Matt Powers is an experienced teacher, family guy, author, consultant, farmer, seed saver, plant breeder, musician, blogger, & permaculturist and creator of the permaculture student curriculum and online course.
The Permaculture Student Curriculum is focused on starting resilient small businesses and homesteads from scratch. Students of all ages and families learn through weekly collections of videos, worksheets, coloring pages, projects, activities, & critical thinking with teacher’s guides, recipes, plant focus, seed saving, & Q&A.
Mike found a great guest on Facebook yesterday, we are having a bit of a tech issue, but he is dropping lots of “golden seeds” about everything from gardening to promoting an online business, and running a positive Kickstarter campaign! Plus he’s a fellow educator!
Interesting that you guys found me yesterday!!!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a seed saver, a plant breeder, and an organic gardener, I’m also a teacher. I was an English teacher at high school for many years, a tenured teacher at a local district 15 minutes from my house. I live with my in-laws and my father -in -law’s parents on family land, 4 generations. My wife and I live here with our 2 sons. We have about 2-3 acres of garden area I’m heading towards becoming a farmer, a subsistence farmer.
I’m a teacher, before that I was a musician. I played with SNL house drummer, Shaun Pelton, their house drummer for 20 years now… but this was back in the day when I was a young man… I was just a traveling musician. It was my dream to do all that.
What kind of instrument?
I was a bass player. I played with Rachel Ray’s husband, John Kusimano for 7 years. I did lots of other things, my music is still on the Major league baseball channel everyday, I still get checks in the mail, it’s like pocket change…
It was a thing for young people to do. It was great and I loved it, but then I had a family! And I was like I can’t tour for 2 months, I got to be a dad!
That was like a generational moment for me. What happened was, I basically quit that band when I was in NYC and my wife got cancer the first time, and then when she got cancer for the second time we knew we needed to change a lot more because what the doctors were telling us wasn’t accurate, they were just reading from a list.
From there we went out west to recover from cancer, I didn’t know what else to do so I was still doing music, but I was trying to figure out someway to be more present to take care of my wife.
She wanted me to do substitute teaching, I hated school. I just hated school, I loved certain teachers and I loved certain classes.
But the framework, of compulsory education where I’m being held against my will for 8 hours a day for the purposes of tax dollars for funding that school district mostly the salary of administrators.
I didn’t agree with that.
I don’t want to go…
I just felt obligated, but as soon as I did, I fell in love with the kids, but I feel like we weren’t educating them.
I had this crazy education that my dad gave me, they’re amazing, ones a University Professor, one’s a financial advisor for people with incredible amounts of money they’re just unbelievable people. They were both were stellar athletes so they had coaches. I got a lot of that bleed over and that education stuff.
- I applied all that to my music.
- I applied all that to my business.
I want to pass that on to kids. And I show up as a substitute in Fresno, and I freak out, because those kids are cheated and robbed of their education, meanwhile the school district is getting the same amount of money as a good district right
IDK what kind of education I had till that point, I went to NYU, I was an english major there. I couldn’t believe it. I started subbing everywhere, I wouldn’t turn down any job…I went to the areas people said were dangerous. I had a great time, especially in the places people said were dangerous, because that’s where they need you the most.
I would literally go in with my guitar and play music
I was at this radical school where we were teaching with laptops and had no curriculum and the kids had laptops, so I was writing my own curriculum. Using my NYU curriculum with sophomores in one of the lowest performing districts, and I just kept doing things to prove these kids were amazing. And the scores started jumping higher and higher!
I didn’t do like homework.
I was having issues with answers that weren’t politically socially charged. If you’re a teacher in high school, their adults, their young adults. They have adult questions and they have pertinent questions, and they are hard to answer without the people in the room, wanting to create things out of it …
I learned to talk in this spectrum. They believe this and they believe that. And I became this very pc person, it was like I became a picture frame… And the kids were like
Well, which is true Mr. Powers?
Well, that borders on opinion…
I just until Permaculture, I didn’t know how to prove that my food was better, then non-organic food was better, that nutritional quality was higher… I didn’t know how to prove it…
I didn’t have answers like, how to pay for college all these sorts of things. I didn’t have the answers, or a method for them to scurry around what is going on, narrow restriction of most kids… we’re still that good
I discovered permaculture, world hunger is not an issue and we can fix this at the source!
Well we can prove that GMO’s are genetically solution not based upon science … on top of permaculture and the way things work.
We can repair the decertified landscapes, the degraded landscapes… Permaculture’s already done it. I was able to find videos … I played them in class… We have kids in the classroom that burned down that year… and they’re watching videos of places that burned and get turned into a paradise in a course of 7 years. It’s also the size of the central valley which is decertified itself and which is the bread basket of america which were’s assaulting.
Tulare Lake, once the largest body of fresh water, drained it from growing cotton… all the aquifers are…
I don’t know if we told listeners where you are. So I am imagining you are in California where the wildfires burned down houses last summer.
Oh yeah! The ones you saw on tv last summer those are 15 min from my house. The ones that were 150,000 acres last summer.
We went up to Sonoma county to get away from, because our kids were breathing it constantly and you could;n’t get fresh air.
People had squash, that didn’t produce fruit that year because the squash flowers smelled the smoke so they went dormant and just shut down. Lots of plants did that last year. All my big tomatoes last year didn’t do well, for a few reasons. The overhead water is only good for small tomatoes and perennial nitrates. But I left for 3 months, put sprinklers on and walked away but came back to
- 300 pounds of squash
- Gallons of amaranth seed
- and gallons of aztec spinach seed
got to pick your polyculture carefully.
My wife got cancer, my kids really needed me, my wife has no thyroid, they removed it surgically, gave her melanoma, later, upper leg her hip and she’s a Mormon doesn’t sunbathe.
So I started doing research and using all the education, the coaching….I turned all that on I had been listening passively. . . Little Powers as I was called as a child, because I was no longer a musician … Working on my wife’s health and children’s health …
My kids have a much higher chance of having cancer because my wife’s had cancer 3 times
Continuing cycling of ecosystems both
hasn’t really changed everything but I am able to communicate to my brothers … much more with greater depth and clarity, because I understand their systems better … pattern of literacy I got form Permaculture, I have an ecosystem language, which is the economy of everything … Even sociology… One of my brother is a social science professor at U Iowa. My mom was a politician in Connecticut. So I have all these people in my life who are doing all these thing.
I was just a musician and a substitute teacher, it just exploded.
I took Geoff Lawton’s online course, I said Geoff, I’m a school teacher and I don’t see anything for kids. I write curriculum everyday, I think I can do this. But I need someones an authority to peer review it. He’s the leading permaculture teacher in the entire world. With is initial encouragement, turned into his family helping and this entire community over 500 people peer reviewed and edited the book! The first volume.
Right now the Kickstarter …
High school kids are plugged in and they’re racing they have no contacts, they are like Idk what I want to do. . . they have no framework … they have no way to guide them .. . they have no way to take an apple and another apple and say which is better
this book and this series gives the tools for regenerative living in a modern world, in a city, in the past 10 years, that radically updates Bill Mulligans’ original permaculture manual
For organic gardeners this is where you switch from a bicycle to a car.
Literally I was gardening, it was like I had my 10 speed, it was awesome, i had my mountain bike!
I got a car! It’s called permaculture! I have fruit trees with legumes that are edible between them, so they are fixing nitrogen nodules with the soil, … bacteria forms a symbiotic relationship with a tree. Can happen with poppies or clovers, but with trees!
Black locust, Siberian pea shrub, between two fruit trees and it will feed them nitrogen!
Just that alone! I was like What?
I knew about cover crops
you chop the beans down
I didn’t know about the root nodules !
I didn’t know about the trees!
I’m gonna set up a system that’s protected by perennials, that uses the mulch from the perennials, because then I don’t bring in mulch… It’s like oh yeah!
You made compost that’s great! Do you want to multiply it by 1000 with your efficacy
You know what I mean?
Dr. Elaine Ingham is making rye grass grow 11 -12 feet deep in ph soils in Nevada. She’s doing incredible things with just compost tea!
Open this door and gusts of air crushes in!
Curtis Stone is doing spin farming! He’s putting back in, he’s keeping, he’s using people’s front and back yards in the middle of Canada in the middle of the city …
The Urban Farmer: Growing Food for Profit on Leased and Borrowed Land Making $70,000 on part of an acre and on a full acre he’s making over $100,000!
Realm of possible is!
Jean Martin Fortier in Quebec, he’s doing $140,000 on an acre and a half in the middle of the city where it’s snowing there a a lot of the year.
Her’s the Market Gardener Guy
Curtis Stone is the Urban Farmer
Friends Peer reviews
I read their books!
translate it into … Governors James Joyce, taking excerpts form college … bringing it down to sophomore, they can do it but its all about engagement and motivation. It’s all about understanding how these things connect … if a child doesn’t have any context.
I was gonna say since it’s written for high school students, that listeners might be interested cease it will broken down into an easy understand absorb, easy to follow basic steps.
On the weekend, my first choice to read is usually YA novels, IDK why exactly. I never heard of permaculture until I started this podcast and Mike found your video because Kelly had shared the post and that’s where Mike found it in his Facebook feed.
I was telling Matt in the pre-chat… you’re response about your Kickstarter campaign was that he would have read it…
I didn’t give you the backstory. I had a permaculturist in San Diego ask me to turn all 13 hours of my course, into deaf ready format. He wanted the curriculum wanted closed captioning
just starting I should have it written it out, I put it up. So they’re gonna read it because they read it they’re gonna click on it, so I’m saying it as it’s being read
there’s no gap as
really works well as a way to reach people…. so if you’re
I run an entrepreneurs group. Permaculture Entrepreneurs Facebook group
I’m just trying to launch my Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook group. They might be interested in yours or differently.
Let me give you the definition:
Permaculture is a design science based upon the patterns of nature that benefit people and the earth. Regenerative pattern based literacy.
Permaculture is the holistic concept.
Instead of learning about history as just what happened, you would learn history what happened, why it happened, who it effected, and what you felt was right, what they felt was right… How it affected things social, economically. You would look at it holistically…
Critical thinking is part of my permaculture course, it doesn’t go into the hypothetical … It’s action based so it’s always solution based… Schools are a place that a place that are safe…
Handbook for living on earth regeneratively.
My Kickstarter campaign is for the first high school permaculture textbook, its a handbook for living on earth regeneratively. It can be used for business, see it’s a holistic manual for living !.
Illustrated by Wayne Fleming
My first book check out at permaculturestudent.com
- my first book
- free video
- samples for my course
- there’s lots of options
this is already happening
we want to spread permaculture
Its spreading all over the globe kickstarted people everywhere need a context, how to do what they need to do
we all need shelter and reliable energy for our systems
We can do that with permaculture
is designed so everyone can start on that path
it’s being spread people really really need it, they recognize that the primal forest are gone…
just the trees, just the soils
is in the air
we’re burning these fossil fuels
all this carbon up in the air, about half is in the ocean, the amount of carbon we can take back to the soils.
If everyone understands the systems that actually sequester carbons, which are mostly natural systems. Your paper, can be turned into fungi, then turned into compost.
Theres a debate if those mushrooms on that cardboard, because of the from glues and dyes
simple things like that, a child, a third grader
can go home
suddenly all their paper waste and all their food scraps goes into vericomposting, and backyard soil
front curb lot soil
flipping because they’re turning their spending into saving
going to abundance
selling it it becomes physical capital
People are taking my books and my course using it in
- China and Japan
- new Zealand
spreading because people are being able to recognize
something I’m being a conduit to
Kickstarter is all about opening that connection to as many people as possible and to as wide a people
young people everywhere going home and taking their rain water trapping it and cleaning it instead of city water. Suddenly, those aquifers aren’t gonna be drained
all that goes backing the back yard and soil and that carbon is trapped.
we use things like rocket math,
heaters cleanest ways to heat anything ever, ever that we discovered
all in temperate climates
Then we have this huge changeover into abundance, where none of the heat would be creating dangerous gases, all the stick fire would be from falling dead fall not from trees that you would be chopping down. Just touching little pieces of permaculture but would make huge dramatic impacts!
Supporting my Kickstarter is supporting a movement that is happening all over the globe, connecting kids to this material is securing all of our futures.
The climate needs forest because it was created in forest, it needs rich soils in our grasslands, because that’s where the herbivores were … that’s where the carbon was … back into balance, we need to recognize that natural systems that they are. that’s what my book is for, that’s the message, that’s the hope for your future … that’s the most positive force for good on our planet, we are not a disease, we are not destructive.
I want to get that into every teenager’s head and they can be the positive change in their community…!
I love it! So glad you came to share with us today and I’m so glad your brave and doing this. I love your Kickstarter campaign, and going into the schools. We have so many things in common.
My podcast is Permaculture Tonight, it’s on Soundcloud and iTunes. I basically have my friends and permaculture peers and scientific experts … late night talk show without anything.
My Facebook picture today is me teaching and my friend’s daughter was in the class I was subbing in yesterday and she took a picture of me playing the guitar I taught them the Fishin’ Blues and the Teddy Bear’s Picnic and some other fun kids songs that I know!
A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.
So, if I had to take only one tool, with me, I have a really nice scythe.
I have 4 rice knives
Are absolutely unreal!
A favorite internet resource?
I watch all Geoff’s stuff is great! I took his online course should be coming spring, perhaps this summer?
Free Videos permaculture student. com there’s a bunch of videos there
A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?
My recommended books are:
I love books
Priority One by Alan Yeomen
Alan Savory’s Holistic Management
The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World
by Sandor Katz
Elliot Coleman’s 4 season kitchen
All of them! I love em all! I read em all!
If there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?
My Kickstarter. I wouldn’t be doing anything different. I think to try to do the number one most important thing with my time. Educating children with permaculture the best thing we can do currently.
Giving to organizations carefully is really important. Most organizations don’t have the qualifications or the understanding to put those resources to good use. I feel like.
I know that Geoff Lawton is greening the desert. Neal Speckman
green the desert in Saudi Arabia, turning this blighted desert into food forest
if anyone complains about water. He’s growing, three year drought…
Does your Kickstarter campaign have a deadline? I’ll see if I can get this up before Earth Day!
I could come back and we could talk about seeds
Jere Gettle at Heirloom Seeds, sponsors my course, the seeds for my course.
Joe Simcox did the explorer series, those are the guys who got the seeds from Peru…those are the seeds that I got?!
Do you have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?
I believe that anyone can start gardening at any age and provide a way to save money and to make a difference in their community at the same time.
How do we connect with you?
- my video
- free videos
- there’s more info
so just head over you’ll be fine!
The Kickstarter Campaign Link again.
Thanks for sharing your golden seeds today!
I’m gonna encourage people to go ahead and buy this for your local school because as far as curriculums go this is very affordable. And Patti Armbrister who is doing great things in Eastern Montana said that it just takes one passionate person and this could be your key and you just find a High school principal or teacher and bring them this curriculum, they’re looking for this kind of thing and you could maybe use it as a tax deduction and we an all work together to help teach our kids. It’s really been a theme of my last few guests, is that the key to having a successful farming business now is education and so did Julie Ross from Good Roots. As earth day is coming maybe there’s an Earth Day event in your area. Take your kids, take those grandkids and so many of guests have said they didn’t like to garden when they were little, so bribe em and they’ll thank you when their older.
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