Ash Jackson

+ Follow
since Oct 03, 2017
Ash likes ...
hugelkultur kids forest garden trees books wofati cooking bike rocket stoves
Forum Moderator
Ash Jackson currently moderates these forums:
Hello there!
I've long felt the 'call to cultivate'. I found Paul and his stuff in 2017, and have been steadily watching and learning since.

I'm a Pod People, and have listened to all the numbered podcasts, up to #514.
I've visited Wheaton Labs several times now! Simply put, it's been awesome.
I (still) feel pretty un-knowledgable about a lot (all?) of this stuff, but I'm really excited to learn, and learn, and learn.
That's part of why I am really into SkIP and PEP; because I can learn, and also because it is awesome.

My big-wild-crazy-scary-to-say-out-loud dream is to live in a town with no cars that can feed itself, even if I have to build it myself.
Denver, 6a / BSk, rental house dweller, going back to Wheaton Labs soon
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand Pollinator Scavenger Hunt
expand Pioneer Scavenger Hunt Green check
expand First Scavenger Hunt Green check

Recent posts by Ash Jackson

A member of a maker-space could buy the book for all their co-members

I'm aware this is only slightly different than what's already been said.

Botan Anderson wrote:Does anyone in the USA have some of Sepp Holzer's wheat seed?

Hello Botan, welcome to Permies.

I understand there are still packets of sepp holzer grain available as a prize for people who reach twenty Badge Bits (BB20) in the SkIP program.

This is the only way I am aware of for people to obtain them currently in the states.

More details:
3 weeks ago
BB Club is on hold, pending a re-designed format. Stay Tuned for updates!

A group that meets Weekly
:: 8am Mountain Time :: On Hold ::
To share and encourage our and eachother's work on BB's for PEP

:: What are BB's? What is PEP? :: How to Get your First Badge Bit (BB) ::

In a semi-structured format, we'll work on one BB each week.
Currently working through: :: BB20 ::

Need Ideas? "Which BB's are Easiest?" Survey
Need Structure? How about a BB-A-Day PEP Planner?
Come One, Come All!
I'm going to Pause the BB Club for now. I'm going to try to re-design the format and re-launch it.

If you have ideas or comments, feel free to post them.

Stay tuned for updates!

Perhaps you've seen these terms around permies, or maybe seen the shiny badges, and wondered what these were all about. This thread is for you!

SKIP= SKills to Inherit Property. It is Paul's overarching term for a way for people to SKIP the rat race and start homesteading and permaculture sooner.

PEP = Permaculture experience According to Paul This is one program within SKIP. It is a curriculum and certification to show that you have learned--and have--homesteading and permaculture skills. It is a way to learn through doing. As one learns and has their skills certified, they earn the spiffy badges you see around permies!

SKIP is still in it's development stage, and we're excited about all the places it will go. It is entirely free, and is a way to connect those who want to do permaculture and homesteading (but don't have the land) with people who have land (but have no one to will it to or work it with them). PEP is one part of SKIP--it's one way for people who want to skip the rat race and learn permaculture. And, it is a way for those people to display their skills to those looking for responsible people to take over their farm or homestead.

the story of Otis

A crucial aspect of SKIP is the story of Otis. Otis is a fictitious person representing all the hardworking farmers who have no one to care for their farm after them, and wish they had someone responsible to inherit their farm and manage it well. You can read the story of Otis here. Paul has a podcast all about Otis here. If you think you might be an Otis, you can get registered here. If you're wondering about the legal nuts and bolts of being an Otis, we have a thread to discuss them here.

Benefits of SKIP

There are many benefits to SKIP, and Paul outlines some of the advantages here:

primary benefits:  benefits to the individual pursuing SKIP (skipper)

  - possibility to inherit land that they otherwise would not have inherited
  - develop skills
  - develop a sense of accomplishment
  - a path out of the rat race, or a path to avoid the rat race

secondary benefits:   benefits to the entire population
  - reduction in carbon footprint
  - reduction in petroleum footprint
  - reduction in toxic footprint

tertiary benefits:  benefits to an individual developing a relationship with a skipper

  - will your property to somebody you find worthy
  - hire somebody you find worthy
  - rent to somebody you find worthy

how skip and PEP fit together

One of the ways that people can gain the skills to inherit property, is through PEP. PEP is a free activity-based curriculum to learn homesteading and permaculture skills. It is based on the things Paul thinks are the most crucial and important skills for someone to know for growing in his climate. But, PEP is not intended to be the only aspect of SKIP. We think in the future there will be lots of avenues for people to gain and display the skills to inherit property... and for those wanting to deed their land to find the best person.


PEP (Permaculture Experience according to Paul), is just one of many PEXs. As Paul frequently says, anyone can make a PEX. I might make a PEN (Permaculture Experience according to Nicole) and Mike might do a PEM (Permaculture Experience according to Mike). These PEXs would consist of the activities and tasks we think are important homesteading and permaculture skills.

One PEX in development is the PEA--a Permaculture Experience for Apartments. These will be permaculture and homesteading skills that anyone--anywhere in the world--can do within their own apartment. They can be certified for the skills they have evidenced, and transfer their PEA credits to the PEP badge!

Here is the thread where Paul explains PEA.  You can also read D. Logan's thread on the core philosophies of PEA and badge development here.

22 badges of PEP

"Wait," You might be asking, "What are these 'badges' you keep talking about?" The Badges are the different aspects--or subjects, if you will--within PEP. Back in Elementary School, you might have Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Art, and a few other subjects. In PEP, we have Gardening, Natural Building, Textiles, Plumbing, Welding, Food Preservation, and more. There's a 22 aspects. And here they all are!

Use permaculture techniques to grow delicious food.  Projects include hugelkultur, chop and drop, Ruth Stout style composting, saving seeds, producing large volumes of food, polyculture, starting perennials from seed, food forest...

natural building
Building big things. Build experiences with several styles of natural building that work in a cold climate, with the grand finale being a wofati.
Techniques: cob, plaster, straw bale, wofati, natural paint, adobe, natural roofing, waterproofing, doors and gates, dry stack foundation, make cement, cob floor, wattle and daub…

woodland care
Transition from using a forest to developing a symbiotic relationship with a woodland.  
Create junkpole fence, firewood, coppicing, living fence, twig construction (arbors, tomato cages, trellises, wattle fence), strip trees manually and with power tools, peeling logs, making roofing shakes, plant tree seeds, plant woodland species, grow edible mushrooms, lumber, gin pole, skiddable sheds, rock jacks, berm shed ...

round wood woodworking
Build everything from logs, branches, and sticks using zero glue and rarely using metal.   Nothing starts with dimensional lumber.  Power tools can be okay, but, in general, less power tools.  Some projects specify no power tools.  Quite a bit of working with green (freshly harvested) wood. Small and large joinery, mixing green wood with dried wood, three log benches, spoon carving, shaving horse, sawhorse, sawbuck, chairs and other roundwood furniture, shrink pot, box from a piece of firewood, pole lathe, bowl from a pole lathe, skiddable shed for green wood woodworking, proenneke hinge, door latch, wofati freezer ...

tool care
Maintaining and repairing tools of all sizes.  Small tool care (sharpening/handles/etc.), power tool care (chainsaws, saws, drills, power hand tools as well as fixed power tools), large tool care (truck/tractor/etc.), appliance repair, bicycle repair, building a tool shed, optimize shop, build a materials shed, create dry places to park/charge large equipment…

Use large equipment to make dramatic changes to the landscape.  Build roads, trails, terraces, ponds, berms, ditches, structure site prep, natural swimming pools, dry stack walls, passive garden heaters, garden ATI...

dimensional lumber woodworking
Includes construction, cabinetry and fine woodworking. No plywood, waferboard or particle board.  Using power tools, nails, screws are used, but hopefully less than in most construction.   This badge has a strong emphasis on good joinery over more nails.
Projects include: wood scorching, bird house, laying deck, shelves, wooden toolboox, stool, box, picnic table, wood bucket, skiddable lumber storage shed, porta cabin...

Build and maintain wood burning contraptions that cut energy and wood use by 90%.  Build and become proficient at:  rocket mass heaters, rocket ovens, rocket cook tops, rocket water heaters, outdoor kitchens...

food prep and preservation
Demonstrate  cooking, boiling, baking, frying, delicious food using energy saving methods like hay box cooking or solar dehydrator.  Skills include basic cooking pot and cast iron care, preserving the harvest with canning, drying, pickling and  fermenting...

animal care
Caring for domestic animals and providing resources and infrastructure to encourage wild animals to do the work for you.  Domestic animal care includes: chickens, pigs, cattle, rabbits, sheep, goats, dairy, bees, fish, and butchering. Wildlife care includes building homes for birds, bats, pollinators, garden-friendly insects, snakes, lizards...

Harvest and preserve food from the wild.  Gather fresh fruits, berries, nuts, greens, teas, mushrooms, and vegetables from wild sources.  Practice fishing and hunting (with vegan alternatives) respectfully.  Care for the place we harvest from and improve it with some guerrilla gardening...

community living
Building a desirable community and creating community experiences for others. Skills include creating public art, cooking meals for a group, leading workshops and presentations, improving a common space, creating a community holiday, creating a LIC (labor investment collective), giving tours, creating a map, organizing community events like a swap meet ...

Mend and make clothing and other useful textiles. Skills include: mending, weaving, knitting, crochet, spinning, sewing, basketry; as wells as growing fiber plants, harvesting them and creating cloth.
Tasks include creating curtains, upholstered furniture, patching, darning, knitting socks, leatherwork, basketry...

greywater and willow feeders
There is no “waste” in nature. Horticultural techniques for safe management of poop and pee.     Using soaps and cleaners that are greywater friendly, reuse wash water in the garden.    Planting “poop beasts” like willow, poplar and cottonwood. Proper handling of  “willow candy”...  

Build and repair metal things. Welding, cutting, blacksmithing, casting, bending/shaping, and grinding. Large farm equipment, as well as small projects...

plumbing and hot water
Pressurized, non-pressurized systems. Working with metal and plastic plumbing. Installing, replacing, or repairing pipes. Maintenance and building new systems. Stopping leaks, maintaining hoses, repair or replace drains, toilets, faucets, garden hydrant...

electricity (including solar)
Maintain and build electrical systems.  AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current). On grid and off grid. Battery maintenance, installing outlets, breaker panels, repairing and building solar systems ...

commerce (be able to do business)
Prove that you can earn money in multiple ways, including some non-conventional ways.  Prove to Otis that you would arrive with your own income streams and would not be dependent on his savings.  Demonstrate: several income models over the internet, passive income streams, earning money through permaculture labor...

natural medicine
Harvesting healing herbs from a garden and the wild to establish a collection of medicines. Build knowledge of the efficacy of the plants on a particular property by recording the healing nature of each plant you harvest. Skills include identifying plants and their properties, keeping records, making teas, tinctures, oils, salves, poultices, and preserving medicinal herbs for future use...

Demonstrate to Otis that if you stay in that second house, you’ll take care of it. Cleaning, shoveling snow, laundry, simple house maintenance, and other daily, repetitive tasks that make our living space livable according to the standards of Otis..

  Known experiences that don't fit into the other aspects.

  Unpredictable, unique and creative experiences worthy of PEP. Rather than BBs, this aspect has a point system to earn badges.

bb badge bits

To earn one of these Badges, you will complete Badge Bits (or BBs). These Badge Bits are ways to learn through doing. Instead of just learning about the concepts and regulations and philosophies of gardening and woodworking and then taking a test, you'll carve a spoon and make a mallet. You'll learn by doing. AND, you'll now have a wooden spoon and a mallet that you carved!

These spoons were all carved for the Roundwood Woodworking spoon BB. Most of these spoons were the first spoon this person ever carved. Not only did they learn a lot about carving by making the spoon, now they have their own spoon to keep and use!

Roundwood Woodworking spoon carving PEP

By the time you complete the the Roundwood Woodworking Badge, you'll have made a spoon, a mallet, a compound mallet, a three log bench, coat hooks, a stool, and a hugelkulture ladder! If you earn the Textile Badge, you'll have made a pillow, darned a sock, made a hot pad or washcloth, patched a pair of pants, spun twine, and woven a basket!

knit hot pad, darn socks, spin twine, weave basket, patch clothes, sew pillow

You will always have "something to show for" all the work you did. You will have a fixed faucet, installed light fixture, a hugelkulture garden bed, canned food to store, a clean house, money you earned, a sharpened knife, etc.

If you're wondering where to start, you might like seeing how to get your first BB, or what the easiest BBs were for people, or joining the BB Club, or find a mentor. If you'd like to see all the first level badge bits in one searchable spot, Paul and Shawn made a PEP Book where you can read through all Sand badges. If you like an easy way track the badges and BBs you want to do and have done, Ash also made a PEP tracker! His tracker has a PDF, Workflowy, and Trello versions with lists of all the Badge Bits and has ways to mark which ones you've done and want to do.

levels of PEP Badges

You might have noticed that there's lots of different colors of badges. These signify the amount of BBs you've completed. There are five badge levels, air, sand, straw, wood and iron..

 Air--This signifies you've completed one BB in that badge (in this case, in gardening)

 Sand--This signifies you've done all the required BBs to earn the sand badge (in this case, in gardening). It should take a skilled person about 5 hours.

Straw--This signifies you've done all the required BBs to earn the straw badge (in this case, in gardening). It should take a skilled person about 40 hours (+35 hours over sand, about 4 or 5 days)

 Wood--This signifies you've done all the required BBs to earn the wood badge (in this case, in gardening). It should take a skilled person about 220 hours (+180 hours over straw, about 4 to 5 weeks)

Iron--This signifies you've done all the required BBs to earn the iron badge (in this case, in gardening). It should take a skilled person about 1,250 hours (+1030 hours over wood, about six months)

You can find out more about the estimated time to complete a badge here. There are instructions for how to apply for your badge here! There are instructions for how to apply for your first badge bit (BB) here!

PEP1, BB5, BB10

We have ways to display the fact that you've done multiple badge bits--or even multiple badges. The BB5, BB10, BB20, BB40, and BB60 show just how many badge bits you have completed. It doesn't matter which BBs you've done. If you've done 40 BBs, you get the BB40 badge! For clarity, one need not pursue BB5/10/20/40/60 Certification on their way to PEP1 Certification.

 The BB5 badge shows you have completed 5 Badge Bits (BBs).
 The BB10 Badge shows you have completed 10 Badge Bits (BBs).
 The BB20 Badge shows you have completed 20 Badge Bits (BBs).
 The BB40 Badge shows you have completed 40 Badge Bits (BBs).
 The BB60 Badge shows you have completed 60 Badge Bits (BBs).

Even more important, are our PEP1, PEP2, PEP3, and PEP4 certifications!

A formal PEP1 program could last 2 weeks (~80 hours).  Completing the PEP1 program requires 16 sand badges.

A formal PEP2 program could fill a summer (~510 hours).  Requires 1 wood badge + 7 straw badges + 14 sand badges (a badge in all 22 aspects).

A formal PEP3 program could take about nine months (~1550 hours).   Requires 7 wood badges + 15 straw badges (a badge in all 22 aspects).

A formal PEP4 program could take a little over two years (~4700 hours).  Requires 3 iron badges + 12 wood badges + 7 straw badges (a badge in all 22 aspects). Natural building and Gardening are required iron badges.  The third iron badge is your choice, but cannot be Oddball or Homesteading.

Maybe you live in an apartment, or don't have the machinery or land or other resources to complete these BBs. There are solutions!  

There's a list of places to complete BBs here. If you would like people to complete some work on your property, that just happens to complete a bunch of Badge Bits, you might want to post in that thread!

Wheaton Labs has a yearly SKIP event. You can see 2019's SKIP event here. And, find out more about future events here

The SKIP event allows you to complete up to 10 badges. Some people focus on just the things--like making a 7-foot tall hugelkultur garden--that they cannot do at home. Some focus on completing just a one or two badges that they really want done. If the person attends the preceding Permaculture Technology Jamboree event, they can finish all 16 badges and leave with the PEP1 certification!
3 weeks ago
Hi Alana,
Yes! We are still meeting through December. I am feeling up to rejoining the call this week.

And yes; the already posted zoom link still works.

See y'all tomorrow!
Too sick for Zoom?!  Yes.... I am.

Y'all are still welcome to meet anyways! The zoom link will still work. I hope some of y'all can join together and keep the BB Club magic going!
Paul shared with me an idea of his for a really simple earth-sheltered structure.

The idea is it's a single post and single ridge beam, both made of BFL's (big fuckin' logs).  

It is intended to be a quick first build, in the spirit of the "Rob Roy 'first simple house'" from Mortgage Free. Possibly built in a single weekend if materials and tools are fully staged.

In describing it to me, Paul was adamant that this is not a wofati in the truest sense. For want of a better name, I'm currently calling this the A-Frame Wofatish. (I.e., it's a Wofati... ish).

The goal of this thread is to document, develop, and model the design. Likely discovering in the process some as yet hidden issues that need resolving.
2 months ago
*cue dueling piano music*

New concept sketch. I'm sure it's hard to parse. Think berm shed x solar dehydrator with a glass roof.

(In all seriousness, the way I see it, we're not dueling, but instead are using our varied tools and skills to try to reach the end goal.
2 months ago
I like the airflow you're going for with the roof design.

Do we know the summertime prevailing winds direction/intensity at this spot?
What's your vertical clear between the t.o. fph ridge and the b.o. galley high roof beam?
2 months ago