Karensminde is a typical Danish smallholding, which a family is continuously working on to make it comply with more and more of the permaculture principles; “Smallholder sense and permaculture”.
Skovgårdsvejen 8, 3700 Rønne
Project leader: Kurt Holm
+45 24 28 72 28
Visitors: Individual visitors (4-5) or groups (max 15). Guided tours are available.
Facilities for visitors: Classroom, workshop, scullery, big kitchen, bathroom, guest toilet. Possibility to stay overnight: 8-12 people in 2 annexes, 2 rooms, hay loft, tent.
Educational activities: Arranged according to the size of the group, the season and the current projects. I have a prepared subject catalogue but there will also be a chance suggest subjects based on individual interests.
Area: 3,3 ha
Project start: 2011
LAND center accreditation: 22th of November 2014
Organic construction, retrofitting and environmental improvement of buildings, water and wastewater, culture and education, health and well-being, garden, forest garden, animals, untouched areas, nature care and biodiversity, self-sufficiency, waste minimization and tools and technology.
Karensminde is an example of permaculture development in practice on a smallholding farm on the island of Bornholm. It has gone from a typical agricultural property with a small garden and tenanted areas of land to a more self-sufficient unit for a family. Karensminde is privately owned by Kurt & Dora Holm, who live there.
The development started as small unstructured implementations, starting with the acquisition in 1986 with the idea of family, self-sufficiency and organic production in mind. The vision is for Karensminde to continue the development according to permacultural principles and stand as an example of how you, as a a single family on a smallholding farm, still can work towards a n improved mode of operation (self-sufficiency, organic produce, etc.). Karensminde works as a basis for the everyday life of a family. The goal is to make it a nice place to be both as a resident and guest.
It was not until 2011, permaculture design and ethics were basis for the changes at the farm but there was a great compliance with the already established structures. Karensminde does not have to provide big returns and therefore, we can focus more on testing and demonstrating permacultural solutions.
Ethics and design
Already shortly after we had bought the land, it was clear to us that the way it was cultivated was in opposition to what we wanted. We have prevented intensive exploitation with chemical fertilizers and pesticides and the removal of unproductive areas such as living fences, stonewalls and moist areas to give way for bigger machines and longer, straight plow furrows. We have established and improved living fences around the property in order to create shelter and create habitats for birds and small animals and enhance the biodiversity.
Karensminde has many areas for common activities such as banquet hall/classroom, kitchen, workshop, terraces, etc. When designing the area, we have taken into consideration people with reduced mobility. Moreover, there are re-creative places for mindfulness and areas for physical exercise.
Principles and methods
Even if it not always obvious, we make great use of the permaculture principles. This can be seen in the way we use and take care of the land, buildings and tools and in our approach to education/culture and education, health and well-being, economy and connection to the local community.
Regeneration of natural resources
The soil has not been sprayed or added chemical fertilizers in the last 26 years. It used to be certified organic and even though it no longer has the official recognition as organic, the same principles are still adhered to. The animal manure is contributing to the improvement of the soil quality. A large part has been designated to be meadow and will not be released until 2017, when it will be turned into a forest garden and forest meadow. Only as small part of the vegetable garden including the raised beds are lightly cultivated in order to weed and add soil-improving elements like compost and fertilizer from own animals.
Water derives from various places: the public waterworks, the well and the rainwater collection system. There is an expanded distribution system med duck pond as reservoir. Only at very high water levels, the water will be led away through overflow protection. All wastewater is recovered through infiltration plant.
Air regeneration is not calculated but planting with windbreaks and fences, forest areas (apple trees, spruces, cypress, willow) together with permanent grass will undoubtedly give a surplus.
In relation to energy, we have installed solar cells, which provide a small surplus of electricity. However, it is not yet converted into heating. Heating is supplemented by modern wood-burning stove with own firewood but is otherwise based on central heating systems with a new oil burner. Cooking is done by a combination of electricity and gas.
The effect of social regeneration is difficult to measure but the process is fun to be part of. In the same way as the physical frames of the project can be parted in zones, it is also possible to divide the social structures into zones of human beings. In order to shed light on this, I will make use of the following model:
Zone 00: Kurt Holm. I see myself with all my resources and defects as a result of all the experiences I have obtained throughout my life. Here, I will emphasize those that are relevant to permaculture:
Construction: trained carpenter and building technician
Leader: officer training in the army, instructor in physical education and training, stock education, garage and motor instructor.
Teaching: trained teacher, counselor training, pedagogical diploma in “Adult education and educational planning”, master in Learning processes with speciality in “Culture and Learning”.
Experience: 32 years of teaching, 2 years as volunteer in Botswana (project counselor in a refugee camp), 2 years and volunteer in Zimbabwe (project counselor in District Council), 2 years as Danida expert in Zambia (education counselor at TEVET), teaching material developent in Jordan at UNIDO, international coordinator and project leader for 10 years with a lot of various projects in 14 different European countries, “Grøn ø” (green island) agent, PDC, Inspiring Change, EPT, EUPC.
Zone 0: Wife Dora Holm, occupational therapist. I test all my ideas with her.
Zone 1: Mother, Lise (87), Bjørn and Anne (39), Human resource manager RUC, Kristian (35), Special consultant in the Defence, Ria (5) and Nor (2), Mette (37), doctor, Lars (38) high school teacher, Asger (9), Noah (7), Peter (32), low current technician, Silas (5), Søren (25) studies biology. All are up for debating my “crazy” ideas.
Zone 2: Siblings, brothers and sisters in law and their children (19 in all). We have a good relation and celebrate happy occasions together. Neighbors and the near community and “Vores børns forældre” and “De grønne agenter”.
Zone 3: Associations, where I come once in a while: PKDK, Praktisk Permakultur Bornholm and Natur og Helse Ø.
Zone 4: The national level: The LAND-network.
Zone 5: The global level: EPN, EUPC, IPC, etc. Friends, colleagues and acquaintances from previous traveling (45 countries in all).