- Well, a few good quotes from Fukuoka and Elliot Coleman can certainly clear the air. We need to be farmers (or at least gardeners) and grow things like them, not just theorists. Farmers and gardeners must be obedient to the Earth, rather than what science fiction writer Isaac Asimov once called "brain proud." The desire to control the Earth, its bounty and it people from the "top-down" lies at the center of the folly that Fukuoka and Coleman decry. The poet Shelley indited this brain-proud desert-making madness in his 1817 poem "Ozymandias":
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing besides remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
In other words, what the self-annointed "King of Kings" has actually accomplished is is to build a "colossal wreck" of a desert around his own, now collapsed monument.
There are probably as many roads to Natural Farming as their are people interested in it. Architecture and American literature led me to vegetable gardening. Frank Lloyd's Wright's belief in green belts and the "broadacre" concept, and the writings of Paul and Percival Goodman, particularly "Communitas," in which they meditated on proposals by Bucky Fuller, ingenious technocrat on the one hand, and Ralph Borsodi, neo-Thoreauvian, on the other, were spurs to go out and grow something in harmony with nature. Scott and Helen Nearing's names appear repeatedly in the Goodmans' writings; their vision of the good life centered on organic food production. As an English major specializing in American literature, I read a great deal of Thoreau. Though Thoreau, compared with Fukuoka, was a rank amateur of a farmer, his overall philosophy dovetails nicely with Fukuoka's philosophy. Most people dabbling in natural farming have probably done some organic and even hydroponic growing and will continue to experiement in each as they try to sort out nature's ways.
Fukuoka's observation that the natural world cannot be reduced to formulas that are then used to "take over' is shared by many scientists today. Theoretical physicist and author of the massive numbers-crunching program "Mathematica" is about ready to ready to release his book called "A New Kind of Science," in which he presents the view that the complexity of the universe proceeds from simplicity that does not reduce to mathematical formulas. Wonder if he wants to try dropping some seedballs to see what complexity proceeds from that simple pattern?
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