Author: Sonia Collinelli

Water in Permaculture

Strategies for a water-rich soil

Water covers 70% of our planet, even though we can only use a minimum part of it, since 97% of water is salted. ¾ of the 3% of fresh water are in the form of ice and 50% of the remaining water is around 700 m under the ground, enclosed in rocks and not usable. Overall, fresh water available in lakes, rivers, groundwater layers and the atmosphere represents only 0,375% of total water.

EXPERIMENTS AT THE FARM: growing potatoes

During the course on How to create an eco-friendly vegetable garden with Sergio Abram (April 2011) we decided to spare 3 vegetable beds for growing potatoes (Kennebeq variety).

After preparing the ground and building the bed, we planted the potatoes and covered them with a little of straw. Potatoes don’t need to be covered with ground, instead they need darkness. The distance among potatoes was 40-50 cm and the bed had an irrigation system that provides water during the whole growing phase. Potatoes don’t need any care, or at least that’s what we thought.


We cannot talk about synergistic agriculture without speaking of its inventor, the Spanish permaculturist Emilia Hazelip (1937 – 2003) who developed and then spread this farming method that is inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s Natural Farming and Bill Mollison’s Permaculture.
The principles of Permaculture that Emilia most endorsed are living without destroying and the production of better food with the least energy and fuel consumption.
On the other hand, Fukuoka’s work was the demonstration that working the ground is not necessary. By constantly keeping the natural fertility of the soil we can get long-lasting results and a good quality production.


After almost three years spent reorganizing the fields, terracing, creating vegetable gardens, building dry walls, fences, a water supply system, laying underground electric and telephone cables and planting ancient fruit trees, in 2014 we finally started the first renovation works of the historical building “Caselle di Paganico” in line with the pillars of the whole project. 


From July 11th to 13th 2015 the Farm hosted a course on self-construction of solar panels. The expert Luigi Lisi taught participants the theory and practice for the construction of a solar panel by using recyclable materials and purchased solar cells. Luigi also provided examples on how to turn a house or another project self-sufficient in terms of energy production.
We took advantage of this happy occasion to ask Luigi few questions.