Happy degrowth and self-production: a desirable choice
by Lucia Cuffaro, vice president of the Italian Happy Degrowth Movement.
“Growth, development and social progress. Does the GDP measure everything?”, this was the title of one of the essays to be written during the 2016 Italian matriculation exam.
The Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research made a reference to the famous speech that senator Robert Kennedy held at Kansas University in 1968 in which he highlighted the unsuitability of using GDP as indicator of a state’s wealth:
“Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”
La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza: a permaculture farm and agritourism in Italy
In 2009 we decided to purchase 68 hectares of land in the Apennines, on the edge of the National Park of the Casentino Forests. The land had been abandoned for more than 10 years because considered to be not attractive for modern agriculture. In the family we are all experts on books, but no one knew the agriculture world. Anyway we decided to project a farm that can be self-sufficient in terms of food and energy with the aim to make it become a model for a new sustainable world.
Sustainability is the key word
For starting and managing the Farm we decided to follow the permaculture approach, whose main purpose is designing and organising human instalments that can be sustainable in the long term. In order to achieve that, permaculture is inspired by Nature’s principles and natural systems that have been developing on the planet over thousands of years.
EARTHSHIP: self-sufficient living at La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza – Italy
Beside being the primary element for farming activities, synergistic vegetable gardens, animals and the Farm’s life in general, the earth is also used as an element for constructing particular natural buildings and architectural structures.
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.