Paul Wheaton

Paul Wheaton is an American permaculture author,[2][3][4] master gardener,[4] software engineer,[3][4][5] and disciple of the natural agriculturist Sepp Holzer.[4] He is known for writing his book, "Building a Better World in Your Backyard", founding Permies, the largest website devoted to permaculture,[3] as well as for creating and publishing articles, videos, and podcasts on the subject of permaculture.

Paul Wheaton
Paul Wheaton in 2015 at Seattle.jpg
Paul Wheaton at Seattle, WA in 2015
EducationStudied under Sepp Holzer[1]
  • Permaculture author
  • producer
  • software engineer
Years active1995-present
Known forPermaculture, Online video
Home townMissoula, Montana, U.S.

Wheaton is also the founder of Coderanch, formerly called Javaranch,[6] an online community for Java programmers.[7] He received three Jolt Awards from Dr. Dobb's Journal for his work related to Javaranch.[8] As a software engineer, he has worked on the ground system for the satellite that took pictures for Google Earth and DigitalGlobe.[7][9]

Wheaton has participated in several documentaries,[10][11][12] TED Talk shows,[13] and conferences, on topics related to permaculture, energy, and software engineering.[14][15]

Early lifeEdit

Born in Moscow, Idaho, Wheaton spent time growing up in Northeastern Oregon, and has also lived in Missoula, Montana.[3]

He began his career as a software engineer and continued to work for several private companies with software and programming. In the early 1990s, Wheaton developed Bananacom, a terminal emulator, which was used by bulletin board system operators in the United States. At one time, Wheaton had hired 14 programmers from Missoula, Montana to work on the Bananacom project.[9][16] The product gained popularity among its users due to its usability.[17][18][19][20]

Later in 2000, Wheaton worked on the ground system software for the spacecraft that took pictures for Google Earth and DigitalGlobe.[7][9]



In 2000, Wheaton shared his views on lawn care on his website richsoil.[21] Later that year, he launched the website permies, a place for people to discuss lawn care and permaculture. By 2012, permies had become the largest online community dedicated to permaculture.[4] When Wheaton invented his design of natural homes, the first one of it was documented on Permies.[22][23][24] The site has attracted notable personalities such as Geoff Lawton and Toby Hemenway, rocket mass heater developers Ernie and Erica Wisner, medical herbalist Michael Pilarski, and others who explore a range of eclectic permaculture topics.


In 1997, Kathy Sierra created, which she transferred to Wheaton In January 2000. In 2009, Javaranch was extended to a new domain with a forum.[25] As of May 2020, Coderanch had more than 3 million posts created by over 332,000 registered members.[26]


Books and articlesEdit

Paul Wheaton authored the book "Building a Better World in Your Backyard, instead of being angry at the bad guys.", which was an iteration of his philosophy of choosing to "build good things rather than be angry at bad guys."[27] He is also the author of many articles, published both on his own website and other major publications.[3] According to Wheaton, the book describes a collection of things people can do individually to make a significant positive global impact.[28][29]

A Wheaton's article on Hügelkultur appeared in LifeHacker in 2011, which suggested the use of wood to form the backbone of Hügelkultur bed.[30] His article on Aphids and ants was published on Countryside.[31]


In 2011, Wheaton launched a monthly podcast titled "Paul Wheaton Permaculture Podcast".[32] The podcasts mainly consisted of interviews with notable figures in permaculture and educational discussions on various topics of permaculture. In 2019, his Permaculture Podcast ranked number 2 in Feedspot's “Top 15 Permaculture Audio Podcasts & Radio You Must Subscribe and Listen to in 2019."[33]

Wheaton has also participated in other podcasts such as, in which he discussed various topics including Sepp Holzer, wofati, permaculture profitability, rocket mass heaters, light bulbs, and irrigation, and on The Pagan Homesteader podcast where they discussed Hügelkultur and Wofati.[34] Wheaton has also expressed his positions on energy saving methods in a podcast hosted by Abundant Edge.[35]

Other mediaEdit

A rocket mass heater inside a tipi at Paul Wheaton's permaculture homestead in Montana

In 2008, Wheaton created his YouTube channel called paulwheaton12 which had over 86,000 subscribers and 24 million views as of June, 2020. [36] In his videos, Wheaton discusses various topics related to permaculture, which includes organic horticulture, rocket mass heaters, natural building, alternative energy, homesteading, frugality, raising chickens, wildcrafting, aquaculture, paddock shift systems, and colony collapse disorder. His videos also include interviews with Sepp Holzer and other notable people in the field of permaculture. He further presented his findings during his TEDx Talk, "REALLY Saving Energy: Paul Wheaton at TEDxWhitefish".[13]

Other projectsEdit

A prototype of an outdoor rocket oven designed by Paul Wheaton being test loaded with pizzas

In 2013, Wheaton produced a documentary of wood-burning stoves, highlighting sustainable ways to heat, which consisted of four segments called "Fire Science", "Sneaky Heat", "Boom Squish", and "Hot Rocket". The documentary was distributed in DVDs, in addition to online streaming and downloadable videos. According to Wheaton, his design of wood burning stoves uses 1/10th of the wood compared to conventional wood burning stoves. He also claimed that his stoves only produce 1/1000th of smoke compared to other stoves.[10]

In 2014, Paul Wheaton crowd-funded and produced a deck of Permaculture Playing Cards, where each card contained information about a different permaculture technique or notable people of permaculture.[37]

Later in the same year, Wheaton produced another documentary titled "World Domination Gardening", which featured a 3 days workshop of Hügelkultur, earthworks, ponds, and swales.[38] The documentary was distributed in sets of three DVDs, called "Sealing a Pond Without a Liner", "Ditches and Swales", and "Hugelkultur and Terracing".[12]

In 2015, Wheaton launched a Kickstarter project to make a documentary of rocket mass heaters. The documentary has been distributed in DVDs, streaming media, downloadable video files, and PDF plans.[39]

In 2017, Wheaton hosted a Permaculture Design Course and an "Appropriate Technology Course" which consisted of a 14 days workshop. The project was able to raise the pledged funds within 22 hours after its Kickstarter project was launched.[40][41][42]

Later in 2018, Wheaton produced a documentary called "Rocket Ovens", which he described as an efficient way to cook and bake food making less than 1% of the carbon footprint of that of an electric oven. Distributed in DVDs and streaming videos, the documentary featured environmental friendly ways of cooking, baking, and dehydrating food with lesser amount of wood compared to other forms wood-fired ovens.[43][44][45]

Experiments, demonstrations, and opinionsEdit

Wheaton set up an experiment to demonstrate how compact fluorescent lamps (CFL bulbs) are not better than incandescent light bulbs.[46] He used a combination of warm clothing, incandescent lights that produce heat as well as light, and various heating devices to keep warm while his 700 square foot house in Montana is set for 40 degrees Fahrenheit all winter. With this demonstration, Wheaton concluded that by heating the person instead of the air, a person can remain comfortable and save hundreds of dollars in energy savings.[47][48][49]

Wheaton introduced a lifestyle model called Wheaton Eco Scale in 2010 where he categorized different lifestyles into 10 levels, where level-0 makes the highest carbon footprint and level-10 makes the lowest.[50]

In 2011, Wheaton demonstrated how hand washing a standard sized load of dishes can only use around a gallon of water. He compared that a standard dishwasher uses 15 gallons of water per load while an energy-efficient dishwasher uses around 9 gallons per load.”[51]

In 2014, Wheaton produced a documentary on mason bees which was featured in TreeHugger. In the documentary, Wheaton compared mason bees with Honey bees and what humans can do to help, which included keeping bees in refrigerators.[52][53]

Wheaton has performed testing for heating a person rather than a whole house to save 90% on a heating bill while staying warm.[54][55][15][56]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Wheaton, Paul. "My son is doing a report on Paul..." Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  2. ^ Wheaton, Paul. Building a better world in your backyard, instead of being angry at bad guys (Firstition ed.). ISBN 1999171403.
  3. ^ a b c d e Stollar, R.L. “Paul Wheaton and Permaculture” Eugene Daily News. Retrieved January 4th 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e Fredrickson, Erika. [ "Grow Wild" Missoula Independent. Retrieved May 26th, 2020.
  5. ^ Bushman, Margie. "Integrating Animals in Permaculture Systems with Paul Wheaton" Santa Maria Times. Retrieved January 4th, 2013.
  6. ^ "Code Ranch Domain (Wiki forum at Coderanch)". Coderanch. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Wheaton, Paul. "Paul Wheaton - Grand Poobah of JavaRanch | JavaRanch". Coderanch. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  8. ^ Hildebr, J. D.; Blake, Deirdre. "The Complete Jolt Product Excellence & Productivity Awards". Dr. Dobb's. Dr. Dobb's Journal. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Bauer, Tom. "Missoula man says compact fluorescent light bulbs not a bright idea". Missoulian. Missoulian. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  10. ^ a b Wheaton, Paul (20 February 2013). "Wood Burning Stoves 2.0 – the DVDs (Kickstarter Campaign)". The Permaculture Research Institute. Permaculture Research Institute. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  11. ^ Wheaton, Paul. "World Domination Gardening 3-DVD set - Kickstarter (tinkering forum at permies)". Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Resources". Permaculture Apprentice. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  13. ^ a b Freibergs, Bonnie (2 January 2015). "REALLY saving energy: Paul Wheaton at TEDxWhitefish". The Permaculture Research Institute. Permaculture Research Institute. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  14. ^ "JavaRanch Joins Forces with TheServerSide at TSSJS 2011".
  15. ^ a b "Paul Wheaton: Building a Better World One Permaculture Brick At A Time (PVP005)". Diego Footer's Permaculture Voices. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  16. ^ Paul, Wheaton. "BananaCom - DOS terminal software (Meaningless Drivel forum at Coderanch)". Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  17. ^ Matthews, Noah. "Bananacom Gets Modem Up, Running". The Billings Gazette. November 19, 1996.
  18. ^ "Tallying the Banana". BBS Magazine. February 1996.
  19. ^ Online Access Magazine, March 1995.
  20. ^ Bechtold, Alan. "Go Bananas". Band Street.
  21. ^ "Organic Lawn Care For the Cheap and Lazy". 2000-08-15. Archived from the original on 2000-08-15. Retrieved 2020-06-06.
  22. ^ "the first wofati - allerton abbey- version 0.7 (wofati and earth berm forum at permies)". Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  23. ^ "Paul's Wofati: the 2nd winter". The Tiny Life. 2014-12-04. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  24. ^ "Wofati eco building - Appropedia: The sustainability wiki". Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  25. ^ "A History of JavaRanch". Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  26. ^ "Advertise on Coderanch". Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  27. ^
  28. ^ Wheaton, Paul. "Building a Better World in Your Backyard (book)". Kickstarter. Kickstarter. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  29. ^ Taggart, Adam (19 August 2019). "Paul Wheaton: Building A Better World In Your Backyard". Peak Prosperity. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  30. ^ "Hugelkultur Can Create Irrigation-Free Garden Beds". Lifehacker. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  31. ^ Wheaton, Paul; Bean, Suzy (14 March 2019). "Aphids and Ants on Apple Trees!". Countryside. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  32. ^ Wheaton, Paul. "paul wheaton's permaculture podcasts Forum at permies". Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  33. ^ "Top 15 Permaculture Podcasts You Must Follow in 2020". Feedspot Blog. 2019-06-12. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  34. ^ "TPH-Episode 48". 2012-05-26. Archived from the original on 2012-07-17. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  35. ^ "How to save huge on your heating costs and other innovative experiments with Paul Wheaton of "Permies" and "" 003 – Abundant Edge". Abundant Edge. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  36. ^ "paul wheaton". YouTube.
  37. ^ "Permaculture playing cards. The design of the self-maintained deck %%sep%% Max Playing Cards". Max Playing Cards. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  38. ^ Paul, Wheaton. "World Domination Gardening 3-DVD set | permaculture articles by paul wheaton". Richsoil. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  39. ^ Wheaton, Paul. "Rocket Mass Heaters 4-DVD Set". Kickstarter. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  40. ^ David (11 February 2017). "Paul Wheaton's 2017 Permaculture Design Course". The Survival Gardener. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  41. ^ "2020 Permaculture Design Course". Wheaton Labs. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  42. ^ "Live Stream Permaculture Design Course & App. Tech Course". Kickstarter. Paul Wheaton. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  43. ^ Wheaton, Paul. "rocket ovens (rocket ovens forum at permies)".
  44. ^ Wheaton, Paul. "Rocket Ovens Feature Length Documentary". Kickstarter.
  45. ^ "rocketstoves -".
  46. ^ "farmer laboratory: light bulbs at 30 seconds". Kickstarter. Retrieved 2020-04-15.
  47. ^ "Heat Yourself instead of the Entire Room to Save on Your Heating Bill". Lifehacker. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  48. ^ Missoulian, JOE NICKELL of the. "Experiment shows CFLs don't last". Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  49. ^ "CFLs Die Much Faster Than Advertised If Switched Too Frequently". TreeHugger. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  50. ^ Wheaton, Paul. "The Wheaton Eco Scale". Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  51. ^ "Washing Dishes by Hand Can Use Less Water Than a Dishwasher". Lifehacker. Retrieved 2020-04-15.
  52. ^ Sami, Grover. "Keeping mason bees in your fridge (and other ideas for helping wild pollinators)". TreeHugger. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  53. ^ Paulas, Rick (10 February 2014). "The Most Fascinating Facts About Mason Bees". KCET. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  54. ^ "how to cut 90% off your electric heat bill in 2020 - with microheaters (conservation forum at permies)". Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  55. ^ "Cut Your Heating Bill in Half: Heat the Person Not the House (Video)". TreeHugger. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  56. ^ "Meet Paul Wheaton, Duke of Permaculture". Prepper Shows USA. 2018-11-21. Retrieved 2020-04-26.

External linksEdit