Permaculture Playing Cards

a tale of 52 cards

permaculture playing cards

One of the questions we are asked repeatedly is "How do you tell people what permaculture is?" If you give them a book, they might look at a few pictures. If you send them a link to something they tend to save it for later. The idea of the deck of cards is that they might browse it like a book - but this is all pictures and just a few words. Much easier to browse. And hopefully convey a bigger picture in a smaller package.

When you are bonkers about permaculture, your friends and family tend to think you are crazy .... if only there were a way to help them understand your passion better ..... while at the same time resolving your winter gift giving obligations. Whattya know? I created just the thing! But first, lemme tell ya a little story.

In 2011 I made a podcast where I suggested the idea of permaculture playing cards. A thread started and people said they were going to make it a real thing. When that didn't go anywhere, I tried to shake a few trees to see if people would make this cool thing happen. A lot of people liked the idea, but nothing came of it. In May of 2012 Alexander Ojeda and I got to work.

We spent hours arguing over each card. We spent hours arguing over the whole deck and what stuff made the cut and what stuff didn't. Weeks and months passed and we had a dozen cards done. More months and we had a system of "done", "in progress" or "need to figure out how to start." On and on and on. Now it seems really weird. We're finally done. The amount of work that went into this was about twenty times greater than I originally thought it would be. But, wow - they turned out far better than I thought possible.

the permies support

We decided to do a kickstarter for the permaculture playing cards! And before we knew it, it raised $70,853! So, apparently, other people needed this niche filled too!

our sneaky tricks

permaculture playing cards poster

On 26 of the cards we hid the names of people that were big supporters of the kickstarter, or friends and family that helped with the project. If you look on this card, you will see a name hidden in the image … near the bottom …

Didja find it?


Okay fine, here is a closeup of the hidden name in the card. On the right is another idea for hiding the name.

permaculture playing card permaculture playing card

By the dozen! (or half dozen)

For people that will give decks away for Christmas, or birthdays, or PDCs or whatever. After all, that is the primary function of the cards, to give to people that think your ideas on permaculture are crazy. Then after you give them the cards, maybe they will think you are not quite as crazy.

cards with US shipping

Our cost on internationial shipping is brutally ridiculous. We have never been able to solve this problem. All we can do is pass the pain on to you.

cards with international shipping

note: we hope to be getting them to people before thanksgiving, but that depends largely on when the printer gets the cards to us.

Just a deck or two?

If I try to sell one deck, the cost of the shipping is greater than what you would pay for a deck. So, I have sent a pile of the cards to amazon where they have optimised shipping stuff in a way I never could.

All set up at amazon: click here!

diatomaceous earth playing card fungi playing card fungi playing card

Details, details, way too many details

There is a total of 55 cards. 52 regular playing cards, two jokers and a bonus card that thanks a few of the folks that helped make the cards possible, plus spells out "On twenty-six cards we have deviously hidden the names of supporters and one needle.".

Discussion about the cards at

And here is the list of the 52 cards:

  • Ace of Spades: Polyculture;
  • Ace of Hearts: Wofati;
  • Ace of Clubs: Hugelkultur;
  • Ace of Diamonds: Rocket Mass Heater;
  • King of Spades: Sepp Holzer;
  • King of Hearts: Bamboo;
  • King of Clubs: Masanobu Fukuoka;
  • King of Diamonds: Bill Mollison;
  • Queen of Spades: Black Locust;
  • Queen of Hearts: Comfrey;
  • Queen of Clubs: Greening Deserts;
  • Queen of Diamonds: Ruth Stout;
  • Jack of Spades: Mike Oehler;
  • Jack of Hearts: Willie Smits;
  • Jack of Clubs: Allan Savory;
  • Jack of Diamonds: Art Ludwig;
  • Ten of Spades: Paddock Shift Systems;
  • Ten of Hearts: Greywater;
  • Ten of Clubs: Dandelion;
  • Ten of Diamonds: Stinging Nettles;
  • Nine of Spades: Sunchokes;
  • Nine of Hearts: Fungi;
  • Nine of Clubs: Jean Pain;
  • Nine of Diamonds: Mullein;
  • Eight of Spades: Natural Swimming Pool;
  • Eight of Hearts: Mulberry;
  • Eight of Clubs: Tefa;
  • Eight of Diamonds: The Man Who Planted Trees;
  • Seven of Spades: Chickens;
  • Seven of Hearts: Pigs;
  • Seven of Clubs: Pee;
  • Seven of Diamonds: Replacing Irrigation with Permaculture;
  • Six of Spades: Ben Law;
  • Six of Hearts: Electric Tractor;
  • Six of Clubs: Husp;
  • Six of Diamonds: Honey Bees;
  • Five of Spades: Food Preservation;
  • Five of Hearts: Bugs, Weeds, Funguses & Microorganisms;
  • Five of Clubs: Beyond Compost;
  • Five of Diamonds: Wind and Berms;
  • Four of Spades: Wildcrafting;
  • Four of Hearts: Livestock Guardian Dog;
  • Four of Clubs: Food as Medicine;
  • Four of Diamonds: Mason Bees;
  • Three of Spades: Food Forest;
  • Three of Hearts: Rhubarb;
  • Three of Clubs: Dry Outhouse;
  • Three of Diamonds: Solar Food Dehydrator;
  • Two of Spades: Rumford Fireplace;
  • Two of Hearts: Cast Iron;
  • Two of Clubs: Diatomaceous Earth;
  • Two of Diamonds: Apple Tree;


If you like these cards, please link to this webpage. Click on one (or many) of the social network links below. Linking to this page from a forum is nice. Or even better, mention this article in a blog!

Many thanks!