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One-straw Revolution: Introduction to Natural Farming

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9788185569314: One-straw Revolution: Introduction to Natural Farming
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Some have said that the Fukuokan philosophy is the tap root of what is now more broadly called Permaculture, only Masanobu Fukuoka was a Japanese farmer, working with rice and winter grain in a southern Japanese climate. Both are no-till methods that shun the use of chemicals. However, Fukuoka should be set apart from farming in general and Permaculture in particular, in that The One-Straw Revolution is essentially a profound work of literary philosophy. Indeed, in many cases it reads like a naturalist's bible. Although the book is dressed in the language and anecdotes of a farmer, the message looms much larger. We read of a man who came to terms with the problem of death, and then decided to form a profoundly new (or is it old?) relationship with nature. In essence, the nugget of his wisdom is that, instead of struggling to control and command nature, we must learn to work with and learn from nature. Allow me to share one quote:"To build a fortress is wrong from the start. Even though he gives the excuse that it is for the city's defense, the castle is the outcome of the ruling lord's personality, and exerts a coercive force on the surrounding area. Saying he is afraid of attack and that fortification is for the town's protection, the bully stocks up weapons and puts the key in the door." Now I ask you, does the following paragraph sound like the words of a farmer or a philosopher? From the face of it, one might think Fukuoka is here criticizing the nuclear arms race, but he is actually talking about the warlike mindset of farmers who see leaf-munching pests as evil enemies that must be fortified against, sought out and destroyed. Whether we are talking about bull weevils or communities, though, his advice is sound. --By J.W.K on April 7, 2003

Masanobu Fukoka was a laboratory agricultural scientist who worked on fighting plant diseases. He also had many unanswered questions about the interrelationship between man and nature. After a long sabbatical he resigned his position and took over his father's rice and mandarin orange farm. Fukuoka thought that by putting the subjects of his questions into actual material challenges he might find the answers he sought. Fukoka was immediately drawn to organic and natural farming methods, and over the years developed a type of natural farming that he refers to as "do-nothing farming". Contrary to what you may imagine, this method does involve work, much of it menial, but at least in Fukoka's experience the benefits outweight the negatives. His method of farming is thus: After the seasonal heavy rains, the rice is planted by scattering it by hand throughout the farming area. The planting rice is rolled in a type of clay that will help prevent animals from eating it but will not inhibit sprouting. Clover seeds are also sewn at the same time in the same method. The clover acts as a natural barrier to the young rice shoots, and helps the soil from eroding. The rice will grow naturally over the course of the next few months without constant pools of water as are often seen in traditional(from 1600-1940s) Japanese rice farming, albeit shorter and stockier than the cultivated rice. After the rice harvest, the leftover straw is scattered over the field to decompose, adding nutrients back into the soil. Afterwards, barley is planted as a winter crop and to further enrich the soil for the next rice season. Fukoka does not use compost on his rice fields or on his citrus orchard as he finds that the byproducts of the plant provides all the soil nutrients needed --By David E. Galloway on June 22, 2004

I happened upon a copy of this monumental text while looking for books on soils and agriculture at my local library. As a graduate student in agricultural engineering, Masanobu Fukuoka's book really forced me to think long and hard about the philosophy behind conventional farming. As such, Fukuoka's book is more about philosophy than farming, or better put, the philosophy of natural farming. His short vignettes on various aspects of conventional and natural farming are very enlightening, especially in the face of the emerging Genetic Revolution and the New Biotechnology. Rather than trying to improve upon nature, Fukuoka gives the reader approaches which allow him or her to co-exist with nature. As such, his approach demands one to lead a more subdued, simple, and austere lifestyle. In the book, he tells the reader how he came to embrace his variety of natural farming, which he has termed a do-nothing approach to agriculture, and the worldview that he has developed from his lifelong pursuit of natural farming. I myself value this text because he correctly points out that your food is your medicine and that those of us who persist in unhealthy diets will as a result become unhealthy. To him, food and farming are opposite sides of the same coin. Some may regard him as being anti-science, but I myself regard him as being critical of relying solely on science and intellect. Granted, while science and intellect serve as good starting points, they also need to be balanced with philosophy/spirituality and the environment. --By Gregory McMahan on June 17, 2001

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Masanobu Fukuoka's book about growing food has been changing the lives of readers since it was first published in 1978. It is a call to arms, a manifesto, and a radical rethinking of the global systems we rely on to feed us all. It is also the memoir of a man whose spiritual beliefs underpin and inform every aspect of his innovative farming system. Equal parts farmer and philosopher, Fukuoka is recognized as one of the founding thinkers of the permaculture movement.
Fukuoka perfected his so-called "do-nothing" technique, a way of farming that seeks to work with nature rather than make it over through increasingly elaborate-and often harmful -methods. His farm became a gathering place for people from all over the world who wished to adapt his ways to their own local cultures.

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