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PermaMatrix’s mission is simple.
Restore Carbon to the Soil.
Reduce Nitrate Leaching into the Watershed
Improve Plant Yield & Sustainability
PermaMatrix its name broken apart means “Perma” as in Permaculture or permanent agriculture, or looking at how natural plant communities sustain themselves, and “Matrix” as in a group of things that create another. It is from these ideas that PermaMatrix or the idea of PermaMatrix was born back in 2005. I was traveling on I90 thru Western Montana one spring when I came across a long freight train. Interestingly, there were over 200 rail cars and they were filled with dirt! What, dirt? Holy cow, why would anyone haul dirt and that much dirt by the train load? Turns out that a large copper mine needed to plant grasses and wildflowers on their mine spoils. You see, when a mine turns the earth upside down the mine spoils don’t contain any organics or nutrients to support plant life, kind of similar to a moonscape. I figured that was a huge waste of money, and where did they get that dirt? Did they create a bigger problem at the donor site? What’s the carbon foot print of that many rail cars, plus the big trucks and bulldozers needed to move it and place it? There had to be a better way!
Just across the highway from this long train of soil was a forest with beautiful lodge pole pine trees and deep green meadows of native grasses and wildflowers. How did that happen, there isn’t anyone there to fertilize that forest, yet there it was growing without “our” help! Maybe, I thought, natural systems do pretty good, in fact, plants and trees have been growing on our planet, like, forever without “our” help! Ok, well there is the Perma, or permanent vegetation. Now, how does it do that? This is where I needed help from some real smart people and decided to tell my story to anyone who would listen.
Over the next year a team was developed. I call it the PermaMatrix team! On our team everyone is focused on one thing: how to create sustainable soils that are the foundation of permaculture. This is where the “matrix” developed. In highly functioning soils there is a concert of life, and a cycling of nutrients that is created by a balance of organics, mineral, carbon and microbes. We learned how microbes can supply plants with nutrients, and how Biochar provides a home for the little critters. How organics provide tilth to the soil and how minerals are the basis of soil creation. This whole concept is really what is called bio mimicry. Think of it as “innovation inspired by nature.” The core idea is that nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with today. Plants, animals, and microbes are the consummate engineers. They have found what works, what is appropriate, and most important, what lasts here on Earth. This is the real news of bio mimicry: After 4.2 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils, and the successes are living all around us!
So the theory for PermaMatrix was put to the test. Our team created a ‘starter ecosystem’ of organic and biotic flora and fauna that when applied to unproductive or nutritionally deficient soil worked with no other inputs than those it created on its own. Step one complete.
The concert of life and nutrient recycling found in highly functioning soils is created by a balance of organics, mineral, carbon, microbes and beneficial fungi. As we’ve learned how microbes supply plants with nutrients and how biological carbon (biochar) provides a perfect habitat for them; how organics provide tilth to the soil and what role minerals serve in soil creation, we have developed PermaMatrix products to effectively turn sad dirt into happy dirt.
PermaMatrix is now used in all environments in agriculture, environmental restoration, managed turf, lawn and garden, hydroponic and consumer markets. Step two completed.
We are excited now to bring a finished product forward and to start changing the way we look at soils. PermaMatrix is utilizing the planet’s best engineer – nature – to address soil fertility, and offset the conventional demand for synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. I guess sometimes you just have to get out of the car to see things a bit different, and on that long road in Montana there are many pull offs we should take to get a different perspective.
One of my favorite quotes: “In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
Now on to step three, the PermaMatrix team is getting the word out! For those of you are interested in making your tiny part of the world better, come join us in changing the way we look at soil, and its role in clean water and healthy foods. At a grass roots level, the PermaMatrix team is encouraging anyone who wants to get his/her hands dirty in the pursuit of a sustained environment, and the amazing processes that happen in soil.
Connect with the soil and you will find its presence overwhelming!
– Robin Cook, Founder
Idea Guy and Self-Described Dirt Geek
It was during that long car trip through Montana that the light bulb went off about how to improve soil just like nature does. Connecting with the outside and the places around him was the inspiration to do something better! Robin loves the outdoors and spends countless hours planning the next adventure!
Chief Cheerleader and Uber Smart Application Dude
Sometimes in life we really don’t know how we became what we are! In Barry’s case what started out as a summer job over 35 years ago has turned into a livelihood for his family. Making things grow is his profession and if you think over the years how many plants have established because of him, the numbers are immense. Tackling big projects is just another day in Barry’s world! He has been the lead re-vegetation guy on Mt. Saint Helens after it blew up, along with Dam removal projects that have restored free running rivers!
Green Thumb and Visor Guy
Terry is a classically trained Landscape Architect, an award winning gardener and avid Oregon Duck’s football fan. Terry has a garden that most people can only wish for. Early in his training he learned to “feed the soil first” from which much of what PermaMatrix is came to be. This understanding has driven his vision for both sustainable ecosystems and developed environments for the past 40+ years in business.