Permaculture is a way of farming or gardening, where diversity is the driver to improve the soils and create sustainable symbioses, where pesticides and synthetic fertilizers are unnecessary. In many ways it is a step back to the pre-industrialized agriculture that dominated worldwide until the introduction of the tractor.
Sepp Holzer is a remarkable farmer in Landau, Austria, who has created a lush fruit & vegetable farm in a most untypical environment, at 1000m altitude. In this book he describes his way of working, observing and experimenting with every element of the habitat – ponds, stones, mushrooms, plants and various livestock species. He describes using raised beds for creating suitable micro-climates for vegetable production and how to utilize pigs and earthworms to aeriate and enrich the soil.
In many ways he has simplifed the work in the vegetable garden, by utilizing natural processes. No digging to prepare the land, but a layer of mulch or hay. Many of the plants he uses are perennial, which means that the plant will grow on next year without any human intervention. He also uses “raised beds”, which is a kind of long ridge that you can dig up in your garden. This gives a good variation in soil moisture and creates a varied micro-climate.
Holzer shares his experiences with such a positive energy, that I get all inspired to plant sunflowers and beans, and to get non-hybrid seeds. He also shares his experiences with failed experiments, which is a consolation already for the inevitable failures and misses.
Holzer describes it as if it is easy.
I think that the most important difference with his neighbour’s monoculture of spruce is that Holzer is farming with knowledge. It requires much more knowledge and observation to work with a hundred different plants, compared with working only with one tree type.
Knowledge and understanding of Nature is the way of the future.