Episode #152: Neofeudal Permaculture

Frank welcomes back regrarian and permaculture designer Darren Doherty. Darren shares his experiences from his current Regrarians world tour, and then describes the precarious economic situation of the commodity farmer and the often degraded state of the world’s agricultural landscapes. The conversation then launches into the complexities of the current land tenure system as Darren explains the neofeudal character of agricultural economies. The interview concludes with some observations about the need to develop a capable labor force to meet the market demand for sustainably produced food. Useful links below:

Heenan Doherty

Everett Rogers (via Wikipedia)

Earl Butz (via Wikipedia)

Fordhall Farm

The Farmer, The Plough, and the Devil


Episode #151: Pathways to Intentional Communities

Frank concludes his interview with permaculture co-originator David Holmgren. David begins by sharing some strategies people can employ to develop permaculture in their own lives without having to purchase land or go deeply into debt. He then discusses his realization in the very early days of permaculture that freehold land tenure would not be an effective way to implement broad-acre permacultural polycultures. He suggests some why this fact has been so often overlooked, and offers some strategies for the development of intentional communities. David also shares his ideas on the prospects for seasteading and the possibilities for permaculture in the suburbs.

Useful links below:

Holmgren Design
Joe Rogan Experience Podcast with Joe Quirk of the Seasteading Institute


Episode #150: Crash on Demand

Frank welcomes permaculture co-originator David Holmgren for a wide ranging discussion on his writings and ideas, including Future Scenarios, Oil vs. Money, and Crash on Demand. In light of the failure of social and political activism to address climate change, David argues that radical reductions in consumption by the middle classes of the industrial countries could in fact crash the global financial system resulting in large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. He asks us to consider that major changes to our lifestyles and working arrangements may be the only thing capable of shifting the momentum of climate change.


Episode #149: Worker-Owned Permaculture

Frank concludes his interview with Luis Sierra of the California Center for Cooperative Development. Luis begins by explaining the difference between a worker cooperative and a service cooperative, and then provides some historical examples of agricultural worker cooperatives in the 60’s and 70’s. He then explains why the worker cooperative model has been so sparsely adopted in the agricultural sector, and offers some insights on how to grow the worker cooperative model in agriculture. Frank then concludes by sharing his own thoughts, suggesting that social organization and enterprise management are the holy grail of scalable permaculture.

Cooperation Works: The Cooperative Development Network

The California Center for Cooperative Development


Episode #148: Market Cooperatives

Frank welcomes Luis Sierra of the California Center for Cooperative Development.  Luis introduces the concept of a cooperative, and the rationale for their creation.  He also delves into existing cooperative models and their history in the state of California.  He then describes some of the pitfalls a cooperative can face in its creation and operation.  Part I of II.

The California Center for Cooperative Development


Episode #146: The Open Source Economy

Frank is joined by Marcin Jakubowski, visionary behind the Open Source Ecology Project.  With just a $100 million share of the global economy, open source hardware and manufacturing has quite a bit of scaling up to do if it is to be successful.  Marcin is trying to address this head-on.  Topics of discussion include an update on the OSE Project, Thomas Edison as an archetype for a process of invention, economic models for scaling up, and an upcoming microhouse design workshop to be hosted in late September 2014.  Useful links are below.

Microhouse Workshop 4: Extreme Manufacturing from September 25 to 30, 2014

The Second Industrial Divide: Possibilities for Prosperity (via Amazon)


Episode #145: The Failure of Permaculture

Update: My response to some of the criticism of this episode is posted here.

Frank Aragona shares several articles that depict small-scale sustainable agriculture as a financial struggle, even for those with abundant capital and land resources.  With story after story of small-scale sustainable producers struggling to make ends meet, he characterizes the permaculture movement as a failure on socio-economic grounds.  Some suggestions for moving forward are offered.  The episode concludes with a brief clip from an interview with Dr. Joe Kovach on the use of bees as microdelivery mechanisms for a biological fungal control agent.  Thanks again to @ajtarnas for the Kovach clip.

Should You Quit Your Job and Become a Farmer? (via Marketwatch)

Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers (via NY Times)

How To Help Small Farmers: A Farmer’s Words


Episode #144: $90,000 an Acre

This episodes features a listener submitted interview with Dr. Joe Kovach of Ohio State University.  Dr. Kovach describes a small-scale mixed fruit-vegetable polyculture designed to produce steady, high-yields with a good economic return on investment.  Labor inputs, pest pressures, weed control, crop selection, retail sales, and marketing are all discussed in some detail.  Thanks to podcast listener AJ Tarnas for conducting this interview.  Follow AJ on Twitter at @ajtarnas.


Episode #143: The Crisis of Sustainable Agriculture

Frank welcomes Chris Stelzer of the Agricultural Insights Podcast.  Chris outlines the purpose of and previous guests on his podcast.  The conversation then launches into a discussion of the business management crisis in sustainable agriculture.  With so little of our food coming from sustainable agricultural practices, what are the critical factors that are preventing the next leap forward?  And while the sustainable agriculture movement focuses on soil biology and other production techniques, the business and economics aspects are left by the wayside.

Useful Links:

The Elders of Organic Farming (via NY Times)

The Agricultural Insights Podcast