Permaculture Voices 2 – Conference Recap Day 2

By on March 6, 2015

Permaculture Voices 2

Recap Of Permaculture Voices (PV2)
Conference Day 2

Keynote Session

Day 2 of the conference started off with a keynote session. The keynotes were moved to an outside pavilion setup due to the amount of people at Permaculture Voices this year.


The keynote today was by the ‘Fungi Guy’ Paul Stamets. In true Paul style, he started off by talking about the mushroom that created the hat he was wearing and one of the biggest mushrooms he had found (an Agarikon, I believe).

Permaculture Paul Stamets Mycelium

Now, Paul moved pretty quick through this presentation but it was very impactful. In fact he received a very long standing ovation at the end.

Paul has made it his life’s work to study fungi and the impact that it can have on the world. He was one of the leaders of discovering what mycelium can do for a landscape and is considered the foremost leader in this area.

In case you don’t know, the simplified explanation of mycelium is they are the roots of fungi. These roots form a network that extends to the root systems of all the plants and trees in the area. The mycelium passes along water and nutrients to the other root systems, helping them thrive. So next time you want to pick a mushroom, remember that it is working for you and your eco system!

Paul spent a lot of time with the science behind fungi, but was inspirational to me in his discussion of these areas: Cancer and Bees.

He did not flat out say that fungi can cure cancer, or save the plight of bees. He did however point out that certain fungi have been proven to be effective on different types of cancer and diseases. He also described how it can be used to save what is happening to our bees.

First story. His mother, at 83, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Doctors told her she had one of the most advanced cases of cancer and tumor size, and gave her 3 months at the most to live. She prepared for that. Then, she joined a group testing a drug for breast cancer with 50 other women. At the same time, Paul started giving her Turkey Tail mushrooms. These mushrooms are proven to enhance GI performance, provide beneficial bacteria, and reduce inflammation. After the program, 48 of the women died. 1 woman survived, but is still fighting tumors. And his mother is tumor and cancer free 5 years later. There are other mushrooms that have had the same effect on liver cancer as well as tuberculosis. ‘Lions Mane’ mushrooms can have an effect on Alzheimer’s disease. Most of these stories and facts have been published in medical journals, but never picked up by main stream science.

Second story. Winnie the Pooh. If you remember, Winnie the Pooh was a bear that loved HUNNY. He would do anything for it. He would even go into a tree that had a hive of bears and get their HUNNY.


So when you have a tree that has holes or is deteriorating in some way, it grows fungi. And the fungi provide a nutrient that attracts bees. This nutrient is taken back to hives and is used by the bees to keep their hives alive and nourished, and provides repairs. Science is just figuring this out. Winnie the Pooh knew it YEARS ago.

So to summarize, the research and the work that Paul is doing is humbling. He knows the power of fungi and mycelium, and is trying his best to educate the world. Like with all things, you have to get the word to the people first, get the people to drive change, and organizations will follow. You can learn more about Paul and his work at

Breakout Sessions

The next session I chose to attend was by Luke Callahan and was called 7 Steps to Starting Your Profitable Permaculture Business.

Permaculture Luke Callahan

Permaculture Luke Callahan

Luke strives to teach you to find a business that is in line with your ecological values. Your business is an opportunity to make great change in the world, and you should be proud to identify your passion, values, and go out and make it happen.

He also focuses on local businesses ( He used the example of microbreweries. They started their movement as local companies, making their own beer as an alternative to the watered down beers of corporations. They have now turned into an artisanal product, where consumers are willing to pay more for an alternative quality beer. The same can be done with permaculture businesses, and that’s how we can take it from the shadows to the mainstream.

There are seven steps he recommends to starting a profitable business.

Permaculture Luke Callahan

I. Market Validation
• Step 1 – Identify Your Customers
• Step 2 – Identify Your Products and Services
• Step 3 – Run The Numbers

II. Product Validation
• Step 4 – Get Your First Customer

III. Building Your Business
• Step 5 – Make Your Business Official
• Step 6 – Build Your Team
• Step 7 – Build and Evaluate Key Metrics

Step 1 – Identify Your Customers. The goal here is to know exactly who your product and service is for. Narrow it down and be precise. You don’t want to sell to everyone – you will sell to no one. Who will benefit most from your product or service.

Step 2 – Identify Your Products and Services. What are the products and services that can solve the problems that your customers are having? What is the outcome that you want for them, and what product or service will help you achieve that outcome?

Step 3 – Run The Numbers. Identify how much you will earn, and how much it will cost to produce. Use numbers that will be when the business in a good, healthy state. Example, if you anticipate doing $100,000 in sales, estimate that at least have of that will be operating costs. Maybe even 60 percent. You then know how many customers you need to get based on how much you charge them, and that becomes your target.

All of that is Market Research and should be done before doing anything else.

Step 4 – Get Your First Customer. This will validate that you have a valuable product that people want to buy. So take your research, figure out how to go get that first customer, and just go do it!

Next is to really build your business. You have researched and validated, now build.

Step 5 – Make Your Business Official. Design for success (website, graphics), legal entities, licensing needed, accounting systems.

Step 6 – Build Your Team. Find people who can help you do things you can’t or don’t like to do. Be able to walk away from your business for a week and it will still run. Don’t work by yourself for 3 years doing everything – you will burn out and quit.

Step 7 – Develop Key Metrics. Watch and track your numbers. If you don’t stay on top of them, you can go bankrupt fast. Know what you need to do to sustain every month, every year, and work towards those goals.

This is just a summary of what Luke taught. What was really awesome about his session is that he used 4 Permaculture businesses as case studies for each step, so we really got to see what different types of businesses did through these steps. Invaluable stuff. If you want to learn more about these steps or what Luke does, you can find him at,, or A true entrepreneur and genuinely helpful guy.  He spent nearly 30 minutes with me talking about my business and gave me some great insights!

15 5 Minute Sessions

This was a unique way to spend an hour and 45 minutes. There were 15 speakers, and each had 5 minutes to give you their message – their viewpoint, their passion, their company, their needs. I can’t list them all, but here are a few that resonated with me:

Frank Golbeck – Golden Coast Mead. He left the military to pursue his passion, and is providing mead to the masses and helping bees in the process. In 250 stores, including Whole Foods, so support him if you can.

Grant Curry – Permaculture Provision Project ( – Grant discussed the big drought area around the four corners (Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona), and how changing this to a permaculture project could change the climate and drought effects for the US and for the world. He is very passionate about this project – so head over to his page to ‘Like’ it, and if you can/want to help in any way, let them know.

Jen Mendez – Integrate Permaculture Methodology with Passion to Re-Design Children’s Education. This was all about Jen’s mission (a very passionate mission) to help re-design children’s education. All the work we do as permaculturists will be for naught if we don’t educate the children of today as to why we do what we do.

John Rife – Building Communities. John was a great speaker, and very inspirational about the need to build and foster communities of like-minded individuals. He coordinates festivals, farmers markets, and farm to table dinners. Look him up at the East End Market in Orlando, Florida.

That is it for Day 2. I’ll be back for a recap of Day 3, where I plan to learn more about design principles and how to design aesthetically pleasing permaculture gardens.

About The Permaculture Zone

The Permaculture Zone was created and is maintained by a couple of budding permaculturists, business partners Scott and Keith. We want to spread the word of Permaculture, and provide everything you need to know about Permaculture, all in one zone!

One Comment

  1. Linda Moss

    March 31, 2015 at 2:07 am

    The rapid decline in wild bees could be the single most damaging thing for our way of life. The worrying aspect is we have no idea what is causing the decline. Any research that gives us greater understanding of wild bees habits is crucial.

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