Earth in Mind

IN THIS ISSUE JUNE/JULY 2009

Interview with Permaculture Farmer Sepp Holzer
Author: Heidi Smith
Photographer: Mark Frey

The normal temperature range for growing lemon trees is seventy to fifty-five degrees. Below fiftyfour degrees Fahrenheit they go into dormancy, which is why much of the world’s citrus is grown in sun belts like Florida and California. But although the average temperature at Sepp Holzer’s farm is 39.5 degrees (4.2 degrees Celsius), sometimes plunging to thirteen degrees below zero during the winter, his one hundred acre property known as the Krameterhof is home to 30,000 fruit trees, including many citrus.

Holzer farms in the Lungau region, which is commonly referred to as the Siberia of Austria. Through paying careful attention to the interaction of different species, he has developed a system that creates astonishing yields, allows for an incredible diversity of plant and animal life, and uses none of the toxic additives so prevalent in standard agriculture.

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Earth in Mind - Interview with Sepp Holzer

Growing up on his family farm, Sepp Holzer began experimenting with nature early, taking great joy in each sprout as it emerged from the soil and surreptitiously creating fish ponds where legally none were supposed to be. His academic studies eventually persuaded him to abandon his former methods, however, and adopt the contemporary approach of pruning, fertilizing and using pesticides. To his surprise, the same plants which had thrived under his care now began to die. It didn’t take long for him to conclude that modern theories about farming were wrong, on a colossal scale.

Rejecting the advice of teachers and local farmers, he resumed his intuitive experiments, using power of observation and experiential knowledge as key tools. He learned which plants naturally promote or inhibit each other, and discovered how to create microclimates by using large stones to trap heat and establishing terraces to reflect warmth back into the earth. His maverick approach drew frequent criticism from state and local authorities, and lawsuits, fines and charges of “forest desecration” followed, based in one case on his refusal to plant a monoculture of spruce trees in favor of maintaining the diversity of fruit and other trees. More often than not he won these battles and in the process has earned the nickname “The Agro Rebel.”

With the way nature is now, it’s like an open book. You can read everything there about what is coming to us. There are so many signs already, and you know when it will happen.

Today Holzer’s practices are supported by agricultural scientists, including internationally renowned biologist Bernd Lotsch, and he is in demand worldwide, conducting workshops in Costa Rica, Bosnia, Colombia, Thailand, America and Africa. He sees a growing hunger for the information he can provide, particularly in light of the growing food crisis. “In my opinion, cities especially are full of people seeking a way back to nature,” he says. “Every city dweller could produce a lot of his own fruit and vegetables like I once did as a little boy by planting them out in flowerboxes on the balcony, terrace or front yard.”

He talked with SuperConsciousness about the lessons of nature.


Earth in Mind - Interview with Sepp Holzer

SC: How is the way you see nature different from the views of those who support commercial agriculture?

SH: That kind of agriculture is an addiction for people who get money from some program that wants it to be done in a specific way. There’s an agenda. The farmer is given a particular way of dealing with the crops. Then he just does it that way and gets money from the government. That goes away from the natural thinking of observing nature. So a few people up there have the ability to control everything about the prices for the product. The teaching in the universities is very bad because the professors are already influenced. They are told what they have to teach.

SC: How do you see that relationship between mind and nature?

SH: It’s a constant communication with the animals, with the plants and with me. It’s total communication.

SC: How does that communication happen?

SH: Respect for nature is everything. Nothing is excluded. It’s a whole. The most important thing is you have to put yourself in the position of your opposite partner, the plant, animal, whatever. You are the plant, the fish as well as the human. If the earthworm feels well, that’s my main worker and I have healthy soil. If it doesn’t feel well, I have sick soil. I have sick plants, and this will come to the animals. If nothing is feeling well, the worm, the plant, the animal, then that sickness comes to the human. It all starts from the plants, the crops, the agriculture. I end up with a sick product and less crops.

For me it’s very clear that every entity has life, has consciousness. And all the time there is communication.

SC: Is it true that when you have a question about nature, you go to sleep and dream and you get your answer?

SH: If there is a problem in nature or some damage, first I try to get the reason. You have to get rid of all the junk in the brain and focus on that. Every human has a different way through nature. This is a sensibility which grows over time. There are different ways. Sometimes there’s a nearly full moon, or sometimes when I am walking, I talk with the tree. It just frees me. It’s like cleaning my mind. You have to look for a way to get rid of the problems, whether you lie down in the grass or put your mind into the water or a stone, you feel it.

Then you are free of that, and then you go to bed and sleep. What you haven’t realized while you were awake, it comes in the dream. Then you have to contemplate about it. It doesn’t take long; then you find a possible solution.

SC: You’ve referred to primeval grains, and an ancient Siberian corn grain in particular, as carrying energy and information. How does that relate to agriculture in general?

SH: If you make an experiment in plain soil, with a hybrid seed and the Siberian seed, I see that in the case of the hybrid seed, the corn doesn’t grow well. But the Siberian seed has lots of energy. It has a very high value. I can put it in plain soil as well. You don’t have to do anything, you just observe. After one week, ten days, suddenly it drills into the soil. There is the sprout and it grows into the soil. Just this observation should open many eyes.

SC: So the Siberian seed has more life force?

SH: More energy. That’s natural information. This hybrid seed is already stupid. It’s the same with plants, animals and humans. We are not an exception.

It’s like the chickens who are raised in a battery. If you put them outside, they would just die. It’s the same with humans. Outside, they don’t know anything. They would die. They become victims, and the big changes that are coming, they will experience them.

Everybody should know how to put a seed into the soil and how it grows so if there is suffering and emergency, you are able to keep it. You should know the ABCs from nature.

SC: You were talking about the energy in the seed. How do you see that relationship with the food that we eat?

SH: What I see here is that most things to eat are not real food. It’s just stomachfilling food. There is no information and no energy. Living food is only possible through diversity of plants. Then there is energy and the information in the food. Then the food will be your medicine.

SC: How important is it to put your mind on your food or your garden?

SH: For me it’s very clear that every entity has life, has consciousness. And all the time there is communication. I use healthy soil for healing things. I drink it with water. I eat uncooked plants from the pasture. You have to know, and still be natural. Not normal, but natural. Normality has become stupidity. Many have lost the natural way of thinking.

SC: For many people, the idea of growing your own food seems expensive or like it takes a lot of effort. What would you tell people?

SH: Children have to educate the adults. Children are free. They can take knowledge. They don’t have minds that are already closed. They experience the natural connection and cycles. Most adults have programming and it’s difficult for them to delete old information. That means even if they try at first to say yes, they go easily back to their old opinion. They have to delete the nonsense first for natural thinking to have its place.

Earth in Mind - Interview with Sepp Holzer

It’s important to start first with the children. I’ve had big success with the handicapped and with children. I have several projects with the handicapped, and it’s amazing how fast they learn it and how much joy they have. When the parents see the success they wonder, what’s happening here? Then some ideas come. That’s just natural energy. The joy of success activates your own energy and joy of life. That’s the real miracle. The opposite is to tell somebody what they have to do. That’s suffering.

SC: You said it’s very important for people to have the experience themselves.

SH: That’s the main thing. Everybody should know how to put a seed into the soil and how it grows so if there is suffering and emergency, you are able to keep it. You should know the ABCs from nature. Everywhere I go, I’m able to survive, to live. A small place, soil, my knowledge – this gives me security. If I am not able to do this, I am isolated. I am addicted to need.

That’s the reason I have fifty apprenticeships. I have groups of students in Portugal and we are now planning an educational program for America.

Respect for nature is everything. The most important thing is you have to put yourself in the position of your opposite partner, the plant, animal, whatever.

SC: So if you know these things, you are not fearful.

SH: You lose the fear. Fear you get from outside. With the way nature is now, it’s like an open book. You can read everything there about what is coming to us. There are so many signs already, and you know when it will happen. Whether it’s raising the temperature on the planet, deserts growing, not having enough water, the damage of nature with the soil and different species is coming because of this major agriculture. It’s catastrophic. You have to realize it and act. You know it already, because you see it in nature. Nothing can surprise you.

Many thanks to Mathilda Rieger, who acted as interpreter for this interview. For more information about Sepp Holzer and his workshops visit www.krameterjof.at/en/ An English translation of his book The Rebel Farmer is currently available.

Related Multimedia:

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