Bitcoins & LENnies Now Accepted!

June 6, 2011

Good news for all those who support alternatives to the rapidly devaluating US Dollar! Sierra Permaculture Design now accepts Bitcoins and LENnies in exchange for services.

As the Federal Reserve Bank (it is neither!) continues to crank out worthless paper fiat currency that is backed by absolutely nothing, now is the time to adopt sustainable alternatives to our National Funny Money. Don’t be left holding worthless paper. Sign up with LEN, Bitcoin or a local money alternative of your choice before The FED and it’s FRNs go up in smoke!

Together we can build sustainable alternatives!



Categories: company, news.

Paul Stamets: Fungi to the rescue in Japan!

March 20, 2011

Gomphidius glutinosus

Can mushrooms save the world?

Mycoremediation and fungi specialist Paul Stamets (author of Mycelium Running and Growing Gourmet and Medicinal MushroomsBio ) thinks so. Stamets recently published a novel and sustainable method of dealing with the clean-up of radioactive soils and waste in Japan which was a result of the disasterous 8.9 earthquake and tsunami that occurred in March 2011.

Through the use of wood waste chipping, tree planting, and the innoculation of wood waste with select species of fungus, Stamets proposes that the radioactive fallout can be effectively remediated in a natural and effective way.

For more details, please see:
The Nuclear Forest Recovery Zone: Myco-remediation of the Japanese Landscape After Radioactive Fallout
by Paul Stamets

Categories: ideas.

Urban Homestead THIS!

February 19, 2011

In a bizarre, corporate-like power grab, the Dervaes family of Pasadena, California have taken the outrageous step to trademark the terms “urban homestead” and “urban homesteading”.

You read that right.

The same folks who originally began documenting their “little farmstead in the city” on their website ‘Path to Freedom’ and later became nationally famous on the film circuit in Homegrown Revolution have now seemingly veered right off the tracks onto the ‘Path of Corporate Slave Mentality’. They have actually gone to the trouble of “informing” non-profit organizations, bloggers, authors, radio shows, and even community colleges that “urban homesteading” is “their” trademark and other words should be used instead. Facebook pages using the term have been shut down without warning. EXCUSE ME!!??

Longtime urban homesteaders and the blogosphere are now rightly abuzz with news of the Dervaes family’s power-grab to control words that are hardly an original idea. Facebook pages such as The New Institute of Urban Home-steading(s) and Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) are quickly building support from urban susties & supporters, and even a national day of action on Monday has been proposed by the bloggers over at

For the dirt on the whole fiasco, here are a few news links of interest:
Dervaes Family Trademarks “Urban Homestead” Term: Legal Battle Follows
Oakland Homesteading School Caught in Trademark Tussle
Pasadena’s Dervaes Family Trademarks the Terms ‘Urban Homestead’ and ‘Urban Homesteading,’ Now Cracking Down on Bloggers
The Green Movement Trademarking Controversy and the Dervaes Family
Legal dirt of Pasadena’s farming Dervaes family

With all the ill will that the Dervaes family has generated in stirring up this homesteading hornet’s nest, the first step they should take is to fire the lawyer that gave them such awful advice. The second step they must take — if they ever hope to get any semblance of credibility back — is to put “their” urban homestead/ing trademarks into the public domain for the benefit of the larger homesteading community.

Some folks just need to understand that the sustainability movement will NOT be co-opted and controlled. Homesteading, both urban and rural, is an OPEN SOURCE movement.

Categories: ideas.

February: In the Garden

February 14, 2011

It’s mid-winter and here’s what you can be doing in the garden right now!

– Plan your spring garden: Reflect on last season’s annual planting locations to plan your crop rotations for the coming spring. What varieties did best last year and which varieties do you want to try this year?
– Order seeds: winter is the time to browse seed catalogs and place orders. Non-GMO and organic seeds can be obtained from the Sierra Seed Co-Op, Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and Fedco Seeds.
– Protect soil: Keep your beds covered with a straw mulch or planted to a cover crop to prevent topsoil erosion.
– Bring in fertility: If you don’t have animals (chickens, sheep, goats, cattle, horses) haul in manure from local ranches and stables to start compost piles with. Many stables will provide you with all the free manure you want so long as you can load it and haul it away in your own truck.
– Sheet mulch: Eliminate wasteful spring mowing chores by sheet mulching pathways and other areas with sheets of cardboard topped with a 3″ layer of straw. Earthworms love it and during the summer the mulch will retain soil moisture.
– Plant bare-root fruit trees and shrubs: Select late varieties to avoid spring frost damage to emergent buds and/or choose dwarf rootstock varieties that can easily be covered with frost protection blankets during frosts.
– Prune fruit trees: Eliminate crossing/dead/sick branches, train scaffolding for light and air, and encourage strong branches for fruit support. Spray budding branches with compost tea to encourage beneficial microbial growth that will outcompete disease organisms.
– Watch the water flow: During rain storms, observe water flows and begin designing ways to eliminate erosion and store/capture this water to put it to better use in the landscape.

That’s it for this edition. Stay tuned for more tips as spring approaches!

~ Paul

Categories: ideas.

Permaculture Basics class at PVFS

January 6, 2011

Permaculture Basics
with Paul Racko

March 26, 2011
9:30am – 11:30am
at Peaceful Valley Farm Supply in Grass Valley, CA

Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is a harmonious integration of landscape and people — providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. In this two-hour class, we will cover the design principles of permaculture and provide advice on how to apply these sustainable practices to home landscapes and the surrounding community. No matter if you live in an urban apartment, suburban tract home, or on a multi-acre ranch, permaculture will help you live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Early registration and prepayment is required one week prior to class.
Please pay prior to class with cash or make checks payable to ‘Paul Racko’.
Go to Peaceful Valley Farm Supply at 125 Clydesdale Court in Grass Valley to sign up, or call (530)272-4769 ext. 114.

Paul Racko has been studying and applying permaculture principles for over a decade. He is a certified permaculture designer and offers consulting, design, project management & training though his firm Sierra Permaculture Design.

Categories: courses.

Towards a Local Permaculture Center for Nevada County

January 1, 2011

In this video, Geoff Lawton of the Permaculture Research Institute, makes a case for the need to establish local permaculture centers across the globe in order to help local populations scale-up in response to Peak Oil and economic descent.

If you are interested in helping make this ambitious goal a reality at the local level — either through funding, grant writing, labor/sweat equity, pro-bono expertise, or siting — please email me via the Contact page. Most specifically, we are interested in land-owners who have a property with proper zoning where such a center can be established on a permanent basis.

This document offers a detailed outline of planning, funding & organizational considerations; physical infrastructure requirements; and a 3-year development time-line for such a center.

Categories: nevada co. permaculture center.

Money as energy for positive change

December 5, 2010


In solidarity with WikiLeaks, I am announcing that I have terminated my relationship with in protest of their complicity with state-imposed censorship, specifically the unconstitutional attempt made by one petty tyrant named Senator Joseph Lieberman. Since has chosen to so easily roll over for such self-appointed dictators as Senator Lieberman, it seems clear to me that Amazon is not deserving of my future business.

My decision was in response to the public call made by Daniel Ellsberg, of the Pentagon Papers fame, to boycott Amazon.

I wish to personally encourage all supporters and practitioners of permaculture to permanently cancel their accounts with Amazon in protest. Click here to close your account. When you do, be sure to mention that you are disgusted by their action to terminate WikiLeaks hosting and that you will only support companies that are in alignment with our Constitutional rights. Corporations tend to listen when you let your money do the talking!

December 7 Global Bank Run

On a related note, a Global Citizens’ run on the banks is occurring on December 7 2010. StopBank! USA has all the details. The idea is to withdraw financial support from those large banking institutions which have undermined our economy in their never-ending quest for profit. Major banks around the world are being targeted and bank customers are being asked to close their accounts on December 7 and move their money to local, non-profit credit unions or smaller, regional banks. My personal preference is a credit union because they are non-profit and put the interests of their shareholders first. When Washington Mutual failed back in 2008 and was taken over by Chase, I decided that I could not, in good conscience, do business with a bank that directly assisted in the collapse of the economy, so at that time, I moved all my accounts over to a local credit union.

Did you know about the Permaculture Credit Union? Find out more!

To find a local credit union near you, please visit

We the people have the power, and as in any well-designed permaculture system, we must position and implement our resources in ways that are most effective and supportive for the entire system. So get going and put your money to GOOD work!

Categories: ideas.

Spring 2011: Welcome to the United States of Austerity

September 18, 2010

Over the past 4 or so years that I’ve been following their free economic forecasts, GEAB‘s quarterly reports have rarely been wrong.

Here’s their latest free issue. The information concerning the coming 6 months may be shocking to those who have not been following the dots closely…

The Global systemic crisis – Spring 2011: Welcome to the United States of Austerity / Towards a very serious breakdown of the world economic and financial system

As anticipated by LEAP/E2020 last February in the GEAB No. 42, the second half of 2010 is really characterized by a sudden worsening of the crisis marked by the end of the illusion of recovery maintained by Western leaders (1) and the thousands of billions swallowed up by the banks and the economic « stimulation » plans of no lasting effect. The coming months will reveal a simple, yet especially painful reality: the Western economy, and in particular that of the United States (2), never really came out of recession (3). The startling statistics recorded since summer 2009 have only been the short-lived consequences of a massive injection of liquidity into a system which had essentially become insolvent just like the US consumer (4). At the heart of the global systemic crisis since its inception, the United States is, in the coming months, going to demonstrate that it is, once again, in the process of leading the economy and global finances into the « heart of darkness » (5) because it can’t get out of this « Very Great US Depression (6) ». Thus, coming out of the political upheavals of the US elections next November, with growth once again negative, the world will have to face the « Very Serious Breakdown » of the global economic and financial system founded over 60 years ago on the absolute necessity of the US economy never being in a lasting recession. Now the first half of 2011 will dictate that the US economy take an unprecedented dose of austerity plunging the planet into new financial, monetary, economic and social chaos (7).


Categories: ideas.

Tags: ,

BP and the ‘Little Eichmanns’

May 23, 2010

BP and the ‘Little Eichmanns’

By Chris Hedges

Cultures that do not recognize that human life and the natural world have a sacred dimension, an intrinsic value beyond monetary value, cannibalize themselves until they die. They ruthlessly exploit the natural world and the members of their society in the name of progress until exhaustion or collapse, blind to the fury of their own self-destruction. The oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, estimated to be perhaps as much as 100,000 barrels a day, is part of our foolish death march. It is one more blow delivered by the corporate state, the trade of life for gold. But this time collapse, when it comes, will not be confined to the geography of a decayed civilization. It will be global.

Those who carry out this global genocide—men like BP’s Chief Executive Tony Hayward, who assures us that “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume’’—are, to steal a line from Ward Churchill, “little Eichmanns.” They serve Thanatos, the forces of death, the dark instinct Sigmund Freud identified within human beings that propels us to annihilate all living things, including ourselves. These deformed individuals lack the capacity for empathy. They are at once banal and dangerous. They possess the peculiar ability to organize vast, destructive bureaucracies and yet remain blind to the ramifications. The death they dispense, whether in the pollutants and carcinogens that have made cancer an epidemic, the dead zone rapidly being created in the Gulf of Mexico, the melting polar ice caps or the deaths last year of 45,000 Americans who could not afford proper medical care, is part of the cold and rational exchange of life for money.

The corporations, and those who run them, consume, pollute, oppress and kill. The little Eichmanns who manage them reside in a parallel universe of staggering wealth, luxury and splendid isolation that rivals that of the closed court of Versailles. The elite, sheltered and enriched, continue to prosper even as the rest of us and the natural world start to die. They are numb. They will drain the last drop of profit from us until there is nothing left. And our business schools and elite universities churn out tens of thousands of these deaf, dumb and blind systems managers who are endowed with sophisticated skills of management and the incapacity for common sense, compassion or remorse. These technocrats mistake the art of manipulation with knowledge.


Categories: ideas.

Biochar & Wood Gas: Waste Wood for Soil Fertility, Energy Production, Carbon Sequestration & Fire Safety

May 18, 2010

Please join me at the next Sierra Permaculture Guild meeting for a special presentation:

Biochar & Wood Gas: Waste Wood for Soil Fertility, Energy Production, Carbon Sequestration & Fire Safety

The Sierra Nevada foothills are abundant with woody biomass that is a potential hazard when located near structures and communities. Rather than treating this resource as a waste, we can easily convert it into energy, soil amendment, and other useful products using simple, low-cost, and time-tested technologies.

In this talk by permaculture designer Paul Racko, you will learn about the many diverse benefits of Biochar/Terra Preta and wood gasification. With the effects of peak oil, climate change, and global economic instability becoming an everyday reality, find out how we can return fertility to our soils, generate energy at home and municipal scales, create fire-safe zones, reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide contributing to global climate change, and create meaningful, productive jobs in our bioregion. Farmers, alternative energy enthusiasts, foresters, homesteaders, welders, public works officials, entrepreneurs and engineers are especially welcome to attend this paradigm-shifting discussion.

Also: Spring Veggie Start swap. Bring your surplus veggie starts to swap or give-away. Share the abundance!

Always free and open to the public — donations gratefully accepted.

Anyone interested in permaculture, sustainable design, ecological agriculture, peak oil, relocalization and related topics is encouraged to attend and participate. Bring your questions, ideas, stories, and visions of how permaculture can help us bridge the transition as we co-create sustainable homesteads, communities and livelihoods.

Saturday, June 12, 2010
2:30pm gathering & networking
3:00pm meeting start/presentations

In the YoGarage at Willow Springs
29085 State Highway 49
North San Juan, CA 95960

Site phone: (530) 292-3463

Seating is limited. Please bring a mat, pillow, or folding chair to sit on.

For Sierra Permaculture Guild information, please contact Paul Racko at (530)613-4181

Join the Sierra Permaculture Guild Listserv on Yahoo! Groups


Categories: events, guild.

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Sierra Permaculture Design

Permaculture design and consulting services in Auburn, Grass Valley, Nevada City, and North San Juan, California. Also serving Nevada County, Placer County, Sierra County, and Yuba County, California CA.

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