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Doubts about Holzer?

Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Could it be possible run-off was redirected from roads or development which changed water patterns across the land of which the owner and Sepp were ignorant at the time of construction? Road crews and construction often don't seem to consider downstream repercussions of their activities.....We have enormous run-off through our land already but if there were a large development put in upsteam which simply directed all its run-off into the seasonal creeks, our property would be flooded to the point of being useless, as we would have no way to enter and exit - the creeks go under (and sometimes over) our driveway. This could be construction of which we might be largely or completely ignorant, a half mile away, and none of our present plans and constructions would be adequate to deal with such run-off.


Idle dreamer

Michael Radelut


Joined: Jan 21, 2011
Posts: 194
Location: Germany, 7b-ish
Tyler Ludens wrote:Could it be possible run-off was redirected from roads or development which changed water patterns across the land of which the owner and Sepp were ignorant at the time of construction?


http://translate.google.de/translate?sl=de&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=de&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jena-hof.at%2Fneu%2Fcontent.php%3Fop%3Dnews%26id%3D39%26kz%3D39%26m1%3D1%26m2%3D4%26m3%3D1%26modul%3Dnews%26name%3DStellungnahme%2520Dr.Hofer%26menue%3D38%26sub1%3D39%26lg1%3D

Please note the choice of words in the second to last paragraph. The expert is not out to make enemies.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Sorry, the translation makes little sense to me.
Michael Radelut


Joined: Jan 21, 2011
Posts: 194
Location: Germany, 7b-ish
Yes, deutsche Sprache schwere Sprache

Did you mean the paragraph I mentioned ?
He simply states that while he can relate to the conceptual approach taken, the project had been executed without taking into consideration the geological conditions present.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Thank you.

Cris Bessette
volunteer

Joined: May 20, 2011
Posts: 670
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 8A
    
  29

In my opinion, most of the problems mentioned seem to come from treating permaculture as a landscaping project.

The idea of running an excavator over the land, popping in some trees and seed mixtures,etc. and then calling it "permaculture"
seems a bit like putting lipstick on a pig and calling it a "lady".

Permaculture in my mind is a steady process and also variable depending on the location. It's about working with the land, not applying a standardized plan.

Just going from what I read, it seems that maybe Mr. Holzer made two mistakes: Assuming what worked at the Krameterhof would work elsewhere, and also treating it as short time turn-key project that could be turned over to the owner and would basically take care of itself.

The only way I can see to do this project right would be through doing an observation phase and experimental plantings and other small changes to observe. After a COUPLE OF YEARS, after discovering what worked, THEN they would create the overall plan and start implementing it.







duane hennon
volunteer

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 382
    
  10


http://www.amazon.com/Bittere-Ernte-Gertrud-Barrada/dp/3704022187/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333648863&sr=1-2

well, one thing is for certain.
Sepp must be a "known entity" over there
if Joe's Landscaping had done the job, who would write a book about it
and what publisher would publish it?
Michael Radelut


Joined: Jan 21, 2011
Posts: 194
Location: Germany, 7b-ish
http://translate.google.de/translate?sl=de&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=de&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.de%2Fproduct-reviews%2F3704022187%2Fref%3Dcm_cr_dp_all_helpful%2F279-8278187-8627749%3Fie%3DUTF8%26showViewpoints%3D1%26sortBy%3DbySubmissionDateDescending

An interesting spectrum of reviews.

Fred Morgan
steward

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 972
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
    
  12
Perhaps this is the crux of the matter. You may well be an expert where you live, but don't assume it will work anywhere. Sepp Holzer has experience, but experience though an excellent way to learn, limits itself to what you personally have experienced.

But, until all the facts come out I wouldn't be willing to say which party is at fault. I can think of several scenarios where she was a fault for what she wanted, and he was at fault for giving in.

Honestly though, if I had lots of land to move, I would be looking at a civil engineer. He / she would immediately do soil tests to determine what you could do there.


Sustainable Plantations and Agroforestry in Costa Rica
Fred Morgan
steward

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 972
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
    
  12
Cris Bessette wrote:
In my opinion, most of the problems mentioned seem to come from treating permaculture as a landscaping project.


I completely agree, and this is what Sepp Holzer did on his own property (took his time). Instant permaculture seems to me to be a contradiction in terms. You can have a quick garden, without a doubt, but how in the world are you going to have an Instant permaculture? After all, the landscape and what you plant is only part of it, the other is birds, animals, life in the soil, etc. It is going to take some time for something like that to develop.

Usually we get in trouble we we assume what we are doing is the most important part. The truth is, what nature is doing is much more important. And nature will tear down anything in the way of flow, eventually.

Capturing water with a swale is very useful in an area that is nearly a desert, but I would be very careful trying anything like that in a rainforest. We lose roads here because water backs up (plugged culvert, usually), and then extends and the weight of the water causes the hillside to let go. To be fair to Holzer, these roads gave way even after civil engineers designed it. And even rooted, mature trees won't stop it if there is enough pressure.

The problem he may be facing is that unless he is licensed to make these judgments due to training, he may well be responsible.

This brings up an interesting point. As soon as you become an expert and allow people to pay you for your expert opinion, well now it is no longer just friendly advice, but you can be responsible for whatever happens.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
I really love the conversationt that this thread has started..

I totally agree that "designers" generally come in and spend your money and design and then leave it to you to understand and care for the design, and maybe there should be a serious bit of education given to you before you are left with the baby.

that is like maybe sometimes parents should be required to attend parenting classes before they are allowed to deliver and take home a child.

I see a lot of this type of thing in books and on internet or t v shows where people have interventions on their lives, their homes, their properties, their gardens, whatever, by professionals, and then if you go back months or a year or more later ..often it is back in the same or similar condition of disrepair it was in before the intervention.

People tend to KEEP their habits.

Sepp, you and I, all did what we have done over time, and you better bet that Sepp had a few failures on his own property over the years he has worked on it, all of us have.

but we learn over the years by our failures and successes..however..when a designer or intervener comes in and changes things drastically from what they were before (hoarders, garden makeovers, lifestyle makeovers, alcoholics, whatever) ...often our lifestyle will win out and all will go back to what it was before..often worse.

the lady obviously wants to make a big deal out of it rather than go out there and work at trying to make it work


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
Mike Underhill


Joined: Feb 12, 2012
Posts: 53
Location: N. Sac. Valley
    
    1
Fred Morgan wrote:... But, until all the facts come out I wouldn't be willing to say which party is at fault. I can think of several scenarios where she was a fault for what she wanted, and he was at fault for giving in. ...


I read a bunch of that stuff above and I think this sums it up well. Sounds like she wanted instant, do-nothing permaculture and he accommodated her requests without allowing (or being allowed) sufficient time for observation and study of the site. I am still terribly jealous of anyone going to Sepp week next month.

Most interestingly, I learned that Holzer means "timber" in German.


I like this sort of thing.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14983
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I love my forums.


sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
Michael Radelut


Joined: Jan 21, 2011
Posts: 194
Location: Germany, 7b-ish
Mike Sawley wrote:Most interestingly, I learned that Holzer means "timber" in German.


Not exactly - 'Holz' means timber; a 'Holzer' is a raftsman.

And they are still pursuing their trade; here's a snippet of a rather different way of handling timber:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uf6gmHrOVTo
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
a rough translation of Groth is big or large..so I guess I'm still pursuing my husbands history too..
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 351
    
    1
Reading the "translation" is difficult. I have no doubt about Holzer's ability to grow things.
My problem is in whether or not he does so profitably. I would think the only way to harvest
what he grows would be with a team of specially trained mountain goats!

I have seen him and his wife on youtube strolling along plucking greens and giant turnips and radishes.
Wow! What a picture of perfection... but profit? I just don't think it adds up.

There is also the thing about the 6' tall hugelculture beds. I understand he and Paul are giants but I can do
basic math and if I grow a 15' tomato plant on top of a 6' bed I will need an extension ladder to pick the
fruit.

I live on a modest slope and as a result of Sepp Holzer info I have ideas that work for me as relates to
setting up a micro climate. I am now aware that such a thing is possible and in my case it was built in
but now I have a clue of what to do to make it better.

Terri Matthews


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 409
Location: Eastern Kansas
    
    3
Not all of the problems have been worked out of permaculture, yet. It is a fascinating concept but there are a few problems yet to be solved.

Harvesting is definately one of them! With a standard field of grain, a machine is run over it and the grain is poured into a truck and it is done. With permaculture harvesting is usually done by hand and that often takes all of the profit out of it. For my household it is a very fine thing to go outside, pick for 15 minutes, and bring it a bag of assorted produce for the family but that would not work well on a commercial basis!

We need to continue working on the science of permaculture. Once it is profitable on commercial sizes, I do believe that it will take off and become very, very popular.
Cris Bessette
volunteer

Joined: May 20, 2011
Posts: 670
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 8A
    
  29
Alex Ames wrote:Reading the "translation" is difficult. I have no doubt about Holzer's ability to grow things.
My problem is in whether or not he does so profitably. I would think the only way to harvest
what he grows would be with a team of specially trained mountain goats!

I have seen him and his wife on youtube strolling along plucking greens and giant turnips and radishes.
Wow! What a picture of perfection... but profit? I just don't think it adds up.



Reminds me of something Masanobu Fukuoka had to say when asked about applying his techniques to commercial farming- he said basically
that this is the wrong way of looking at things, that having a handful of farmers producing for the masses is opposite of what
people should do, which is have more ubiquitous agriculture.
Instead of one guy producing for 1000 people, have 100 guys producing at a lower yield each.

Producing so much that you can only harvest by using machines in strictly controlled rows is anti-permaculture.

I have also seen the videos of Sepp Holzer strolling along and picking a head of lettuce here and there- but also have seen that he grows trees
and sells them, raises and sells fish/ pork, rents out three "cottages"on his property, does outside consulting, collects and sells seeds,etc., he generates his own electricity,etc.
Diversity in services and products is where his profit is.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I agree with you, Cris. Here in the US only about 1% of people farm for a living. Permaculture can't replace industrial farming and was never intended to, as far as I can tell. In permaculture most people are expected to grow at least some of their own food, with food-growing integrated into the rest of how one lives and into the community itself. Our society needs to change, in my opinion, not permaculture. If the society adopted a permacultural way of life, there would be no need to expect permaculture to compete with industrial farming. Industrial-scale "permaculture" would not solve the problems of our society and is, in my opinion, impossible. Permaculture is a design system for human settlements not a system for industrial farming.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14983
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
My problem is in whether or not he does so profitably.


I suspect that there is so much demand for his food that he sells it for $20 to $100 per pound. That would seem profitable.

I would think the only way to harvest
what he grows would be with a team of specially trained mountain goats!


One of the practices he uses is to sell tickets onto his land. 95 euros per person. And a lot of those people take what they can carry. I guess those people are the mountain goats. The terraces make so it is a nice stroll to the whole farm.

There is also the thing about the 6' tall hugelculture beds. I understand he and Paul are giants but I can do
basic math and if I grow a 15' tomato plant on top of a 6' bed I will need an extension ladder to pick the
fruit.


I'm a giant. Sepp seems like a regular size guy with huge hands.

I use time travel at 24 hours per day. I build them seven feet tall. And two years later they are four feet tall.

The stuff that is 15 feet tall (for areas of really strong wind) has a path built in about half way up.

Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
U-pick with a tour is brilliant. Imagine all the towns surrounded by food forests where people could go on the weekend to pick those foods they don't have in their home gardens (or if they're apartment dwellers without a garden) . Some folks might make a business of picking for those who aren't interested or are incapable of going themselves (elderly, disabled).

Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 351
    
    1
Paul has educated me on how Sepp's farm is farm-able. I knew mountain goats were part of the equation.

Chris has spoken to Sepp's diversified income streams and I have timber and it is a long time between checks let me tell you!

Tyler has spoken on the high and lofty ideal of more people farming on smaller farms. I love all of that so well I think
I will quit my day job, move to the country and live on vegetables under the bright sky.

I am not interested in joining the circus expecting people to come to me for anything. It seems imperative that I would
have to take my products to somebody to sell them. The tendency for fancy restaurants to want to buy local would appear
to lead to catering to a bunch of prima donnas who want what they want when they want it. I have a friend at church who
works for a wholesaler of vegetables and fruits. He says truck farmers just can't provide the volume and consistency they
need so they buy from the big guys. Sepp Holzer loved to grow things from his early youth. He figured out ways to do it
in an unlikely place and against great odds. I like growing things and I truly don't want to do much but that at this point in
my life but I have bills and expenses that are mostly fixed. The bills come in like clock work.

So for me permaculture fits in perfectly as long as I have outside income enough to cover living costs. It improve the quality
of my life and cuts down on food expenses. My mind is always churning trying figure out what to do next.

Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Thanks. I am an idealist, I admit it. I recognize that not everyone can follow their dreams, but I want to encourage people to try! If you re-read what I said about integrating food-growing into the rest of how one lives, there's nothing in that about quitting your job and moving to the country.

Yone' Ward


Joined: Feb 14, 2012
Posts: 135
Location: Springdale, WA USA - Cold Mediterranean Climate
Fred Morgan wrote:Perhaps this is the crux of the matter. You may well be an expert where you live, but don't assume it will work anywhere. Sepp Holzer has experience, but experience though an excellent way to learn, limits itself to what you personally have experienced.

But, until all the facts come out I wouldn't be willing to say which party is at fault. I can think of several scenarios where she was a fault for what she wanted, and he was at fault for giving in.

Honestly though, if I had lots of land to move, I would be looking at a civil engineer. He / she would immediately do soil tests to determine what you could do there.

I agree with this. Rain availability and soil type will make fools of an unwary expert and unrealistic expectation will make fools of everyone. This can be a source of contention here in Washington state. We see western Washington folks throwing sticks in their rain blessed clay soil and having food pop out of the ground which is frequently followed by this silly grin and someone saying "Growing food is so easy!" The eastern Washington folk look around at their rain starved sand fields being preyed upon by deer that attack small children and start getting grumpy. I don't know what soil type Holzer has, but he has the advantage of his wet season being his warm season. Thus his valley resembles Western Washington even though his annual rain totals are similar to mine here in the Eastern Side. So while his Ideas are sound, they have to be tailored to the soil types and rain fall timing.


Just call me Uncle Rice.
17 years in a straw bale house.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I feel with you Yone'!
Alex Ames


Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 351
    
    1
Some of Sepp's method is in animal control. The nasty bone sauce he puts around fruit trees for one.
I am not making any in the 'burbs but I am not going to knock it either. He plants things for animals but
Paul will have to tell you about that. I don't remember what he plants and how he goes about it.

My contribution to the deer is sedum. I don't care for the look of it but the deer love it. In my climate it
spreads but the deer keep it pruned down. They seem to like it better than my daylilies. Good.

Yone' Ward


Joined: Feb 14, 2012
Posts: 135
Location: Springdale, WA USA - Cold Mediterranean Climate
So, bone sauce for the fruit trees, and deer sedum for the deer blind. Works for me.
Matthew Nistico


Joined: Nov 20, 2010
Posts: 203
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
    
  12
Someone at the beginning of this thread wrote "That doesn't mean Holzer permaculture doesn't have a lot to contribute to the permaculture discussion. But I do see a tendency to take his every word as gospel without subjecting it to any critical review."

I think the man is a genius, as demonstrable from his real-world accomplishments. But shouldn't EVERYTHING and EVERYONE always be subjected to critical review?!

I also think that the "do as I say, not as I do" principal should be applied to everyone equally, including public figures and even much-respected permaculture gurus. Perhaps every criticism leveled against Sepp Holzer by the woman who's book is the subject of this thread is 100% accurate (which I highly doubt; I respond to customer complaints for a living and am extremely familiar with how people allow their anger and bitterness to distort their presentation of facts). So what? Nobody's perfect. Why would we expect that Sepp Holzer would never make any mistakes? A more important question: why would we conclude that, having made a mistake, all of his knowledge and published teachings are therefore wrong?


Blazing trails in disabled homesteading
Matthew Nistico


Joined: Nov 20, 2010
Posts: 203
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
    
  12
Cris Bessette wrote:
Reminds me of something Masanobu Fukuoka had to say when asked about applying his techniques to commercial farming - he said basically
that this is the wrong way of looking at things, that having a handful of farmers producing for the masses is opposite of what
people should do, which is have more ubiquitous agriculture.


Amen brother!
Michael Radelut


Joined: Jan 21, 2011
Posts: 194
Location: Germany, 7b-ish
Permaculture is still very much geared towards brittle environments - practitioners in temperate climates tend to deride permaculturalists, simply because things "just grow", and all that's really needed is some basic knowledge in (organic) gardening/farming.
And as we've seen, things might even go pear-shaped once you try to redesign a 'rounded', temperate environment that may have been better off left alone ...

But in a brittle environment where the roundedness has long given way to harsher conditions, sometimes a bulldozer might just be the thing to use:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1Y-8mKFWxg
Matthew Nistico


Joined: Nov 20, 2010
Posts: 203
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
    
  12
@Rory - Wow, you are right: PEI sounds like a permaculture paradise just waiting to happen. Good luck with your project! I visited Nova Scotia and Newfoundland once, many many years ago, but didn't make it to PEI. Now I'm wishing that I had.

Rory Beck wrote:I know the idea of commercial permaculture is anathema to most permies.


Is it really? Why? Why should it be? I mean, my own interest in permaculture happens to be limited to homesteading, but why shouldn't one be able to make money at it, too? Given the high productivity/low inputs ratio and the ability to maintain permaculture systems, once well established, with relatively little labor, I would think it is a self-evident solution for small-scale commercial farming. This country (well, my country, but I'm sure the same is true in Canada) was once built around the family farm, and in my opinion we would do well to move back in that direction. Case in point: I would hardly call seven people tending 70 productive acres "industrial farming." I would call it a perfectly-scaled commercial permaculture operation, assuming that you have already figured out the markets - presumably local markets - for your intended produce. And I imagine that your produce could include livestock, fish, maybe dairy, fruits and veggies of a 100 kinds ...you could be an entire farmer's market in and of yourselves, and all in addition to feeding yourselves. I imagine that you could also make a good bit of $ from produce from your woodland acres as well (see other threads re: Ben Law).

Honestly, you lost me with your comparison to religious history - not sure what your point was supposed to be there - but regardless it sounds like you have the makings of a successful and potentially profitable operation up there, all within a beautiful setting, and with the possibility of ecological and financial sustainability, assuming you plan and implement well enough. Which sounds like good permaculture to me!

Rory Beck wrote:...the DESIGN ideas of Holzer, Lawton and Jacke, while ignoring all the philosophical guru aspect of Mollisson..."


I am very curious - and you will have to forgive the ignorance of a noob, here - to what exactly you are referring? I've not read any Mollisson. I've flipped through the "Big Black Book," and I've seen several interviews with Mollision and watched his Global Gardener series of vids. All seemed really good and not at all guru-esque ...?

BTW, I have read one of Holzer's books, and watched all of his videos, and read much discussion of others about him. Awesomeness! Have also watched all of Lawton's videos, also awesome and very practical. Big fan of both. Who is Jacke?
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Lawton often strikes me as being philosophical....not sure why that would be a bad thing.....he even mentions the....ETHICS OF PERMACULTURE!
Matthew Nistico


Joined: Nov 20, 2010
Posts: 203
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
    
  12
Tyler Ludens wrote:Lawton often strikes me as being philosophical....not sure why that would be a bad thing.....he even mentions the....ETHICS OF PERMACULTURE!


Oh, watch out dude, you used "the E word"! Might bring down the wrath of the heavens, LOL! ; )
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1399
Location: Chihuahua Desert
wow, 95 Euro for walking around someone's farm?!?!?! I am in the wrong business! I expect that if he was making a decent profit from the property/produce, he wouldn't be charging for tours...

If I had hired a so-called permaculture "guru" to help me with my property, and it ended up looking like those photos, you bet I would be mad, too. I wonder what he charged her for that work?

That doesn't make his ideas less valid, but to me, it does question his "guru" or "genius" status. And it affects the credibility of permaculture, because whether we like it or not, people like Holzer and Mollison and Lawton are the faces of permaculture. When they mess up, it puts a bad taste in your mouth anytime someone mentions permaculture. And that could have big effects on permaculturists in the future, like for applying for loans, permits, etc.

Yes, they are human, and they are going to make mistakes. Sometimes, they are going to make HUGE, COSTLY mistakes, like illustrated on that lady's site. That's fine, and that's part of the process, but part of making a mistake is learning from it and moving forward.

The true measure of someone is not in their successes, but how they handle their failures. What has Holzer done to resolve the situation? Has he addressed it? Has he made attempts to fix things or admitted mistakes? Or has he distanced himself from the project and blamed the owner? What's his side of the story?




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Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Yes, it would be nice to get the other side of the story....

Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1399
Location: Chihuahua Desert
from the look of her site, I think she is suing him, so maybe we'll get his side of the story from the court records...
 
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subject: Doubts about Holzer?
 
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