The Kobunaki Ecovillage website is timely, with sharp, inspiring quotes from
many wise & experienced people who are working on the project.
The organizers may have on a list somewhere (you know how organizers live
through fulfillment of lists) to invite Masanobu Fukuoka to address the ECI
(Earth Community Institute, occupying 2.58% of the land area of Kobunaki).
Although I may have missed it, I saw no space identified as a community garden.
With 200-300 residences in the plan, we might expect that many families would
have personal gardens around their detached homes (with 39.27% of the space).
For those who chose to live in collective housing (in 9.77% of the space), a
place will surely be designated for collective gardening. The plan does call
for an edible & accessible landscape, which lends itself to the Fukuokan-framed
imagination. Much of the public area is road & sidewalk, in a lovely area
between & overlooking three rivers, with greenspace (3.43% of the area) divided
between the Ecovillage Park, grove of the village shrine, & children's
playground. Along these walks & bicycle paths could be grown much good food.
Motor-road-side grown food does have its heavier pollution factor.
There was something in the plan that was distressing to me, Mr.Cook. Since
you have asked for an honest review, I must mention that the only business
specifically designated was called Sweets Factory (given 15.11% of the
Ecovillage area). The more I read the beautiful work to come on Kobunaki, the
more the Sweets Factory stood out & the lack of a garden called out. It may
just be this jarring to me because of the irony in comparison with our local
Twin Oaks Commune, over 20 years old, see <http://gen.ecovillage.org/
income producing industries here in Virginia are famous rope hammocks & tofu.
Tofu in the health-be-damned-tobaccoland of Virginia & sweets in an ecovillage
There is a memorable line in Sugar Blues, William Dufty's expose' of the
incredibly lucrative sugar industry, "Sugar, I would not have it in my house,
much less my body." A chart showing the addictive power of sugar compared with
other non-nutritive drugs is eye-opening. It is right up there with plenty of
illegal, life-wrecking substances. It is perfectly legal, but not perfectly
healthy. The method of growing the beets or cane can have a huge impact on the
farming area, as the devastated water quality of Florida shows. We might assume
that the founders have taken all this in mind, & would guarantee that these
sweets were made from local, organically raised crop. If so, that would be a
comforting paragraph for their website to include. The crop is clearly not
carved out of the land of the Ecovillage itself.
You can tell this is an issue of importance at our school. The menus here
are sugar (sucrose) free, with constant no-thanks to well-meaning gifts, & with
amazement at the skewing of nutrition knowledge by our school lunch licensing
agencies. In the regulations, salty pickles or olives count as half a
vegetable, cookies can count as a bread, while tofu, tempeh, & falafel, count as
nothing. We are not without treats at school, each day we have fruits. A few
recipes are fruit-sweetened foods for holidays; some with honey or maple, say
for birthday parties, weekend camp-overs, or reunions. Mostly we serve, & our
children eat, vegetables, beans, whole grains, & rice or soy milk, every day.
Our children must struggle whenever we go out into the 'real' world, with a
constant bombardment of sweets, at & between every meal, that undermines the
wholesome food that we have brought in our own picnic basket. That Circle
School families could be a part of building an Ecovillage would be a dream come
true. That the village industry would be sweets could be a nightmare, undoing
all we were founded for: support for an education that is based in knowledge of
healthful whole food, support for adults at practice in being the role model of
eating well & support in raising children who, while in out care, have the
maximum opportunity to develop tastes for real garden food.
All the best wishes for Kobunaki, & for your own direction,
Tim Cook wrote:
> Fukuoka Farmers, greetings,
> About my only dabbling in growing food is a small garden plot that
> only produces in the winter (this is Alabama) because it's too shady
> in the summer, but I joined this list because I was interested in Mr.
> Fukuoka's books and he happens to be a friend of a friend (his doctor,
> although I haven't met either of them for some 15 years). I have a
> question that I wonder if people on this list are familiar with. There
> is a group of people who are planning and building a new community in
> Oumihachiman, Shiga Prefecture, Japan, that is supposed to be a model
> ecological village. Apparently other such places exist in other
> countries and they're called "ecovillages." Does anyone know about
> them, and this one in particular? My wife, who is Japanese, and I are
> thinking about moving to Japan, and I wondered if this village would
> be a worthwhile place to live. Living in an ecologically conscious
> community makes it easier for oneself to live ecologically, but on the
> other hand, the building of a new community, no matter how ecological,
> itself has an ecological impact. I wonder if this idea and Fukuoka's
> ideas mesh or clash. If you're interested in their Web site, it's
> Thanks for whatever anyone might know or think about this.
> Tim Cook
> Tuscaloosa, Alabama
> So long as I confine my activities to social service and the blind,
> they compliment me extravagantly, calling me "archpriestess of the
> sightless," "wonder woman," and "a modern miracle." But when it comes
> to a discussion of poverty, and I maintain that it is the result of
> wrong economics -- that the industrial system under which we live is
> at the root of much of the physical deafness and blindness in the
> world -- that is a different matter!
> --Helen Keller, noted Alabama Socialist
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