Sepp Holzer holds workshop in Bay Area

HolzerIn March of this year Sepp Holzer, a renowned Austrian farmer that applies many permaculture principles to his alpine farm, held a workshop in Loma Mar, CA. He is sought after internationally because he has been able to restore many parched desolate environments, such as those found in Portugal and Siberia, to hydration and fertility. His largest projects are hundreds of acres in size and include the use of heavy equipment.

I was able to attend the workshop and I can summarize it by this on key lesson: if you get the water right, everything else will work out. In his teachings, Sepp as a heavy focus on water management and is not shy about how many retention ponds, hugel beds (1.5 meters high), hugel mounds (>1.5 meters), and channels he will include into a design, just for the sake of better water retention and distribution.

Since I have attended an urban Permaculture Design Course (PDC) I was tempted to compare the two experiences. I would recommend completing a PDC first to gain a larger design framework, and after to attend Sepp’s workshop. If you plan on owning acreage, Sepp’s curriculum is more appropriate to that scale.

Sepp spent the first two of 5 days exposing his philosophy which includes adopting the perspective of other beings such as trees, insects, and animals to understand what makes them happy. He also encourages direct experimentation such as building mini-ponds and plant guild creations and to “get your feet wet first”. His disdain for bureaucratic administrators who have repeatedly fined him for “unorthodox practices” was peppered here and there and it made his narration fun.

The following three days were more hands on and we had a chance to do earthworks, operate heavy machinery under supervision, inoculate logs for mushrooms, and survey the farm we were on to suggest a design. I will be presenting a summary of the Holzer workshop at our June 2013 guild meeting and here you will have a chance to view slides of the event and ask questions. See you there!

Daniel Catalaa