Jason Pednault

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since Aug 03, 2013
Iquitos, Peru
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Recent posts by Jason Pednault

Hello Asa. Sounds like you are on the right track. You should be able to make biochar easily enough by digging a swale/trench, adding the organic material to burn, and then smother it with the material you dug out. I would then treat it as a lasagna bed, and simply after a season of letting it settle, plant your crop. Spraying compost or worm tea on your beds over time will add microbial activity to your soil as well. Raw milk works the same.

About your cacao, I would mix it with banana plants which will offer the cacao shade. Like coffee, cacao grows best with little to partial sun. We have a young cacao plantation, and some are under shade of the banana plants. The shaded cacao is literally twice as tall as the ones in full sun. It's quite amazing.

We are in the SE Amazon of Peru, btw.

If leafcutters are an issue, here is a powerful trick. Find two leafcutter mounds, fill a wheelbarrow with material from one including live ants, and add the material to the second leafcutter mount, and vice versa. The ants will pack up and move on when they detect the scent trail of the opposing leafcutter ant mounds.

Hope the tips help.

3 years ago
Hello guys. Most of your questions can be answered in my various posts in my Facebook group The Amazon Sustainability and Awareness Project(ASAP). Let me grab the link:


If you don't have Facebook, please let me know and we can stay in touch by email. We decided not to publish the website until we have video coverage and photos for the site showing progress.

3 years ago

We have very near-future plans for an intentional community in the deep Amazon rainforest of Peru, and a few friends and I will be heading down at the end of March, 2015 to Puerto Maldonado, in SE Peru. We are hoping to lease a beautiful, remote river-front already established jungle lodge to get things rolling. In the very near future we will be picking up some land much more accessible for permaculture.

This will be a highly spiritual community and the idea has been developing over a two year period. The land the lodge occupies is 1,250 acres and is surrounded by old growth rain forest with a huge amount of wildlife, from jaguars, anacondas, tapirs, to the beloved scarlet macaw and toucan. The community will be focused on continuous self growth, sustainability and we will be working with the shamanic visionary medicine, Ayahuasca. The project is called the Amazon Sustainability and Awareness Project(ASAP). The plan is to have a school of higher learning, involving survivalism, permaculture, self-sustainability and our spiritual side of Ayahuasca, meditation, yoga and Reiki. All of our projects will be heavily filmed and placed on our website(won't be officially up and running until the lodge is ready April, May?), showing "how tos" in detail)
Eventually we will have a rain forest research center, as well as a center for natural healing.

If you are on Facebook, we have an active group called by the same name; the Amazon Sustainability and Awareness Project(ASAP) that you can join. It is a closed group, but join the group and I will authorize.
Permaculture will play a huge part of our project.

PS. When I say spiritual, I am not talking religious. Think respect for Mother Nature, shamanism and interest in making this world a much better place. My story getting me to this point is intense and involves an attempted murder on me, leading up to my spiritual awakening. If you are curious about who I am, and where my original vision for this potentially very important project came from; please read my story.

3 years ago
When i say compost/worm tea I mean aeriated with an aquarium pump. If it isn't aeriated, it will become anaerbic/stagnant and will usually do more harm than good. Add some organic molasses and if you can get it, some kelp or spirilina as a food source. The molasses also helps the tea to stick to the foliage of the plants. You can absolutely not harm a plant using correctly brewed worm/compost tea. In addition to the compost or worm castings, grabbing a handful or two of your local soil is another great way to increase the correct type of microbes to your soil. Obviously you want that soil to be organic with no pesticides. If you have any more questions concerning aeriated tea, feel free to ask.

You should mulch fairly heavy around your trees as well(4 to 6 inches deep). Helps greatly with water retention and will half your necessary watering(or even better). To help keep your mulch in place, create a ring of rocks around the base of the tree. This actually looks nice as an extra bonus.

Sod over heavy clay most likely is your culprit. Just remember though, deep, less frequent watering is critical when it comes to correct watering. Only exception is if you have poor drainage, like dense clay. Making the roots seek out the deeper water represents a much larger, healthier root system, which enhances the plants overall health.

I highly recommend worm composting if you haven't started it. They are much lower maintaince than turning over compost piles and the quality of the material is quite a bit better. Worms are absolutely amazing and important critters. I had an operation of millions of works in Oregon and actually sold the castings. It could potentially bring in a little extra income as well. You can start as small as you want, with a small plastic container and a handful of worms. Make sure you have the correct type of worm though, being actual compost worms. Oftentimes you can find worms in a pile of ages horse or cow manure if the area is organic.

You may know a lot of this. If you do, sorry about that.


Chad Tarnard wrote:I recently cleared my backyard of its grass and it was about 1.5 inches of roots and below that it is PACKED TIGHT . I plan on dropping a boatload of mulch over most of that and letting it work in over a season or two before even thinking about planting there. It's the area for the kids to run around in anyway, so I'm in no rush to get that area growing. I am thinking I need to condition my soil in a similar fashion anywhere I am looking to plant.

My major goals for the next year are to get some mulch worked in everywhere to encourage worms and the like to free up my soil and to get my hugelbed finished and growing. After that I have about 142,000 smaller projects to get to, but baby steps .

Thank you.

Hey Chad,

If you had a packed tight area of roots, that is generally caused by light, frequent watering. Shallow watering will encourage the roots to follow the shallow water. Watering deeply and less frequently will encourage the roots to seek out the deeper water giving you an overall deeper root system. Consistant watering also allows more even distribution of nutrients to be picked up. As a general rule you can poke your finger into the soil and if the top 2 inches are dry, it is time to water.

Another trick is to water right after a light rain. Water molecules attract other water molecules(if this makes sense) which also aids in the overall water retention. It is like the sponge effect. Water will bounce off a dry sponge, but will easily absorb into an already wet sponge. Same concept. This is especially important if you use sprinklers/other forms of aerial irrigation. Mulching is also critically important and as you stated it protects the soil food web, microbes, worms etc.

Another amazing component to gardening should be using worm/compost tea or raw milk as a foliar/soil spray. Add a half spoon of molasses to 6 parts water, one part milk or tea and spray thoughourly. This has to be done early morning or late evening(better in the morning). The microbial life will almost completely prevent powdery mildew and blight, basically fungal diseases. I can't stress the amazing benefits of raw milk. It is a good idea to have your own milking cow or goats just for spraying if anything else. Hope this helps.
Hi Adam. I have lived throughout Ecuador, but as for the Southern area, Vilcabamba, and more south, Yangana and Vallodolid. I have lived with the indigenous(huaorani people in the Napo province) in the actual deep rainforest, so I am comfortable in that type of terrain. As far as slash-and-burn, it does have its major problems. When most indigenous tribes had fewer numbers and were more nomadic, it worked well enough. Now that the tribes are more stationary and it is a MUCH more common practice, it is destructive beyond belief. They buy cheap rainforest land, slash it and set it on fire and used for cattle grazing, or a specific monoculture.(usually). After some time, usually a few years, the land becomes fallow and they rinse and repeat. Yes, we can learn a heck of alot from indigenous indians, but unfortunately that specific agricultural practice is not one of them. I definitely do understand the concept of biochar, but just burning the land and actually burning wood as biochar are quite different. The problem is that it takes hundreds, if not thousands of years for rainforest to grow back to its full glory. We are undoing thousands of years of evolution in a matter of decades and are greatly effecting the last of our ever important rainforest.

The entire world has some serious issues as we all know, definitely not just the Amazon region. Unfortunately a large fraction our medicine, much of our oxygen and a huge variety of flora and fauna come from that region. I never said I wanted to "change" them, just give them an alternative, more sustainable agriculture system.

I hear ya about Ayahuasca. Plants are not "good" and "evil". They are indifferent to those human emotions, so unfortunately the consumers intent is critically important. If you steer more towards being a greedy individual who seeks money and power, then you will probably draw malevolent spirits. If you are a kind-hearted person who has good intentions, you will probably draw belevolent spirits. One thing Aya seems to teach no matter what, is the great importance of the rainforest and the need to protect and cherish it and THAT i agree with. Intent and treating Aya with respect is absolutely critical. The other issue is that people, to an extent, treat Ayahuasca as a recreational "drug", in which it is not. The dieta is very important and who knows what others ad as admixtures. The ancient formula itself is quite safe if done respectfully.

So I hope you understand the reasoning behind this project is not to try and change anyone directly. It is about showing them an alternative, very affective, and sustainable route. Saying that because the system they worked with(slash and burn) worked in the past, doesn't make it viable today. The modern practice of heavy machinery and tilling, aka large scale agriculture, obviously isn't a sustainable practice either. To be honest, I would say the "first world" agriculture practice is as destructive as slash-and-burn, just in a different way. It is a matter of the importance of the land. You also have to factor in that most "first world" people have internet and ways to educate themselves outside of actually working with it hands on. In the Amazon very few people would even realize their are other ways, so the creation of an education center in that specific region and providing dozens of jobs makes quite a bit of sense, no?

Have you ever witnessed the destruction of this practice first hand? Like actually seen it with your own eyes? It is a horrible sight and will put tears in most people's eyes.

5 years ago
Hey guys. I have been practicing permaculture for about 12 years, and organic gardening/permaculture for going on 20 years and i am just now signing up on Permies.com. Sorry for that. My permaculture and gardening is my number one passion in life and for that reason I avoided it as my profession. You have a tendency to put more energy into something you are passionate about, while work...is...well, just work. I kept the two seperate.

My idols are the usual guys: Sepp Holzer, Geoff Lawton, Masanobu Fukuoka and of course Bill Molson and of course moving up in the ranks is Paul Wheaton. Anyways, i have worked on/with various people on some projects over the years and I do the occasional consulting work for people, especially concerning vermiculture. A friend of mine had about 40 acres in Oregon and together we tried to implement most of the aspects of permaculture. Lots of hiccups along the way, but in the end we accomplished our goals. A self-supporting, nature friendly low maintaince system. It took us about 4 years to implement. We started this quite large project 12 years ago and it was one of my happiest periods of life. We never did let our failures bring us down. I do remember one of our biggest "oops" periods was our attempt at building swales and not building them on contour, lol. Erosion is not your friend. Luckily we had only put in a couple before realizing the critical mistake.

Well, 2.5 years ago I moved to Southern Ecuador where I still live. I originally arrived here thinking i was going to do some gold prospecting for some extreme adventure. 2 years ago I experienced the adventure I was looking for, but it came at a price...an attempt on my life. Long story short, I had an attempted murder on me. 2 men beat me down, and dragged me over to a cliff where they tossed me off. The idea was to remove the evidence and that would be me. I did survive not only the beating, but the fall and had to climb out as well. This was the worst day of my life. Some events that occured during the fall has been pushing me in a specific direction and that is south towards Peru.

In about 5 days I will be heading to Iquitos, Peru in which I will be working with one of the owners of an Ayahuasca retreat. We will be implementing full permaculture throughout the grounds of the retreat, which is 25 hectares of virgin, old growth jungle deep in the Amazon rainforest. This is going to be a rather slow process considering all earthworks will have to be done by hand due to the remote, off the grid location. We will be building swales, ponds and dams. Planning and developing food forests/edible landscapes. I have an idea for a soil amendment process using a combination of vermiculture and ground covers that I hope to test out. The open land(the land was purchased this way) consists of about 2 sections of 5 hectares(12.5 acres) each and another smaller piece of about 1 hectare. The remaining 14 hectares will be left as is, which is jungle and will consist of the already developed animal sanctuary. This center consists of two parts. One is the Ayahuasca and natural healing aspect while the other is the permaculture side. We are hoping to film(and possibly blog) all projects from beginning to end for detailed instruction on how to implement them. Do you feel this would work? A few challenges will definitely await us, one dealing with the remoteness and not being able to use heavy machinery. This is going to be done soley by man, meaning no excavators, graters etc. A single pond will most likely take weeks/months of labor and swales/dams many days or even weeks.

Would you follow this site? The problem I see is that most people will hire out the machinery and do very little of the earthworks by hand. While certain projects might take us months, it may only take the viewers weeks.

We have quite a few things going for us though. One is the exotic location and the importance of keeping the area untouched. This is untouched virgin rainforest. Massive trees of hundreds and in some cases thousands of years old towering over us. Monkey's, snakes and even the beautiful scarlet macaw lives right on or near the land. Their are 4 monkey's that actually live with us and they will climb on our shoulder and we have a few giant anteaters, and giant sloths as part of the sanctuary. All the animals are free to come and go if they are not injured. Apparently there are over 120 recorded medicinal plants right on this property. It is a beautiful, healthy and flourishing ecosystem and the plan is to keep it that way.
The medicinal power of Ayahuasca is amazing and I can't wait for my first set of ceremonies. I have been waiting for going on two years for the right place and right time. If you are not familiar with this amazing plant, do yourself a favor and research it.

The idea of the entire permaculture project is to educate, both the local indigineous people and everyone else in our beautiful world that permaculture and subsistance living must be the way of the future. The shipibo indians are the primary indigenous peoples of the region. They practice slash-and-burn agriculture and this practice is not sustainable. Our hope is simply to educate the people about the importance of keeping the rainforest intact and that wildcrafting herbs and permaculture in general is a very effective, sustainable future. Of course we hope to educate not only the local people, but any who are also interested in permaculture. It appears I have arrived at the perfect time, right in the beginning of this ambitious project. My question is: Would you come to this website on a regular basis? As long as the information is sound, the site professional and updated, would you keep coming back? Feel free to offer any ideas, comments or any other feedback.

PS. Eventually we hope to have guest speakers visit the retreat on a fairly regular basis and possibly to teach a detailed, tropically oriented permaculture course. Soon we will also be taking in volunteers hopefully on a regular basis and this will be implemented on the website.

Thanks for any feedback!
5 years ago