Biointensive gardening at La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza
Since 2016 at La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza we have cultivated vegetables for the agritourism, direct sales and the Macrolibrarsi Store in Cesena, by following the principles of biointensive gardening. Biointensive gardening is a method for cultivating organically (it actually goes beyond the standard definition of organic) and, as the word suggests, it’s also “intensive”, because it reproduces the diversity and density of virgin forests. It’s also referred to as “market garden”.
We use no artificial fertilizer and the only treatment for parasites is prevention. By increasing biodiversity and soil quality, we invite beneficial microorganisms to thrive and take control over our soil, which, as a result, will create a dynamic harmony with plants. Healthy plants on a healthy soil and in a healthy environment simply don’t get sick.
Permaculture: where are we in Italy
By Elena Parmiggiani
Many are the small and big organisations that apply and communicate this method and the values that it shares.
Several months have passed since my latest interview to Massimo Candela (October 2014), president of the Italian Academy of Permaculture (Accademia Italiana di Permacultura), in which we discussed the most interesting organizations in Italy. Let’s see how the situation has evolved.
There at least 3 associations at national level that deal with permaculture:
- The Italian Academy of Permaculture (permacultura.it), established thanks to the British Permaculture Academy founded by Andy Lagford (now co-founder of Gaia University) and Richard Wade, who assists and organises the Italian course and sets up networks at national and international level among students, apprentices and graduated people;
- The Italian Institute of Permaculture (Istituto Italiano di Permacultura) founded by Pietro Zucchetti, that organises permaculture courses;
- The World Permaculture Association, promoted by Giuseppe Tallarico and established through the direct cooperation with the Australian Permaculture Research Institute. It offers courses with international professionals such as Rhamis Kent (PRI AU), John D. Liu (Chinese documentarian) and its aim is promoting and spreading food production by following permaculture principles.
Why does Macrolibrarsi invest in local economy and self-sufficiency?
What we buy and where we buy it can make a large-scale impact; therefore, we chose to support ethical and local projects
Nowadays economy is much stronger than politics, which most of the time is subject to economy’s interests. It’s clear that our real vote is represented by the purchases and the investments that we make, and not by a political vote. Moreover, politics itself is subject to the interests of multinational corporations, banks and large financial groups.
We can decide to invest in the local market, increasing the wealth of the place we live; or we can decide to buy and invest in multinational corporations, making the Stock Market rich along with few super-rich people with offshore bank accounts. When we buy at supermarkets we support urban concreting, waste production and few people’s wealth. Otherwise, when we buy in a local market we promote local farmers, reduce transportations and consumption.
Examples involve all aspects of our life, the way we spend money defines the future we want. If all of this applies for people, it’s even more important for companies, which have a greater economic power.
An ever-living fire
How we designed and built the original storage heating stove at La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza
“It’s warm even when it’s turned off”. This was one of the first comments received when the construction was completed. The original storage heating stove that you can see in these pictures is part of the renovation works carried out at La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza by following green building principles.
The first thing that catches attention is the unusual double-flame shape that we wanted expressly as a symbol of La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza.
Bill Mollison: the revolution disguised as gardening
by Elena Parmiggiani
In memory of the man who conceived new ecosystems connected to permaculture and changed the way of thinking of millions of people.
On September 24th 2016, Bill Mollison, co-founder of permaculture, passed away in Hobart, Tasmania (AU). I was so lucky to meet him in person in 2010, when I attended his course on Permaculture Design in Istanbul, Turkey, along with Geoff Lawton. That was one of the last courses he held entirely by himself. During that permaculture course, I learned few important things that I will always bring with me. I’d like to share them with you because Mollison would have wanted to be known by anyone. During his life he followed many projects, he taught at University (even though he claimed it was fossilized and harmful), he influenced many people with his ecosystemic vision tightly connected to natural models and he brought to light for all of a us a new model of thinking and living.
Let’s learn from trees to be better people
di Melania Tizzi per La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza.
The seminar held by Peter Wohlleben at La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza allowed us to take a closer look at the extraordinary organisation of the vegetal world.
In September 2016, La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza hosted a very unique seminar held by a speaker whose CV wouldn’t let people think to be in the presence of a superstar of international educational literature.
Peter Wohlleben, author of the book The Hidden Life of Trees, served for more than 20 years as wood ranger in Germany and today, after quitting the job for putting in practice his ecological ideas, he manages an environmental forestry company in the Eifel region in Germany, where he helps forests to return to old-growth conditions.
Integrating and valuing margins
Relationship as key element in Permaculture design.
Permaculture was conceived as a design system that integrates harmoniously men and environment: home, food, natural resources, human and social relationships.
The aim is to design long-lasting settlements that mimic natural ecosystems by recognising and harmonising the different components of the landscape (morphology, climate, land, water, vegetation, animals) and developing relationships of mutual support among the elements in the environment and people’s needs.
Biochar: a resource for a more sustainable agriculture
Biochar is charcoal made from wood or biomass via pyrolysis, a process in which the thermal decomposition of organic materials takes place without involving the addition of other reagents such as oxygen. In few words, heat is provided to the organic materials in an inert atmosphere in order to create the energy necessary for breaking some chemical bonds within complex molecules and convert them into simpler ones. The result is biochar, a charcoal whose carbon content is up to 90% and whose compact structure make it non-biodegradable by soil
microorganisms. For this reason, biochar can stock carbon instead of releasing it into the atmosphere as CO2.
KRAMETERHOF: learning from the rebellious farmer
We couldn’t avoid visiting it! Our ultimate model: Sepp Holzer’s Krameterhof.
The Krameterhof is located on the southern slope of the Schwarzenberg-mountain in Lungau, federal state of Salzburg. This mountain farm covers 45 hectares (111 acres), and is located between 1100 and 1500 meters above sea level.
ANANDA – Assisi
Ananda is a spiritual retreat located on the beautiful Umbrian hills, near Assisi, the city of Saint Francis. The Ananda Centre offers hospitality and many programs based on the principles of Kriya Yoga and Self-realization, which were brought to the Western world by Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi. His direct disciple Swami Kriyananda (1926 – 2013), the founder of Ananda communities in the United States, Europe and India, has continued to develop and spread these universal and practical teachings around the world.
As we usually do when we visit this kind of places, we try to get the most of what they offer: their philosophy, their food, the environment, the buildings where daily activities are carried out and the spirit of the people that make these places so special!
To us Ananda was really enlightening.