Seth Peterson

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since Feb 04, 2013
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Berkeley, CA
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Recent posts by Seth Peterson

All Asian greens, from pak choi to Taiwanese sword lettuce...  Kitazawa seed company is a good source.
6 years ago
Subscribed, hoping to get my copy signed by both of you
8 years ago
Howdy all,
As a chef, I work a lot with Northern California Ranchers doing holistic grazing and other regenerative land practices when I buy my meat. My friend, Guido Frossinni, of True Grass Farms, is one of them, he runs a very impressive operation. Jeremy Watts, permaculture designer, and Guido are putting on a workshop on Silvopasture: the practice of combining forestry and livestock grazing in a mutually beneficial way, on The 12th & 13th of December

And you can camp onsight, and my favorite part, great meals, organic veggies and grass fed beef, will make this experience exceptional.

Here's a link to sign up and more info below,


We will learn the history and ecological context of the site and the importance of observation. We will explore how to transition basic pastureland into a drought-tolerant, multi-storied silvopasture. We will site and plant 120+ cork oak (Quercus suber) trees, plan for multiple species of livestock grazing as well as complementary plantings, and we will be using aspects of the Keyline design system for soil-building and water retention.

This will be an example of permanent agriculture, producing long-term yields of soil carbon, tree crops, and diversified animal proteins. Participants will learn how to survey a landscape using a laser level and make topographic maps of project sites for optimized water use and erosion control. Other topics will include fostering ecological succession, protecting saplings from livestock, grazing strategies, and selecting adapted species.

Onsite camping is included in the ticket price, as are three meals (two lunches and a breakfast) featuring True Grass Farm’s own pasture-raised meats and various local ingredients.

Dec. 12th from 10 am to 4 pm and Dec. 13th from 8 am to 4 pm

8 years ago
I have heard him say several variations of exactly those words on a few occasions, so while I can't give a book reference, that is totally Sepp. I think Zach Wiess, Javan Bernakavitch, or Andrea Holker, or many of his students could easily corroborate.

Seth Peterson
8 years ago

I haven't read all the comments, but I know some people are not pleased. For some of those of us who understand that aesthetics is important to visual communication we thank you and bless you for making something that you can look at and easily decipher and understand clearly and easily. Thank you.

Screen efficiency is not only percent of screen filled with text info. Thought am sure that for hardcore coders this is enough.

Let the debate continue.

Hey all,

This thread is getting good! Azura, Aimee and Q make some great points that have been on my mind.

I went to Hawaii for the first time two years ago with my fiancée, she was on work and I was in search of permacukture people and projects to visit and learn from. (Nowadays, every trip I take seems to have some permaculture motive tied in). So, we went to Oahu, and I visited some farms, some permaculture projects, snorkel led and explored.

One day I made it to Waimea valley, to visit, since they have a sort of open air museumm of traditional Hawaiian living. When I got there, I met a guide who instantly intrigued me and we sat down and talked for a good hour till she told me that was plenty and I should go and explore my new found knowledge in the valley. That hour changed my life, she opened me up to the ancient systems of the Hawaiians for agriculture and living. This was the deepest permaculture I had ever come across. I spent the next two weeks, visiting permaculture places, but also looking to find that deeper connection to Hawaii, there was SO MUCH to learn, the fishponds, the taro fields, the aina (sp?). Since then I have visited Hawaii three times, always going deeper. Visiting the Ritte family, in Moloka'i, touring the Big Island. You see my fiancee is a lawyer, her main gig is suing Monsanto in Hawaii, so you can imagine a) locals love her b) she has to go to Hawaii a lot. And it has changed her too. The aloha spirit has begun to infiltrate her thinking an her being as we connect to this ancient wise culture. I find her repeating Hawaiian sayings in her legal briefs and we have been following situation at Mauna Kea closely, with Hawaiians trying to protect their sacred mountaintop land from further development (and, we permies know the ecological value of a mountaintop). Walter Ritte's speeches have been amazing, we watch them weekly, some bringing us to tears. He is the Martin Luther King of modern Hawaiian rights.

And then something else happened. The tone in Hawaii started to change. Home rule and self determination have become not just strong buzzwords, but the basis for a whole new understanding of Hawaii's relationship to the mainland. The aren't protesting US involvement, they are protecting their land, which is their sacred and legal right. (We illegally annexed Hawaii for american companies, so technically we have no right to the islands under international law (sound familiar). But they aren't just protecting Hawaii from from the U.S. government, they are also fighting vigorously against Monsanto, harder than we are on the mainland, because Hawaii is ground zero for Monsanto's experimental GMO/pesticide plantings. And this month the were fighting to stop the TPP.

So these people, whose land the U.S. govt stole, whose people we subject to the will of our companies from Dole to Oracle, these people whose plight we ignore, as we visit Waikiki and leave a mess. These people are fighting not only their own battles, but taking on the world's battles, and fighting on the very front lines to protect the rest of us from Monsanto and govt abuse.

That is the Hawaii I have come to know, and it is still only one little piece.

The connections I have made there are some of the strongest I have ever made. They have so many answers to the world's problems. There is so much more that Hawaii can give the world compared to what the world can give Hawaii, which really isn't that much. Leaving them alone to be a free people would suffice.

So I see any trip to Hawaii as a partnership with the Hawaiian people. And as I said, the tone has changed, before they would have been more focused on outside experts to bring foreign knowledge, nowadays there if a feeling surging that local knowledge is better, and that local control of of the lands and politics is better. So, I don't go to Hawaii to teach, but rather to share. To cross pollinate, build our worldwide community, learn from them and let myself really soak up Island culture in the peole, the small towns, the still moments, the conversations by the side of the road...

Purposes of this trip:
1) share knowledge, cross pollinate with Islanders and permies.
2) bring new ideas to the islands and take new ideas home, as well as some of the aloha spirit.
3) learn about ancient Hawaiian agriculture
4) have some time to slow down and relax, to engage the places and people and rest up a bit.
5) Eat Hawaiian pineapple and contemplate how to make a cooperatively owned regenerative polyculture pineapple farm that will put Dole out of business.

So, yeah, your posts were really on point.

At this stage we are trying to get an idea of what's doable, and budget, to see if this thing has wings (I think it does). And the final format is still up in the air. I want to secure funding to get Paul, Willie, Geoff, Nadia?, Jocelyn, Cassie and myself out there. We will all work hard except for Joc, who totally deserves this time off!! For putting up with all our craziness, while holding so much together at base camp! And if I know Jocelyn, she will still put in work, even if we say to just relax.

Some possibilities include:
A day of workshops and talks at a permaculture center for in depth stuff, higher price
A day of intro to permaculture for a large amount of people at a cheaper price
A lecture in a big hotel for people with high heels and suits (professors, business people, politicians, activists.) at a high price
A PDC given by a combination of mainland teachers and local teachers.
Redesign a fishpond, there is one on Lana'i that needs work, and since geoff did this last time, and it worked out so well, it is a very good option.
A three or four day event with some mainlanders and some locals presenting, kind of a convergence if you will.
There could be a tour of the islands for mainlanders that goes to Hawaiian spots and learns the history of Hawaiian ancient agriculture from locals.

I would want to see some kind of aina discount for at least one of the events to bring in lots of people, reach lots of people.

How many islands? For one week two is plenty, for two weeks three is great IMHO. Big island has lots going on, so does Oahu. I would disagree that most of the farming takes place on Oahu (I include cattle ranching and other activities), but there is plenty on both islands.

If this interests you, speak up.

If you have good Hawaiian contacts, speak up.

If you can bring out a group of people for an incredible experience, speak up.

If you have anything to add, please do!

I jump at the sun, cause I never get burned,

Seth Peterson

Hey all,

So, I am finishing up one glorious month at base camp as kitchen commander. I arranged with Jocelyn to come out here for the whole month of February as a follow up to when I came out here last September. In fact I had to squeeze the month in between some permaculture work and site visits in Hawaii last January and Permaculture voices in March, and I am so glad I did.

Why am I glad? Because it allowed me to really test out the Kitchen Commander position and see what is possible. When I first visited and observed the system in place, I estimated that a good cook could do the job of cooking for the crew and overseeing cleanup as well as improve kitchen systems and do awesome kitchen projects, and I originally, I broke it down something like this...

3-4 hrs. Actually cooking
1 hr. Cleaning and overseeing community members clean up
1/2 - 1 hr. Doing systems improvement like making an inventory spreadsheet, or putting up nice wooden signs to guide people on kitchen use
1/2 - 1 Doing awesome experimental kitchen projects like flavored salts, canning, pickling, etc.

I figured that would make for a six hour day, six days a week, so a 36 hr. Work week which seems plenty fair for a salaried position. And at the same time would allow the kitchen commander to get involved in other awesome Homesteadding activities from making seedballs to fencing, to planting, to hugelkulture, etc.

I compared this position and salary to a restaurant cooking job, which in the super expensive Bay Area pays about $10-15 an hour, for 5 eight hour days a week. In this job you work as hard and as fast as you can for eight often sweaty and grueling hours a day and still have to pay your own rent, some of your own food, commuting expenses if you have them, etc. It's a job for illegal immigrants and passionate obsessed chefs in the making, and it puts you below the poverty line. So, I calculated that you would come out way ahead at wheaton labs, especially sice there is little to spend money on. I figured you would have an easier job AND come out with some savings, probably even be above the poverty line.

So, this month I got to test out my theories, and I will post to this thread over the next month to show people what I did, what I discovered, what we ate (yes I have photos) and how I improved my efficiency over the month.

But, let me give a quick summary, and that is...

After two weeks 'practice' on the kitchen equipment and paleo cooking, and the ingredients at hand, and people's food preferences, I got down to 3hours a day of actual cooking time, and some days less. And about an hour clean up with community members help was very doable. And I didn't have a grueling work pace like in a restaurant, in fact I had a relaxed work pace.

Breakfast 30 mins. Usually eggs of some type, sausage of some type and greens or sweet potatoes, etc.
Lunch. 1 hr varied, I will post menus and photos
Dinner. 1 hr varied, I will post menus and photos

And I still had to time to play with the hay box cooker, butcher and brine a whole pig, make seedballs, innoculate straw with fungi, design and make fences, attend food production systems meetings, play cards against humanity, walk the land, gossip with Jocelyn et al. About the day's events, go shooting, visit a local spa a couple of times, get trapped up on a mountain in the snow for half a day, attend an Eco summit in missoula, as well as a film festival, Skype with my Fiancée (yea I said it, Fiancee), etc. AND I had time to do my work back home long distance, setting up several culinary and permaculture workshop for March, April and beyond as well as a whole host of other activities. (Thank god I have hugelbeds, and don't need to attend to my garden regularly).

Did I do a perfect job? No. I started off needing more hours, and cleaning less than I should, after two weeks I started hitting my stride, and in my last week I managed to cook off enough food to feed the core winter group here for the next week or so. And I could still improve greatly, that's what life is about.

Disclaimer: there were only 8-10 people here this month, that number will go up in the summer. But three considerations come into play here 1) more people means more chopping but the same cooking processes. Cooking 1 fish is the same as cooking 5 fish. 2) when there are more people here, like 20 or more, maybe, then the kitchen Commander would have more hands to help in the kitchen, so this system scales up easily. 3) this job, community structure and lifestyle ain't for everyone, BUT for the right person.... Who has probably listened to all or most of the podcasts, then maybe, just maybe...

Let me say that, I loved Caitlin's post about her experience here last summer, she hit a lot of nails right on the head, and as the next month rolls around I will post many more thoughts and photos to help develop this space. So, please post your thoughts, questions, considerations, etc. And if you like this sorta thing, well then, come on out to the......

So, who will take up the gauntlet, who will become the next, and hopefully permanent Kitchen Commander? Whoever does can count on my support.

Later, today I fly back to the west coast, to continue living the dream, but I look forward to being back here in June for the Eco living summit that Zach Weiss is putting on in Montana (check it out on the forums this week), and seeing a whole bunch of people, living, laughing, crying and overcoming in community.

Lastly, if you have a permaculture based homestead and want to talk about the kitchen possibilities you can either post here for all the permie world to see and learn or PM me as well.

Jump at the sun y'all,

Seth Peterson,

a permaculture chef

9 years ago
Hey Jesse-
My two cents...

I have begun to incorporate succulent (non thorny) as ground cover. They do a fantastic job... And it's an idea that I later found out geoff lawton uses in dry/desert climates.

My reasoning is...

1) easy to propagate from cuttings literally strewn on the ground
2) cheap since they grow from any cuttings I often collect from my own collection or neighbors, etc on a regular basis and have grown my collection to an outstanding number in the last three years.
3) work well, truly cover and protect.
4) and when you ride over them they will break up and produce more cuttings just like when the get trampled or eaten in natural settings.
5) great colors
6) climate appropriate
7) down the line you could use the succulents as propagation material for future projects or even sell the succulents to pay for BMX equipment.

Then you can come in with your nitro fixing trees and Mediterranean fruit bushes and trees to fill out the layers in your food forest.

Seth Peterson

a permaculture chef

P.S. Did you say Humboldt State? that's my alma mater.
9 years ago
Elle, In my limited experience clay soil is what you want for pond sealing. I've seen them done by digging a hole and running pigs in the hole, and I've seen them done by running the excavator in the hole to compact the clay. I'm, of course, referring to the work of Sepp Holzer, so if you don't know, definitely check him out and read up on his pond building techniques.

Hey Michael, yes sepp used dead stakes with live plants. The dead stake to create and keep the hole, as well as, allow moisture into the hole, and to decompose and feed the soil life. In that same hole he planted what I believe was grapes in one case and willow in another. I totally see your point of the willows going through your thin sealing layer vs. Causing soil life and exudate so that would seal it, and am curious, might be worth a try in your test pond since the info is invaluable in your situation. I could also see planting some shallow rooted plants that would fend off ducks, like the bamboo you mentioned. Are cat tails shallow rooted? I'll try and get some photos up next month of what I saw. Too busy this month.

Keep them updates coming, you rock!

And even if you do,

Seth Peterson

a permaculture chef
9 years ago
I'm out here at wheaton labs cooking for the month, so I will be fitting in some preservation projects as well...

First up, a ginger bug!

I put ginger, water and honey in a mason jar which I left loosely closed for air exchange. This captures the natural wild ginger bug which starts the fermentation. I added honey daily in small doses for four days till the liquid got frothy with fermentation. Sam and I tasted it and decided is was too weak, so added ginger and water and more honey. Tastes it again and thought it was better but could be stronger, so we'll add more ginger when we get some on Sunday.

I also took some of the ginger bug juices and added it to flour and water to make a pool (sourdough starter) to get the fermentation going on that.
9 years ago