Episode-1327- Jen Mendez on Permaculture Based Childrens Education — 27 Comments

  1. Brilliant Idea! I have two young boys (4 and 7), and I think this is definitely a step in the right direction.

    • Thanks, Jesse. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and finding out more about your children’s needs, wants, and interests.

  2. I want to Thank you for bringing this on the Podcast. I hope it reaches the hearts of many people.

    The idea to have an/any education system designed on Permaculture Science Principles and Ethics is brilliant……I will be in, following and learning. The idea to raise children with these ethics is what we are working for and aspiring to!

    This is not going to be for anyone who does not want to work – like Permaculture, it will only happen if the educators are involved, observing, sharing and learning as well. That means a good community…….another thing we are all looking to create…….with other people who want to never stop learning!

    I just read an article on people who do “selfies” and was intrigued by one sentence…….”Few things are more self-destructive than a combination of high entitlement and a lazy work ethic.”

    Lets raise children and adults who follow the ethics we have come to admire in Permaculture. Thanks to Jen for leading the way to creating a new unschooling system we will all benefit from. I am already into the site and love it.

    Quote: “PERMIE KIDs become active, responsible people who take an active, solutions-based approach to learning and life. “

  3. Wow, I can’t say thanks enough for the support and encouragement. I’m sure it is easy to sense my passion for this during the interview and it is amazing to link up with more folks in the community who also have the interest and drive.

    Just like in my yard, I am trying to approach not just the end products but also the process from a permaculture standpoint. That means observe, be creative, interact, continuously reflect and self-regulate, engage and adjust as we as a community grow and develop. I want to ensure that this is seen and cared for as a living entity that can grow, adapt, and evolve as we and our children grow, adapt, and evolve.

    I am a firm believer that there isn’t just one way to approach learning, even for each person. That has been my frustration with any curriculum I’ve seen. Curricula is written for children rather than for your children/students. An attuned educator (used in the most encompassing way possible) can take a curriculum and adapt it, but why not have an education framework that is designed with adaptation in the first place?

    Just like the permaculture answer is often “it depends” because what works well in one situation may not be the only or the best solution for another situation, education can and should be similar… with enough support built in to allow people to be comfortable to adapt it to best fit their situation.

  4. This is a great idea. I will follow your progress on BTW, if you haven’t already, you should check out Maria Montessori’s (yes, that Montessori) books. Her work is very similar to yours in a lot of ways, especially with young children and the emphasis on observation.

    • I have read a couple of Maria Montessori’s books, but it has been awhile. Is there one in particular that you like? I’m always interested in a good book that can not only reinforce ideas, but challenge or extend them.

      I agree with you, Wade. The Montessori philosophy has much in common with what I foresee being developed. The hands-on, child-centered focus to learning is great. I think many of the Montessori lesson ideas and materials can be helpful to help children grasp a deep understanding of concepts.

      One of the areas that I question though, at least with a “strict” Montessori approach, is that the materials can only be and will only be used one way by the children. I have to wonder if there are missed opportunities for not only learning, but inquiry, creativity, and innovation. What could a child learn if given a chance to take a tool that they have come to know for one purpose and reinvent how it can be used or integrated with other tools and ideas? Then, what would the child (and we) learn by watching that child disassemble what they have created and return to use the individual tools in the expected way… or yet another alternative way?

  5. I’m a TSP member I listent to every podcast. BUT – is it just me or is the word “permaculture” starting to wear old? Just a comment.

    • Well may be than you should listen to this one. It ain’t what your are expecting, I guarantee you,


    • don’t worry.. episode 1666 is:

      How to Overthrow the New World Orders Agenda 21 FEMA Camps When The Alien Plan Is Revealed As Niburu Returns Causing The Global Warming Apocalypse.. with permaculture.


    • You know, Bill, I just had an experience yesterday where I meet and got into conversations with four different strangers who were taking action in their life that was consistent with permaculture ethics and yet these people had never heard of the word. I think this is true for many people out there doing great things for themselves, their family, and local communities. That is wonderful, but many feel like they are alone or at least out of the norm doing these things in their life. It is such a joy to share with these people that there is a word and a movement that represents what they think and do. All four people repeated the word back to me throughout our conversation and I could almost see the word “permaculture” bouncing around in their heads, bumping up against other ideas and previous experiences, while we talked. So, even if you tire of the word, please consider looking at the value and importance of talking about the ideas and movement surrounding permaculture for the sake of the communities beyond TSP.

    • I think the use of the word “permaculture” will eventually decline because permaculture will just become common sense to everyone. You won’t need a word to describe it, it’ll just be the way we do things. Eventually we’ll need to find a word to describe the way we USED to do things. Stupidculture?

  6. Love this idea and I just went over and signed up for the mailing list. Can’t wait for your post on Monday.

    Here’s the links to the PERMIE KIDs website and facebook page again.

    Added a section to the wiki too. Would love for Jen to come check out the little blurb and add to it or update it. If anyone else has resources or alternate education website that think should be out at the wiki I’ll add them or can help you learn how to add them.

    Also posted it out at

    • Awesome, Jon!

      Thanks for taking action and helping get the word out. I can’t do everything I want to or need to by myself – connect with the community, develop the next steps in the curriculum design process, incorporate ideas and comments, get the word out, improve the website, build relationships with non-permaculture people/organizations that are doing amazing things that our community would benefit from, etc. Simply put, I need help.

      I will definitely get on the wiki and add to it. I have several resources that come to mind that I think folks would benefit from knowing about. If you are willing, drop me an email at Perhaps I can give you a list and you can help me get it up on the wiki?

      Also, thanks for reaching out to the community. I have been on many times, but mostly as a passive consumer of knowledge… and what a wealth of information it is! I intended to reach out and share the idea through the Permie forums, but I hadn’t got to it yet. I really appreciate you taking the lead. It is always nice when it isn’t just me talking about this, but others who think this idea has value for themselves and others. Cheers!

  7. don’t get me wrong, I still listen to every episode. I don’t miss a minute. Maybe its just because I’m a city guy. My preparation involves what I have stored in my garage, my gun safe, vehicle modifications, and that’s about it. I don’t have a big piece of land and I can’t imagine that – must be amazing. Love Jack – he’s a truly one-of-a-kind individual..

  8. Great show! My wife and I have been homeschooling from the start with our kids (ages 11, 9 and 6). We have always been rather un-traditional, but have been gravitating more towards a more self-directed project style structure. I just completed my first PDC and have been applying permaculture to our home education. It’s a natural fit and helps give our homeschool a structure to graft thing onto.
    Thanks for sharing your work in this area.

    • Awesome. I know there are many people out there already doing this in some way. I look forward to seeing what we can do by sharing ideas and collaborating.

      I’m just blown away with the engagement already. I can’t wait to see where we take this!

    • Oh, and please be sure to take pictures and videos of what your kids are doing, Kevin. Maybe even make a note or two to yourself or, better yet, have your kids capture their thoughts before, during, and after any permaculture in their homeschooling. That knowledge and experience will be of great value!

  9. Great idea Jen, I love your passion so Ive signed up. Count me in to contribute 🙂 I have a toddler and Im considering home education for them; this is just what I would like to do, so great timing. Thanks Jack for having her on.

    • Great, that is what we need… people who are willing to take risks, jump in, and get your hands dirty.

  10. I taught in a private school for 24 years. Private schools have a lot more freedom than public schools, especially now with Common Core, but I was always frustrated with the narrowness of the vision. Finally they got a new administration, which promptly fired a number of us who were dutifully following the requirements of the old administration. I spent the last month teaching as much permaculture as possible to middle school science students, and the student involvement was amazing. This concept is so in line with what so many educators wish they could do.

    • First of all, keep up the great work with those middle school students. I would love to hear more about what you are doing. Maybe you are up for talking sometime and I can capture your thoughts to share with others in the community. If so, don’t hesitate to email or go to where I display my calendar with certain days/times that I have set aside for folks to call and talk one-one-one.

      Second, I agree with your comment. I think there are many teachers out there who would like to be able to do something like this. That is one of the areas that I think I can really help with and it is one of the reasons I think we can eventually take this approach into the mainstream education world.

      I think I can help connect the dots between a flexible framework like this and the standards/typical vision for administrators and teacher evaluators, which will give teachers the breathing room and flexibility to change how they are educating. It will also make teachers feel more comfortable and empowered to try something different. Those who are still caught up in a narrow way of approaching education (and the narrow definition of what educational success looks like) will have their questions and concerns abated and, with the resources I’m looking to incorporate that can be used for formal lessons or independently by children, teachers will be able to quickly and easily provide “evidence” of learning that resonates with the administrators/evaluators… and, sometimes, the parents who also have a narrow idea of what education is supposed to be. Then, when someone deviates from the “norm” and gets good results, the more willing they become to continue down that path. In this case, I’m hopeful it is a slippery slope that people eventually choose to laugh, slide, and roll down with gusto!

  11. It wasn’t until I was getting fired anyway that I was freed to teach permaculture openly. You should have seen the food forests they designed! Education is getting more restrictive, rather than more open, especially with the excessive standards and testing of Common Core. It was my dream to explore nature, self-sufficiency, permaculture and faith in a style similar to what you propose, but there is no time or latitude for a quest when you have to finish the book. Hats off to you and the next generation of educators and students!

  12. Jen Mendez<
    when I met you at the earth works I told you. "Great Idea, you need to be on the front line of education."

    I want to use this on teaching youth beekeeping.

    Heroes do not ware capes..they have ideas that change the world.

    • Hello, hello! I’ve got your business card hanging on my cork board right in front of me as I type. I was planning to reach out to you here shortly. Glad you chimed in.

      Talk about the front lines of education… you have been leading the charge. I was blown away by your passion and expertise. I’d love to incorporate your knowledge and make this something that more kids can use to learn from you, as well as something you can use for your youth classes. I’ll get in touch with you directly about this in the coming weeks.

      I’m bummed I won’t get to take a class with you at Jack’s this spring. We were hoping to start some bee-keeping ourselves next spring, but, to be honest, I’ve got a full plate and there is time to get in on some training with you before then I’m sure.

  13. I just had a chance to listen to this. I’m a homeschooling mom to an 11-yr-old son and 8-yr-old daughter. I’ve been exploring Permie resources for kids for over a year and have not found much, so I will be headed to your site next to sign up! So glad to have found you!

    Are you familiar with Kurent Journal, A Journal of Permaculture for Children, Parents & Educators? (you can read more about it at the Children’s Permaculture Guild) It just started (there are only 2 issues out) and it’s still very homespun, but I like what I’ve seen so far & it may be a natural connection for you to explore/build from/with/etc. I think Kurent also has a FB page.

    Michael Becker, who was Oregon’s Middle School teacher of the year a few years back, has done AMAZING things with teaching permaculture to his students (all within the confines of the system). They have a market garden, farmer’s market booth stall, hydroponics, rainwater harvesting, solar greenhouse, etc. He is hard to reach but definitely worth talking to (I have an e-mail for him…it’s a little hit-or-miss, but I have other people who can connect to him as well). PM me if interested.

    Didn’t mean to write a book here. Anyway, great work! Look forward to hearing more.

    • Fantastic, Janet.

      Thanks for the resources. I have looked at the Kurent Journal website and FB page and I like what I initially see. I will definitely reach out to review and learn more about this resource.

      I really like to talk to Michael Becker, too. He sounds like he is doing some fabulous work. Can you send me an email at and we can talk further?