Why you should help Paul Wheaton

hugelkultur raised bed

Hugelkultur raised bed being assembled

Can the absolute simplest permaculture system change the world?  Paul Wheaton thinks so, I agree, and if you do too, there’s a simple way to help!

Paul is the guy behind Permies.com and a really passionate voice for actual change in green culture and permaculture.  He’s not a green fashionista, and he probably doesn’t write articles sitting at Starbuck’s sipping on a Holiday Latte (like me! j/k).  Paul writes articles and makes short videos that can actually change the way people fundamentally think about how we solve environmental problems.  They are not lengthy dissertations funded by a green-washed corporation, they are not fluff pieces to get you to buy some product, and they are not complex, impossible to implement, pie in the sky “if we all lived in a cave and ate bugs” articles.

Instead, they are practical, insightful, useful, innovative and inspiring.

I remember the first article I read, “Organic lawncare for the cheap and lazy” – I was sold.  Paul’s way of thinking reminds me of Masanobu Fukuoka, who wrote The One Straw Revolution and was a pioneer of today’s Organic movement.  Fukuoka always emphasized letting nature do as much work as possible, and learning to understand the power of the systems in nature and their inherent ability to fight disease, self-heal, and create abundant, balanced production.  He wrote that Japan’s history showed farmers leveraging these natural systems had plenty of excess time to write Haiku and become scholars.  That was the ancient version of “Organic lawn care for the cheap and lazy.”

Anyway, Paul has an article on Hugelkultur that dumbs it down for people like me.

What is Hugelkultur?  This has got to be the simplest possible system, rotting wood with dirt piled on it.  Why would you do this?  Because a working Hugelcultur mound might go all summer on a single watering, is self-tiling, creates healthy soil biology, and huge, healthy, productive plants.  It’s a system that helps you divert organic material from the landfill, eliminate wasted irrigation, reduce or even eliminate the use of ‘organic’ pesticides, and create another “cheap and lazy” way to a greener, more sustainable world.

I believe that these kinds of articles can really get people to change how they think about permaculture and get past thinking that they only way to feed a starving world is with chemicals and GMO.  Side note, watch this short clip of Greening the Desert, with Geoff Lawton, to see how a similar system confounded the experts and turned an impossibly hyper-arid patch of salty desert 400 meters below sea level in Jordan, into a fertile, date and fig producing paradise.  This demonstrates the real power of these systems, and may make you want to buy some of that $100 an acre land in Arizona and try it yourself.  You know where I’m talking about; those vast, abandoned patches of sand in between places we love to visit, the areas in which people claim have no value, cannot support humans, or be farmed.  Actually they can, and with nature doing most of the work.

Back to Paul and Hugelkultur.  Read the article and if you agree, please spread this article everywhere.  Paul set a goal for 50 million people to see it, with the hope that seeing these simple, natural systems at work will intrigue others, create awareness and interest, and educate.

Here is the Hugelkultur article.  Please share it everywhere.

Thanks for your serious consideration on this one.  Sharing is caring.


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  1. Paul Wheaton and I don’t always see Eye To I. But if you can’t learn something from Paul and his perm site (permies.com), then you haven’t been born yet.


  2. Mr. Kyuusohi says:

    What Is This “Lawn Culture”?
    The goal of the average American in life appears to be to build up some savings, live in a large house in the country surrounded by tall trees, and keep a well-manicured lawn. An even greater source of pride is to own several horses.
    I was told that lawns were a cultural outgrowth of the pastures on which aristocrats grazed their horses. In short, the ideal of people in the West is an aristocratic life. Living as they do in country woods, their lifestyle resembles that of an Oriental hermit. In fact, however, it is just the opposite: an extension of aristocratic tastes and nothing more.
    If lawns are indeed a vestige of aristocratic culture, talk of rejecting the lawn is tantamount to asking Westerners to renounce pride in their past. This, of course, is out of the question. Yet, although lawns may be safe and pleasant for man, they certainly do not benefit nature. If nature is sacrificed to create these stretches of artificial green, then the “lawn culture” of the West is all a big mistake.
    On this last trip of mine, I often brought up my argument for rejecting the culture of the lawn, expecting full well to earn the hatred of Americans in the process. My reason was that, short of doing this, it is not possible to successfully promote the idea of home gardens.
    If Americans really wanted to bid their cherished “lawn culture” good-bye and create natural home gardens, their home life would benefit greatly. When I spoke one night at a church on the University of California campus at Berkeley, some of the people there decided to give this a try in their own neighborhoods. I suspect that things may get underway first in the corners of the city where Japanese wives live and in Chinese neighborhoods because the Chinese enjoy making vegetable gardens. The trees and grasses know no national boundaries. When streets and neighborhoods arise without boundaries between the houses and yards; when trees on these streets bear fruit everywhere and daikon plants bloom wildly, this will also become an incentive to create natural gardens and farms. And who knows, this could even lead to the sowing of seed in the desert.
    ” –page 356 quotation of the writing of:
    Masanobu Fukuoka
    1987 [1984]
    The Road Back to Nature-Regaining the Paradise Lost
    A quality English translation by Frederich P. Metraud (associated with Shunjusha pubishers; the major Japanese publishers of Mr. Fukuoka’s original Japanese books).

    Full references (from Wikipedia)
    * 1984 (Japanese)
    自然に還る (shizen ni kaeru);
    Published by Shunjūsha (春秋社?): 1984 Aug. vii 362p 17p of plates ill. 20cm, out of print ISBN 978-4-393-74104-7;
    Enlarged and revised edition 1993 April 458p, out of print ISBN 978-4-393-74114-6;
    New edition 2004 Sept. xvi 488p 8p of plates ill. 18.8x13cm, in print ISBN 978-4-393-74146-7.

    * 1987 (English) translation
    The Road Back to Nature – Regaining the Paradise Lost,
    translated by Frederic P. Metreaud;
    Japan Publications, first edition 1987 Aug. 377p 8p of plates, out of print ISBN 978-0-87040-673-7.

  3. If you have a line on any $100 an acre patches here in Arizona let me know! Even bare desert is pretty expensive nowadays…


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