The Permaculture Podcast

    Episode 1511: Around the world in 80 plants with Stephen Barstow

    Like this podcast? Support it on Patreon.


    Click here to download the episode. | Open Player in New Window

    My guest for this episode is Stephen Barstow, author of Around the World in 80 Plants.

    Today we talk about his incredibly diverse garden in Norway where he grows over 2,000 edible plants in a rather small space. We begin with his background and how he came to have an interest in edibles, from his beginnings as a foraging vegetarian, through to his beginning to eat and collect plants from wherever he traveled. He shares with us his love of edible ornamentals, or what Stephen calls edimentals, and he also recommends some to start with when first beginning to introduce more of these species into your garden. One of my favorites, not mentioned in the interview proper, are nasturtiums.

    What’s incredible to me is that Stephen is growing so many different varieties on such a small amount of space, which echoes what I learned from Holly Brown, and yet he’s doing it in a northerly climate. Less than a quarter acre, or 1/10th of a hectare, and he has over 2,000 different plants. At 64 degrees North latitude.

    I knew that was fairly far up, but didn’t have a real understanding until I compared it to other cities and saw that this is the same latitude as Fairbanks, Alaska. I took this a step further and checked the Koppen-Geiger climate classification and confirmed that where Stephen is corresponds with other Northerly latitudes, yet he’s growing all these plants. It’s just amazing.

    I’m including the copy of this book, which I received from Chelsea Green, in the Traveling Permaculture Library project. If you haven’t joined that cycle of giving yet, email your name and address to Matt Winters, who is the new librarian for the project. You can reach him at:

    Regardless of where you live, you can grow some of your own food. You can design for your space, your climate, and take steps towards self sufficiency and creating a better world, whatever that may mean to you. You can move a few dollars from one system and into the systems you want to intentionally support.

    If at any point along the way I can help you, get in touch. Call: 717-827-6266 or Email:

    I’m also continuing to look for opportunities to take the show on the road and to record more live in-person interviews. Use that phone number or email address to get in touch if you would like to host or have someone in mind to get in touch with.

    Finally, a few announcements before drawing this episode to a close.

    This show, as I mention in the introduction to each show, is completely listener supported. So I need your help to keep the show on the air. The best way to do that right now is through recurring contributions with Patreon. You can find out more about that, as well as where I’m at and what my goals are, at

    If you are not in a place to give, that’s fine. I’ll keep on keeping on as long as I can, and you can always lend a hand by sharing links with your friends. Retweet or reply to tweets on twitter, where I am @permaculturecst, or join in the conversations on facebook.

    From here, I have a class announcement for my friends and colleagues Wilson Alvarez and Ben Weiss. They’re running a Permaculture Design Course in Harrisburg Pennsylvania beginning in April 25 and running on weekends through October. Search for Downtown Harrisburg Permaculture Course on Facebook to find more information on the events page, or follow the link in the show notes.

    Coming up for the podcast I have interviews with “Wildman” Steve Brill on foraging, Peter Michael Bauer on Rewilding, and I’ll be sitting down with Jen Mendez, of, to record a two part interview. I’ll interview her for the first half, which will appear on this show, and then she is going to interview me for the second half the will appear on her podcast. It should be fun.

    I’m also looking to go back through the archives and re-release some more “Best Of….” episodes with new introductions and endings to share some of the more popular guests in new ways.

    That about covers it for now. Until the next time, spend each day creating a better world, the world you want to live in, but taking care of earth, your self, and each other.

    Resources: (Stephen’s Website)
    Around the World in 80 Plants (Chelsea Green Publishers)
    Around the World in 80 Plants (Permanent Publications)
    Sturtevants Edible Plants of the World (PDF. Large File)

    Downtown Harrisburg Permaculture Course


    1. RLM McWilliamsRLM McWilliams
      October 21, 2015    

      Thank you, Scott, for the review. Based on the info here, I bought the book and love it. It is currently my favorite gardening/plant book.

      Hopefully Stephen Barstow will continue to write books about edible plants that we can incorporate into the landscapes around our homes.

      • November 3, 2015    

        I would like to see a coffee table style book from Stephen that details his garden. I love the book, but once we started talking about all the other plants he grows I realized how much more he has to share about his process, what he grows, establishment of micro climates, and his successes and failures.

        To anyone so inclined Stephen’s model would do well to be replicated in small plots all over the world. By doing so we can create an extended network of permaculture plant and seed banks.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.