I’m undone! I just finished reading Manasobu Fukuoka’s book “The Natural Way of Farming; The Theory and Practice of the Green Philosophy” and I’ve been stripped bare, undone and left completely and utterly speechless. Even in writing this entry, I sit here stumbling over the key pad for the right words to say.
How much faith, perseverance, and courage does it take to embark on a Natural Farming journey? Do I have the courage to let nature do its thing? Can I faithfully make “earth dumplings” (seed balls), throw them out on the ground and take a “lets wait and see” approach? That is probably the scariest thing I’ve ever thought of doing! How can we just “wait?” How can we just “be?” How can we just “do nothing?” All these are questions I feel rising to the surface of my being…and as they rise, I can feel his words being planted deep within, like the roots of an acacia tree seeking water in the deep parts of the earth. I’m telling you, I feel profoundly changed by this 226 page book.
I think I’m obsessed now with him! I scour the internet for little pearls of wisdom, little catchy profound statements made by him, pictures of him and his land.
I remember about four years ago when I was learning about permaculture, his name was mentioned in the course I was taking. I actually tuned the instructor out as she touched on his methods of farming. I guess it was over load at the time, and as the instructor was talking about making pellets of clay with seed inside, and scattering it all around, I thought to myself “what? how do you know what will grow, or where to find it? that’s not for me!” And instantly, in a flash, I completely tuned out even thinking of this method as viable for what I wanted. I wanted order, I wanted an organized and neatly arranged artful masterpiece of flowers, trees, fruits and vegetables. While permaculture is quite intensive getting started, I wanted the reward to be a fully functional working system that was sustainable and beautiful. And there is nothing wrong with wanting that! I wanted to design different plots of land, create a kaleidoscope of color, flavor and smells to indulge the senses, but Fukuoka-san’s way seemed to go against all my desires. Why? Because “I” was in the way. I had to really open my mind up to read his book. I guess what sparked the thought of reading his book was the desire to stop desertification. I had been searching for ways to green the desert here in New Mexico, and I thought to myself “well, lets see what Fukuoka has to say about it all.” I didn’t have the cash to purchase “One Straw Revolution” which was his second book and the book that everyone raves about, but I was able to read his first book online “The Natural Way of Farming” and I was hooked. I couldn’t stop reading it. The experience can be compared to eating your very first homegrown heirloom tomato fresh off the vine. Now, everyone has different tastes, likes and dislikes, but you always remember the first time you ate something that was so fresh, so beautiful that nothing else compares to it.
Fukuoka-san has had his way with me. I’ve given in with full submission and now I want more. There is a statement he made about science that now sticks to me like white on rice, and I will never view science and “knowing” the same.
In talking about science and how everything is pulled apart and dissected:
“All science has succeeded in doing is to peel the skin off of a beautiful woman and reveal a bloody mass of tissue. What a miserable, wasted effort.”
What do I make of such statements? His words just sit and fester, chastising and nurturing me all at the same time. How many times have I dissected nature and tried to put things in a new order? How many times have I desired to see things my way, from my own perspective…completely separated from nature? I want results, and quick. Don’t we all? I want to know that what I’m doing will be successful, but now I ask myself “what is success?” Is it merely something I see coming to fruition? Or is there more?
I find it difficult to just let go of all the things I’ve learned, and do what he says. If I could sum up why it’s so hard, I’d have to say it comes down to trusting nature. He states over and over that we don’t grow anything, nature does. Can I trust nature that much? We are all conditioned to believe that we need to help nature as though it were imperfect. Yet it is perfect as it is…isn’t it? Aren’t we the ones that have trampled on a perfect order? The temptation for me is to combine sound principles of the permaculture I’ve learned with Natural Farming. But why is that necessary? I love Bill Mollison’s teaching and I agree with all that permaculture entails, but now I think I want to do Natural Farming and focus on it. That’s scary to me. LOL Very scary.
Each time I think to myself “I’ll do this in my garden and that in the front yard”, I now hear the haunting words of Fukuoka-san saying “How about not doing this or that.” He says both of those things in his book, and I keep trying to circumvent his teachings to include other things I’ve learned. It will be an unlearning process for me for sure! As I said in the beginning of this blog entry…”I’m undone”.
Here is a video that I just found on youtube of some beautiful things being done in other countries using seed balls. I almost turned the video off since it was moving so slow through each frame, but I’m glad I stuck it out to watch it…it was very inspiring for me.
Oh Gosh Angela, you have described exactly how I’m feeling too. I’m still not quite finished with “Natural farming” but I’ve already started implementing some of the ideas in it, as well as started a blog myself to document it.
Fukuoka’s methods really have captured my heart and like you, I keep looking for jems of ideas of his around the internet.
Good luck with your gardening.. I will certainly keep an eye on your blog to see how you are progressing!
He is totally amazing. We’ll be seed balling our left front quadrant on our property this fall since it will become our small rice paddy as well as for growing other grains. We’ll also be planting tree seeds as well as regular fruit trees, and growing veggies under the trees.
Thanks for stopping by!
hi Angela,I’v been “at” natural farming for like 1.5 yrz now and the results have started coming in at my farms in Patiala,India.Vegetables are growing wonderfully,right as Fukuoka describes in his book,while wheat results will be out in April this year,although at present my field is heavily overgrown by weeds…lets see if the wheat is able to grow fat and heavy with so many weeds snapping at its heels!
I write from Catalonia, and I’m trying to put NF in practice, because, as in your case, Fukuoka shocked me to the core. I changed my life completely, from being web designer to farmer. I’m still in the way, but I’m completely shure I will succeed.
I’ve read all books by Fukuoka, and I particularly like the One Straw Revolution above all, I think is the most original one. Others are very very good too.
Hi Angela,(don’t know why my comment was removed.)
I also feel like MFukuoka changed my way of thinking. I’ve started NF in my field here in Catalonia (Spain) and I think I will succeed.
The ‘One Straw Revolution’ changed my life completely. I started to spread seeds in my little desert here (a completely debastated area) and hope Nendo Dango will bring us true nature again…
Hope you find the road back to the origin…
Hi Eric,Your comment wasn’t removed, it just was sitting in the que till I approved it. I’ve been very ill over the last three weeks now with pneumonia, and I haven’t been online for quite a while. Sorry for the delay in displaying your comments.
Sorry, I just saw that when inserting the second comment. The delay was not your fault.I hope you pass the pneumonia and recover your health soon… I send you all my energy and positive thoughts.
Best wishes x you.