Josef «Sepp» Holzer (born July 24, 1942 in Ramingstein, Province of Salzburg, Austria) is a farmer, author, and an international consultant for natural agriculture. After an upbringing in a traditional Catholic rural family, he took over his parents’ mountain farm business in 1962 and pioneered the use of ecological farming, or permaculture, techniques at high altitudes (1100 to 1500 meters above sea level) after being unsuccessful with regular farming methods.
Holzer was called the «rebel farmer» because he persisted, despite being fined and even threatened with prison, with practices such as not pruning his fruit trees (unpruned fruit trees survive snow loads that will break pruned trees). He has created some of the world’s best examples of using ponds as reflectors to increase solar gain for Passive solar heating of structures, and of using the microclimate created by rock outcrops to effectively change the hardiness zone for nearby plants. He has also done original work in the use of Hugelkultur and natural branch development instead of pruning (see Fruit tree pruning) to allow fruit trees to survive high altitudes and harsh winters.
He is currently conducting permaculture («Holzer Permaculture«) seminars both at his Krameterhof farm and worldwide, while continuing to work on his alpine farm. His expanded farm now spans over 45 hectares of forest gardens, including 70 ponds, and is said to be the most consistent example of permaculture worldwide. In the past he was doing many experiments with different animals. As a result of this experiments, there is a huge role for animals in the Holzer Permaculture. For example, Holzer is using different kinds of pigs to dig new beds. This is a very effective way of digging, the only thing he has to do is to throw some maize and other fruits to the place he wants to dig. A couple of days later, he can push the pigs back to their enclosure and plant new plants in this beds. Holzer is able to crop his plants with a huge success, without using any fertilizer.
He is author of several books, works nationally as permaculture-activist in the established agricultural industry, and works internationally as adviser for ecological agriculture. He is the subject of the film The Agricultural Rebel directed by Bertram Verhaag.
The Agro Rebel:http://www.cultureunplugged.com/play/930/The-Agro-Rebel
Synopsis: Sepp Holzer, the Austrian farmer and forester practices «permaculture» a different kind of farming on his mountain property. With this certain form of organic-agriculture, he is very convincing and successfully. Contrary to all conventional rules and despite annual average temperatures of 4.5°C and an altitude of between 900m-1400m, he cultivates cherries, apples, mushrooms, kiwis, lemons, pumpkins, potatoes and zucchinis. This year he also started big permaculture-projects in Brazil, Columbia, Peru and Venezuela.