In Career & Business, Community Design, Permaculture Projects

Growing Good Business Video Series

Part 2: Hindsight is 20/20 – What The Permaculture Experts Learned the Hard Way

In 2007 we first watched – and were completely awestruck by – Geoff Lawton’s “Greening the Desert” videos. Once the information sunk in, and the inspiration struck, we knew we couldn’t spend our lives working in the oil and gas industry. Permaculture was the positive, regenerative path forward we’d be looking for, and all we could think about was, “how do we make this our life?”

Since at the time in Calgary, Canada, no one was really talking about permaculture, we had to look elsewhere for wisdom on moving forward. It didn’t take much time or convincing for a plan to be hatched: we’d travel the world to discover how other people were using regenerative design in their lives, communities, and careers. An internship at the pioneering Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy in Denmark, volunteering at the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, a cross-continental vegetable-oil fueled van trip, and three completed Permaculture Design Courses in three different countries, were just a few of our research adventures.

Fast forward 7 years to 2014… we have taught over 1000 students and have an internationally recognized design and education business. We get asked all the time by students and career-changing professionals alike: “What does it take to be successful in permaculture?”; and “How do I start my own business?”.

As the questions roll in, we’ve realized just how valuable the business side of permaculture is. Knowing how to start and run a business – and what not to do – is as critical for the sustainability and growth of the permaculture movement as the technical skills we all learn in our PDCs.

So, taking every opportunity we can to learn about building a business to share with our students, we formed a little film crew and headed down to the inaugural Permaculture Voices conference in Temecula, California this past March. Our mission: to interview leading permaculture designers, teachers, farmers and business owners and get their top tips on permaculture business success.

The result was over 25 interviews, with hours of footage, which we then packed down into 3 episodes (total 55 minutes) of the best and juiciest advice we harvested. Experts from across the board – and around the world – let us in on their secrets to success. From Geoff Lawton, world-renowned permaculture designer and teacher, to Doniga Markegard, holistic management cattle rancher, to Jack Spirko, host of the wildly popular Survival Podcast, to Louis Fox, the filmmaker behind “The Story of Stuff” and “The Meatrix” – we were lucky to meet and learn from so many great and creative minds!

In the second episode, we asked top permaculture experts and budding entrepreneurs some of the toughest questions:

  • What are the barriers to permaculture success?

  • What challenges have you faced? How did you overcome them?

  • What mistakes did you make along the way?

  • What would you do differently if you could?


 If you you missed the first episode, Success, find it here. And, of course, if you found the Mistakes & Barriers episode helpful, stay tuned for Part 3: Opportunities & Ideas.

Update July 31st – Watch Part 3, Opportunities and Ideas, here.


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  • Jenine Demyen

    Thank you so much for the time and effort put into this series! It has been tremendously helpful and timely as I am currently setting up my own permaculture business and needed some direction and guidance. I really liked the comment about thinking about permaculture as a verb instead of a noun, as well as Geoff’s comment about the before and after pictures with a timeline. Great stuff!!

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