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.
THE USE OF SWALES IN PERMACULTURE
The concept of swale has very ancient origins. In Italy they were used in agriculture also by Etruscans and Romans.
Nowadays swales are are known only by niche or permaculture experts, thanks to whom swales have been reintroduced in Italy in recent years.
A LITTLE INTRODUCTION TO PERMACULTURE
Permaculture is a series of techniques that allow us to design and create long-lasting sustainable human settlements.
This approach gives us the chance to turn problems into solutions and see the world through new eyes.
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.
Interview to Francesco Rosso by Sepp Holzer
Sepp Holzer has become famous as the “rebel farmer”. He is a pioneer of the concept of permaculture and he has demonstrated a total commitment in this method of farming. He has a 40-year experience in alternative farming by trying out a lot of different techniques and for this reason he is now the most famous expert of permaculture in Europe.
Sepp Holzer carries out successful permaculture projects all over the world, both in small and big farms and regardless of the climatic conditions, from the desert to Siberia.
Biointensive gardening at La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza
Since 2016 at La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza we have cultivated vegetables for the agritourism, direct sales and the Macrolibrarsi Store in Cesena, by following the principles of biointensive gardening. Biointensive gardening is a method for cultivating organically (it actually goes beyond the standard definition of organic) and, as the word suggests, it’s also “intensive”, because it reproduces the diversity and density of virgin forests. It’s also referred to as “market garden”.
We use no artificial fertilizer and the only treatment for parasites is prevention. By increasing biodiversity and soil quality, we invite beneficial microorganisms to thrive and take control over our soil, which, as a result, will create a dynamic harmony with plants. Healthy plants on a healthy soil and in a healthy environment simply don’t get sick.
Permaculture: where are we in Italy
By Elena Parmiggiani
Many are the small and big organisations that apply and communicate this method and the values that it shares.
Several months have passed since my latest interview to Massimo Candela (October 2014), president of the Italian Academy of Permaculture (Accademia Italiana di Permacultura), in which we discussed the most interesting organizations in Italy. Let’s see how the situation has evolved.
There at least 3 associations at national level that deal with permaculture:
- The Italian Academy of Permaculture (permacultura.it), established thanks to the British Permaculture Academy founded by Andy Lagford (now co-founder of Gaia University) and Richard Wade, who assists and organises the Italian course and sets up networks at national and international level among students, apprentices and graduated people;
- The Italian Institute of Permaculture (Istituto Italiano di Permacultura) founded by Pietro Zucchetti, that organises permaculture courses;
- The World Permaculture Association, promoted by Giuseppe Tallarico and established through the direct cooperation with the Australian Permaculture Research Institute. It offers courses with international professionals such as Rhamis Kent (PRI AU), John D. Liu (Chinese documentarian) and its aim is promoting and spreading food production by following permaculture principles.
Bill Mollison: the revolution disguised as gardening
by Elena Parmiggiani
In memory of the man who conceived new ecosystems connected to permaculture and changed the way of thinking of millions of people.
On September 24th 2016, Bill Mollison, co-founder of permaculture, passed away in Hobart, Tasmania (AU). I was so lucky to meet him in person in 2010, when I attended his course on Permaculture Design in Istanbul, Turkey, along with Geoff Lawton. That was one of the last courses he held entirely by himself. During that permaculture course, I learned few important things that I will always bring with me. I’d like to share them with you because Mollison would have wanted to be known by anyone. During his life he followed many projects, he taught at University (even though he claimed it was fossilized and harmful), he influenced many people with his ecosystemic vision tightly connected to natural models and he brought to light for all of a us a new model of thinking and living.
Integrating and valuing margins
Relationship as key element in Permaculture design.
Permaculture was conceived as a design system that integrates harmoniously men and environment: home, food, natural resources, human and social relationships.
The aim is to design long-lasting settlements that mimic natural ecosystems by recognising and harmonising the different components of the landscape (morphology, climate, land, water, vegetation, animals) and developing relationships of mutual support among the elements in the environment and people’s needs.
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.