[Fwd: Permaculture in Europe]

georg parlow georg at websuxxess.com
Wed Sep 5 15:12:43 EDT 2001

greetings to you all:

> > Thanks for that tale of a man outstanding in his field.  Now, the
> > is how did he do it!  Have you been able to manage any kind of
connection to
> > that kind of info?  I would be real useful for me and others who do not
> > by inspiration alone....

as i am one of the main pc activists here in austria (founding chairman of
the national pc association), i am double-minded about sepp holzer. i love
it that he is able to get all the media exposure and the term "permaculture"
receives part of the attention. however, i am wary about the fact, that in
my opinion it is not permaculture what he is doing, and i am afraid that
sooner or later this will show and discredit permaculture.

sepp holzer is a genius in his way. he really knows his turf (in the
litteral sense of the meaning), he successfully threw out everything he
learned about agriculture (also no book about organic farming, permaculture
etc. has ever spoiled his approach until 1997, when eva vesovnik visited his
farm and said "but this is permaculture you are doing!" - he might heave
read something since, mainly so he knows what words to use for marketing
reasons), he goes and boldly tries every idea he has, and he is a marketing

sepps strongest assets (besides his marketing skills) are the intimate
knowledge of the farm he grew up on, to pay attention to his microclimates,
warm air currents and all sorts of things he observes and notices there, to
come up with the most creative explanations for his observances, and to go
ahead with action based on his observances and explanations.

all this could make him a great permaculturist. now let me explain why i
think it is not permaculture, what he is doing there:

care for the earth? honestly i am not sure about that. the natural climax
vegetation of the region is almost pure pine. sepp digs in 10 meter high
"bad pine monoculture" with the bulldozer, turns them into huge "raised
beds", plants tiny fruit trees on them, and sows them with jerusalem
artichokes, radishes and (voluntary) stinging nettle. naturally the herbs go
rampant on the exessive nutrients and the radishes are fist-big, which is "a
prove for the superiority of permaculture".

2 or 3 years ago he had a landslide above his farmhouse, and 1 foot of mud
in all rooms. the landslide was caused by a broken dam of his design and
doing - there isnt any design, really, and never was. there is only lots of
ideas applied - some great idaes, some meaningless, some stupid ones - and
unfortunately sepp holzer isnt into small experiments - he seems to like big
things and knows how to operate his bulldozer.

care for the people? sharing of the surplus? thumbs down. besides his close
family, the only person he cares for seems to be his lawyer - indirectly.
nearly everyone i have heard of who has had any closer dealings with him has
been sued or at least threatened with a suit (if he hears about my opinion
about him i will certainly get sued). in wintertime he is said to cherish
the old austrian farmers-tradition of going to court with his neighbours. i
have not heard so far of him ever moving an eyelash without asking money for
it. while i know of functioning pc systems that really give away
wheelbarrows of food for free (e.g. peter bird on W.A.), if sepp says
"people come to pick my cherries" you can be sure that they pay for it - big
time. if permaculture is about subsistance life, and subsistance grows on
local and regional cooperation, sepp holzer is as far from it as you can

please note that this is my private opinion as an individual, and not the
position of the austrian permaculture association.

kind regards

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