For those of you who want a glimpse into the open source empire that Paul Wheaton built, I highly recommend attending a workshop on his farm in Missoula, Montana.
This man is established and willing to mentor others on their permanent agriculture path. Not only did he conceptualize and execute the 'pyronaut' workshop I attended last week,
he also extended his home and farm to all of the innovators and participants http://richsoil.com/rmh-innovators.jsp
. It takes a pretty open and patient person to let twenty
odd people invade your space for two solid weeks. Not to mention the handful of ants or natural builders that are experimenting on his land (more on that later).
Paul is someone who doesn't mince words when it comes to his vision and plans for his land. He has clarity and he is willing to fight for it.
His approach is not for the faint of heart and I can deeply respect that. He is able to be open with people because he has establishes clear boundaries on the values he is not willing to compromise on.
A mundane example of this is that when you are at Wheaton Labs you eat what Paul eats (no exceptions). No one had a problem with as he had an amazing 'kitchen commander' that served up well
thought out, homemade, local meals. Further to this you are only allowed to eat organic (or better) food if you want access to the pooper. To him only top notch nutrients will touch his soil as
he wants everything on his farm to thrive.
People who are givers are sometimes disappointed (I personally witnessed this when it was discovered that a contractor had taken short cuts costing Paul both time and money). Paul is pushing a big
agenda through his off grid Experimentation Lab and it that has a big wake. A lot of people haven't caught up to speed with him. He sees patterns that others aren't prepared to accept just yet and that is
ok because that is what leaders do. He is playing the long game and I hope others join him.
He nurtures his vision through his colony of ants. Under the mantra of “be the ant the first year- you can be the grasshopper the rest of your life”, he was made space for up to 12 people of his farm.
Leasing them 1 acre of land to experiment how they see fit. The rules are quite simple but grounded in solid contractual clauses like,” this agreement can be terminated by either of us at any time.”
I can relate to his vision and the effort it takes to achieve on a personal level from my years playing rugby. One of the hardest things is to get 15 guys to working together (to the point of sacrificing their bodies)
to achieve a stretch goal. Paul is asking the same of the ants. He has set an elite standard and wants people to rise to the challenge with a little coaching and space to grow. He is a uncompromising mentor
and brave as in the end he is the shouldering the risk of all the experimentation on his land.
Paul is perfectly complimented by Jocelyn, his down to earth plus one, who is just so damn nice she makes you believe in human kind (this coming from not a touchy feely person). She's the administrative base to
Paul's creativity and they have built something truly foundational that I hope becomes the standard. Huge shout out to Paul and Jocelyn who have reaffirmed my belief in the permaculture movement.