The Permaculture Podcast

    1837 – Permaculture play, design considerations, and a casual conversation with Karl Treen

    My guest today is Karl Treen of Food Forest Card Game. He joins me to share where his life has gone since our interview last year.


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    A longtime permaculture practitioner, Karl is one of the people whose work I follow off the air and I find quite a bit of inspiration from what he’s doing with his card game and working on implementing his designs in an urban environment where he lives in Rhode Island near the Atlantic Coast here in the United States. Though we’ve never met in person, knowing Karl as I do we wound talking as soon as we connected without a formal start to the interview. As a result what you’re about to hear drops directly into the conversation, but is not where we began nor ultimately where we ended when I turned off the recording.

    Where we do pick up is a few moments after he shared that he made a move to a new house with a larger yard and how this change influences his permaculture work. Along the way, we talk about a variety of thoughts. Those include different uses for his game inside the permaculture or school classroom; accepting that we can’t know everything and with that what we can do to be better teachers and designers; and why Instagram is our favorite place to learn and share new ideas, and some folks he recommends following.

    Find out more about Karl and his work at While you are there consider picking up a couple of sets of cards as stocking stuffers for the holidays and introduce your friends and family to permaculture design.

    I also recommend following Karl on Instagram. As we mentioned there at the end of the interview, you can find him at foodforestcardgame. In his feed, you can see images from his mushroom logs, which he inoculated a few days after recording this interview in early November. You’ll find links to his Instagram account, his mushroom project, and the people he mentioned worth following in the show notes.

    To go with this interview, I’m giving away a deck of Food Forest Card Game cards and a copy of Mary Appelhof’s Worms Eat my Garbage.

    I like sitting down with Karl to talk about his work because I find what he’s doing, even after his many years of practice, reflects the experiences of other permaculture folks who work a job, have a little bit of land and are doing the best they can. As with his conversation about composting and black soldier flies, we have many decisions to make on what works best for us, our design, and goals. Yes, he has the perfect start to growing the fly larva, but at this time there are other places to focus his time and energy.

    Though he’s studied permaculture; created a design and education aid for the community, and remains connected with myself and others; he still finds inspiration from others. By focusing on a particular area for practice, he expands his knowledge, and direct experience becomes an in-depth resource for anyone who contacts him, while still absorbing what interests him from others.

    Similarly, as I continue down my own path, my own role is influenced by sitting in the chair as the show host, to have conversations with guests, read the latest books and newest articles, and act as a curator of information about permaculture. To pull upon all these connections to help you find the people, books, organizations, and resources that help you meet your goals. As one of my teachers used to say, to be a guide on the side rather than a sage on the stage.

    Continuing to stay in touch with Karl and others in our community, I’d like to have more casual conversations like this. We can learn so much from the informal understanding of the day to day lives of others putting the ideas of permaculture into practice.

    If there’s someone who appeared on the show in the past that you thought I had a good conversation with and you’d like to hear back on the air for something less formal, let me know.

    Call: 717-827-6266


    The Permaculture Podcast
    P.O. Box 16
    Dauphin, PA 17018

    From here the next conversation should be my interview with mycologist Lindsay Bender of Field and Forest Products.

    Until the next time, spend each day creating the world you want to live in my playing games, applying design to your life, and taking care of Earth, yourself, and each other.

    Visit our Affiliates Page for a discount on the Women’s Permaculture Guild Permaculture Design Course, Classes with Heather Jo Flores of Food Not Laws, Herbal Medicine from Susquehanna Apothecary, and with Rebel Garden Tools, the best hand tools for gardening and forest farming.

    Worms Eat my Garbage and a set of Food Forest Card Game Cards

    Food Forest Card Game
    Foodforestcardgame on Instagram
    Haskap Edible Honeysuckle
    Karl’s Mushroom Inoculation
    Patrick Whitefield

    Instagram Worth Following
    The Permaculture Podcast
    That Vinegar Guy
    Greenwood Farm
    Veggie Garden Vermont

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    • 1730 – Teaching with Games: Food Forest Card Game here to download the episode. | Open Player in New Window My guest today is Karl Treen, the creator of Food Forest Card Game, a deck of cards designed to teach the needs, yields, and connections of plants and animals within a food forest and within nature, so players can then take what they [...]

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