Permaculture is a design-based approach to practical sustainability, using systems thinking and approaches that combine regenerative ethics with ecological principles to create sustainable environments. Permaculture was developed in the sub-tropics (Australia) and there was some debate about how well it could adapt to practice in temperate climates.
This 37-minute documentarydismisses the debate and examines a case study of permaculture in the Austrian Alps, which is covered by snow for much of the year. Nevertheless, by using permaculture design and a lifetime of experience, Sepp Holzer produces abundant and diverse yields on his farm, while attracting flocks of interest from far and wide.Sepp and his wife Veronica have been working their land in the Austrian Alps for more than 30 years. As far back as the 1960’s, Sepp decided to switch to permaculture and has fashioned a fertile landscape of ponds and terraces, fruit gardens, and a variety of Mediterranean produce. Balance is the means to Sepp’s success. Self-sustaining ecological partnerships bring about richer soil year after year, and the harvest creates much greater tasting foods than that of commercial agricultural farming.
Seed mixtures are used, vegetables, support plants, flowers, about 40-50 different plants. Using the simple way of sowing, seeds are thrown wherever there is space. The diversity of the plants with their wide network of roots helps to prevent soil erosion. Sepp saves his own seeds, which aids him in remaining independent from the big agri businesses. He discovered the more plants there are, the fewer parasites there are and the more stable the system. The plants provide moisture and fertilizer for each other. One plant helps the other.
No insecticides or fertilizers are used. All plants, weeds, insects, and even animals fulfill several useful functions. Sepp even uses rotting tree trunks to harvest shitake mushrooms. Over his 30 years of stewardship, he has fashioned more than 70 ponds and water gardens. His ponds are heated by strategically placed rocks, which are heated by the sun and slowly releases heat back into the water.
Produce is stored in earth cellars built into the hills where the food remains fresh year round. Sepp believes in growing locally and selling locally. His consumers come to see him personally and this cuts down on the transportation necessary to get the food to the end user. He also teaches his permaculture methods at seminars and offers tours, giving him yet another source of income. Sepp and his wife Victoria need no subsidies for his income, which is stable from his sale of produce, trees, seeds, and his seminars and tours. They also rent their three mountain cabins and the residents can eat the produce off the land.
Listen and observe to learn how to work properly with the earth. Sepp has learned everything by simply observing nature. His experiences are the only source of knowledge that he trusts. Once his planting is done, the work is completed for generations. When you create natural cycles, then nature will work for you, every plant and every animal. Sepp suggests that we work with nature, not confront it. His practices with permaculture design demonstrate that sustainable living need not be a dream after all.
Watch the film here.
Watch the film here.