I never thought possible to grow a Kiwi fruit at 1300 meters above the sea, with an average temperature of 3 degree celsius.
Until I met him.

Sepp Holzer is a farmer
He took over his parents’ mountain farm business in 1962 and pioneered the use of ecological farming, or permaculture, techniques at 1.100-1.500 meters above sea level] after being unsuccessful with regular farming methods.

Holzer was called the rebel farmer because he persisted, despite being fined and even threatened with prison, with practices such as not pruning his fruit trees [unpruned fruit trees survive snow loads that will break pruned trees]. He has 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 instead of pruning to allow fruit trees to survive high altitudes and harsh winters.

Creating paradises
Like many heretics, he is faced with harsh criticisms and the local status quo tries to block and isolate him. Funny enough to see that while the surrounding austrian farmers isolate him, people from Asia and South America want him to advise on and build his famous water retention basins to bring degraded landscapes back to life. His restored or newly-constructed lakes not only reaquify the surrounding landscape to turn back the tide of encroaching desertification, but also support abundant edible landscapes of orchards and crops planted along the banks, and provide freshwater mixed aquacultures.

Sepp teaches people from all over the world how to design water retention areas that produce ‘living’ water, how to prevent and reverse desertification and how to prevent floods and soil erosion.

He gives hope to those who see an apparently barren landscape as a failure from which there is no return. Sepp helps us move beyond conventional methods that trap us in a cycle of dependence. He reveals the thinking processes based on principles found in nature that create his productive systems. These can be applied anywhere.

His next project
His expanded farm — the Krameterhof — now spans over 45 hectares of forest gardens, including 70 ponds, and is said to be the most consistent example of permaculture worldwide. In 2009 Sepp Holzer left the Krameterhof in the hands of his son Josef Andreas Holzer. Since 2013 Sepp Holzer lives on his new farm — the Holzerhof farm — in Burgenland, Austria. He is currently conducting permaculture [“Holzer Permaculture”] seminars both at his Holzerhoffarm and worldwide. He is challenging the established agricultural industry, and works internationally as adviser for ecological agriculture.

His method
Permaculture isn’t simply a catch phrase, it’s a stance towards life. Sepp’s goal is to encourage fellow human beings to take responsibility for a livable planet by thinking ahead instead of following the masses without questioning.

Seeing is believing.

When you are soaking in the vitality of nature with all of your senses, this is when the value and importance of permaculture really hits home.


Markus MessnerComment