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Doubts about Holzer?  RSS feed

 
Patrick Mann
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What are people's thoughts on this site?
It looks like some of his teachings should at least be taken with a grain of salt.
 
tel jetson
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Patrick Mann wrote:What are people's thoughts on this site?


my thoughts are that I wish I could read German.
 
Patrick Mann
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In short, the site makes strong claims that Holzer does not practise what he preaches. And that his ideas do not hold up in the real world. It's very well documented, so I find it hard to dismiss.

That doesn't mean Holzer permaculture doesn't have a lot to contribute to the permaculture discussion. But I do see a tendency to take his every word as gospel without subjecting it to any critical review.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Specifically what does he claim to do that he does not actually do?

 
Dale Hodgins
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The link led to an all German site. Most of us Don't read German. Seems quite compelling.

I'm all for raking everybody over the coals, but since I believe that English is the natural language of the human being, I'd like to converse in English.
 
Matt Walker
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You can use google translator to read the pages there. It's pretty easy, I just copy sections and paste them into the window.

 
Austin Max
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Just paste the URL into google and search it, then click "translate page" when the result comes up. So what exactly happened here? sepp holzer planted this persons land and everything died? I'm still slightly puzzled on the details....
 
Burra Maluca
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Here's a link to the translated page.

Call my cynical but it seems like a way to get you to buy her book about how terrible Sepp is. I suspect that without buying the book, you won't be able to find out what she's on about, but she seems to blame him for building a water retention pond that didn't work out, and for planting trees that died. In my experience, planting them is the easy bit - it's keeping them watered for the first couple of summers that's the tricky bit until they find their feet.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Wow, Sepp isn't All Perfect? Merely a human being? Has failings like the rest of us? I'm shocked and dismayed!

But really, someone wrote an entire book about how awful Sepp is?
 
Burra Maluca
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And not only that, he had the audacity to plant dirndl, also known as cornelian cherry which was totally unsuitable for use near children as it used for making brandy. How terrible.
 
tel jetson
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gets a big "meh" from me. I'm not really a fan of hero worship to begin with, and the opposite doesn't seem that much different. I wasn't ever tempted to hire Mr. Holzer, and I'm no less tempted now.
 
Levente Andras
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The website documents the "before" and "after" with photos, and sadly, it does look like a dog's dinner...

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jena-hof.at%2Fneu%2Fcontent.php%3Fop%3Dnews%26m1%3D1%26m2%3D4%26m3%3D2%26kz%3D78%26name%3DSo%2520nicht!%26modul%3D%26menue%3D16%26sub1%3D78%26lg1%3D

According to the allegations, Mr Holzer was careless and unprofessional, overpromised, and even went against his own design principles (the ones explained in his book).

The author of the book & website (Ms Barrada) sounds very bitter and angry. The fact that she has spent all this time and energy to denigrate Mr Holzer, should make us think... At first sight at least, something went very, very wrong

L_

 
Burra Maluca
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Maybe the lesson we should learn from it all is that if we have a dream, it is up to us to follow that dream ourselves, not indulge in hero-worship and pay other people to fulfill our dreams for us. Learn from Sepp, study his works, then work to make your own dream come true.
 
Fred Morgan
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Agreed, I have enjoyed learning about sepp holzer and seeing what he did. But, the fun is in the doing. Another thing that we don't know, did the person realize these systems do need some care? Entropy is out to get you, especially when you change anything to do with land.
 
Kay Bee
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I have a hard time imagining who would be interested to read a book entitled "Bitter Harvest", but to each their own... No way for any of us to know what really happened in this scenario, and isn't really anyone else's business.

Working with slopes is tricky and there are many ways for it to go wrong. I would think that understanding (on both sides of the client/consultant relationship) would be part of the risk assessment before starting any project.

 
Levente Andras
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Kay Bee wrote:I have a hard time imagining who would be interested to read a book entitled "Bitter Harvest", but to each their own... No way for any of us to know what really happened in this scenario, and isn't really anyone else's business.

Working with slopes is tricky and there are many ways for it to go wrong. I would think that understanding (on both sides of the client/consultant relationship) would be part of the risk assessment before starting any project.



Personally I wouldn't buy the book, but I would happily borrow it from a library ! (BTW, I bought Holzer's two books...)

Obviously the author had a big chip in her shoulder. "Bitter" is a key word here...

I think in a way it could be interesting to get to the bottom of this whole story, if one had the time and energy... Serious allegations are made about sepp holzer, whose ideas many of us have bought into. If things went wrong as alleged, it may be interesting to know how and why. Was it because of bad design / planning? Or was it because the implementation went wrong? And if so, whose fault was it? (it may be because the client disregarded some of Holzer's recommendations, but I guess the book probably won't tell you that)

...Aside from the alleged mishandling of the landscaping project, if I understood correctly, the author suggests that Holzer was unprofessional in financial matters as well... when such allegations are made, they tend to reflect badly on a person's moral standing... and THAT is extremely serious, in my view. Hence I wouldn't say that "this isn't anyone else's busines" - on the contrary. The permaculture community should not dismiss this as attempt at defamation, but rather take a closer look at the case.

L_
 
Terri Matthews
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After care DOES matter!

I have carried water when the rains did not come. It is what a person does UNTIL the plants are established! You cannot chop off half of a root system and then ignore them if it does not rain!

Oh, yes.

Just because one form of agriculture works in one climate does not mean that it will work in another.Fukuoka's seed balls, for instance, failed in my climate: the young plants looked like they were not getting enough water. The seeds that I planted conventionally did very well. So, while I am still interested in such things, I try them out on a small scale and either it works or it doesn't.

The plums that I planted at the edge of an open space are doing very well, and while the nitrogen fixing plants I seeded all failed, there is a nitrogen fixing wild flower that is doing really VERY well. So, I have a plum and wildflower guild instead of the clover and buckwheat combination that I first tried. Fukuoka did well with both clover AND buckwheat but he was in a different climate: my land wants to grow plums and wild flowers and I have come to accept it!

Sometimes the basic theory is good but there might be enough of a difference in climate so that changes need to be made.
 
Victor Johanson
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Wonder if the sewage sludge allegation is true. That would seem to fly in the face of his stated principles.
 
Allan Laal
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I just read Holzers Permaculture book and it left me with a strong image that you just let nature take care of the plants after they are planted or seeded - i.e. no watering, no meddling, no weeding, maybe a bit of mulching

I have to plant 1000 conifers as a windbreak all over my plot and cant imagine myself hauling water for them every ? days - some of them are 300 meters away and the whole watering trip would be 1000 meters every time (thats about 1 mile).
 
Terri Matthews
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Allan Laal wrote:I just read Holzers Permaculture book and it left me with a strong image that you just let nature take care of the plants after they are planted or seeded - i.e. no watering, no meddling, no weeding, maybe a bit of mulching

I have to plant 1000 conifers as a windbreak all over my plot and cant imagine myself hauling water for them every ? days - some of them are 300 meters away and the whole watering trip would be 1000 meters every time (thats about 1 mile).
When you have planted a tree you are planting something with a damaged root system. So, I planted in the cool of the spring and *IF* we did not get an inch of rain a week I took water out in jugs. That did not happen very often, and after perhaps 6 weeks I stopped worrying about it.

Far that matter, do you have a pick up you can drive out to the trees if you do not get an inch of rain in a weeks time? That is what I did, and then I just had to pour water fromt he jugs in the pickup.

I ALSO cannot imagine pouring water on 1000 seedlings! But, i think that Fukuoka was right when he said that if you alter a tree, then it might need further care from you until it recovers. He kind of waffled on THAT subject! But, when you plant those little trees the roots will be somewhat damaged, and if it does not rain then the seedling might die. Fortunately, where I live, we get spring rains so I only had to haul water a couple of times!

I have not, alas, read that book by Holzer yet so I cannot discuss the book with you! But, all 50 of my trees lived. I will never have to water them again, though. Once they had the chance to grow new roots it is no longer needed: they have recovered from being transplanted.
 
Allan Laal
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Terri Matthews wrote:When you have planted a tree you are planting something with a damaged root system. So, I planted in the cool of the spring and *IF* we did not get an inch of rain a week I took water out in jugs. That did not happen very often, and after perhaps 6 weeks I stopped worrying about it.


Is that true even if the plant was raised in a pot in a plantation?

Terri Matthews wrote:
Far that matter, do you have a pick up you can drive out to the trees if you do not get an inch of rain in a weeks time? That is what I did, and then I just had to pour water fromt he jugs in the pickup.

I ALSO cannot imagine pouring water on 1000 seedlings! But, i think that Fukuoka was right when he said that if you alter a tree, then it might need further care from you until it recovers. He kind of waffled on THAT subject! But, when you plant those little trees the roots will be somewhat damaged, and if it does not rain then the seedling might die. Fortunately, where I live, we get spring rains so I only had to haul water a couple of times!

I have not, alas, read that book by Holzer yet so I cannot discuss the book with you! But, all 50 of my trees lived. I will never have to water them again, though.


We usually do have wet springs and I'm planning on doing the planting right after the last snow melts - Im willing to take the risk of below-freezing temperatures, whatever the risks are.

I do have an ATV, but 1000 seedlings 40-60cm tall would probably require tons of water each run. Im having nightmares over watering them.
 
Terri Matthews
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I don't know: I haven't planted a tree from a pot in 20 years: out here everything is bare root! You tell me: if you did NOT plant it, how many days before you would have to water the pot? Because until some roots grow into the surrounding soil, that is all the water that they will have.

If it rains, it is gold. If not, how many days before the soil in a pot is dry?

If I were you, I would plant freshly watered trees right before rain is expected. And then hope it rains again in 1 weeks time.
 
Michael Radelut
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The lady actually got another permaculture designer to have a look at the site; here's the translated page:

http://translate.google.de/translate?sl=de&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=de&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jena-hof.at%2Fneu%2Fcontent.php%3Fop%3Dnews%26id%3D40%26kz%3D40%26m1%3D1%26m2%3D4%26m3%3D2%26modul%3Dnews%26name%3DStellungnahme%2520Kayser%26menue%3D38%26sub1%3D40%26lg1%3D

(According to his website, he's stopped using the term 'permaculture' in his work in the meantime, but still has links to several permaculture websites.)
 
Allan Laal
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the machine translation is pretty bad, but I understand its attacking not pruning trees in this section:

The total elimination of inferior fruit trees cutting measures in its own way to higher earnings kenesweg. It is in these representations more a marketing ploy, the lack of knowledge exploited as a reliable farming method.


Someone who knows german should read the whole thing and give us a short summary. Any volunteers?
 
Kay Bee
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Levente Andras wrote:
And if so, whose fault was it? (it may be because the client disregarded some of Holzer's recommendations, but I guess the book probably won't tell you that)

...Aside from the alleged mishandling of the landscaping project, if I understood correctly, the author suggests that Holzer was unprofessional in financial matters as well... when such allegations are made, they tend to reflect badly on a person's moral standing... and THAT is extremely serious, in my view. Hence I wouldn't say that "this isn't anyone else's busines" - on the contrary. The permaculture community should not dismiss this as attempt at defamation, but rather take a closer look at the case.

L_

My thought is just that it will be very hard to get any idea of the real back-story. The current unfortunate situation can be assessed, but beyond that, good luck!

All of Sepp's work is interesting, but largely academic for others. Unless you are the one hiring him to work on your own property, the responsibility lies within ourselves to evaluate concepts, try methods and manage risk.
 
Michael Radelut
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Allan Laal wrote:
The total elimination of inferior fruit trees cutting measures in its own way to higher earnings kenesweg. It is in these representations more a marketing ploy, the lack of knowledge exploited as a reliable farming method.


Someone who knows german should read the whole thing and give us a short summary. Any volunteers?


The quoted passage reads: The total elimination of any cutting measures to fruit trees of inferior quality does in no way lead to higher earnings.
The 'lack of knowledge' mentioned in the second sentence refers to the client, the 'marketing ploy' to sepp holzer's approach.

 
maikeru sumi-e
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Sorry to hear that she had a bad experience with him. Appreciate sepp holzer and his ideas much, and I think he is a genius, though I think some of what Mr. Holzer teaches is good for his conditions and place in Austria. People need to keep in mind that he gives guidelines and he has a certain philosophy and approach to things, and maybe they need to keep in mind whether it's appropriate for their land, climate, and way of doing things.
 
paul wheaton
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My gut reaction is that monsanto paid the woman $200,000 to do this. I smell a setup.


 
tel jetson
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paul wheaton wrote:My gut reaction is that monsanto paid the woman $200,000 to do this. I smell a setup.


I would expect a much better website for my $200,000.
 
Phil Hawkins
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I am reminded of the story that Paul has told a couple of times about the town in Australia that hates Bill Mollison because of the Honey/black locust invasion he caused by trying to help them.

I'm sure they could put a website together much like this one, and that wouldn't cause me to doubt the value of Mollison's work. It would remind me that Mollison (and Holzer) are humans with great ideas, not gods of infallible truth.
 
wayne stephen
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This critique of Holzer reminds me of the criticism of Dylan in the 60's when he went electric - people with small minds trying to box in what is "real folk music ".Permaculture is a broad term - and concept , at least to me , but I am a neophyte. If only half of what is attempted works , the mistakes are at least compostable.When I drive past my neighbors fields and watch them disking in round-up dessicated vegatation into the shrinking topsoil , I think "Why bother ".
If we deify humans we will always be disappointed. Some humans are giants though , and we stand on their shoulders.At the end of this summer I am going to plant winter cover crop on 1000 sq ft section of sod , in febuary cover with straw mulch , throw Holzer style seed mix of herbs and chicken forages - maybe in seed balls and hope to come up with a Skeeter style mishmosh and then plant a orchard guild on the slope right above that. I am grasping at what these others have accomplished and having fun.
 
Fred Morgan
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I have been pretty successful inter-cropping acacia with native trees. I have no issue at all if someone wants to see what I have done, and imitate it. They may succeed, they may not.

Nature isn't like writing software. There are so many factors no one can predict all the possible outcomes. Isn't this what people have learned about guilds? There isn't one way to do much of anything, but there are wrong ways.

I spend most of my time just sitting back, watching the show nature puts on, and then, gently introducing something. One thing that Holzer does that scares me is how much moving of land. The reason is that here, in Costa Rica, we are incredibly young land, and most of it is ancient mud slides (if you have good soil) from volcanoes. You do earth moving at your own risk. We are also the land of earthquakes. In eight years, I have lost count how many I have felt, which of course doesn't count the constant mini-quakes.

Just imagine what would happen if I took out my dozer and backhoe and started doing what Sepp does. But, it would be my fault, not his. Then again, I doubt he would be able to grow mahogany by planting bananas first.
 
Michael Radelut
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Fred MorganOne thing that Holzer does that scares me is how much moving of land. The reason is that here, in Costa Rica, we are incredibly young land, and most of it is ancient mud slides (if you have good soil) from volcanoes. [/quote wrote:

Well, that's exactly what happened to the woman after sepp holzer's earthworks were completed: A landslide.

She may have had some rather curious assumptions about how much work her property would require on a regular basis,
but causing a landslide because the grading was wrong for the kind of soil it was, and the vegetation couldn't stabilize it is
something she simply will have had to trust his expertise to prevent.
 
Terri Matthews
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Yes, if the work was done properly a landslide should not have occured.

My own land is cconsidered to be easily erodable, but I know that I do not know enough. If I were to terrace it I would do one small area, let the grass grow enough to stabilize it, and then terrace a little more. An expert should know enough to do it all at once, and if a mudslide was what happened then I would be upset also!

 
We should throw him a surprise party. It will cheer him up. We can use this tiny ad:
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