Designing Systems That Will Work Before AND After SHTF – Passive Systems vs. Brittle Complicated Systems f. Ben Falk & Grant Schultz (PVP040)

“If there is too much water, then we just haven’t learned to work with those systems yet.”Ben Falk

Ben Falk and Grant Schultz join me to talk about permaculture as a survival preparedness strategy. 

How can we use whole systems design to create systems that work passively to increase our resiliency?

In our modern day world we are quick to throw money at technological, mechanical systems that are complicated and brittle.  In an emergency situation you could have a generator, but if that breaks or you run out of fuel, you are out of luck.  If you have a wood fuel based system, it is going to work no matter what, it’s bulletproof.

Ben and Grant are both a wealth of knowledge when it comes to homestead technology, both simple and complex.  They are living the lifestyle.  Using and building the systems that they talk about.  They are both builders and tinkerers, therefor they understand how these systems work, and can break down.  You will learn how important it is to buy high quality tool that will last a lifetime (and the tools to service the tools); often times those tools were built 80 years ago and can be bought on the cheap.  They have an appreciation for good quality tools and things you can craft by hand.  Simple is beautiful, simple is resilient.

This isn’t typical prepper talk of buying generators, storing fuel, and MREs.  This is all about designing systems that will work before and after SHTF.


Ben Falk

Ben Falk


Grant Schultz

Grant Schultz


“I use energy while I can as a leverage point, knowing it will produce a lot more energy over time.”Grant Schultz



  • Capture as much of the watershed as possible on a property, planning on a drought happening.
  • Store water as high as possible on the property.
  • Storing water in a pond increases the nutrient level of the water.  You get highly nutritive water for watering plants.
  • Increase the soil’s water holding capacity with plant roots.  Cover crops.
  • Try to optimize water cross the soil profile.  Using things like keyline.
  • “Water, it’s all about storage and distribution.”
  • “We should store all of the water we possibly can.”
  • “If there is too much water, then we just haven’t learned to work with those systems.”


Whole Systems Design: Earthworks


Grant’s Custom Swale Plow


Homemade Ram Pump


Pitcher Pumps


Compost Heated Hot Water – Shower


Compost Heated Hot Water at Whole Systems Research Farm


Energy/Fuel Wood

  • Use passive systems instead of more brittle, complicated mechanical systems.
  • Wood heat.  Resilient technology for the homestead.
  • Black locust as a hardwood for fuel.
  • “Use energy while I can as a leverage point, knowing it will produce a lot more energy over time.”

Biber Ax

Biber Classic - Forest Ax

Biber Classic – Forest Ax

Gransfors Bruk Ax

Gransfor Scandinavian Forest Ax

Gransfors Scandinavian Forest Ax

Farm Hack

Edison Batteries.  Iron Edison and Podcast 002.


VersaLand Electric Tractor



Wood Stove

  • Centrally locate the woodstove.
  • Have an open, vertically oriented floor-plan to allow for heat flow.
  • Quality brands: Waterford Stanley, Esse.  
Whole Systems Design: Woodstove

Whole Systems Design: Woodstove

Esse Cookstove

Esse Woodstove

Esse Woodstove



Waterford Stanley Cookstove

Waterford Stanley Woodstove

Waterford Stanley Woodstove


Woodstove Does it All on 2 Cords



  • Have tools and the support systems to go with them. Have a chainsaw and chainsaw chain.  Have a knife and a sharpening stone.
  • Have a backup.  Either mechanical or simple.  A backup pump or some buckets.
  • Have the ability to sharpen your tools on site and get good at sharpening your tools
  • Look for older, high quality tools.  Buy quality over junk.
  • Start looking for tools and building skills now.


Surly Ogre Steel Frame Bike

Grant's Farm Bike (It looks badass...)

Grant’s Farm Bike (It looks badass…)



Felco Pruners

Felco Pruners

Felco Pruners


Japanese Waterstone

Japanese Waterstone

Japanese Waterstone


Diamond Sharpening Stones

Diamond Sharpening Stones

Diamond Sharpening Stones



  • Grow nourishing food, not just calories.
  • Eat for detoxification and nutrification.
  • Take the effort to remineralize your soil.
  • Realize the importance of growing medicine. Medicinal herbs, fruits, and fungi.



Azomite: For soil remineralization.

Azomite: For soil remineralization.


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Comments 7

  1. Diego,

    Great work on communicating some seminal info through these two younger geniuses. Since I’m one myself, old boomer geniuses are always welcome, but to have folks who still have 30 or 40 years of genius ahead of them is the essence of hope. It’s hard not to go too gushy isn’t it? Since I’ve read Ben’s superb book, I knew of him, but getting introduced to Grant was additional revelation.

    I grew up on a farm in SouthWestern Michigan. During 6th grade, 3 of us more nerdy guys became fascinated with rockets. We made plans (yeah, right) to build one. We never got further than buying a simple baking soda rocket and shooting it off for great fun before moving on to middle school and being separated, but it illustrates the fascinations of the mid 20th Century.

    When I first started looking into and studying agro-ecology/permaculture about 5 years ago to better learn how the natural world works under the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into, my initial thoughts were, “Well…, it’s not rocket science.” But, the more I learned, the less I really knew, and the deeper became the need for knowledge, a knowledge that grew ever more complex and interrelated, spinning out into all aspects of modern life and civilization. Now I say, “Agro-Ecology/Permaculture is the Rocket Science of the 21st Century.” The more and faster we can enable that realization and develop that fascination in the young, the better off we will be. Unfortunately, I’m convinced that it is the only chance the human species has to avoid catastrophe. Bring on the turning point!

    All you do to enable that turning point is very much appreciated by this dude.

    1. Post
  2. Diego,

    Your efforts with the podcast and show notes are much appreciated. Thank you!

    So much good info here. Keep up the good work.

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