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132. The Permaculture Student | Matt Powers | Yosemite and Fresno, CA
21st April 2016 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 00:53:16

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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.

Permaculture Student Online Curriculum

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?

permaculture student online Matt 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

  • Economically
  • socially
  • biologically

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 …


First high school permaculture text book ever

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?


r. 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!

UrbanFarmerCurtis 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…

volume 1

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.

Have you told everyone, tell people why they want to support your KickKickstarterstarter campaign. What is your Kickstarter campaign.

Permaculture Student Online Matt Powers Week One

My Kickstarter campaign is for the first high school permaculture textbook, its a handbook for living on earth regeneratively. It can be used for businesssee it’s a holistic manual for living !. 

Illustrated by Wayne Fleming

My first book check out at

  • my first book
  • free video
  • samples for my course
  • there’s lots of options

this is already happening

we want to spread permaculture

translating into

  • Polish
  • Russian
  • French
  • Italian
  • Greek

Its spreading all over the globe kickstarted people everywhere need a context, how to do what they need to do

we all need shelter...