Sepp Holzer's Permaculture

Sepp Holzer's Permaculture : A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening

4.36 (1,041 ratings by Goodreads)
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Sepp Holzer farms steep mountainsides in Austria 1,500 meters above sea level. His farm is an intricate network of terraces, raised beds, ponds, waterways and tracks, well covered with productive fruit trees and other vegetation, with the farmhouse neatly nestling amongst them. This is in dramatic contrast to his neighbors' spruce monocultures.In this book, Holzer shares the skill and knowledge acquired over his lifetime. He covers every aspect of his farming methods, not just how to create a holistic system on the farm itself, but how to make a living from it. Holzer writes about everything from the overall concepts, down to the practical details.In Sepp Holzer's Permaculturereaders will learn:

How he sets up a permaculture system
The fruit varieties he has found best for permaculture growing
How to construct terraces, ponds, and waterways
How to build shelters for animals and how to work with them on the land
How to cultivate edible mushrooms in the garden and on the farm
and much more!

Holzer offers a wealth of information for the gardener, smallholder or alternative farmer yet the book's greatest value is the attitudes it teaches. He reveals the thinking processes based on principles found in nature that create his productive systems. These can be applied anywhere.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 153 x 229 x 20mm | 499g
  • White River Junction, United States
  • English
  • English
  • Index; Illustrations, color
  • 160358370X
  • 9781603583701
  • 36,281

Table of contents

1. Landscape design

2. Alternative agriculture

3. Fruit Trees

4. Cultivating mushrooms

5. Gardens

6. Projects
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Review quote

"A fascinating book written by a man who has devoted a lifetime to working with nature and creating extraordinarily diverse polycultures. His work is breathtaking."--Maddy Harland, editor of Permaculture Magazine "There, at an altitude which everyone else has abandoned to low-value forestry, what is probably the best example of a permaculture farm in Europe stands out like a beacon."--Patrick Whitefield, permaculture author and teacher ForeWord Reviews-

Holzer's beautifully designed and illustrated book is essential reading for all who care about the land and the vast interrelated web of living beings who inhabit it, and it is especially timely, since small and organic farmers in the United States are being threatened by agribusiness, chemical companies, and others who view nature as something to conquer and ravish rather than honor and learn from. Large- and small-scale farmers, home gardeners, and even those who only have room to grow in a few pots on a city balcony will find Holzer's methods applicable and effective, his reasoning and knowledge impeccable, and his spirit pure and honest. -- Kristine Morris "The real story of a 110+ acre commercial permaculture farm featuring 14,000 fruit trees with diverse understory plants, complete integration of rotationally grazed livestock, terraces and rainwater harvesting, and so much more. Anyone interested in taking permaculture to a larger scale in a cold climate will benefit from Sepp Holtzer's 40 years of practical experience implementing permaculture principles."--Eric Toensmeier, author of Perennial Vegetables and co-author of Edible Forest Gardens Here's great news for fruit-loving gardeners everywhere! Most of the work of establishing, pruning, and tending fruit trees by 'modern' methods is unnecessary and even counterproductive. Sepp Holzer's Permaculture is the One-Straw Revolution for tree crops.--Carol Deppe, author of The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-reliance in Uncertain Times "After reading this book, all I can say is Sepp Holzer is a Superstar Farmer. Holzer turns out an absolutely remarkable volume and variety of food products, all without one smidgen of chemical fertilizer, and on land in Austria that an Illinois corn farmer would pronounce too marginal for agriculture. American farmers and gardeners will be particularly interested in Holzer's raised beds--which are quite different in construction from ours in the U.S.--as well as his inventive water well irrigation systems, unique methods for integrating livestock into his fruit and vegetable gardens, and practical, low-labor way to grow mushrooms. A fascinating book for anyone who aspires to become the ultimate, champion professional of sustainable farming."--Gene Logsdon, author of Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, and The Contrary Farmer "As the era of cheap energy, stable climates and surplus fertilizer stocks comes to a close, the principles of permaculture will become increasingly attractive as one way to design our future food and agriculture systems. Sepp Holzer's Permaculture provides important insights for applying these principles, for both rural farming and emerging forms of urban agriculture."--Frederick Kirschenmann, President, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture
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About Sepp Holzer

Josef ("Sepp") Holzer was born in the province of Salzburg, Austria. He is a farmer, author, and an international consultant for natural agriculture. He took over his parents' mountain farm business in 1962 and pioneered the use of ecological farming, or permaculture, techniques at high altitudes (1,100 to 1,500 meters above sea level) after being unsuccessful with regular farming methods. Called the "rebel farmer" because he persisted in these practices despite being fined and even threatened with prison for practices such as not pruning his fruit trees (unpruned fruit trees survive snow loads that will break pruned trees). He has also created some of the world's best examples of using ponds as reflectors to increase solar gain for passive solar heating of structures, and of using the microclimate created by rock outcrops to effectively change the hardiness zone for nearby plants. He has also done original work in the use of Hugelkultur and natural branch development.

He is conducting permaculture ("Holzer Permaculture") seminars at his farm and worldwide, while continuing to work on his alpine farm. His farm now spans over 45 hectares of forest gardens, including 70 ponds, and is said to be the most consistent example of permaculture worldwide. He is author of several books and the subject of the film The Agricultural Rebel. He works nationally as permaculture activist in the established agricultural industry and works internationally as adviser for ecological agriculture. He is the author of Desert or Paradise: Restoring Endangered Landscapes Using Water Management, Including Lake and Pond Construction, and Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening.

Patrick Whitefield (1949 - 2015) was an early pioneer of permaculture, adapting Bill Mollison's teachings with a strong Southern Hemisphere bias to the cooler, maritime climate of the British Isles. He wrote a number of seminal books, including Permaculture in a Nutshell (1993), How to Make a Forest Garden (1996), The Living Landscape (2009), How To Read the Landscape (2014) and his magnum opus, The Earth Care Manual (2004), an authoritative resource on practical, tested, cool temperate permaculture. Patrick appeared in several BBC TV programmes, popular gardening videos, and taught many permaculture and other practical courses, throughout the UK.
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Rating details

1,041 ratings
4.36 out of 5 stars
5 52% (542)
4 34% (358)
3 11% (119)
2 2% (20)
1 0% (2)

Our customer reviews

'Sepp Holzer's Permaculture' is the work of a man of unique sensitivity and imagination. Holzer has combined a lifetime of practical experience with clarity of expression and intellect to produce a book which will satisfy a practically-minded farmer or gardener as well as the student of agroecological design. With gentle strength, Holzer would make designers and practicioners of us all and entrust to us neither task unless we join him in the school of nature. He makes us want to join him in that school. He describes the techniques of what he calls "Holzer Permaculture" with surety born of concrete success and the observation of ecological health but without the urgency of someone trying to convince us that he is right. Any urgency the work posesses becons us to join with the author in the "joy of cultivation" which comes from working together with nature. The Krameterhof, the Holzer family's land and home, is one of the most compelling examples of the application of permaculture principles. Holzer writes that: "With a little ingenuity it is possible to apply permaculture principles anywhere." The Krameterhof is a fine example of the application of these principles to an alpine climate. My principle criticism of the book (and let it be drowned in a clamour of praise) is the potential for some of the techniques described to be transferred to inappropriate contexts. Though I am sure that the author intends to describe the techniques which have worked for him — techniques which must be altered or abandoned in other climates — the tone is sometimes makes this easy to forget. The author sometimes appears to refer to "Holzer Permaculture" as a set of techniques rather than as the set of design principles which he sets out early in the book. The techniques Holzer describes are impressive examples of what can come of long observation of natural systems and continuous and sensitive experimentation. Some of these techniques include: terraces, paths and humus storage ditches raised beds (like none you've likely to have heard of before) ponds and 'waterscapes' plant polycultures and green manuring keeping livestock earth building intensive kitchen and vegetable gardens, fruit trees mushroom cultivation. Each of these is described clearly, with reference to other parts of the system and as a part of an evolving process which begins with sensitive earthworks and broadscale soil improvement. If you recognise some of the techniques in the above list you may be misled to think that this book is not worth reading. You almost certainly do not know about them as Sepp Holzer practices them. As I came to the close of the book, I was struck by the picture which had grown up of Holzer's imaginitive power. He begins the work with a story of his first garden experiments on a marginal piece of rocky land inhabited by snakes, too far away to irrigate by hand. Some of the things he learns from working with this piece of land are impressive even to his mother, a very experienced gardener. She says, however, that she is unable to use Sepp's methods because of what the neighbours will think — her garden will appear 'untidy'. From this time until now, Sepp Holzer has had not only the sensitivity to develop new methods, he has had the imagination and force of character to integrate them into a viable economic method of farming in the midst of long traditions of 'how things ought to be done' and in an area of Austria thought to be good only for low-value forestry. This same imaginative power is displayed in Holzer's vision for urban spaces. He elegantly describes very small but scalable systems for small yards and balcony gardens in apartment blocks. The beautiful illustrations of these systems capture an imagination which appears to see how we together might assist nature to do what it would do given hundreds or thousands of years and just the right conditions. Here is the spirit of design — the application of intellect to the ends of people and nature. I recommend this book to anyone interested in producing food and designing for productive and beautiful places. Holzer has not only produced a working model of the application of permaculture principles, he is himself a model of the elements of character required for working with nature and not against it. Even if, like me, you're from a vastly different climate such as south west Western Australia's mediterranean climate, you will find this book worth reading for its integrity of vision and practice. All it takes is "a little ingenuity" to apply the principles of 'Holzer Permaculture' to other more
by Harry Wykman
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