Not a Business, But an Idea

It has been said that, "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." In tugging at nature we have discovered that this attachment goes much deeper than we could have ever imagined, providing the mind with what may at first seem like some strange ideas.

We eventually decided to plant some of these ideas and watched as they took shape. The result is a little Perma Farm located on an acre of land in Galloway, Ohio.

More Than An Acre

In 2008 we bought our first home on an acre of land that was pretty much just grass. And even though we had great ambition, we had very little perspective, taking many wrong paths along the way. However, in looking back these paths were more right than they were wrong, being necessary paths that taught us and pushed us onto more balanced paths.

When we first started out we only knew of a traditional garden, and while it produced some food, it felt like we were twisting the earth’s arm to pop out a couple of vegetables. As soon as we uncovered the soil, weeds would rush in to cover it back up. Where we succeeded in keeping the weeds at bay, the sun would scorch the soil, turning it into hard pan clay. And when a row of plants did thrive, it wasn’t for long, as insects seemed to think it was an invitation to feast at their own personal buffet.

A Perma Farm Becoming

Though we can be hard headed, we were watching and learning, paying attention to our actions. Over time we started to give up some of our illusions of control. We first started to let the weeds cover the soil, and in the process we learned about many amazing heroes of the plant world.

We slowly started to mirror some of nature’s processes by covering the soil year after year with her own leaves. On top of this we started to plant, and just kept planting; seeds, trees, shrubs, groundcover, and vines.

Many plants didn’t make it, some were crowded out, others just didn’t seem to like the soil or the climate, but somehow in its own time things started to balance out, as the plants that made it started to thrive. It was as if the plants knew where they would grow best, and they actively sought out those locations. The result is a Perm Farm caught up in the process of beoming.

What Is A Perma Farm

A Perma Farm is land that is escaping, land that is less and less under human control - a permanent farm.

It is an upside down definition of a farm, one whose goal is not to produce monetary wealth, monocultured crops, or maximum efficiency, but rather one whose goal is to start moving towards balance, creating environments in which all of the community of life may be free to grow.

How To Start A Perma Farm

Inner Work

To encourage the emergence of a Perma Farm, we must first learn to stop preventing their emergence. A Perma Farm is the natural result of a life that is beginning to relate in more harmonious ways with the community of life. It is a life that is letting go of its illusions of control. If we really want to create a Perma Farm, we must begin by doing the inner work that will start moving our part closer to balance and harmony. This is a part that is caught up in becoming, a part that desires to grow and learn. It is a life that is starting to increasingly see the value of balance over efficiency, cooperation over competition, giving over taking, harmony over dissonance, and letting go over controlling.

Observe & Mirror

One of the best ways to encourage the emergence of a Perma Farm is to pay attention to nature, observing her cycles, rhythms, and ways, and then applying these principles in how we relate with the community of life. It has been said that, “you will find more lessons in the woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you what you cannot learn from masters.” And so it seems to be, for in observing nature we have stumbled upon a few of her lessons. Nature continues to teach us that she does not hurry but accomplishes everything in her time. She does not till, weed, or spray, and yet produces some of the most beautiful crops without human intervention. She appears to know very little of monoculture, but is well versed in polyculture, daily living out the idea of balance. And finally she has shown us an example of true freedom through those creatures and organisms who are still able to live under her care, as their food and their sources are not controlled by someone else.

Land Escaping

A Perma Farm has little to do with landscaping, but everything to do with land escaping. Getting out of the way is another step in encouraging the emergence of a Perma Farm. Land escaping is a process. It starts with small steps that may look very different depending on our present circumstances. If you have access to land, for example, whether it be a small corner of a yard, acres of manicured grass, or old farm land, let some of it or all of it escape. Step down from mowing, tilling, spraying, and weeding, so that those pioneer plants (Dandelions, Thistles, Amaranth, Plantains, Dock, Clover...) can cover the soil to prepare the way for the emergence of trees. To stop imposing a regimen of control is to give nature a chance to speak. The question then becomes: Will we be patient enough to listen?

Plant Seeds

When it comes to modern agriculture, monocultural uniformity is in, as almost every seed and plant is a trademarked cultivar or variety that is produced in mass. Modern seeds and plants appear beneficial to humans because they bring with them the short term advantages of predictable results; however, when we observe nature we find that seeds don’t like conformity, as each seed is its own unique pod of genetic variability. There is wisdom in valuing diversity over uniformity, as genetic variability allows plants to weather many environmental changes. And so, another way to encourage the emergence of a Perma Farm is to plant as many seeds as you can. Don’t worry about where to put them, nature will figure that out. Some seeds will not thrive, but others will, sending out their own seeds, continuing along on that great spiral, but never at the same level.


Learn to use the plants around you.Take these up into your body and let them heal you, let them teach you, and let your food be your medicine. Learn what is around you, learn how to use it properly, and learn how to love it. Find ways to replace the food that is made in industrial plants with food that is made from those beneficial plants that are all around you. Learn about those amazing plants that are so often called 'weeds', and learn about alternative greens, fruits, and roots. Learn and never stop learning.

Celebrate Failure

It is often the wrong path that makes us notice the right one. To begin moving our part closer to balance and harmony, to begin the process of freeing the land, is to make many mistakes. These mistakes are the very thing that can illuminate what we did wrong. So celebrate failures, be patient with yourself, and practice humility, daily being open to grow beyond those previous caves that limited your perspective.

Give Back

To cooperate with nature and her beautiful patterns, is to give back. There are many ways to give back:

  • Start your own Perma Farm (or whatever name you want to call it), by doing some of the above.
  • If you have the financial resources, purchase an old farm, or acres of perfect grass and either do nothing with it or fill it with seeds and trees. Then watch as nature starts to balance that which was out of balance.
  • Take steps down from agribusiness. Daily free yourself by finding some food that is not the product of industrial processes.
  • Start practicing an upside down way of thinking by finding something to give away as a gift, without charge, and without thought of repayment, just give.
  • Provide shoulders and not caves for your children and for all those who come after you.

"Eadem mutate resurgo" "I shall arise the same, though changed."