The complete list of instructors is finally up, the schedule is nearly finalized… and I’m just getting more excited about this course. As far as I know, this is the first course ever to focus specifically on the permaculture – research connection. (I’d be happy to be proven wrong, let me know if you’ve heard of another.) First, the updated flyer. After that, more about course content and instructors. For more information or to register, please email One thing I’m excited about is how this course has been influenced by my time with the Climate Change Impacts and Modeling research group here at University of Lisbon. This is the most transdisciplinary and action-research orientated environment I’ve ever been part of. Thanks to my collaborators and colleagues, the course will be as much about applying permaculture thinking to research projects, as it is about using research methods to investigate permaculture […]

Update to Permaculture Research Design Course

Not too long ago, two of our most internationally renowned permaculture teachers/consultants had some vigorous disagreement on social media. Hordes of commenters weighed in on either or neither side. The explicit topic of the disagreement was the value of contour ditches  – known in permaculture as ‘swales’ – for managing water in the landscape. Are they (A) a universal solution for every landscape? Or are they (B) barely worth considering, and then only in a few limited contexts?  It’s worth reading, if you’re into that kind of thing. (If you’re on FB, you should be able to find the thread here.) In brief, Geoff Lawton occupies the position A: swales pretty much everywhere. Darren Doherty takes position B: swales rarely or never, because off-contour ripping (aka Keyline) and woody perennials make swales superfluous at best. For what it’s worth, I’m delighted to see this discussion emerge in public. Let 100 flowers bloom, […]

Permaculture’s Dogma Problem

That full title is: “Grassroots engagement with transition to sustainability: diversity and modes of participation in the international permaculture movement.” It’s been a long journey from collecting this data way back in 2012, through what ended up being a very involved statistical analysis, and on to writing, submission, revision, and final acceptance. I’m delighted to have it out there, particularly in a great open-access journal like Ecology and Society. You can find it at if you have an account (which may benefit my reputation score or something), or freely downloadable through the journal here.     Here are some of my favorite bits, from the Introduction and Conclusion (spoiler alert!): [snip] The evident successes of the permaculture network are balanced by problematic assumptions and implications that evoke the hazards of insularity, exclusivity, particularity, and scale mismatch to which grassroots networks are prone. The emphasis on individual responsibility, and the proposed abandonment […]

New paper out in Ecology and Society: “Grassroots engagement with ...

I’ve been stingy (read: lazy) with making my conference presentations available to the public. I’ve been working on that, and you can now access most of them through links on the Publications/CV page right here (or via the drop-down menu under Publications up top). I’m archiving conference papers, posters, presentation slides, et al., on – so you may need to open a free account to download. RG does a good job tracking readers, downloads, sharing, etc., so thanks for putting up with registering if you weren’t otherwise inclined to do so.

Backlog of articles and presentations becoming available…

For the last several years, Eric Toensmeier and I have been working (ever so slowly) on a scientific review of global perennial staple crops. Last year we received an invitation to present our work at the annual American Society of Agronomy conference, in a session that was otherwise composed of perennial grains researchers. This was an exciting opportunity (as well as a deadline to light a fire under our slow progress). Eric and I decided that he would attend and present. He had never had a chance to present at a scientific conference – and more importantly, he has done the vast bulk of the work feeding into this project. He’s been painstakingly combing through scientific and technical literature over the past five years, and assembling a formidable database of 100s of perennial crops. My role in the project has been to help frame that tremendous work in terms of contemporary scientific frameworks, act […]

Perennial Agriculture Now! Our presentation at American Society for Agronomy.

If I haven’t attended to the website in ages – and I haven’t – it’s because my scarce extracurricular writing time has gone into articles that I couldn’t share until now. I’m very excited to have two articles in the current issue of Permaculture Activist (Autumn 2014, No. 93). The theme of this issue is “Experimentation – Science in Permaculture” and it looks to be a tremendous one all around. Other authors include some dear friends: my long-time co-teacher Steve Gabriel of Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute, and the excellent forest gardener and human being we know as Jonathan Bates. I’m also happy to appear alongside newer friends and colleagues I’ve connected with over the past few years: Abbie Conrad (writing on  her tremendous work on permaculture among smallholder farmers in Malawi), Chris Warburton-Brown from the UK Permaculture Research Brigade, and Christopher Kelly-Bisson (of the new permaculture e-journal The Rhizome). Plus, bonus people I […]

Toward 21st Century Permaculture: new articles

I made minor contributions to this very interesting poster presentation at the Radical Emission Reduction Conference held by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the Royal Society in London on December 10-11 2013. My hat is off to Ed Sears (of the Earth Systems Science Research Group at Exeter), the main mover behind the project, as well as to the other co-authors Chris Warburton-Brown (UK Permaculture Research Initiative) and Tomas Remiarz (UK Permaculture Association).

Permaculture as evolutionary social learning organization

A new graduate research position has just been funded in the Multifunctional Landscape Analysis and Design Laboratory. This is a great opportunity for a permaculturist with GIS experience who want to do research on design and economic issues at the farm-scale. If you’re interested, think about applying by the end of January. If you’re really interested, I recommend making contact as soon as possible. Download link is below the flyer. [wpdm_file id=3]

New grad position in Multifunctional Perennial Cropping Systems research

I want to say “at long last” but really it’s been a relatively quick process, given the going pace of academic publication. It’s just been in any-day-now land for several weeks, so I’ve been experiencing very faint shades of when my mom made us kids sit and eat a nice breakfast before opening Xmas presents. The paper will be Open Access at Springer – in Agronomy for Sustainable Development, in case you missed it – but right now it’s stuck behind a paywall. I’ll continue to host it here in any event. If you would care to point people at this post rather than emailing the article around, I’d be grateful. Thanks! 11/10/2013 Update: As Dana points out below, it’s no longer stuck behind the paywall. 🙂 11/18/2013 Update: If you are on ResearchGate, please download through my RG profile here: ResearchGate.PermacultureForAgroecology Apparently it helps boost some statistic that may […]

“Permaculture for Agroecology” is out!