Chelsea Green Publishing

Desert or Paradise

Pages:224 pages
Book Art:Full-color illustrations throughout
Size: 6 x 9.25 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603584647
Pub. Date November 15, 2012

Desert or Paradise

Restoring Endangered Landscapes Using Water Management, Including Lake and Pond Construction

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
November 15, 2012


Sepp Holzer farms steep mountainsides in Austria 5,000 feet above sea level. His farm is an intricate network of terraces, raised beds, ponds, and waterways, well covered with productive fruit trees and other vegetation, in dramatic contrast to his neighbors' spruce monocultures. Fans of Sepp Holzer have come from all over the world to see the productivity of his farm, a veritable permaculture paradise. His first book, Sepp Holzer's Permaculture, offers a detailed guide to what Holzer has achieved on his farm. Many readers might have wondered-but how can we achieve this on a global scale? Luckily, his newest book, Desert or Paradise, examines Holzer's core philosophy for increasing food production, earth health, and reconnecting mankind with nature, applied to reforestation and water conservation across the world.

Through years of consultation with other countries, Holzer has developed a core philosophy for reconnecting mankind with nature even in arid or otherwise "lost-cause" regions. He details a process he calls "Grundierung," a term from painting meaning "base coat," which goes into great detail the importance of water, and Desert or Paradise offers his concept and guide to construction of large water reservoirs in arid, rainfall-dependent regions with examples from Greece, Turkey, Spain, and Portugal. Holzer describes the ecological and economic benefits of these changes, as well as the use of a variety of plant and animal species for further integration and regeneration of the surrounding areas, including reasons for reforestation and the cause and use of forest fires.

Holzer also outlines his ten points of sustainable self-reliance and how these methods can help feed the world, such as the need to regulate the water budget, eliminate factory livestock farming, bring more fallow or unused areas into production, enlarge crop areas by using terracing and Holzer-style raised beds, regionalize instead of globalize, fight for land reform and engage in community building, go back to the ancient farming wisdom, and change the educational system. Also included are Holzer's ideas on beekeeping, humane slaughtering, nature spirits, the loss of roots in our society in general, and in politics especially.


ForeWord Reviews-

"Many climatologists are concerned that the recent spate of drought across several parts of the world is likely to become the new normal, which would prove particularly challenging for farmers, but will also affect everyone from city planners to rural landowners. Creating well-regulated water usage systems and better agriculture production methods are crucial for preventing widespread collapse or water shortages, and Sepp Holzer’s excellent thoughts on the topic provide a handy guide for the type of solutions that are needed.

Well known in the field of sustainable agriculture, Holzer first introduced his innovative water-retention ideas in Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture, a handbook of small-scale, integrative farming techniques that drew on Holzer’s experience as a farmer in Austria. Much like that useful volume, Desert or Paradise contains a wealth of practical tactics that can help prevent desertification, reverse poor water policies, and even create areas rich with orchards and crops.

In his new book, Holzer offers examples from countries like Russia and Portugal to demonstrate the breadth of landscapes that can be healed with a greater emphasis on natural water management. He covers an immense range of topics, including using pigs to restore forest-fire areas, constructing ponds with proper shallow zones, restoring hydrological balance in the world, and abolishing industrial livestock farming. Despite the wide range of topics he covers, Holzer creates a cohesive, well-argued, and persuasive handbook that aims to help people “restore paradise.”

For Holzer, restoring the earth’s balance isn’t about economic development and squeezing a few more seasons out of an exhausted stretch of land. It’s about a long-term and beneficial view of the world as a resource. He encourages farmers to become rebels, gardeners to become advocates, and everyone to become more self-reliant and community-minded.

In a lively, accessible style, Holzer manages to address the issue of endangered landscapes while offering guidance to the home gardener and small-scale farmer. By blending big-picture thinking and achievable local-level results Holzer elevates his book far above a how-to or polemic. He seems the voice of reason in a world where a disconnect from nature is imperiling land, water, and people."


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.


Sepp Holzer's Permaculture

Sepp Holzer's Permaculture

By Sepp Holzer

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.

Available in: Paperback

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Sepp Holzer's Permaculture

Patrick Whitefield, Sepp Holzer, Anna Sapsford-Francis

Paperback $29.95


(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


The Organic Seed Grower

The Organic Seed Grower

By John Navazio

The Organic Seed Grower is a comprehensive manual for the serious vegetable grower who is interested in growing high-quality seeds using organic farming practices. It is written for both serious home seed savers and diversified small-scale farmers who want to learn the necessary steps involved in successfully producing a commercial seed crop organically.

Detailed profiles for each of the major vegetables provide users with practical, in-depth knowledge about growing, harvesting, and processing seed for a wide range of common and specialty vegetable crops, from Asian greens to zucchini.

In addition, readers will find extensive and critical information on topics including:

  • The reproductive biology of crop plants
  • Annual vs. biennial seed crops
  • Isolation distances needed to ensure varietal purity
  • Maintaining adequate population size for genetic integrity
  • Seed crop climates
  • Seed-borne diseases
  • Seed-cleaning basics
  • Seed storage for farmers
  • and more . . .

This book can serve as a bridge to lead skilled gardeners, who are already saving their own seed, into the idea of growing seed commercially. And for diversified vegetable farmers who are growing a seed crop for sale for the first time, it will provide details on many of the tricks of the trade that are used by professional seed growers. This manual will help the budding seed farmer to become more knowledgeable, efficient, and effective in producing a commercially viable seed crop.

With the strong demand for certified organic produce, many regional seed companies are increasingly seeking out dedicated seed growers to ensure a reliable source of organically grown seeds for their farmer and gardener customers. This trend represents a great business opportunity for small-scale commercial growers who wish to raise and sell vegetable seeds as a profitable part of their diversified small-farm operation. Written by well-known plant breeder and organic seed expert John Navazio, The Organic Seed Grower is the most up-to-date and useful guide to best practices in this exciting and important field.

Available in: Hardcover

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The Organic Seed Grower

John Navazio

Hardcover $49.95

The New Wildcrafted Cuisine

The New Wildcrafted Cuisine

By Pascal Baudar

With detailed recipes for ferments, infusions, spices, and other preparations

Wild foods are increasingly popular, as evidenced by the number of new books about identifying plants and foraging ingredients, as well as those written by chefs about culinary creations that incorporate wild ingredients (Noma, Faviken, Quay, Manreza, et al.). The New Wildcrafted Cuisine, however, goes well beyond both of these genres to deeply explore the flavors of local terroir, combining the research and knowledge of plants and landscape that chefs often lack with the fascinating and innovative techniques of a master food preserver and self-described “culinary alchemist.”

Author Pascal Baudar views his home terrain of southern California (mountain, desert, chaparral, and seashore) as a culinary playground, full of wild plants and other edible and delicious foods (even insects) that once were gathered and used by native peoples but that have only recently begun to be re-explored and appreciated.

For instance, he uses various barks to make smoked vinegars, and combines ants, plants, and insect sugar to brew primitive beers. Stems of aromatic plants are used to make skewers. Selected rocks become grinding stones, griddles, or plates. Even fallen leaves and other natural materials from the forest floor can be utilized to impart a truly local flavor to meats and vegetables, one that captures and expresses the essence of season and place.

This beautifully photographed book offers up dozens of creative recipes and instructions for preparing a pantry full of preserved foods, including Pickled Acorns, White Sage-Lime Cider, Wild Kimchi Spice, Currant Capers, Infused Salts with Wild Herbs, Pine Needles Vinegar, and many more. And though the author’s own palette of wild foods are mostly common to southern California, readers everywhere can apply Baudar’s deep foraging wisdom and experience to explore their own bioregions and find an astonishing array of plants and other materials that can be used in their own kitchens.

The New Wildcrafted Cuisine is an extraordinary book by a passionate and committed student of nature, one that will inspire both chefs and adventurous eaters to get creative with their own local landscapes.

Available in: Hardcover

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The New Wildcrafted Cuisine

Pascal Baudar

Hardcover $40.00

Angels by the River

Angels by the River

By James Gustave Speth

Angels by the River follows James Gustave Speth’s unlikely path—from a Southern boyhood to his career as an influential mainstream environmentalist to his current system-changing activism.

In this compelling memoir, Speth explores the issues, and realities, that have shaped the nation since the 1950s, and that turned an “ultimate insider” into someone willing to be arrested in front of the White House.

Born and raised in a town where both the best and worst of the South shone through—a town that eventually became the scene of South Carolina’s horrific Orangeburg Massacre—Speth explores how the civil rights movement and the South’s agrarian roots influenced his academic career at Yale and later work in the heyday of the environmental movement, when he helped launch two landmark and influential environmental groups—the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Resources Institute—advise the White House on climate and other emerging issues, and lead the UN’s development efforts around the globe.

Speth fought to create and uphold the nation’s toughest environmental laws, but now believes a new environmentalism is needed to confront today’s challenges. The advancing climate crisis cannot be addressed, he warns, as long as we remain fixated on endless growth and consumption, corporate profits, increasing the incomes of the well-to-do, neglecting those just getting by, and helping abroad only modestly.

An American tale, in all its complexity, Speth’s memoir is an inspiration—especially for readers contemplating how to make a difference in an increasingly complex world.

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback

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Angels by the River

James Gustave Speth

Hardcover $25.00

Scientists under Attack

Scientists under Attack

By Bertram Verhaag

When scientist Arpad Pusztai reported that genetically modified (GM) foods caused serious health problems in rats, he was a hero at his prestigious UK institute -- for two days. But after two phone calls (apparently) from the Prime Minister's office, he was fired, gagged, and mercilessly attacked. When UC Berkely professor Ignacio Chapela discovered GM corn contamination in Mexico, he too faced a firestorm of distortion and denial that left him struggling to salvage his career. Find out how the biotech industry "engineers" the truth and what they are trying to hide from you. By Bertram Verhaag, with bonus film: Monster Salmon.

Available in: DVD

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Scientists under Attack

Bertram Verhaag

DVD $19.95