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Fukuoka Returned Rockefeller Grant in 1999

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  • Robert Monie
    Hi Everybody, Sorry for the incomplete transmission of my last email. Iearned from Lydia Brown of the Rockefeller Foundation a few minutes ago that although
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 26, 2003
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      Hi Everybody,

      Sorry for the incomplete transmission of my last email. Iearned from Lydia Brown of the Rockefeller Foundation a few minutes ago that although Fukuoka was awarded a Ramon Magsaysay Program for Asian Projects Grant for $10,000 in 1998 to write a textbook on how to make clayballs, he returned the money in December 1999. He said in the letter to the foundation that because of advanced age he was unable to complete the project.

      So, we can say with assurance that "Traveling with Seedballs" was financed some other way and is not intended to be a textbook or "how to" manual on making seedballs. But Fukuoka-san was considering such a "how to" book that would detail the process, so, at least until 1998, he was not committed to spreading this knowledge by word of mouth only.

      Many cultures, including Native Americans have embedded seeds in clay to protect them from being eaten by birds and small animals. Emilia had a citation from an early medieval Arabic writer describing seedballs, and a company under contract with NASA for growing food crops in outer space today has its own updated version of seedballs. Since all these sources independently developed the idea of seedballs at different times and in dirrerent cultures, it would appear ludicrous to try to "patent" seedballs.

      Instructions for making seedballs are available at many sites on the Internet including three linked to the Fukuoka_farming site:



      Doing a www.google.com search for "seedballs" will easily pull up dozens or more sites that discuss seedballs, how to make them, and ongoing applications. Many American grade schools teach their children how to make seedballs. Of course, they may not be making the balls the way Fukuoka and Honmi specify.

      Personally I have yet to get anything to grow from seedballs. Last week I noticed on the grounds of the college where I work many clumps of wild onions. They are coming up everywhere, on the grass behind buildings, on the edges of sidewalks, even in the soil surrounding manholes. They have remarkably tough and extensive roots for such small plants. I checked with the groundskeepers and the horticulture department; they assure me that no one ever had wild onions on campus or attempted to plant any. And yet there they are--dozens of healthy clumps of them. By contrast, I have thrown out hundreds of seed balls and not one scraggley shoot has appeared as a result.

      On Michiyo's question of whether the Internet is an oral or a written medium--I would say not quite either. Writing on the Internet is chancy; it can last perhaps till the end of (electronic) time or disappear instantly. Anyone going through our archives can see that many of the links given no longer come up. Writing in this medium is like writing on sand; the first electronic wind that comes can blow your message away. Since we don't hear each other's voice as we would on the telephone, we aren't really aural or oral either. But we are chatty and conversational, so that makes email almost like oral transmission.

      Bob Monie, Louisiana

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