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.
Is Self-Sufficiency scary?
Let’s increase our understanding of sustainability
On August 10th 2010, TIME magazine ran a cover story entitled: “The Best Laws Money Can Buy”. Unfortunately, reality is much worse, money doesn’t only control the law-making power, but also information and education.
Nowadays power is no longer wielded with evident violence as it used to happen in the past, but in a much more underhand manner. They make us believe we are free citizens, when they actually control and influence us since the very first years of school: “through information and education it’s possible to manipulate people to such an extent to make them perceive a suicide or a murder as something noble”. In less-extreme cases, information and education don’t aim to such serious acts, instead they are intended to keep people in a constant agony. People who are chronically sick, dissatisfied with life, individualist and obedient, even to despotic orders, are the standard people who surround us, even though these conditions should not be part of the human nature.
While I was looking for farms that cultivate flax seeds and sunflower seeds in Italy, I found their website, which I showed to Francesco right away. Less than a week after, we were going to visit them and, as usual, get some inspiration for La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza.
Like all people who live in contact with nature and care about both the environment and people’s wellbeing, since the beginning Alfredo and his family have proved to be kind, welcoming and full of love and passion for what they do every day.
THE IMPORTANCE OF WATER in Permaculture and not only…
The example of Sepp Holzer, the man who has built a system of 60 small lakes in his farm on the Alps.
Water is vital, water is life, in fact it’s the key for the humankind survival on this planet. Especially today that water resources are becoming scarce, it’s important to know how to use them wisely and learn how to save such resources.
For this reason, water is one of permaculture’s main subject according to the vision of Sepp Holzer, the rebel farmer from Austria who turned his farm, in the heart of the Alps, into an example of agriculture in harmony with nature.
Sepp Holzer’s small lakes in the Alps
TORRI SUPERIORE, the medieval ecovillage
During the XX century, the medieval ecovillage Torri Superiore was gradually abandoned by all the citizens, falling into decline and becoming a ghost village. Its beautiful towers and terraces were completely deserted and in ruin.
The Cultural Association Torri Superiore, was established in 1989 just with the social purpose of restoring and repopulating this village, creating a resident community, an ecovillage and a cultural centre open to public. Today the Association counts around 30 members, both residents and not and it abide by the principles of sustainability, cooperation and solidarity. It doesn’t have any political, ideological or religious affiliation.