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Natural Farming

"The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings"

I'm becoming increasingly interested in natural farming techniques... not only because I feel that the amount of work I'm doing in the garden isn't returning the bounty I'd like but because I feel addicted to doing all that work. It's as though there is an underlying belief that if I'm not taming nature I'm not doing the job well enough. Everything I read or see on the box about gardening indicates that I should be tilling, pruning, gathering mulch, composting, weeding... the work is endless!
Agriculture as we know it is such a time consuming burdensome task - though I know that for those with greenfingers it is a pleasurable as writing is to me and they wouldn't have life any other way. But I want something that I can manage without spending hours each day in my garden, feeling the groan in my back at the end of the day. Plus I'm interested in growing only those things that this site wants to grow, and grow well without the annual dumping of kilolitres of water onto the soil... So I'm going to experiment with Fukuoka's seedballs and wild foods and find recipes for whatever comes up in the garden. I hope to keep you all updated in my diary pages as I investigate natural farming."

Links to Natural Farming
"Mid spring and summer are as good a time as any to begin natural gardening
by manually broadcasting seeds just before a thunderstorm.  We should
choose seeds which germinate easily such as cucumbers, melons, and
squashes, but it is truly a free for all and there are no constraints... 

What we are doing by broadcasting so many seeds is providing materials for
Nature to pick and choose from, and though it may seem wasteful initially,
when you find a plant that is well suited for your garden you have
returned that part of your garden and a part of yourself to Nature."

Kirby Fry
Program Coordinator
Cross Timbers Permaculture Institute
"Natural farming is based on the observation. It is about working with natural energies rather than trying to conquer wild nature. It is distinct from organic farming that is simply a return to the agriculture of the pre-chemical age. The problem of agriculture long pre-dates modern industrial farming methods. Everywhere farming has been widely practiced, soils have been eroded and depleted and the natural biodiversity has been reduced...

Masanobu Fukuoka has written "Nature left alone is in perfect balance... far from being the answer, working the soil with plow and hoe actually interferes with these processes. If we leave the soil to itself, the force of nature will enrich and loosen." For over 50 years Fukuoka developed a method he sometimes calls do-nothing agriculture, and for good reason, he used no plowing or digging, no imported fertilisers, no weeding and of course no chemical pesticides."

Primal Seeds exists as a network to actively engage in protecting biodiversity and creating local food security.
An interview with Masanobu Fukuoka

"Most farmers begin by asking, what if I do this or what if I do that, but only dissipate themselves that way. My approach just the opposite, seek the pleasant, natural way of farming. In order to make the work easier, not harder, I ask, how about not doing this or how about not doing that? By actual practice I finally reached conclusion there is no need to plow, no need to apply artificial fertilizer, no need to use pesticides at all. Most of the work of farming is created by tampering with nature, which causes negative side effects. Very few agricultural practices are even necessary, just scattering seed, spreading straw on the soil and harvesting."

"I love best to give children boxes of seeds as gifts because they scatter them so innocently. Sow seed balls with a child-like mind whenever, wherever, without judging the first year. During the second year birds or bugs will carry the seeds from the plants and sow them naturally for you. So in the third year you will get a natural design. Children sometimes sow seeds in unexpected places, and that brings us to a big discovery that we never even considered. Even if ninety-nine percent fail, and only one percent succeed, that will take us to new possibilities. If you use human wisdom, you will only achieve the result you expect. Give yourself to whatever you do one hundred percent or not at all, and do not doubt. Everything will be all right. Just spread seed balls and Nature will do the rest."
Article in Eco Living by Liz Edols, is a freelance writer who runs her own information services business. She has been an organic gardener for many years and has a special interest in alternative methods of re-greening arid and deforested regions. The article contains instructions for making seedballs.

" On an island in the south of Japan, Masanobu Fukuoka has spent over fifty years slowly refining his understanding and application of natural farming. He calls his method 'do nothing' farming because over time he simply quit most of the practices associated with modern agriculture. He uses no fertilisers or pesticides, nor does he do any weeding, pruning or ploughing...

... Doing nothing but doing it intelligently is a difficult concept for most westerners too grasp but Fukuoka insists that it is vital for those who want to be natural farmers. Essentially it comes down to non-interference. The role of the farmer is to observe and assist nature to provide the best conditions possible, so that vegetables and other crops can establish themselves and thrive like weeds. The minute humans interfere or try to improve on things or become motivated by high yields they start creating problems. Most of us have learnt to distrust nature and worse still, to think we can do better. This has lead to a heavy reliance on science and rote methods that are carried out year after year."
Larry Haft's website about the development of his property using natural farming methods. Detailed and thorough, interesting. Some of his information/methods don't seem to reconcile with what I've read of Fukuoka's philosophy though.

" Results the first year were disappointing but interesting. So interesting that I've become caught up by the process...    The information presented here is not only an analysis and summation of what I have learned so far, but also a documentation of the learning process I am going through as I develop my garden....    I've been working toward establishing a natural garden on my little patch of ground for almost two years now, but it still looks like almost nothing has been done. That's because I've spent most of that time either watching closely what goes on out there...   Fukuoka's method has been called the "do-nothing" method. This is incredibly misleading. It took me a lot of work just to understand (I hope) what he is actually saying, and more work to understand how it can be applied locally. But the hardest work of all was in overcoming all of the preconceptions and culturally-conditioned ideas of what gardening and farming is all about, and to believe and trust in what he is saying.
Ecopolitan - an excellent website with many interesting links and articles
Another excellent website with working links to many articles and sites on many sustainable lifestyle topics ranging from breastfeeding to ecovillages and activism.
A treasure trove of information of wild food harvest...
It's Time...
Time to change the way we, as a community, a country, a culture, live and work.
Time to admit that we cannot continue to act the way we do and expect to prosper.
Time to take personal responsibility for pollution, poverty, hunger, violence by working with each other.
Time to realize that violence done to a human, an animal, and the planet are the same thing.
Time to turn away from dead end technologies and energy sources
like Oil, Gas, Nuclear.
Time to turn toward sustainable technologies and solutions like
Solar, Wind, and Straw Bale.
Now is the time to create a community, a country, a culture that lives with the planet, not on it.




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return surplus,
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Copyright © Beverley Paine 2002-14. Article from this website may be downloaded, reproduced, and distributed without permission as long as each copy includes this entire notice along with citation information (i.e., name of the periodical in which it originally appeared, date of publication, and author's name). Permission must be obtained from the author in order to reprint this article in a published work or to offer it for sale in any form. Please visit Bungala Ridge Permaculture Gardens for more original content by Beverley Paine.