The book “Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture” was first introduced to me at the Permaculture Design Certification course that I took this spring. It was presented to me by a couple that was equally passionate about Permaculture as myself. I wrote it down as a “to read” selection and did not acquire the book for months.
When I finally made the commitment to buy this book and several other Permaculture books to start off a new section in my personal library, I simply was too busy with other life adventures to take the time to sit down and read it.
Well the time has come, I have finally found enough quiet moments to dive into its pages. And I must say that I am extremely glad that I purchased this book, because I can see myself reading it again and again. Its pages are packed with valuable information presented in an extremely clear and inspiring tone.
Sepp Holzer is a farmer that lives on a mountainside in Austria, carefully sculpting and stewarding over 100 acres 5,000 feet above sea level. He is a wonderfully unique person who has been observing the patterns of nature since he was a child, and then applying these to his farming methods. As a result his own permaculture model was born.
Through the years Sepp has become known as the Rebel Farmer (he has also published a book by this name) because of his refusal to comply with standard farming methods. He has even been fined and threatened with prison for practicing his own methods. He is doing what he feels is right for himself, and his land. This is what is vital in these times, we have to live our truth, and if someone tries to stop us, to have the courage to just keep on going.
With a deep passion for the healing effects that permaculture can have on our planet, Sepp Holzer shares a huge amount of his wisdom packed into the 204 pages of this book.
A Brief Walk Through The Book
I am very fascinated with the methods that Sepp has developed over the years for Landscape design. He is not shy about sculpting the landscape into a form that not only creates a very useable space for the landowner to use, but also develops into extremely healthy land that nature thrives in.
First of all he follows the Permaculture principle of “Observe”. This is a skill that seems to me to have greatly diminished in recent generations. When we truly observe our surroundings, we once again become part of them. And through our observations we can grow to understand what our land is rich in, and what it is lacking. We can witness our effect on our space, and if we are helping or hindering the overall system.
When you feel that you have observed your land sufficiently and you have an overall idea of your microclimates and where the water runs, you can start to form a design. Each person will have slightly different needs from their land, so the design should be unique to each location. Sepp shares how to create terraces, raised beds, paths and waterscapes. Each aspect creates the optimal spot for different types of plants, so that you have a thriving and diverse ecosystem.
This chapter covers a wide range of wisdom to get you to look at your garden system in a whole new way. Everything from the best green manure crops to feed your soil, to alternative ways to keep livestock.
This is the kind of information I thrive on. I want to know new ways, or in some cases returning to old ways, of raising our food an animals that benefits the land that we are living on. Sepp shares with us again his observations of nature vs. how we farm now. Why spend all the time pouring money into the ground with tilling and chemical fertilizers when the plants and animals can take care of everything better?
The photos that fill this book show the lushness of Sepp’s property and the happiness of his livestock. To me this is the best way to measure how a system is working. When the land looks lush, vibrant and filled with diversity, it is clear that things are being done right.
Now this chapter was especially enlightening for me. The way that Sepp Holzer cultivates his fruit trees is so vastly different than everything we are taught about tree care. Everything made total sense to me as he explained it, and I am really excited to integrate his methods next time I plant a fruit tree. I also was able to glean great information for a couple of my fruit trees that are having trouble, it makes much more sense to me now.
There are also very useful charts explaining old cultivars of different fruit trees that Sepp recommends, and what they are best suited for. I would be ecstatic to have an orchard filled with some of the long forgotten fruit gems. So often they have amazingly complex flavors, but they have been abandoned for our modern cultivars that can have an bizarrely long shelf life.
There is also a valuable section on grafting. I am not sure this is something I am quite ready to undertake myself, but Sepp presents it in a way that is straight forward to understand.
This of course is an extremely exciting chapter for anyone interested in branching out from simply having a vegetable garden. Organic Mushrooms can be quite expensive to buy, so why not grow them at home? Each step is explained with clarity and detail. Next spring I will be including mushroom cultivation into my gardening experience.
Here your more traditional gardens are expanded upon with Sepp’s methods. He shares how and why to grow your own pharmacy, and how even our most recent ancestors almost always had a medicinal garden. Having made my own healing salves, I really appreciate this part and hope that more people start to grown their own healing plants. Calendula is one of the easiest and most versatile plants to start with for medicinal uses.
Learn how to make your gardens thrive, and to live in harmony with the landscape and creatures around it. And one of the most important factors, how to inspire the children in your life to explore nature, and be part of it!
In this last chapter you can see some of the large scale projects that Sepp has taken on with his expertise. It is great to see how you can heal the landscape in such a short amount of time!
I am so inspired to share this book with others. I really feel that it is a resource to return to again and again. I hope you are inspired to read this book at least once, I feel that there are many things that each person is going to get from it. What I got most from this book is how much we can each intuit what our garden needs if we simply observe our surroundings and the patterns of nature. Just like our bodies are always trying to tell us what we need, the land around us shows us obvious signals when it is lacking something, or being overwhelmed by something else. Sepp Holzer teaches us how to follow our intuition and common sense.
I came across a free e-book version of Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture. It is available for reading Here. There are several pages missing from it, but if nothing else it gives you a taste for what his book is all about, and then you can decide if you would like to invest in a hard copy. Personally I love the feel of a book in my hands, and if you are the same, you can click on the link below to purchase one from Amazon.