The morning swim in the creatively named “Lake One” at Tamera was one of my favorite parts of the time I spent in Portugal. If “Lake One” has something of the revolutionary resonance of “year one” it would not be wholly inappropriate. This first and (currently) largest of the rain-fed water retention basins at Tamera is, for the Tamerans, the first in the movement to re-hydrate the landscapes of Tamera, Portugal and the dry lands of the world.
On a recent visit to Tamera in the Alentejo region of Portugal, I had the opportunity to see several examples of raised garden beds which had been made by Sepp Holzer according to the method he calls ‘hugelkultur’. I have been very curious about how well this kind of raised bed would function under Mediterranean climate conditions. My visit to Tamera has begun to satisfy some of my curiosity though I still have some questions.
Sepp Holzer is an Austrian farmer from a family of Austrian farmers. I did not realise what this heritage meant until attending a three day seminar with Holzer in the Alentejo region of Portugal. Sepp Holzer speaks with a unique power deeply rooted in the vernacular traditions of Austrian alpine farming and blossoming with his peculiar genius.
‘Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture’ is the work of a man of unique sensitivity and imagination. Holzer has combined a lifetime of practical experience with clarity of expression and intellect to produce a book which will satisfy a practically-minded farmer or gardener as well as the student of agroecological design. With gentle strength, Holzer would make designers and practicioners of us all and entrust to us neither task unless we join him in the school of nature.
He makes us want to join him in that school. He describes the techniques of what he calls “Holzer Permaculture” with surety born of concrete success and the observation of ecological health but without the urgency of someone trying to convince us that he is right. Any urgency the work posesses becons us to join with the author in the “joy of cultivation” which comes from working together with nature.
As many of you will know, I am currently in the UK. My hope is to see as much Mediterranean climate permaculture as possible. I am going to visit Tamera to do a workshop with Sepp Holzer, pioneering Austrian Permaculturalist.