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Sepp Holzer was doing permaculture before he even knew what permaculture was. He started playing around in his mother’s garden as a little boy, learning how nature functioned and what helped plants thrive. When permaculture practitioners visited Holzer’s homestead, they were astonished to find the theories they learned from Bill Mollison and David Holmgren applied to beautiful effect — and in a steep, northern, high-altitude (read: really harsh) climate.

Since then, Holzer has been recognized as one of the premier permaculturists on the planet, and has consulted on landscaping projects around the world. Especially important to the success of Holzer’s landscapes is his use of ponds and terraces to manage water, especially in semi-arid climates. His latest book, Desert or Paradise, focuses on these water control methods.  This week only you can get it for 25% off.

In the excerpt below, read about Holzer’s understanding of how water affects a landscape, and his attitude toward nature.

“My most important rule is to put myself in the position of the other. I imagine that I am the tree…the same goes for the pig, the earthworm, the ladybird, the nasturtium or the sunflower and of course the other human being. Would I feel good in their place? If the answer is ‘yes’, I am doing everything right. If the answer is ‘no’, I have to find out what is wrong. When I am lacking sun or shade, when I realize my feet are in the water or that my movements are limited I have to change things. All beings need to feel good and then they function at their best. I need to remember that, and so do you.”

Desert or Paradise is full of case studies from Holzer’s work around the world, especially in the Mediterranean region, which suffers from rampant desertification after millenia of agricultural overuse (and a few especially bad centuries of industrial fertilizers and pesticides).

If you’re interested in learning from Holzer himself, check out his upcoming US workshops, here. He will be holding three multi-day intensives on agroecology in Loma Mar, California from March 21-25; Bozeman, Montana from March 27-31; and Duluth, Minnesota April 6-10.

Reading Nature: An Excerpt from Desert or Paradise

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