The wide world of human powered machines with Tamara Dean, author of the book "The Human Powered Home"

My guest today is Tamara Dean, the author of the book “the Human Powered Home: choosing muscles over motors” which is an in depth look into the history, advancement, and modern applications of human powered machines. Having just finished reading this I can honestly say that I was immediately inspired to start building and using these machines myself. It covers the full range of people powered devices from treadle sewing machines, prisoner powered treadmills and cotton gins, to bicycles, see-saw water pumps and pedal generators. In later chapters, Tamara profiles people and organizations that are applying human powered devices to appropriate technologies that stimulate economies in developing regions, empower people to take on new projects on their own steam, and even just improve your health and fitness.

In this interview Tamara talks about her inspiration to write “the human powered home” and some of the machines she built herself while researching for the book. She also gives advice on some of the most efficient and less efficient tasks to power on your own, some of which are based on her own successes and failures.

For "The Abundant Edge" listeners only, you can now get 50% off your digital subscriptions to Permaculture Magazine North America by entering the code PMNA50abedge at checkout. Get your subscription today and dive deep into the local and global solutions that go beyond sustainability.


Pedal Powered Prime Mover Plans

Founding a sustainable living and education site, and working with the local community with Tim O'Hara of Rancho Mastatal: 021

My guest today is Tim O'Hara who's the owner and founder of Rancho Mastatal sustainability and education center, one of the premier sustainable living education sites in the world. For more than 15 years Rancho Mastatal has been leading the way in permaculture, natural building, and regenerative living skills such as fermentation, bio gas digestion, soap making, and much more.

Tim started out with a degree in agricultural economics and first began working in corporate agro business before becoming disillusioned with that world and joining the peace corps where he worked for two years in Uraguay and there met his wife. After another short stint working in agro business, Tim was ready for a big change. Through a friend of his from the peace corps Tim then found the land in Mastatal Costa Rica where the dream of the ranch came together.

In this interview, Tim shares invaluable insights on how to integrate with your local community as an outsider, how their demonstration site has had a positive impact on their community at large, and he goes over some of the biggest hurdles he and his team have had to overcome to get to where they are today. This is a great episode for anyone who dreams of starting their own training or educational site one day.


Desert regeneration and showcasing examples of permaculture success with Neal Spackman of the Al Baydah project and Sustainable Design Masterclass: 020

My guest today is Neal Spackman, Neal is best known for his work on the Al Baydah project in Saudi Arabia, and as the co-founder of the Sustainable Design Masterclass. Neal has been working for nearly a decade in one of the most arid regions of the world in a severely desertified region of saudi arabia to regenerate the landscape there through permaculture methods focusing on water harvesting techniques. As a former student of Geoff Lawton, Neal began work on the project with no prior experience with either permaculture or dryland restoration, but in a remarkably short time he and his team have completely transformed the way the land both sequesters water and builds topsoil, and has even reached the point where the trees no longer need any water from drip irrigation in a desert that receives only a few centimeters of rainfall a year.

In this interview Neal talks in detail about the intricacies and challenges that they face on his land restoration project, the social and economic factors that add a human element to the designs, and how he went from a complete beginner to running one of the most prominent and successful desert restoration projects in the world.

We also talk about the incredible information and interviews that he hosts through the Sustainable Design Masterclass and the inspirational stories of people who are running profitable businesses by regenerating the earth.


Tropical permaculture experiments in diversity and economic resilience with Scott Gallant of Rancho Mastatal: 019

My guest today is Scott Gallant who is a resident farm manager at Rancho Mastatal which is a permaculture and natural building design and teaching site in Costa Rica.

Scott grew up in a little town in Ohio outside of Cincinnati spending most of his childhood playing in the neighboring farmland. He later went to a small liberal arts school in Indiana called Wabash college where he studied economics and rhetoric. After that he was on the track to get a job in finances but instead took a detour when he decided to take some time off and head out west to work for a conservation crew. There he met his partner Laura and she convinced him to hitch-hike through Mexico with her to learn Spanish. Long story short, he says, we ended up at Rancho Mastatal in Costa Rica where he soon began running the farm, teaching permaculture, and eventually doing consulting work. Since then Scott has been featured on Permaculture Voices with Diego Footer, on the recent USDA “Inside Agroforestry Beginning Farmers” newsletter, and has written many articles for the Permaculture Research Institute.

In this episode Scott talks in detail about his role managing the farm on one of the premier regenerative living sites in the world and the journey that got him to that point. He also gives advice to beginners who might be looking to get involved in land management and regeneration projects themselves.


Regain your freedom and self-sufficiency through natural building with Chris "Uncle Mud" Mcclellan from 018

My guest today is an outspoken advocate for freeing yourself from the shackles of the rat race by making lifestyle changes that help you regain your freedom. Chris Mcclellan is affectionately known as Uncle Mud and runs a website by the same name where you can find resources on how to learn to build with cob and other natural materials.

In this episode Chris goes in depth on the different ways that you can slash your monthly bills with natural building retrofits. How instead of paying upwards of 1k a month to heat his house he now only pays $75 a year using a wood stove he built with mud and recycled materials, and why you should look to your back yard before for building supplies before heading to home depot.