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.
How to turn desert into paradise
Permaculture teaches us how to manage water in a smart and natural way in order to stop desertification
It was 2011 when I decided to visit Krametherof, in Longau region, Austria. I’d been astonished by the vision of a documentary about Sepp Holzer, the rebel farmer that transformed his family land into a natural paradise. He has constructed an impressive system of 80 lakes and terraces on a steep piece of land between 1100 and 1500 m.a.s.l.
A permaculture Garden of Eden
The story of Charles, Perrine and their farm
Miraculous Abundance it’s not only the English title of the book published in 2014 by the French couple Perrine and Charles Hervé-Gruyer, but it’s also the perfect summary of the results of their project and the message they want to send with passion to all of us and to all future generations of farmers. Charles and Perrine’s story is heart-warming and it provides inspiration to those who look for a change and hope to those who see ahead an ever greyer future. But who are Charles and Perrine? And what did they do so special?
SILENT RETREAT: the magic of silence
During our trip to Bali, we found ourselves with a colourful leaflet in our hands describing this place with organic food, yoga and meditation classes, rice fields and jungle…exactly what we were looking for, even though the name suggested even more.
As soon as we got there, they greeted us at a certain distance from the main building and they explained us how everything works during your staying at Silent Retreat. There is only one rule: KEEP SILENT!