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David Holmgren on Making Fukuoka's Ideas Work

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  • Robert Monie
    Hello Everybody, Larry s recent comments on the need to pay careful attention to Fukuoka s later writings concerning crop rotation and other matters not much
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 16, 2002
      Hello Everybody,

      Larry's recent comments on the need to pay careful attention to Fukuoka's later writings concerning crop rotation and other matters not much discussed in One Straw Revolution are echoed in an article David Holmgren did on the origins of permaculture back in 1991. A few excepts:

      (from: http://www.spa.country.net.au/holmgren/web%20PDF2/10PCdevelop.pdf )

      "Fukuoka's philosophy, observational methods, and incredibly productive results provided a valuable example for permaculture to counter the criticism of it being theoretical and impractical. Fukuoka's methods provided a framework for incorporation of annual grains into permaculture."

      "The apparent simplicity of Fukuoka's methods led to unreal expectations by the inexperienced, and disbelief by farmers. However, the rotations used by Fukuoka (explained in later books) reveal a sophisticated system evolved from an already sustainable and productive traditional land use system in a rich and fertile landscape by brilliant observation and endless perseverance."

      "Attempts to apply his methods have not necessarily been successful because any sustainable system is context and site specific. [Section Deleted] Perhaps the most universal aspect of Fukuoka, the learning from nature, remains the most difficult for people to adopt and without that no amount of technical information on permaculture will lead to sustainable systems."

      It follows from these observations that anyone not interested in "learning from nature" and not possessed of "endless perseverence" might easily revert to mechanized petro-chemical farming. which tries to bend nature to its own ends.

      Just how much sustainable systems are "context and site specific" is illustrated in Fukuoka's classification of Chayote squash as a weak plant. My earliest memories of plant life growing up in the "Mid-City" section of New Orleans, LA are of the large black seeds of the four o'clock plants growing by the front porch and the sticky green tendrils of the Chayote coming over the fence from the neighbor's yard into ours. I have witnessed over 50 years of Chayotes growing there and never imagined that the plant could fail to thrive except for freezes and dry spells. In South Louisiana Chayotes are so vital that after a good rain the little ones swell to about one and a half times their size. Few people buy them from the grocery stores because they are available for free in most back yards. Visible signs of disease are rare though hardly anyone bothers to fertilize, mulch or otherwise cater to the plants. They spring up unbidden like weeds and normally produce massive quantites of "vegetable pears." It would be harder to imagine a more at home and easy to grow plant than Chayote, but the plant evidently does not readily thrive on the very different soil of the Fukuoka farm.

      Bob Monie

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