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Sepp Holzer's Permaculture

A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening

By Sepp Holzer
Foreword by Patrick Whitefield
Translated by Anna Sapsford-Francis

Sepp Holzer farms steep mountainsides in Austria 1,500 meters above sea level. His farm is an intricate network of terraces, raised beds, ponds, waterways and tracks, well covered with productive fruit trees and other vegetation, with the farmhouse neatly nestling amongst them. This is in dramatic contrast to his neighbors' spruce monocultures.In this book, Holzer shares the skill and knowledge acquired over his lifetime. He covers every aspect of his farming methods, not just how to create a holistic system on the farm itself, but how to make a living from it. Holzer writes about everything from the overall concepts, down to the practical details.In Sepp Holzer's Permaculturereaders will learn:

  • How he sets up a permaculture system
  • The fruit varieties he has found best for permaculture growing
  • How to construct terraces, ponds, and waterways
  • How to build shelters for animals and how to work with them on the land
  • How to cultivate edible mushrooms in the garden and on the farm
  • and much more!

Holzer offers a wealth of information for the gardener, smallholder or alternative farmer yet the book's greatest value is the attitudes it teaches. He reveals the thinking processes based on principles found in nature that create his productive systems. These can be applied anywhere.


"A fascinating book written by a man who has devoted a lifetime to working with nature and creating extraordinarily diverse polycultures. His work is breathtaking."--Maddy Harland, editor of Permaculture Magazine

"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

ForeWord Reviews-
Holzer's beautifully designed and illustrated book is essential reading for all who care about the land and the vast interrelated web of living beings who inhabit it, and it is especially timely, since small and organic farmers in the United States are being threatened by agribusiness, chemical companies, and others who view nature as something to conquer and ravish rather than honor and learn from. Large- and small-scale farmers, home gardeners, and even those who only have room to grow in a few pots on a city balcony will find Holzer's methods applicable and effective, his reasoning and knowledge impeccable, and his spirit pure and honest.

Kristine Morris

"The real story of a 110+ acre commercial permaculture farm featuring 14,000 fruit trees with diverse understory plants, complete integration of rotationally grazed livestock, terraces and rainwater harvesting, and so much more. Anyone interested in taking permaculture to a larger scale in a cold climate will benefit from Sepp Holtzer's 40 years of practical experience implementing permaculture principles."--Eric Toensmeier, author of Perennial Vegetables and co-author of Edible Forest Gardens

Here's great news for fruit-loving gardeners everywhere! Most of the work of establishing, pruning, and tending fruit trees by 'modern' methods is unnecessary and even counterproductive. Sepp Holzer's Permaculture is the One-Straw Revolution for tree crops.--Carol Deppe, author of The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-reliance in Uncertain Times

"After reading this book, all I can say is Sepp Holzer is a Superstar Farmer. Holzer turns out an absolutely remarkable volume and variety of food products, all without one smidgen of chemical fertilizer, and on land in Austria that an Illinois corn farmer would pronounce too marginal for agriculture. American farmers and gardeners will be particularly interested in Holzer's raised beds--which are quite different in construction from ours in the U.S.--as well as his inventive water well irrigation systems, unique methods for integrating livestock into his fruit and vegetable gardens, and practical, low-labor way to grow mushrooms. A fascinating book for anyone who aspires to become the ultimate, champion professional of sustainable farming."--Gene Logsdon, author of Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, and The Contrary Farmer

"As the era of cheap energy, stable climates and surplus fertilizer stocks comes to a close, the principles of permaculture will become increasingly attractive as one way to design our future food and agriculture systems. Sepp Holzer's Permaculture provides important insights for applying these principles, for both rural farming and emerging forms of urban agriculture."--Frederick Kirschenmann, President, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture


Sepp Holzer

Sepp Holzer

Josef ("Sepp") Holzer was born in the province of Salzburg, Austria. He is a farmer, author, and an international consultant for natural agriculture. He took over his parents' mountain farm business in 1962 and pioneered the use of ecological farming, or permaculture, techniques at high altitudes (1,100 to 1,500 meters above sea level) after being unsuccessful with regular farming methods. Called the "rebel farmer" because he persisted in these practices despite being fined and even threatened with prison for practices such as not pruning his fruit trees (unpruned fruit trees survive snow loads that will break pruned trees). He has also 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.

He is conducting permaculture ("Holzer Permaculture") seminars at his farm and worldwide, while continuing to work on his alpine farm. His farm now spans over 45 hectares of forest gardens, including 70 ponds, and is said to be the most consistent example of permaculture worldwide. He is author of several books and the subject of the film The Agricultural Rebel. He works nationally as permaculture activist in the established agricultural industry and works internationally as adviser for ecological agriculture. He is the author of Desert or Paradise: Restoring Endangered Landscapes Using Water Management, Including Lake and Pond Construction, and Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening.


Holzer Permaculture Website


(Part 1): Early Permaculture Innovations

(Part 2): Early Aqua Culture Business

(Part 3): Sealin Ponds

(Part 4): Stones

Water is Life: The Water Retention Landscape of Tamera

Farming with Nature: Permaculture with Sepp Holzer

Sepp Holzer (Part 1) - Early Permaculture Innovations

Sepp Holzer (Part 2) - Early Aquaculture Business

Sepp Holzer (Part 3) - Sealing Ponds

Sepp Holzer (Part 4) - Stones

The Argo Rebel

The Argo Rebel

Sepp Holzer's Permaculture

Pages:256 pages
Book Art:Full-color illustrations throughout
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603583701
Pub. Date April 11, 2011

Available In/Retail Price

Paperback, 256 pages, $29.95