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FW: [permaculture] Korean Style Natural Farming

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  • Linda Shewan
    Interesting article. Still an unnatural piggery and obviously prefer to see a system like Sepp Holzer uses in Austria for his pigs (where they free range and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 23, 2011
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      Interesting article. Still an unnatural piggery and obviously prefer to see a system like Sepp Holzer uses in Austria for his pigs (where they free range and are used to cultivate soil between crops/seasons) but a step above the usual system that's for sure...


      -------- Original Message --------
      Subject: [SANET-MG] Korean Style Natural Farming
      Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2011 19:47:02 -0500
      From: SUBSCRIBE SANET-MG m_astera <michael.astera@...>
      To: SANET-MG@...

      Came across an interesting article today in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser
      about Korean style natural farming. Here's most of it:

      "Natural selection

      A self-sufficient system of farming is increasing yields across Hawaii

      By Susan Essoyan

      POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 18, 2011

      Farmer Samson Delos Reyes reached into his bluejeans pocket to grab a phone
      call from a buyer and ended up smiling but shaking his head.

      The caller wanted to triple her order of his pungent Thai basil, to 60 from
      20 cases a week, but S&J Farms of Waianae is already booked solid. Since
      trying "natural farming" last year under the guidance of a folksy South
      Korean master farmer known as Han Kyu Cho, Delos Reyes said production on
      his 10-acre plot has doubled — and demand is growing even faster.

      "This is my first time having earthworms on my farm," he said, scooping up a
      handful of earth and nutrient-rich worm castings in his fingers. "They're
      cultivating the soil for me."

      Unlike conventional or even organic farming, "natural farming" is a
      self-sufficient system to raise crops and livestock with resources available
      on the farm. Rather than applying chemical fertilizers, farmers boost the
      beneficial microbes that occur naturally in the soil by collecting and
      culturing them with everyday ingredients such as steamed rice and brown
      sugar. They also feed their crops with solutions containing minerals and
      amino acids made from castoff items such as eggshells and fish bones.

      "What others consider rubbish, we use," Cho told gardeners and farmers at a
      workshop in Honolulu last month. "Natural farming uses local resources, but
      you have to give what the plants need, when they need it and in the right

      On land once classified as unsuitable for farming, Delos Reyes' sturdy
      stalks of Vietnamese kalo now stand taller than he does, and his basil
      bushes are thick with leaves. He no longer has to buy fertilizer, herbicides
      or pesticides, and he has cut water use by 30 percent. The indigenous
      microorganisms in the dirt — bacteria, fungi and protozoa — help nourish his
      crops. The plants grow hardier because their roots have to reach further to
      find water, according to Cho.

      "You use less water, you use less inputs and you end up with a healthier
      plant which produces more nutritious food, of a higher quality," said
      landowner David Wong, who ran Oahu's last dairy on this Waianae property and
      is working with Delos Reyes in the first commercial operation using Cho's
      methods on Oahu. "Here's a system that is not freight-dependent, and it
      changes the economics of how agriculture could be done in Hawaii."

      Cho, founder of the Janong Natural Farming Institute in Chungbuk, South
      Korea, held his first workshop in Hilo last February. Dr. Hoon Park, a
      retired physician in Hilo, heads Cho Global Natural Farming-USA, a nonprofit
      that promotes Cho's approach. Its workshop last month was sponsored by the
      Hawaii FFA Foundation, the University of Hawaii College of Tropical
      Agriculture and Kamehameha Schools, among others.

      Across the state, an unusual piggery in Kurtistown on the Big Island is
      another showcase for Cho's system of "natural farming." The pig farm's claim
      to fame: It does not smell or attract flies or even require cleaning. And
      its pigs are thriving.

      "It is the first piggery of this kind in the United States," said Michael
      DuPonte, a livestock extension agent with the University of Hawaii College
      of Tropical Agriculture and a technical adviser on the demonstration
      project. "It's been in production for 20 months, and I haven't cleaned the
      piggery yet. It looks the same as the day I opened it. No smell, no flies.
      It's a combination of the dry litter soaking up all the liquids and the
      microbes working together to break down the manure."

      DuPonte said the idea of not cleaning a pigsty did not sit well with him at
      first blush. "When Master Cho came to see me, I was a skeptic," DuPonte
      said. "I asked him, 'What about disease?' You don't clean a piggery in
      Hawaii, guarantee your pigs are going to get sick. He said, 'Don't worry
      about disease. The microbes will take care of that.' I didn't believe him."

      But after a trip to Korea to see a piggery in action, DuPonte became a
      convert. The Kang Farms "Inoculated Dry Litter System" piggery building,
      opened in August 2009 in Kurtistown, measures 30 by 60 feet and handles up
      to 125 pigs. It uses natural ventilation and is oriented for sunlight. The
      pens are filled with a deep bed of dry sawdust and wood chips, spiked with
      microorganisms cultivated from local soil that help break down the manure.
      The pigs are fed rations made from agricultural waste, including sweet
      potatoes, macadamia nuts and bananas.

      DuPonte says the pigs seem "stress-free and contented," and they are good
      neighbors because the piggery produces no waste, runoff or telltale smell.
      That is important for Hawaii's swine farmers, who have been pushed from one
      location after another by urbanization and complaints from neighbors. The
      piggery project was supported by the University of Hawaii, Farm Pilot
      Project Coordination, Hawaii County and Agribusiness Development Corp.,
      among others.

      "Pig farmers are very, very interested in the system," DuPonte said. "I've
      had 50 people come in and ask me if I would build these piggeries in their
      place. It's going to take off, mainly because of lack of odor. Pig farmers
      have been kicked out of Kam IV Road and then Hawaii Kai, and now they're
      getting challenges in Waianae and they don't know where they are going to go

      Versions of natural farming have been practiced for generations in Asia. But
      scientific proof of its efficacy is hard to come by because it is a complex
      system that adapts to local conditions, said Ted Radovich, assistant
      specialist in the Sustainable and Organic Farming Systems Laboratory at the
      UH College of Tropical Agriculture.

      "It looks like there is value there," Radovich said. "There is increasing
      interest in doing research. While I think there is potential, we're quite a
      way from understanding how it works."

      He said the appeal of Cho's approach in Hawaii lies in its "localness." "Any
      system that makes some inroads into decreasing our reliance on external
      inputs and improving the profitability of our local farms is important to
      consider," he said. "We're not at the point where we can make
      recommendations yet."

      DuPonte estimates that 150 people are practicing "natural farming"
      techniques in the Hilo area, mainly backyard farmers and gardeners.

      And here is the Natural Farming Hawaii web site:

      I was particularly interested in the slide show and the chart below it that
      showed how to culture local bacteria and fungi on white rice, how to make a
      fish/enzyme fertilizer mix, a plant enzyme fertilizer, and a liquid Calcium
      by soaking baked eggshells in vinegar.

      Michael Astera
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