Commercial Farm ProjectsPermaculture Projects

Permaculture design for Stephan Schrotter at Cairo Montenotte, Italy

Client Observation

This article is in three parts.  The entire series will take us through a Permaculture Design Project at a property in Italy.  Firstly we will look at how the project was observed, then the analysis that was undertaken before starting the design.



Holistic Goal


What is it?

A holistic goal is a three-part goal describing the quality of life desired, the forms of production to get there, and the future resource base that the forms of production depend on. A strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a goal. A task is one step in the plan of action to accomplish a goal.

A Holistic Goal (now referred to as a “Holistic Context” by the Savory Institute) is necessary for anyone who wants to be a Holistic Manager. It can help you with your personal life, your business, and your family life. Having a Holistic Goal has eliminated a lot of decision-making stress in my life.

Holistic Management involves using a simple decision-making framework that ensures all significant management decisions are simultaneously economically, socially and environmentally sound both short and long term.  No longer are decisions made toward objectives or goals alone, but always toward a new concept called the holistic goal for any management situation. The holistic goal provides the context for all objectives, goals or actions toward any vision or mission. This helps greatly in avoiding unintended consequences to our actions that are so universal that economists long ago used the term “Law of unintended consequences.”

-Allan Savory



What you have to manage?

A Permaculture project:  Rebuild the house with two or three rooms to rent, food production for the family and guests, trees (chestnuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, apples, cherries, kiwi, pecan, pomegranate, pears, apricots, mulberries, figs, red grapes, kaki, elder, peaches, ginko biloba, hazelnuts inoculated with truffles, olive trees, tangerines, lemons, orange, avocado, asimina triloba, hippophae, sambucus, berries, mushroom cultivation, honey bees, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, aronia). Photovoltaic system, swimming pool, heated greenhouse, sub tropical plants in greenhouse, wild animals, manual and electric tools, local authority, access, safety, water management, soil management, pest management, employees, dogs, chicken, sheeps.

Water management: Rainwater, dripping irrigation system, rainwater harvesting from the roofs, water spring.

Soil management:  Wood chipper, mulching, back sprayer for compost tea, precision fertilisation.


Financial resources

Agriturismo, selling nuts plus berries, honey, pomegranate, table grape, hemp, mushrooms.


Who is involved?

Stephan, wife, daughter, son, 2 dogs, 2 rabbits, employees.



Declaration of intentions

What do you really want?

To live in harmony with plants and to run a small business without stress for pleasure.


Declaration of the quality of life

To live a stress free life producing our own organic food, having time for ourself, breathing fresh air in the forest that is like a medicine,being in nature.


Determination of the form of production

What we haven’t got?

Water management, fruit trees, vegetables, bushes, wood chipper, good soil, organic matter, fence and majority of the above.


What will be produced?

Fruits, nuts, vegetables, berries, mushrooms, courses and hospitality.


Base resources for the future

Keyline design, syntropic permaculture, agroforestry landscape, connection with nature.

Holistic Goal


Through Keyline design, syntropic permaculture, agroforestry landscape and connecting with nature we will develop a life in harmony with plants running a small business without stress for pleasure. With an agriturismo that produce nuts, berries, honey, pomegranate, table grape, hemp and mushrooms. Living a stress free life producing our own organic food having time for ourself breathing fresh air in the forest that is like a medicine, being in nature.

Selling different kind of fruits, nuts, vegetables, berries, mushrooms, providing courses and hospitality to the public.



 General P.A.S.T.E. 

Plants Animals Structures Tools Events
walnuts Wildboars Wooden fences (Broken) Channels from spring
Robinia Deers Electric line Good humidity
Cherries Wild rabbits
Oaks Different insects
Hazelnut inoculated with truffleFruit trees:
Apple tree
Figs / Ficus
Banana (frost resistant)
Aloe Vera
QuinceAsimina (American PawPaw)Triloba (flowering plum)
Hippophae (sea buckthorn)
Arbutus unedo (Strawberry tree)Tropical fruits:
Annona cherimola
These and others can also go into the green house.

Other fruit plants:
Grapes (red & white)

Non-fruit trees:




 Land observation

Property Outline
This is the perimeter of the property where we are going to develop 2,5 hectares circa.

This is the design’s observation of the permaculture project ‘Ludwig Schrotter’ at Cairo Montenotte loc. Moglie Bertei (SV)’

The project is divided in three areas: Field n.1, field n.2 and field n.3 all three areas are meadows (mix herbs and flowers) which occasionally are used as pasture.

Mainly we will examine the condition of the soil,the biodiversity of the land including plants, insects, beneficial animals, diversification of production.

Everything will be examined to see if the needs and wants with the values of the customers can be fulfilled by the land we are observing.  And be part of the permaculture design where the final objectives are to build an agriturismo, renting two or three rooms, supplying our own produced food and selling organic food produced on the land to local businesses.


Base Mapping

Base Map
In the yellow outline are the fields without trees.  This area  be the subject of this design.


Field Maps
This map shows where the fields subject of this design are.




Field 1
Field n.1

I will use the scale of permanence of permaculture to do a first overview of the land in field n.1,field n.2 and field n.3,field n.4

The scale of permanence of permaculture is a hierarchical scale where the first voice is the less changeable one and the last one is the most changeable, in fact we can easily produce soils through composting. “Nature sooner or later signifies approval, or disapproval.” The Scale of Permanence is designed to give your design, planning, and management the best chances for garnering this “approval.”

– P.A.Yeomans


Field n2
Field n2


Field n3
Field n3



In Cairo Montenotte the climate is warm and temperate. In winter there is a lot of rain in relation to the winter. The classification of the climate is Csb as from Köppen e Geiger. 12.5 °C is the average temperature. 820 mm is the annual rainfall. The driest month is July with 29mm of rain. The most rainy month is October, with an average of 108 mm of rain. The hottest month of the year is July with an average temperature of 21.3 °C. The average temperature of January is 4.1 °C. It is the lowest average temperature in Cairo Montenotte. Generally the temperature goes between -0 °C to 28 °C and rarely lower than -4 °C or more than 31 °C.


C: climi temperato-caldi piovosi (Warm gemäßigte Regenklimate): Mean temperature of the coldest month 18°C and −3°C. Without regular snow cover.

s: Dry season in the warmest trimestral. Applied to groups A, C, D.

b: Mean temperature of the hottest month less than 22°C; at least 4 months over 10°C


Climatic zone: E

climatic zone

We note in the above chart of the italian climatic zones that Cairo Montenotte is placed in zone E that means it is the second coldest in Italy. Those zones are based on how many hours of heating systems in the household are permitted for environmental issues in relation of the daily cold hours.

Earthquake risk: LOW , zone 4


Climate in Liguria

On the coast the climate is a mediterranean type, with mild rainy winters and dry hot summers, while on the hillside it is semi continental type, with colder winter temperatures and hot summers, with strong thermic differences.


Climatic prediction for the region of Liguria

Temperatures in Liguria are on the rise ( based on mean temperatures in the last 50 years. Around 1,2 degree celsius average circa.

Flood and flash floods are on the rise with more people dead in relation with the past. And in general extreme events are on the increase. (

In general,rainfall in Italy during 2018 has increased by 18%.

In the north of Italy the most rainy month has been October with a mean anomaly of 87% compared to March (62%) and May (40%).


The future apparently will be with more intense rain alternated with long dry periods. This could be flood periods alternated to drought periods. And during the drought periods wildfires will be on the increase.

Overall the climate is random and predictions are very general due to its variability.



Land Form


The geographical coordinates of Cairo Montenotte are 44,398° latitude, 8,278° longitude, 431 m of altitude.

The topography within 3 kilometers of Cairo Montenotte contains very notable variations in elevation, with a maximum change in altitude of 327 meters and an average altitude above sea level of 412 meters. Within 10 miles contains very significant variations in elevation (1,206 feet). Within 50 miles also contains extreme variations in elevation (3,103 meters).

The area within three km from Cairo Montenotte is covered by trees (57%), cultivated land (33%) artificial surfaces (10%), within 16 km by trees (76%) cultivated land (19%), within 80 km by trees (33%) cultivated land (32%).

Altitude range of Cairo Montenotte: from 308 to 856 m.s.l.

Property altitude: 600 m.s.l. circa




The most abundant rainy season in Cairo Montenotte last 9 months from 17th september to the 17th of June.

The most dry season last 3 months from 17th of june to the 17th of september.

In Cairo Montenotte it can snow for 2.9 months from the 24th of november to the 21th of february. Most of the snow will fall in january.




The accesses to the land is quite good.  To improve it secondary accesses will be added  to the cultivation areas. Overall there is not much slope so it will not be difficult to add secondary accesses so agricultural machinery can be used.



Plant systems



The growing season in Cairo montenotte lasts 8,5 months (261 days), from 6th March to 22nd November.  In this period temperature will rarely fall below 0 C.

Plant systems in the property are wild meadows (that are the object of the design) and woodland with oaks, walnuts, hazelnuts, beech trees, ash trees and chestnuts.

We will consider for this project regenerative plant systems such as Syntropic permaculture, simple agroforestry systems, food forests, vegetable gardens etc.




The preliminary observation of the microclimates will be done during the actual design to understand what kind of plants we can use in the specific areas of the ecosystem we are going to design.

To maximise the production and reduce the risk of failure.

Field n.1:  Exposure is south facing with some water during rainfall coming from the north. Soil humidity is not even on the land . Possibility to create solar traps with the existent trees. There is no frost risk due to the hedge formed by the existing trees and the slope that is draining the cold air down to a more flat part of the land.

Field n.2: North-east facing, prone to cold winds less solar radiations, drier soil due to the slope that is draining water more rapidly. But the partial east facing will give some strong morning solar radiations.


Field n.3: East facing, quite dry because it is the final part of the ridge.

Could be some frost residues because it is positioned at the end of a slope but because it is a ridge cold air will be pushed down the sides of the ridge by gravity following the line of running water.

Field n.4: South-east facing shielded by surrounded woodland it is already a solar trap. This means that the area will be suitable for the cultivation of annual vegetables and fruits that require extra warmth to ripe.




There is a house with a small barn and a garage.

The House


Small Barn


Small Garage




 There are some old wooden fences that need to be removed and a new metal fence will be built.




Sedimentation soil tests.  These are preliminary tests, in fact we will take only one sample per field. We will conduct more detailed tests during the design process.


Test Field n1 – 50% Clay – 30% Silt – 20% Sand

The soil of this field completely lacks a layer of organic matter and no humus horizon. But a worm test showed 5 worms per spade. This indicates good potential and the soil is probably quite humid. No compaction detected.


Test Field n2 – 40% Clay – 40% Silt – 20% Sand

The soil of this field completely lacks a layer of organic matter but we can measure half a centimetre in the humus horizon. But a test of worm count gives 1-2 worms per spade. This is indicating a medium potential of this soil probably less humid than field n.1.  Medium compaction under 30-40 cm deep circa.


Test field n3 – 50% Clay – 20% Silt – 30% Sand

The soil of this field completely lacks a layer of organic matter and humus horizon. No worms present. This is indicating a poor potential of this soil probably less humid than field n.1 and n.2.  This is the end and central part of the ridge so quite dry during the summer.  The soil is compacted under 20-30 cm circa.


Microbiological test Field n1

The level of humus is good (in 30% circa of analised samples) with a good presence of bacterias and protozoa but with low level of hyphae fungine (fungi). It is a soil with bacterial prevalence.

I suggest the use of chip bark mulching (green or mature) on the lines of fruit trees I suggest a chip bark mulch (5cm deep at least) with implementation of syntropic permaculture system. Using spray irrigation on the ground and foliar of compost tea and its derivatives.


Microbiological test Field n2: Like field n.1 but with more fungi (Fungal Hyphae). We suggest using syntropic permaculture systems and specialised cultivations like hazelnuts and walnuts more to evaluate during the design.


Microbiological test Field n3: Mineral soil with very low level of humus (5% of analysed samples). This soil is bacterial prevalent. No hyphae fungine detected (funghi). We suggest to spread mature compost (700-1200 kg per hectare minimum). Also, I suggest reseeding of the meadow with a mix of flowers for honey bees and herbaceous leguminous plants.



Biodiversity Analysis – Bulls eye


In this part of the observation I monitor the quality of biodiversity using the bull eye model used in regenerative agriculture.  The bulls eye is an holistic tool that shows the lack in ecosystem biodiversity.


Field n.1

Bullseye Field n1

In field n.1 I notice a lack in organic matter, a lack of distribution of organic matter, a lack of incorporation of organic matter.  To overcome this problem I suggest to cut the grasses and leave the grass on the floor evenly. When field is planted with fruit trees I suggest the use of chip bark under the trees or any kind of plant.

Also we notice that the incorporation of animal manure is not happening so we suggest to place some compost or mature dung under the trees that will be planted and covered with chip bark.

To solve the problems in point 8-9-10-11 when planting I suggest to plant trees with aromatic flowers, bushes, berries, and trees that provide lots of biomass etc.  Some from seedlings some from seeds.



Field n.2

The action to take to improve this field is the same with different intensity (to decide during the design process) of field n.1.

Bullseye Field n2



Field n.3

The action to take to improve this field are the same with different intensity (to decide during the design process) of the field n.1

Bullseye Field n3


Coming up Next

In the next instalment for this series, we’ll look at the Analysis phase of this project.


One Comment

  1. Thats a fantastic article to highlight a fantastic opportunity!
    please keep updating us on your progress so we can all learn from you and help you too!

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