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Radical Farming According to Sepp Holzer

Sepp Holzer - February 2010 Update Radical Farming According to Sepp Holzer
By Mary McCann for MastersConnection LLC© 2010 All Rights Reserved

Last year the Washington gardening world was turned upside down when Sepp Holzer brought his vision of permaculture from the Alps to the Cascades.
It involves "... farming in cycles, on the model of self-sufficient natural ecosystems." Holzer promotes no weeding, no tilling, no pesticides, no fertilizing chemicals and the greatest partner in the world, Mother Nature.

There was resistance from the established traditional gardeners in the area. I heard them mock him. They laughed at him and his claims. This is treatment Holzer is used to. He’s been called crazy since he took over his family farm when he was still a teenager. It is at 1000m elevation in the Austrian Alps and he took it from a humble subsistence-level hovel to an internationally renowned destination spot for gardeners of all scale. He has rebelled against modern farming methods and the modern laws that govern land usage.
If you want to spend an afternoon with him ask him what he thinks about wetland management in Washington and don’t expect to get a word in after that.

This year the rubber hit the road as more people wanted to use his methods to create their Eden. The nuts and bolts practicalities of putting his system in place were begging to be addressed. Holzer observes that we have lost the understanding of the simplicity of living naturally so that it appears very complex and baffling. Generations of knowledge has been wiped out in the last 60 years as agro-chemical industrialization has given us new answers to old problems and new problems with no solution.

The root of Holzer’s genius is his willingness to learn the modern ways (he was trained in the modern methods of farming in Austria) and turn them, and the clock, around. He constantly marches time backward to find ancient methods of farming, including very old seed and animal varieties. He brings his keenly trained powers of observation to those methods and pairs them with modern improvements that pay homage to the past and pay off in the present.

One of his students in Austria describes his method of problem solving: "When a problem arises with the plants, animals, or soil, he enters into the state of this entity, imagines being it, and listens to his feelings; whether he is comfortable in this spot, what is bothering him, what is lacking, what he would like. And the answer comes, and what is very important-it is always right. And if the diagnosis is made correctly, then the treatment will be effective." He solves his problems in his dreams.

Holzer is not a Luddite nor a throw back to a different age. He has no qualms about radically altering the earth to make it verdant and productive. He takes big excavators to the hillsides and pastures to make them more useful. His projects worldwide morph barren, dead, waterless land into gardens of plenty and beauty. His partners, the farm animals, are happy and they are given a purpose besides being a product.

...I will document progress on the first Holzer homestead in the area, perma-dise, and the next generation of Holzer Permaculture practitioners in these pages and you will see this transformation right in front of your eyes....STAY TUNED...

Here are links to other articles
with Sepp Holzer:

Ponder This Fish Story - Making Ponds Without Pond Liners

This Is Not A Blackberry Bramble...

Earth Berm Animal Shelters...

There's A Fungus Among Us...

Huegelbeds and Mushrooms - Companion Planting...

Huegelbeds Continued...


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