Powers Social Permaculture: Leading with Care and Science



Permaculture leader Matt Powers
Photo by Adriana Powers

With an M.A. in Education, Matt Powers is one of the most watched permaculture instructors online--author, teacher, seed-saver, plant-breeder, gardener, consultant, speaker, and publisher at his website, The Permaculture Student. Matt has taught K-12, college, and adult learners all over the world. A former public high school teacher, Matt authored the first government-accredited permaculture curriculum in North America (fully cited, peer-reviewed, & aligned to national standards), and his work continues to spread in schools, colleges, and universities globally with 20 books in 6 languages and 10 online courses. 

I caught up with Matt to ask him about his vision for social permaculture, or the “people care” aspect of permaculture.

Matt, first: How did you get into permaculture?

MP: About a year after our first child was born (he’s 14 now), my wife was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She went through the standard radiation treatments but soon within months had another form of cancer. The doctors wouldn’t meet my eye when I asked if the radiation was connected to the new cancer, and then they couldn’t agree upon how soon was safe for her to be near the baby. I didn’t know who to trust - I lost all trust in the medical system, and I found myself studying for years searching to figure out how to help my wife. I found that food and diet were the things we could control and I needed a deep understanding of plants and nature to grow in the 140 degree Fahrenheit soils. That’s where permaculture came in. She’s had other cancers since then and we’ve faced them together and she has beaten them all, so in some ways we are still on that quest.

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