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6464Re: Map of natural farms and meeting

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  • michiyoshibuya
    Sep 20, 2007
      Hello Michela,

      This is Michiyo from Japan, I finally came back from Greece after
      three weeks of my stay
      attending the meeting at Panos(August 24-Sep-2) and seeing the area
      in mountain Pilion which were burned
      by the fire.

      Here is my report of the meeting to be shared to this list members
      I hope people will remember the map I saw some years ago:

      At the meeting, there were about 150 people all together from ten
      different countries. The meeting
      started with a tour of Panos's farm(3 ha) and his brief introduction
      on what natural farming is all about,
      who Masanobu Fukuoka is. He has a beautiful farm with grapes,
      peaches, plums, apples, figs, Asian pear, chestnut,
      cherry which he sells for living.

      The meeting was carried out in 4 languages. Greek, English,
      Italian, and Japanese. There were volunteer interpreters among
      the participants who did wonderful job. Almost every other day, we
      made a big circle outside and take turns to introduce ourselves and
      There were some people with many years of experience in clayball
      making or giving workshop to children, and there were some who
      started some years ago. There were people who practice synergistic
      agriculture or permaculture, and there were many who
      were on macrobiotic diet.

      Original intention of the meeting was to do a report session among
      already-practicing natural farmers, esp. the clayball makers, and
      people who scatter seeds in desert(clayball or direct seeding) to
      exchange information, in particular, our success and failure. I was
      also interested in comparing different clayballs made by people in
      different geographical setting.
      However, because there weren't too many people who can make a
      report, the meeting focused on
      the following themes:
      1. How to exchange information
      2. How we create natural farms in each countries where everyone can
      visit to know what it is about
      3. How we can collect seeds to be needed for big seeding projects

      For the solution of 1, Michela(who posted message 6439) volunteered
      to make a website for Italy. I proposed her to write to this
      fukuoka farming group to get
      reactions from different people. I also know that there was a
      website with the map of the world where different natural garden
      can be viewed upon clicking the dots, and inoformation on
      philosophical background of different low-input agriculturag method:
      bio-dynamic, fukuoka farming, etc. What happened to that site? Was
      it Larry's private page and it cannot be seen any more?

      I think that a good website can be very helpful if someone
      volunteers to make one. Because on this mailing list, we see many
      new people
      asking the same questions over and over and sometimes no one is
      Even as for the topic of how to make clayballs, I am sure each of us
      make in different ways with different ingredients. They may work or
      work depending on the circumstances, so it will be very helpful if
      there is a section for how to make clayballs. As for the tools for
      mass-production, there must be photos available from the meeting of
      both a concrete mixer and the metal frame(big and small). Can
      someone upload the photos? Does anyone have a photo of the bicycle
      attached concrete mixer from Italy and Auroville, India? I heard
      neither of them weren't quite successful, but only needs small
      arrangement(some small parts missing) to make it work.

      For 3. Until someone volunteers to collect seeds and start a
      greening project,Panos is collecting seeds at his address
      (I will make an announcement in the next message.)

      Again, at least for number 1 and 2, I think this yahoo group shares
      similar interests, and wasn't it the original intention of this

      In the meeting in Greece, during the whole week, 9 am to about 2 pm
      were spent for making clayballs by three different methods.
      1. handmade, 2, concrete mixer, 3. molding using a metal frame.
      Seeing the result of seeding in 2005 at Anthusa (east fo Athens),
      the molding method that produces clay pellets which is about 5 cm in
      3 cm thick, containing clay(obtained from nature and sieved by hand,
      not refined), cotton(waste from cotton factory), mineral(I could not
      know what it was, but white powder, water,
      mixed together with seeds in a concrete mixer and then carried to
      the mold.
      (the above ingredients from 2005 clayball production which I

      but this time, we did not use mineral powder or cotton, but instead,
      we used
      small portion of peat moss, and as for clay, we purchased the kind
      for roof tile.

      The reason why this type of clayball to be considered better was
      that, it did not melt by the extraordinary heavy rain during the
      winter time
      of that year. Other ones by concrete mixer or by hands completely
      melted although some seed germinated in the springtime from
      the ground.
      Also because it has flat surface to attach better to the ground, it
      can stay in the middle of a steep hill.
      And finally, it has a very different function from the regular
      clayballs, that this disc contains more seeds and they are allowed
      (or forced) to make
      a colony for plants to grow together.

      So for the next seeding this year, we wanted to use the ones which
      would not melt.
      To my understanding, Fukuoka came up with the idea of protecting the
      seeds with mud or clay,
      and he did not give a specific instruction on how it should be
      wrapped or be made, so
      I think that we should all keep working to find the ones that work
      in different climate of the world.
      The ones which are suited for humid areas like Japan and other Asian
      countries may be different
      from Greece and its neigboring countires whose climate, vegetation
      and animals are very different.

      So from the second day on, we made handmade clayballs--or what
      should we call them?
      into different shapes, trying to think which shape would be the
      best. Many Italians were quite crafty and they made
      cookie-like or brownie-like andinto different shapes and later I did
      a small experiment during the meeting: taking each sample
      and sank them into water to check the endurance.

      The ones with smooth surface(it also means that the body is
      compacted) maintained its shape after 10 minutes no matter what
      shape it is
      and the rest(the ones with rough surface) melted down. The former
      includes the handmade "clayballs" and the concrete mixer "clayballs.
      So the next day, we started to make each clay block as firm as
      possible by mixing more, kneading more, hitting to the ground
      3-4 longer time for each pellet until Panos says,
      "rough surface would probably better for germination" so we got
      confused, then we changed to the easier method of making into a
      cookie-dough like shape
      and cut either by a knife or a string.
      We will not know which clay pellets would perform the best until
      next spring, but I will report the result next year.

      In a week we were able to make 5 metric tons of clayballs and loaded
      them to a truck.

      In the evening, two nights were spent for seeing Fukuoka's video
      message to Panos and all of us recorded on August 19th, 2007
      and the video "for living on the planet earth", and two other
      documentary films on natural farming. There was an old documentary
      made by German company(?) on the Fukuoka farm in Japan during 60's
      or 70's, which had never seen before. Other nights were spent
      for Greek dances, Italian dances and singing, going to the hot
      spring, going out to restaurant, etc.

      It was really inspring to meet people sharing the same goal.
      Natural faming is not about making your own property natural but it
      to view all things connected and see yourself as part of it.

      There is no plan for a similar meeting in the near future, but Panos
      will always be making big quantity of clayball in the same season;
      August to September. So anyone who missed this occasion but still
      interested to learn should attend the one next year.

      Michiyo Shibuya
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