“The Agro Rebel – Permakultur in the Salzburger Alps” documentary and local organic dinner
The Agro Rebel – Permaculture in the Salzburger Alps
A film by Bertram Verhaag
“In the southernmost tip of Salzburg Land – in Lungau, the “Siberia“ of Austria – Sepp Holzer, farmer and forester, does farming of a different kind on his mountain property.
Contrary to all conventional rules – and despite annual average temperatures of 4.5 °C and an altitude of between 900m – 1400m – he has created an edible, paradisiacal landscape and caused quite a stir in so doing. In forty years of observing nature, of unrelenting joyful experimentation and fighting government agencies, he has succeeded in convincing his opponents of his way of farming, which means adhering to the laws of nature. Holzer states: “Variety instead of uniformity, for all plants and animals have a meaningful function“. He completely refrains from using pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers. Sepp Holzer’s golden rule for achieving success in farming and the basic principles of permaculture: “Cooperate with nature instead of fighting it. Observe nature to determine which plants support one another.“
Since 1962 when he took over his father’s farm at the age of 19, Sepp Holzer and his wife have operated a perfectly functioning permaculture system without ever having heard the term “permaculture“ before.
Laid out in terraces, similar to rice fields in Asia, his 46-hectare farm greatly differs from the surrounding pine monocultures. Many things grow here not thought possible at an altitude of 1400m, ranging from cherries, apples, mushrooms and kiwis to lemons, pumpkins, potatoes and zucchinis. Nature is sprouting and thriving everywhere, along the paths, on the terraces, in the woods, on extremely steep inclines and even on rocky ground. Within the mixed cultivation there are ca. 45 water gardens, humid biotopes, ponds and three mountain lakes. It is here that the organic farmer breeds rare fish, toads, crustaceans and aquatic plants. His pigs plough the earth, harrow and fertilise it, and plants supply each other with moisture, nitrogen and fertiliser. In this way, Sepp Holzer has less work and more time to elucidate his mixed cultivation to interested visitors from all over the world.”