Permaculture

Collaboration Over Competition to More Quickly Achieve Our Shared Goals by Whitney Bauck (Green Dreamer)

Whitney Bauck is a conscious fashion writer. The associate editor for Fashionista, Whitney has also contributed writing to the New York Times, The Washington Post, Billboard and many other big magazines. Her own blog, Unwrinkling, dives into exploring some of the heavy topics and shaky issues regarding the fashion industry and its practices, opening debates that need to be discussed frankly and honestly in order to preserve the art, while repairing the culture.

As permaculturists, the idea of fashion can be somewhat abrasive as we associate it with consumerism and throwaway trends. However, fashion is still a route to regenerative entrepreneurship if we recognise its power as a collaborative medium for expression, while remedying some of the more undesirable practices.

In this podcast, Whitney jumps straight in by expressing that while fashion is important, we should not be damaging our planet for it. She wanders around the points of the fashion industry not being held responsible for their practices, not realising the power of their trend-setting, and how people can work together through fashion to achieve the shared vision we’re trying to create in the world.

Lessons from Whitney Bauck

  1. Fashion doesn’t have to be destructive – While the idea of consumerism may seem that we’re turning a quick buck from non-biodegradable fabrics, Whitney points out that through regenerative agriculture and fashion, we have a new route to supporting more entrepreneurial journeys through using sustainable biodegradable natural fibres for clothing. Changing this practice makes good business sense for the farmers, fashionistas, and wearers.
  2. Natural fashion breeds collaboration – The social ecosystem in which natural fashions have been born has led to companies supporting each others within these industries, helping to push a new awareness out to the masses. This collaboration is seeing the trend in natural and sustainable clothing grow rapidly – accelerating our pace toward the end goal of mass adoption and proving that cooperation works more effectively at reaching our shared goals that competition.
  3. Fashion is a place to push agendas – While fashion may have been used to incite consumerism, fashion can in fact, be a place to push agendas. Terms like ‘voting with your dollar’ mean that people who choose more regenerative practices in relation to clothing help to push the agenda of natural fibres and fairer farming practices to shift the paradigms around fashion and consumerism, and encouraging people to purchase natural, organic clothing by making it trendy and current.
  4. More responsible consumerism is possible – While essential that we reduce consumption, by putting money into companies with more eco-friendly and ethical practices, profits are driven through to farmers and workers who are ordinarily penalised in the fashion system.

If you’d like to sneak a closer look at Whitney’s divergent mind, check out her blog on fashion, theology, and consciousness.

UNWRINKLING


Permie Emmy’s Weekly Wild Card

This week I’m goind in hard with the practical. No doubt you’re itching to get started, so let’s put pen to paper with this excellent business model canvas that helps you to unpack what’s in your mind.

Example of how you fill it out, using Patagonia’s business model

The Sustainable Business Canvas by Flourishing Business

I’ve been reading The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. While I haven’t quite finished it (which is why I haven’t posted it here yet), it does provide a great tool for those looking to start out with a vision for their company. While it’s not a vision statement as laid out above, a Lean Canvas is a way to start asking integral questions about your business and how it would operate.
While ventures that are seeking only profit may benefit from Ries’ template of the Lean Canvas, TheFlourishingBusiness.org has gone one further to provide a business model canvas that fits more suitably with green businesses and ecopreneurship.

Firstly, this slideshow is a toolbox that shows you how to use the canvas and fill it in properly.

The canvas itself, a way to consider all the processes, the stakeholders, and the needs and outcomes that may be associated with your idea. In doing this, you’re able to create a picture surrounding the metrics you may need to measure success, the inputs you’ll require to get it off the ground, and you’ll be able to predict any issues that could arise, while building an action plan to get yourself started.

Here’s a blank version for you!

Lessons from Flourishing Business Canvas

  1. Environment, Society, Economy – Interestingly, this business plan looks at the same three things that we consider in permaculture – earthcare, peoplecare, fairshare – helping you to understand how your idea affects the wider environment and the human resources internally and externally, as well as understanding how various types of revenue move through the system.
  2. Build and Tear Down – This business model allows us to consider not only the empires we intend to build, but also the systems we intend to disrupt to get rid of bad behaviours. It invites us to look into what we’re offering back to the ecosystem, how we’ll build reciprocal relationships, and what poor value systems we’ll deconstruct with our ideas.
  3. From patterns to details – As we would with a permaculture garden, this system enables us to look at the bigger picture patterns we hope to achieve, allowing us to later delve into the details. By breaking down the idea into its components, we can see the wider patterns, enabling us to see the details emerge concerning which actions we need to take and in which order.
  4. A working feedback document – You’ll find that with using this document, you can return to it over and over and refine and improve it as the idea morphs and changes. With feedback loops you may find the stakeholders are different, or the channels to reach customers aren’t working, or that you’re upholding ideas you’d rather deconstruct. While this is a great place to start, it’s also an excellent feedback tool to show change and to measure if you’re sticking to the plan.

You can head over to their website to understand more about what Flourishing Business do, where you’ll find more resources and tips to help you.


Well, my sustainable stallions, I hope this week has been a helpful hand in getting you started toward your journey of growth. Through creating visions we can set a path to the future on which we can build strategy, without galloping out the gate blindly.

I hope it’s been as useful for you as it was for me!

Permie Emmy x

If you’d like to donate toward getting my entrepreneurial journey on the road to building a regenerative business incubator permaculture site, please donate here:

DONATE NOW!

If you’d like to find out more about what I’m aiming to do with the money, you can read my blog about my plans for a regenerative business incubator.

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.

Permie Entrepreneurs Are Go #5

Welcome back to another week jammed packed with actionable resources for permie entrepreneurs, ecopreneurs and regenerative businesses!

This week we’re diving into understanding not only the world around us, but how we fit into it and work with it – rather than against it. This includes unpacking how to take inspiration from our surroundings to feel more ourselves, how to look for patterns to mimic for our own success, and how to work with produce to build a viable enterprise.

Without further ado, let’s explore how self care, entrepreneurial strategy, and permaculture can help to build your viable regenerative enterprises!


Self Care

adam_haritan_permie_emmy

Reading Your Body, Reading the Land by Adam Haritan (Good Life Revival)

Creator of Learn Your Land, Adam Haritan talks extensively about how healing your body and healing the land are one and the same. Drawing from his own experiences of feeling unhealthy and unmotivated, Adam speaks about how making a connection with the land around him has helped him to feel more at home and more at peace with himself. Following his career in a metal band, Adam studied nutritional science.

Despite his efforts to improve his own health. Adam found limits to conventional science, finding time in nature and self-learning provided him a more fulfilling route to holistic healing. Learning both mushroom and plant identification simultaneously, Adam has found solace in connecting with kindred spirits and in connecting to the larger landscapes around him.

Lessons from Adam Haritan

  1. Find the diet that’s best for you – While Adam has tried out vegan diets and been proffered a series of miracle eating habits, he found that through self-learning and eating natively to his community, he feels distinctly more healthy and happier. While he supports learning from academia and listening to others opinions, ultimately everyone is different and you need to find what works for you to eat a sustainably healthy diet.
  2. Knowing plants makes you feel at home – When we start to learn about the nature around us, we’re not only able to forage for a much healthier diet, we can also connect with the land we’re on – rather than just being a tourist. For Adam, he says this connection brings him a much better sense of home that he craved so desperately when he was younger.
  3. You can’t learn alone – While self-learning is very valuable, we need to recognise that even the books and literature we draw from was contributed by others. Go out and find like-minded people, clubs to join, meetups to attend. You’ll learn so much from others who are so desperate to share.
  4. Develop a strong enough ‘why’ – In order to truly stick with your goals in a sustainable way, there has to be a strong enough purpose as to why you do what you do. When you find that passion, you find the fuel to drive it to become something bigger than yourself.

Adam offers a great course on foraging mushrooms, which you can sign up to here –

Foraging Wild Mushrooms


Entrepreneurial Strategy

Blueprint for Success by Tony Robbins (Entrepreneurs on Fire)

Tony Robbins doesn’t really need an introduction – or he shouldn’t – but in case you don’t know, he’s possibly the most successful business growth developer and motivator in the world today, as well as being a kick-ass entrepreneur in his own right. Aside from building billion-dollar companies and writing business bestsellers, Robbins also does a great amount of philanthropy, helping to free women from trafficking and providing a billion free meals to the needy over 10 years.  

In this podcast, he gives a blueprint to his success, breaking down why and how traditional education fails us, and how to become a self-learner that propels oneself TOWARD  your vision. This talk brings incredible insights into how he came to succeed and the ethos you should have driving your attitude.

Lessons from Tony Robbins

  1. Leaders are readers – Self-education is everything. Those who can self-learn are able to use the wealth of resources around them to solve any problems they come across. If you’re not learning, you’re stagnant.
  2. Find the patterns – Patterns are everything – as we know from permaculture. Find the patterns to why people failure, and avoid them. Find the patterns to why people are succeeding, and copy them. Objectively analyse the patterns in your own life and define better ones that model behaviour you want, and break the patterns that don’t.
  3. Leaders anticipate, losers react – Don’t wait for things to happen to you and then try to manage the crisis. Look at the potential outcomes, using every experience as a learning curve. In this respect, we can predict the outcomes of certain events, in order to better prepare ourselves or steer the ship in the most prosperous direction.
  4. Fear is paralysing – If you’re frightened of what might happen, you’ll never do anything. Everyone will fail – it is inevitable when you’re trying to find your way. The fear of failure will keep you from putting a foot forward. Only through striking out will you gain experience – whether it be experience of mistake not to repeat, or experience of success to pattern.
  5. You need a higher purpose – Human don’t need much to be happy on an individual level. What do you really need? A good beer and good meal and a dime in your pocket? In order to keep driving your regenerative business, you need to have a higher goal as to why you’re doing it – it has to be something that will drive change on a level bigger than you.

Tony’s newest book of excellent advice on entrepreneurial acceleration can be found here:

Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook


Permaculture

Growing Tomatoes for Profit by Conor Crickmore (Permaculture Voices)

Conor Crickmore is an educator and expert in small scale farming. Pioneer of Neversink Farm, Conor prides himself on large and small scale changes made on his farm that contribute to a fractal system that works both on as a whole and as systemic arms within it. Along with his wife, he’s grossing $350,000 a year with his farm, while also producing a myriad of excellent courses to teach future small-scale farmers.

This podcast delves into the specifics of growing tomatoes for profit – both practically and economically. For those of us who have tried to grow veggies, particularly tomatoes, for profit – you will have encountered hurdles and questions regarding species selection, marketing, grafting/seed, and diseases. Conor dives right in there, uncovering all his secrets of how he not only grows tomatoes successfully, but turns a profit through his entrepreneurial skill.

Lessons from Conor Crickmore

  1. Grow out of season – It’s pretty easy to extend seasons and to grow tomatoes when the market is being flooded by big producers. This is the best time to make profit and increase your customer base as you won’t experience so much competition.
  2. Limit variety – While tomatoes come in all shapes and sizes, with multicoloured heirlooms catching our fancy, often customers will get choice blindness if offered too many options. Conor reduces his selection to 3 colours of heirlooms, a couple of cherry varieties and a beef steak. This encourages easier choice while also reducing workload when growing as there are fewer plant specifications to work to.
  3. Think about marketing first – Considering the tomatoes you grow, your target audience, what sells best, how you’ll present them at market, and how they’ll be packaged will help you to sell better. This will help in the picking and packing process, as well as working out how to upsell with other veggies on the day.
  4. Don’t throw too much risk in your system – Conor doesn’t actually make his own potting soil as he prefers to be sure of the exact mix he is getting. Equally, he grafts all his tomatoes for longer seasons and resistance to root disease. These observations and changes to his system means he’s reducing risk.

If you’re interested in learning more from Conor, check out his highly-acclaimed online courses here:

Neversink Courses


Permie Emmy’s Weekly Wild Card

This week’s wild card is an oldy but a goody. Extremely poigniant in regards to Extinction Rebellion, who are fighting to show our unsustainable system for what it is. 

What is it you ask? Well here’s a great insight.

The Story of Stuff

This is a concisely explained and well-illustrated description of the linear system operating in our world and how that linear system is destroying the planet we live on. Confined by consumerism, we’re extracting resources, polluting through production, using up through consumerism, and polluting again with waste.

Not only is this completely unsustainable, mathematically it doesn’t work out well for us in the end. Both the people and the planet embroiled in this man-made system are being harmed and are threatened with extinction. The crux is that, as we created this particular fairground ride, we can also create a better one that’s regenerative, that puts back the resources we use by conscious consideration or regeneration.

Lessons from the Story of Stuff

  1. One third of natural resources have been depleted in the last 3 decades – When we consider this (I think now it’s about 50% in 4 decades), we realise how little time we have left before we deplete everything that sustains us; especially when we consider that consumption is rising and so is the population.
  2. If you don’t buy or own stuff, you don’t have value – The system is created to force people to buy and own all kinds of things they don’t need, replacing them at a rapid rate to keep that system growing. Those who don’t buy into the system have a very small voice and are inevitably buried by those that perpetuate it.
  3. The system externalises true costs – The real costs of extraction, production, exploitation, and pollution aren’t captured in the reporting of the system. With many factories and production processes moved to developing countries, indigenous land and economies are eroded, leaving the most vulnerable people to be forced to work in unhealthy environments – further reducing their prosperity.
  4. The system was DESIGNED After WW2, Victor LeBow, a retail analyst, (among others) designed this very system encouraging consumerism as a way of life to feed the economy by influencing the people to burn up and replace resources to force expansion. If it was designed so recently, it can be redesigned again.
  5. Our waste methods produce the world’s most toxic man-made chemical – Dioxin is mostly produced from burning waste in incinerators. If we know this is the world’s most toxic chemical, why work with a system that allows its production at unprecedented and ever growing rates? It makes no sense. Regenerative businesses must seek to reduce waste and bypass this system with new methods of reinvesting waste back into the system – there’s no such thing as waste, just things in the wrong place.

You can check out more of what The Story of Stuff Project are doing by heading to their website.


I hope this week has been another inspiring catalogue to help boost your entrepreneurial journey and encourage ecopreneurship both in your head and in your hands.

Permie Emmy x

If you’d like to donate toward getting my entrepreneurial journey on the road to building a regenerative business incubator permaculture site, please donate here:

I’d Like To Help!

If you’d like to find out more about what I’m aiming to do with the money, you can read my blog about my plans for a regenerative business incubator.

Emancipation Economics – Social Permaculture & Cryptocurrency

I’ve been knees deep in the permaculture world (officially) for just over a year and I want ya’ll to realise where a year of permaculture can lead you. I went from digging out drains to speaking on stages so quick my head’s spinning like a yo-yo in the early 90s.

Social permaculture is still new and no disrespect to the fore-people that lead the way (honour and love to Starhawk, Looby McNamara, and Adam Brock in particular), but we’re still working on the vague, missing out some of the finer and somehow monumental concepts. Let’s take the economics.

I know, right, thrilling. You’re probably gripping your seat, thinking, I can’t wait to learn more. Please unwrap this candy of delight she is about to discuss. Give me that sweet sugar of maths and logic rolled into one like a statistical ball of all-consuming fun.

Oi. Don’t knock it, right. I want to take you on a journey of whole systems thinking in a direction none of us conceived. Standing in the awe of my PDC teacher talking about tree types, I never thought I’d be about to indulge you with the transition economics and real world whole systems thinking of incredible cryptocurrencies.

BURN THE WITCH, I hear you cry. Don’t be scared. I promise I’ll be gentle. But I really think it’s time we talked about this.

We can pretend that a market garden is going to give us a self-sustaining future where we can survive on selling our products at the market. We talk about cottage industry like selling tinctures is gonna send our kids to college. It isn’t, and here’s why, you bunch of self-indulging capitalists. While the system that leads to making those products may be regenerative, the economics you employ to market them are not. Oh you think they are, I thought they were. Don’t worry, this ain’t no high horse situation. I’m not buying a ladder to get on my trusty steed.

It’s this simple. I recently took a job in analyzing cryptocurrencies. As a hardened anti-technologist, this was my version of reading the Bible to use educated arguments to slam homophobic Christians. I partly took this job to prove the idiocy of cryptocurrency.

But I was wrong. 180 flip on my view. You wanna see real anarchist economics in action with whole systems design? This is where you should be looking.

Rather than talk to you about the ins and outs of cryptocurrency, I’d rather give you an example. We all know that’s far easier to swallow.

The cryptocurrency I will be explaining is called Tutellus. It works with a whole systems design that brings in students, teachers, and businesses to benefit each of them. So first, I want to outline the problem.

HERE’S WHAT SUCKS

Students: As students we get ourselves in debt by having to pay through the nose for education. What’s worse is that most degrees are a vague attempt at teaching us subjects that are pretty much irrelevant to today’s world. Now I’m not shitting on philosophers, but how much have you used that degree. As a graduate of criminology, I can tell you out right that I’m not Inspector Gadgeting much in my life.

Teachers: You can teach the hell out of your students or not at all and you’re getting the same wage. Nobody cares about whether a student is really learning real world stuff anymore, they care whether your data is up to date and whether your data is datery enough for them. I see this very dichotomy in my sister who talks wonders about what her children have learned each week, while sacrificing her own social life to stay up all night punching numbers into spreadsheets.
Businesses: Oh there’s a bunch of people applying, but none of them have real world skills or even the specifics to handle the job you’re looking for.

WHATEVER CAN WE DO ABOUT THIS?

Here’s what we can do. We can pull our problems and assets together and stop acting like we’re all individuals wandering around the chicken coop looking for the handful of grain we hope our masters will give us.

Just as a sidenote, this is hard to explain. As with all full cycle solutions, it’s hard to work out where to jump on the circle.

So we’ll start by chasing the money.

So you’re a business and you want to employ a candidate that’s going to fulfil your role completely, be qualified to jump on the job imminently and be up to date with all the advances in the field. Problem is that many degrees are still working with texts from the 1980s and lecturers who are so up their own egos that they don’t want to talk about Anonymous because they’re busy telling you the worthiness of Freud’s handful of generalized experiments.
But you’re willing to pay for recruitment so you hand your money to an ‘expert’ recruiter hoping they’ll find you a gem in a desert of sand. Let’s bypass that pony show shall we?

So as a business you put your money into the pool. This gives you access to the best students, performing the highest in the general field you’re looking. Yes, you’re going to pay more depending on the market rate of the job you’re looking for but if you want the best, you gotta pay for the best. So you plunge a sum of money in and you get a portfolio of students who fit the bill. Thing is they’re not at the end of their learning. They could be at the beginning. What brings them to your attention is this score that they’ve earned. They earn that score not only through being a smart arse, but also being a hardcore participator in their own learning. You know that those students are going to bring that hardworking attitude to your doorstep. This allows you to communicate with them, encourage them to angle their learning in a certain way. In fact, you can offer them scholarships so that they start to tailor their learning to exactly what you need.

It’s an investment, right? By the end you get a student that is so adept in what you need, that you don’t need to waste thousands of dollars training them with half-arsed corporate training, because they’re ALREADY THERE.

So then we have the students. You’re working working working, unsure if it’s leading to anything. On top of that you’re spending spending spending with blind faith that it’s going to come out with something. If we were in a casino, we’d call that gambling, my friend. Laying down money in the blind hope of return. I mean tell me I’m wrong but if I were, we wouldn’t have the student debt crisis we have, right?

So imagine you knew that your hard work was being rewarded. You pay for a course but you can make ALL that money back if you work your darndest. Not only do you do well in your exams, but you participate to improve the community, because only with an improved community will you get improved services. So you review your teachers, you participate in debate, you answer other students’ question right and so on and so forth. You engage.

This builds the score that employers see while also getting you financial rewards from the system. But where do these rewards come from? Well when businesses put their money in, that money gets distributed out to those students who are killing it. Then you get noticed. Then you get more rewards and you get sponsorship, then before you know it, your education is not only free, but you’re getting real world enterprise mentorship that guides you into working out what you need to learn to get a real world job. Hint. It isn’t an age-old degree based on yesteryears’ philosophy.

So that leaves your teachers. The people who educate the next generation, stuck on wage fit for a weekend server at a local restaurant. This is disgusting and disrespectful to our whole culture and development as a human species. Bound by curriculums that are defined by data and endorsed by governments who have, of course, no other agenda but the kids’ best interests at heart, teachers are confined to providing one-size-fits all education that neither benefits each individuals’ creativity and flair, or the teacher’s own capacity to demonstrate innovation.

In this sense, with this new system, teachers are rewarded. The money paid into the pool by businesses rewards teachers who get students to the top spots. How do those students get there? By tailored education. Teachers producing the most dynamic and relevant courses with the greatest conversions of learning are being rewarded by the businesses. Not only that, they’re rewarded when kids sign on to their courses, not just when they do well. So if you’re providing courses that are poignant and intriguing, you’re getting what you deserve.

So to sum up, kids learn a relevant and useful education for free while becoming hard-working, self-driven individuals. Teachers are motivated to be the best educators they can be, receiving the accreditation they deserve for that. And businesses get the best and most relevant candidates for the job, that need little training and are self-driven, without paying more than they’d pay to a recruiter. Damn that makes sense, don’t it?

But why blockchain?

Here’s why. Humans are arseholes. All of our resumes show better humans than we are. All teachers give less than 100% because they don’t need to. All businesses promise things they can’t deliver. No we don’t, you plead in defiance. You do. Why? Because you can.

Blockchain is a trustless immutable ledger that can’t be ignored, can’t be changed, and can’t be denied. When you have that, you can really see who truly shines. Without doubt, without reservation. And that kind of guarantee, makes people work harder, better, smarter, and with more guile.
We create the currency so the money stays in the system. With that currency, we can then spend it inside the participating businesses so eventually they make their money back. It’s basically barter, except there’s an immutable trail of accountability.

You can choose to walk away from this kind of oncoming technology, hoping patterning plants will save you. Or you can realise it’s all important. Top to bottom, inside and out, fractals in hand, this is how our economics should work. As permaculturalists, it’s our responsibility to be at the pinnacle. We’ve been pushing local currencies and transition economics for years. Now you have it. You going to embrace it, are you just sit there gawping with your head in flowers?

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When 2 Worlds Meet – The Ecotones of Bringing Together Local and Global Knowledge

As I said in previous posts, I spent a little time on Ometepe in Nicaragua. This post is about my time spent with the local gardeners.

The hostel I was working at, Little Morgan’s Hostel is run by a guy called Morgan (the father of Little Morgan). Morgan is the kind of man that continuously makes you raise your eyebrows in heartfelt surprise at the many tricks of knowledge he has up his sleeve. On the face of it, his hostel appears as a drinking haunt for half-arsed backpackers trawling the same trail as all the other fish in the sea. But when you look slightly closer at the inner sense of community within his circles, you see a glorious mix of locals and internationals intermingling to get all the jobs done and Morgan flitting between them all with equal understanding, appreciation, and eagerness for each.

When I first suggested to him that I come down and build a garden for his restaurant, I was aware that his whole site was a menagerie of tropical trees and flowers planted himself. However, when I first visited a year ago, I wasn’t looking through permaculture lenses so in reality the true depth of the intricacies of his plantings had never occurred to me. No doubt it doesn’t occur at all to the backpackers who travel through there, distracted by the excitement of their short breaks from regular life, juiced up on alcohol and adrenaline from all the wonderful places they’ve swooped through. It’s not fair to say people don’t notice the beauty, but they don’t necessarily notice the multifunctionality of the beautiful site; me included.

DSC04030.JPGHowever, this time around I was entering with a new perspective and a different purpose. This enabled me to pop on my observation googles to notice what was hiding among the jungle chaos of the place. I was headed to build a garden on a spot which had previously been used for growing, but had become overgrown. Before I even got to the garden, I noticed that the bar itself is surrounded by a plethora of fruit trees and various other edibles. Mangoes, pineapples, squashes, coconuts, bananas, and plantains are casually hanging around dripping with goodies, and that’s just from a quick glance. And you can’t miss the animals mingling in and churning that soil while grabbing belly rubs from the patrons.

DSC04642.JPGThe thing is that the intricate density of all the green that splurges across this climate and landscape is difficult to comprehend. You need to have a helping hand. Often in permaculture we can be a little…let’s say…know-it-all. The principles set out by Bill Mollison and David Holgrem have served as a fantastic manual for working; the issue is that often we butt heads with local people when we come in with our white people club of new age farmers and tell them how they should be doing it. I’m not doubting the validity and excellence of permaculture and regenerative agricultural methods, but nobody knows the land better than the people who have had their hands in it every day of their lives.

I’ll be honest, when Morgan introduced me to the garden guys, I was intimidated. These guys have done this every day in the blistering heat, wearing jeans and knocking back whisky while they get the job done. Not only that, they built the myriad of phenomenal structures from the very garden they grew.

mirador.png
Source:volanthevistI couldn’t see them really taking my ideas, physical self, or vision seriously. While we want to think that our brand of feminism is the way forward, there’s no escaping the fact that traditionally, women do not work in the fields here. I was prepared for them to reject my capabilities. I was wrong.

They welcomed me into their team with open arms and spent a great deal of their precious time working with me to teach me some of the intricacies of the land and some of their knacks. But it didn’t stop there.

To begin with, it was a very macho experience; them trying to take the hard labour out of my hands, somehow humouring me with my little gardening fancies. But before long and as my Spanish developed, it became an exchange of friends and it ignited an interest in all of us.

It first started with the oldest guy in the crew, Chefan. Chefan tried to put an insect repellant on the soil and I nearly exploded with desperation. I didn’t want to insult him but I wanted to grow organically and I wanted to test the methods I’d be taught. I politely and in the most restrained way I could, asked him not to. I will never forget the look he gave me. The pause of a man who had lived many lives while never having left that island. The pause of a man who’d seen a million faces shit all over his culture and suddenly see one who wanted more than cheap plastic and throwaway touism. He cracked this smile so wide that I could have fit a boat in his mouth. He gestured for me to come with him and pointed to a neem tree, handing me the longest machete I’d ever seen and signalling that he’d give me a boost. When an indigenous Ometepian pulls you into their fold and tells you to climb that tree, guess what you’re doing. Up the tree I went and retrieved some neem. He put the neem, some garlic, and some of the local brain-blowing chilies in a bucket and we left it over night. We sprayed this all over the ground and plants and I had no bugs (for a while, this is the tropics, not Never Never Land!). He later laughed about how his Grandfather taught him this but he’d never used it and was amazed it had worked.

It only escalated from there. Chefan came to one night with the head builder, Luiz, and they said to me: ‘I see the fire in your eyes’. And we talked. Over whisky and tears we spilled our hearts. Luiz explained to me about how Chefan and himself bring young boys to come and work at the hostel to teach them about empowerment. No doubt you have seen the raucous of politics happening in Nicaragua right now; this was at the backbone of everything they were teaching. They taught these young boys to plant the seeds, grow the trees, design the building, choose the right branch, and build from it. They taught them to utilise what nature gives them, not to control it or break it or bend it to one’s will, but to work with it and create from it. They taught them to be empowered by the land, not to try and take power over it. They taught them that they didn’t need an oppressive regime if they could take care of everything themselves and until they could, they had no business fighting that regime (that’s a story for another time).

From here on in, these two older men had the younger men work with me. They explained that of they taught me the hands on sneaky tricks, I would teach them the science. I taught them to rebuild the terraces along contour to preserve water.

DSC04608 (1).JPGThey taught me to grow yard beans along the fences to keep weeds out, I taught them to stake yucca as the fence. They taught me to pierce pigs noses to stop them rooting, I taught them to use the pigs to root the pesky bindweed first. They cut down the overgrowth while I made them hot sauce from the local chilies. They taught me to plant my nursery in a bed of ashes, I taught them to create guilds to protect the tomatoes from fungus. They taught me the native plants and I taught them the names in English.

DSC04615.JPGOne day, when I was suffering from conjunctivitis and everyone was throwing back antibiotic drops, they made me an eye wash from witchhazel.

I taught them to look for the signs of pests and adjust the carbon to nitrogen. They taught me that the jungle will do what it will, and to eat what grew and enjoy it.

I spent many a night discussing philosophy and corporations with them. I will never forget the tears in Larry’s eyes when he was sure he was crazy, trying desperately to explain his own personal observations of how pesticides seem to affect the land and how nobody seemed to believe him. He’d never left the island, he doesn’t have the internet, he knows nothing about the worldwide anger raging about the use of these products; he just knew what he saw and drew his own conclusions. The wholehearted embrace that he gave me when I explained about Monsanto was like I’d put his mind at peace.

It wasn’t just knowledge they gave me. They gave me their hearts, their community. They had their wives teach me Spanish and how to cook. They shared stories and introduced me to their families.

Between us we grew a garden that managed to create some of the most delicious recipes I’d ever tasted, making that restaurant a bit more sustainable. Between us we managed to teach and learn and create. I thank them so deeply for those lessons and to me it’s proof that social diversity creates resilience, it creates strength. Because alone neither of us had the answers, but together, we killed it.

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The Mystery of the Wilting Tomatoes

This week there was a little bit of an issue. A whole row of my tomatoes started to die and I really couldn’t work out why.

wilting_tomatoes
Wilting tomatoes from unwanted guests

I have spent the last week or so trellising everything to give the tomatoes support for the next period where they start to really burst outward and upward. Equally, I have been spreading charcoal on the beds as well.

My first reaction was that one of these two actions had caused the tomatoes to wilt. However, like with all systems, we need to look for the feedback loops, and while this may have caused some disruption through root tear or chemical imbalances, it still led to the question of why only one row was affected.

I was completely stumped, so I went to my team. One of the great things, as I’ve mentioned before, with working with local guys, is that they know their land and they tend to know any problems that are occurring. While I don’t know the name of the specific issue, having observed the plants with me, they showed me how the plant was turning brown from the root upward, demonstrating that the issue is within the soil. With our mix of broken Spanglish, they managed to get across to me that it is some form of parasitic fungus which attacks the roots. It’s common here, especially when planting non-native species such as this.

Bug_Eaten_Beans
Bug Eaten Non-Native Beans

My response to this was two-fold. On the first hand, I made a neem, chilli and garlic insecticide. The ingredients are left to steep in water for a day or two and then sprayed on the plants. This will help to keep that parasitic fungus back in the same way that it keeps insects back.

Natural_Insecticide
Natural Insecticide

Secondly, with a more long-term look, I tried to consider how to keep this issue from returning. Fungus tends to indicate high levels of carbon, and the rice husks on the bed are adding carbon to the soil. Where I am planting nitrogen-fixing cover crops in this area, they haven’t spread very far yet, meaning the likelihood is that the rice husks are unbalancing the system somewhat with too much carbon. In response to this, I sprayed a home-made nitrogen fertilizer that I had previously been fermenting.

Natural_fertiliser
Natural nitrogen fertiliser

For this, I walked around the property and pulled leaves and fruit from as many different leguminous plants as I could find. I placed them in a five gallon bucket, filled with water. I placed banana leaves on the surface to keep everything under the water (to stop it rotting) and I popped the lid on for two weeks to let it brew. Boy, did it stink when I opened that lid. Hopefully, however, it will help to give those plants a boost and keep that fungus back.

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5 Observations from my Tropical Garden

OK, so I have been working on this garden in Nicaragua for about a month now. It’s rainy season so it’s been a bit of a busy kafuffle trying to get everything ready before the big rains come. Due to this, there have been a great many changes to the garden very quickly. Here are a few things I’ve observed from working.

  1. Tropical rain is hard to deal with

When it comes to rainwater harvesting, the tropics have their own set of complications. While half the year it’s throwing rain out of the sky like a clown with a bucket, the other half is dry as a bone. While obviously we want harvest as much rainwater as we can in order to keep the plants satisfied in dry season, when that rain comes down in rainy season, it comes so thick and fast that the beds become saturated.

As some work had been done in one area before I came, I can actually compare the different methods used. The guys here had already transplanted tomato plants into terraces when I arrived, without preparing the soil. This means that when it rains, while the terraces help to halt the water, once the bed becomes full, it overflows and the soil starts the erode down the beds. However, I used sheet mulching with rice husks and weeds on the new beds I built. This not only suppresses the weeds, but it holds the water, absorbing it into the rice husks.

I have noticed a few things with this method. The soil isn’t eroding and the weeds are suppressed which means the seedlings seem to be sprouting up at record rate. With the tomatoes, you can see that some areas are more eroded than others, and in those eroded areas, the tomatoes are not growing so well or dying off; especially at the top of the bed.

I’m trying to combat this by laying rice husks down. It’s not impossible but it’s tedious to weave in and out of the plants. Rather than laying green mulch, I’m planting edible cover crops in between; some give nitrogen to the soil, some shade, some are simply weed suppressants, but all of them help to hold and harvest the water.

  1. The insects love anything non-native

When I first arrived here, I was fortunate enough to bump into Scott, one of the teachers at Rancho Mastatal. It was my first day here and his advice was invaluable. He told me that it’s hard to grow food here because the insects are ferocious. I was a little confused at first, because everyone has to eat, but then I realised he was referring to the kinds of vegetables we can easily grow in the UK.

I observed the garden to work out where the insects like to flock to and where they stay away. It became apparent very quickly that native plants were far more hardy to the attacks of the insects. I started to chat to the local guys to find out more about edible weeds and indigenous plants. They pointed me toward a wild bean, certain squashes, indian lettuce, wandering jew, cucaracha, katuk, chaya, and other such plants. I’ve been planting these in the garden and so far, they seem to be much more hardy. While the insects are slowly mauling the tomatoes, they tend to steer clear from these more native species.

The shows that part of permaculture is to think about how to adapt to your surroundings. While it’s great to have an iceberg lettuce for a solid BLT, using native edible leaves as lettuce is going to have a much higher success rate.

  1. The jungle will always try to take the land back

I’ve noticed that I need creative ways to keep the jungle back. Whether that’s using thick mulch or cover crops, it is important to suppress the weeds in order to intensively grow enough food. While I have of course worked in other gardens with weeds growing, the jungle is a different ballgame. If I weed a bed, leave the soil bare, and come back that evening, there will be weeds again.

IMG_0314

Right now I’m experimenting with all different ways. I’ve been planting lemongrass at the edges to use their dense root system to keep back weeds. I’ve also been planting squashes all around the patches, as their large leaves help to keep the weeds back using shade. Varying cover crops a will help me to work out which plants work best with with vegetables to keep the weeds back without affecting the growth of the veggies; the variety also increases the biodiversity.

  1. A decent plant nursery is essential

When I first got here, the garden guys were using plastic crates filled with soil as a plant nursery. There are a few issues with this that prevents seedling sprouting.

Firstly, the rain is so heavy that it leads to the box saturating and becoming swampy. There’s no places for it to drain. Equally, they used the same soil from the ground, without mixing in sand, making it difficult for things to root easily. Secondly, the boxes aren’t shaded and the blistering tropical sunshine leads to seedlings withering; they need some kind of shade.

This week I would like to try to create a plant nursery to start planting lettuce seedlings and peppers. I’m thinking of using plastic bottles as a means to harvest water and build it from bamboo, ensuring drainage, while also giving shade.

  1. Terracing creates a series of microenvironments

I’ve never worked so closely with terraces before and seeing them every day enables me to understand their power. With all gardens, different areas should be treated differently due to their ranging features; some areas have more shade, water, wind, light.

However, interestingly, by creating terraces, we have created several different areas to work with. The top of the terracing tends to get more flooded than the bottom, which doesn’t appear to make logical sense, but it does. This means that plants that like wet feet, tend to be doing better up there; such as lemongrass. With this observation, I planted yucca at the bottom (north). Planting it here was a conscious decision as its northern location means it won’t shade out the garden, but it is also quite drought hardy, so it would be fine with less water.

I have planted varying crops all over the place. As they grow or don’t, I will be able to see what does well together where and replicate this in similar areas. This planting and revision enables me to learn from what I’m dong and to re-evaluate the system to increase its productivity through pattern recognition. It’s frightfully interesting!

Inanitah – Social Permaculture in Action

This past week I took the opportunity to go and visit a property on the island called Inanitah. Wow.

I knew about this property before I came here because I wanted to check out other permie projects on the island, both in order to garner ideas and seeds but also to create a sense of community for myself. With my permie journey in mind, I’ve also got my eyeball out for the next step on my learning path as a spot to learn a new skill; namely natural building.

Inanitah is stunning and an exceptional example of what can be achieved through employing self-sustainability practices. On a physical level, the examples of permaculture are second to none. Every building is made from cob, sourced locally on site, roofed with palms grown on site, and furnished with handmade timber furniture, also grown on site.

When it comes to the agriculture, it is obvious that a large majority of the greenery is casually edible while also adding to the beauty of the place. The kitchen is teeming with food, all grown and produced on site. Bulging pumpkins and pungent herbs surround you, with leafy greens ready for the picking and juicy fruits and veggies stored and preserved everywhere you look. Within my first five minutes of being there, I was treated to dinner time with home-made coconut milk being whipped up in front of me.

I took a stroll around the property and was dumbfounded by its sheer locational beauty. Perched high up, there is a jaw-dropping view of the volcano ‘Concepcion’, which can be enjoyed from their biopool and accompanying solar hot tub.

Solar_Pool_inanitah
Solar Pool

One of the major things that struck me about the place was the feeling of tranquility. Every person that I met went out of their way to greet me with a hug and barrage of questions. Everybody immediately knew I was new to the scene, which demonstrated the close bond between volunteers and customers alike. One thing that really gave me tickles in my tummy was that several people greeted me with the phrase ‘Welcome Home’. That gave me that warm, fuzzy feeling that draws me to social permaculture; the magic in being able to create bonds between people by dealing with everyday life to address conflict and create harmony.

In previous interactions with permaculturists, I have been baffled by their inability or unwillingness to help me. They’re often arrogant or strangely competitive, which is against everything I thought we were meant to stand for. However, this place was not like that at all. When I arrived, I immediately met their new in-house permaculturists, Piers, who previously worked at Rancho Delicioso in Costa Rica. He took a good chunk out of his day to walk me around the garden, explaining to me what each plant was and its uses. Their garden is a combination of native and non-native plants, yet native plants dominate to increase sustainability and help prevent the barrage of bugs that demolish non-native plants. This was a great lesson for me as it gave me deep insight into the best plants I can use in the garden, especially in relation to leafy greens. I was very honoured that he’d take the time out to take me around. He also gave me seeds and cuttings for everything I would need, which has really beefed out my own garden, something he didn’t need to do but has really cut back on my costs and helped to accelerate my development.

Further to this, I got a chance to see a group of them work together in their community. So people often ask that with a totally efficient garden and shelter, what do you do with your day all day? You go have fun! These guys took me to spend the afternoon looking for edible mushrooms and it was both educational and fun. There’s something so satisfying about running around on a wild goose chase, scouring for food for your dinner that nobody knows about, like a well-kept secret.

This is what permaculture is about to me. Looking at these people working together harmoniously, welcoming strangers into the fold, and willing to share their knowledge is a breath of fresh air to be a part of. Not only have I managed to further my garden, meeting these people has created a new community for me to be a part of and to seek knowledge and advice from. That’s why I’m drawn to social permaculture; if we want this to work, we need to make the people work and Inanitah has really nailed that down.

Not only that, having set out the permie learning journey for myself, being able to make new connections opens doors to further my remit of knowledge and being able to be a part of new exciting projects. One of the problems that keeps us static in our lives is our inability or lack of motivation to seek out the next step. With my steps categorically laid out, I know what I’m searching for and Inanitah may well be the next stage for me, and I would be honoured to work with those bunch of gooduns!