Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening (Anglais) Broché – 11 avril 2011
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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
The range of the permaculture applications covered is extensive. From major landscape design & works to small scale projects in high rise apartments. Holzer presents new ways of thinking about & practising: agriculture; growing fruit trees and fungi, and kitchen & medicinal gardening. At the end of the book are some inspiring case studies of projects from around the world. --Carl Legge, author of The Permaculture Kitchen --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .
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He talks about permaculture, principles that he has been applying even before the term was coined. He has some great ideas, and you only have to see the pictures of his farm to know that they really work.
What I didn't like about it was that although he tells us what he did on his farm, he doesn't give enough details on how he does them. He whets your appetite for his methods, but then doesn't tell you enough. For example, he says stuff like: "I use foxglove to improve the health of the soil, among other reasons". It only leaves me wondering, what are those reasons?
He keeps telling that he has been watching the nature for 40 years, but he doesn't give the recipes for his plant mixtures. Instead, he suggests that one should observe nature and experiment for oneself.
I bought the book precisely to learn from his experiences, instead of having to spend years observing nature myself.
But overall it is a fascinating read, especially if you want an introduction to permaculture. It is a great lesson on thinking outside the box and succeeding against all odds. You can feel his love and respect for nature and for his land.
I'd have been less frustrated by this book if it was the first time I encountered the ideas of Permaculture, pasture-raising animals, heirloom fruit trees and so forth, but it isn't. I've already read Fukuoka, Mollison, Holmgren, Stamets, Logsdon, and Colemen. All of these other author's books give much more concrete, useable advice, and cover their respective area in more depth and specificity that this one.
For example, the description of the book says that it covers "How to build shelters for animals and how to work with them on the land". Sounds great, and also one of the subjects I bought the book looking to deepen my knowledge of. The description of how to build the earth shelters is good, if cursory (9 pages, with pictures), but the actual working with animals part is only 17 pages long! These 17 pages (with many pictures), give an overview of his philosophy, a brief rundown of a few breeds he has used, a short description of how he works the animals and that's pretty much it. With 17 pages to cover pigs, cows, other bovines, and poultry, no great detail is possible. I learned exactly one new thing: that he mixes snails in his pig's feed to encourage them to forage for snails. This is a delightful gem of information, and a fine example of the storehouse of bits of wisdom he must have, but alas, that was it for specifics. In other sections he mentions some plants that he grows for his animals to use as winter forage, but again, he includes no details that would make this useful to me. No ratios of plant types to include in the mix, no guidelines he uses for deciding what to plant, no idea of how much he plants per animal, no clues as to when or how specifically he plants the seeds. Nothing of practical value to me given that I've already been introduced to the general concepts.
Overall, despite my frustration with the cursory treatment the book gives to the many areas it covers, I think it's a good and valuable introductory book. The book is easygoing, conversational, and approachable. If you are a beginner to organic farming/gardening/landscape design, or a budding permaculturist who has not taken a permaculture design course, I think this book would be a great way to get started. Those with more experience who are looking for in-depth information would probably be better served by other books that are more focused on one of the areas Sepp Holzer skims in this book.
I live in Cleveland, Ohio area where several farms claim to be using permaculture method. I have visited every farm there is in the 60 mile radius and to my disappointment not one had any resemblance to permacutlure let alone Sepp's method. The highlight and what I walked away with by reading Sepp's book is: mix the plant species up and let the nature create the necessary balance to produce the best with the least amount of effort.
Having said that, I'd still recommend getting another permaculture book in addition to this one, as the additional ideas and information are really helpful as well. Try Mollison's Introduction to Permaculture, or Morrow's Earth Users Guide to Permaculture; both are very good. When you're ready to really go hard core, get the Designers' Manual and prepare to spend some hard study time internalizing it.
The downside of the book is that the methods aren't very applicable to most of us. Holzer's techniques are uniquely suited to high elevation Europe (approximately equivalent to zone 5 in the US), and require the use of lots of heavy machinery and large acreages.
That said, some of his tips might just happen to fit your homestead, if you read with a critical eye. The book is definitely worth reading, though won't be stay on my bookshelf with the classics.