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Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: Wei-Wu-Wei.....and an FYI

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  • Larry Haftl
    Hi Jamie, ... It will take me some time to find the emails, but the gist of it was that about the time that One Straw was published Fukuoka s rice field had
    Message 1 of 55 , Nov 10, 2003
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      Hi Jamie,

      > Hello Larry, I think you're referring to a problem Fukuoka had toward the
      > end of his time farming. Do you have some details?

      It will take me some time to find the emails, but the gist of it was that
      about the time that One Straw was published Fukuoka's rice field had been
      seriously invaded by some weed (forgot the name, but it's in the emails) to
      the point of greatly diminished yields. Fukuoka was not successful in
      finding a reasonably quick way to suppress these weeds and restore his rice
      yields to their former levels using his methods. Ultimately it was his
      family using tillage and chemicals that erradicated the weeds. Fukuoka
      apparently blamed the weed invasion on the newly created bullit train in the
      area brining in weed seeds from very far away.

      > While I understand your point about succession and agree that land is
      always
      > in the process of change upto climax hardwood forests (which are
      themselves
      > never completely unchanging systems), Fukuoka's rice/barley fields were
      > deliberately kept in an arrested stage of development by the green manure
      > which was replenished whenever it was fading, by the constant reseeding of
      > rice or barley and the return of straw to the fields - each naturally
      > controlling the succession. It is very unlikely that after 20-odd years of
      > success with this system there would be a sudden burst of succession that
      > was uncontrollable. I think we need to dig a little deeper into what
      > happened to make broad claims that Fukuoka's practice was a failure.

      One lesson I learned, thanks to Fukuoka's advice, is that ecosystems change
      no matter what you do to keep them in a relatively stable state. Airborn
      seeds can change an area in just one short growing season, and those seeds
      are NOT always the same from year to year or season to season. Variations in
      climate, especially rainfall or the lack of it, can also have profound
      impacts each year.

      I got the story of what happened to his field from one reasonably reliable
      source who claims to have seen it in person and discussed the matter with
      Fukuoka at the farm as the weed invasion was in progress. I was later able
      to verify it fairly well from two other completely unrelated sources. All
      that is missing is a direct interview with the people currently running the
      farm (which they are not willing to give so far). Consequently, while I
      really wish I, or anyone else, could get the details from the people working
      the farm, I believe what I've come up with so far is reasonably true and
      accurate.

      Larry Haftl
      larry@...
      http://LarryHaftl.com
      http://FukuokaFarmingOL.net
    • michael
      Wordy! How many cups of caffeine do you fellows drink before you write this? Fukuoka s method was never intended for commercial agriculture, in the American
      Message 55 of 55 , Nov 18, 2003
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        Wordy! How many cups of caffeine do you fellows drink before you write
        this?

        Fukuoka's 'method' was never intended for commercial agriculture, in
        the American use of the phrase.

        On Tuesday, November 18, 2003, at 04:56 AM, Larry Haftl wrote:

        > Hi Jamie,
        >
        >> Hello Larry, I'm not quite sure how to respond to this email, a
        >> point-by-point rebuttal, silence or something else entirely. My
        >> problem is
        >> that I don't actually know what it is you're arguing against.
        >
        > I didn't think I was arguing against anything in particular, so I went
        > back
        > and re-read several of the threads and I think I figured out what I
        > said
        > that is probably bothering you. It is my comments about Fukuoka
        > apparently
        > not being able to sustain the rice/barley yields he wrote about in his
        > books. If that is true then it can cast serious doubt on the
        > possibility of
        > using his method to develop commercially successful farms. Since you
        > are
        > personally heavily invested in trying to demonstrate that Fukuoka's
        > method
        > can be successful enough to replace current commercial agricultural
        > methods,
        > it is understandable that you find expressing such doubts in this forum
        > troublesome. Sorry about that, but all humans have doubts from time to
        > time,
        > even those who have never been formally exposed to Descartes,
        > Anglo-Saxon
        > culture, or Pragmatism. Doubt is something that happens to thinking
        > human
        > beings when, for instance, someone tells them something is going to
        > happen
        > and it doesn't happen time after time after time.
        >
        >> the criteria of proof proved?). But it is this worldview that Fukuoka
        >> has
        >> always opposed as seeing such 'contrariness' as reducing the reality
        >> of
        > the
        >> world so as to gain control over it and our current ecological
        >> destruction
        >> the result of this reduction. Natural Agriculture is Fukuoka's
        >> expression
        > of
        >> acceptance, of not doubting the natural world - of seeing doubt not
        >> as the
        >> achievement of humankind but its weakness, even downfall. Every page
        >> of
        >> Fukuoka's 3 main books are steeped in this openness to experience, his
        >> 'green philosophy' has been gained not by shutting himself away for 3
        >> days
        >> to see what he could be sure of through deductive thinking as
        >> Descartes
        > did,
        >> but 40 years work in the fields slowly letting scientific and
        >> enculturated
        >> techniques go.
        >
        > Fukuoka urged people to put doubts aside and try his method in order
        > to get
        > direct, first-hand experience with the power and abilities of natural
        > processes. I was and still am totally in favor of that. Openness to new
        > experiences is, to me, a very good thing. And so is not dismissing
        > something
        > because it failed to have desired results the first time I tried it.
        > Try to
        > figure out why it failed, make some adjustments, and try again. Sorry
        > if
        > this sounds like the scientific method at work, but it is, after all,
        > what
        > Fukuoka used himself and promotes.
        >
        >> Why is it 'critical' that you question Jean-Claude's conception that
        >> 2%
        > only
        >> of farmers is 'madness' when this is exactly Fukuoka's viewpoint
        >> expressed
        >> throughout his work to get people to return to the land so that they
        >> can
        >> rebuild the relationships to the natural world he feels we have lost
        >> in
        > the
        >> technicity of scientific enquiry? My point is that we know that this
        >> is
        > how
        >> Fukuoka feels and that is why we're part of this group. What I really
        > don't
        >> understand is why you continue to be part of this group if you
        >> disagree
        > with
        >> such basic aspects of Fukuoka's ideas?
        >
        > I didn't know that it was mandatory to absolutely, totally, and
        > unthinkingly
        > accept and believe in everything Fukuoka ever said or wrote in order to
        > participate in this group. The list's description said something about
        > discussing his ideas, not mindlessly repeating what he wrote or said. I
        > asked Jean-Claude why he thought it insane that only 2% of the
        > population
        > chose to be farmers because I wanted to hear his reasoning. Like
        > Fukuoka, I
        > think it would be nice if more people raised their own food, and even
        > nicer
        > if I could do so myself. But even if I disagreed with Fukuoka about
        > that, I
        > don't see such a disagreement as grounds for banishing from this forum
        > me or
        > anyone else. Do you? Are you saying that anyone who questions anything
        > Fukuoka has written or said should not be allowed to express his or her
        > thoughts, opinions, and experiences about what Fukuoka has written.
        >
        >> Or, to try again: Why are you a member of the Fukuoka_Farming email
        >> discussion group? I used to know, last year when you built the
        >> website,
        > when
        >> we corresponded voluminously off-list, as you also did with Emilia,
        >> expressing your enthusiasm, your very real belief that Fukuoka
        >> expressed
        >> something tangible for your life, I could understand. But now you are
        >> 'contrary', deliberately so. I don't understand.
        >
        > I am a member of this group because I get useful information from it. I
        > still have a lot of enthusiasm for what Fukuoka has written and said,
        > still
        > try to implement his methods as much as possible, and still enjoy
        > maintaining the website as a tool to help others find, understand, and
        > perhaps expand on what Fukuoka is all about. What I think you are
        > having a
        > hard time understanding or accepting is my doubts that Fukuoka's
        > methods can
        > be used exclusively in a commercial operation of any significant size
        > (arbitrarily more than several acres per person) with success. I think
        > there
        > is wisdom in his writings, but they are not, for me, absolute gospel
        > that I
        > have to absolutely and unquestioningly accept or be excommunicated
        > from the
        > group. If you are some day able to make a commercially successful go
        > of your
        > farm using only his methods they I will definitely sing your praises
        > and
        > rejoice with you. Doubting the effectiveness of his methods in
        > commercial
        > applications is not a deterrent to me as my goals are much more modest
        > than
        > yours. I simply want to understand how and why things grow and enjoy
        > the
        > learning process. And if I can get some goodies to eat along the way
        > then so
        > much the better. And who knows, maybe one day I'll be back on enough
        > land
        > that I can use his methods to completely feed myself, my family and
        > maybe a
        > few others and not have to rely on that dreaded scientific agriculture
        > for
        > actual survival as most of us now do.
        >
        >> Fukuoka's message is that of Buddhism, Christian mystics and (Islamic)
        >> Sufism, humankind cannot know the natural world in totality,
        >> therefore we
        >> must stop trying to improve the world through the valorisation of our
        >> intellect, our ability to question and create laws by which we
        >> organise
        > the
        >> world, but rather, settle back and let ourselves slowly regain the
        >> rhythms
        >> of life that we have lost. We go nowhere, literally, with
        >> 'contrariness'
        > but
        >> with natural agriculture Fukuoka has offered a practical release from
        >> the
        >> ever decreasing circles of doubt.
        >
        > It's much easier to "settle back and let ourselves slowly regain the
        > rhythms
        > of life that we have lost" if we have the land and/or resources to
        > feed,
        > clothe and house ourselves in a manner we find acceptable. You, me,
        > and many
        > of the people on this list (and even Fukuoka for that matter) can be
        > dilitante natural farmers and gardeners because we have a support
        > system
        > that will feed, clothe, and house us even if we are totally inept at
        > raising
        > food. We can follow his writings and personally benefit from them
        > regardless
        > of how much food we personally grow, and that process can, I believe,
        > open
        > us up to the natural world around us more effectively than many other
        > activities. To me, that's enough to be worth trying.
        >
        >> What I have been trying to situate
        >> in this email, because I'm not quite sure how else to express it, is
        >> that
        >> you are not just wondering which of the crossroads to take but have
        >> turned
        >> around and retraced your footsteps and left that path altogther.
        >
        > Hmmm.... still feels like I'm on the same path I was on when I first
        > encountered this list. Moved along it a bit, but still seems like the
        > same
        > path. Perhaps you are on a different one that doesn't give you a very
        > clear
        > view of the one I am on.
        >
        >> Sometimes in our lives we can feel that what we do amounts to
        >> nothing, we learn our own helplessness. Sometimes there is a spark
        >> that
        >> lights a new enthusiasm. I'm part of this group because I want to be
        >> part
        > of
        >> a movement that produces a practical, temperate natural agriculture
        >> that
        >> will one day counter the current scientific agriculture of the West.
        >
        > It appears that we are on different paths. I'm just trying to
        > understand how
        > and why things grow, trying to be in closer conscious contact with the
        > natural world around me. And maybe learn how to grow or gather as much
        > as I
        > eat. It's true I have doubts about Fukuoka's method being effective
        > enough
        > to permanently replace "current scientific agriculture" (a very
        > desireable
        > thing), but telling me it's wrong to express those doubts is pretty
        > much a
        > waste of time and bandwidth. Showing me that my doubts are unfounded by
        > turning Souscayrouse into a successful commercial venture would,
        > however,
        > definitely shut me up. And I'd be glad to help you in whatever way I
        > can to
        > do so. I think your grand goal is admirable. But then I think so is my
        > very
        > modest one.
        >
        >
        >
        > Larry Haftl
        > larry@...
        > http://LarryHaftl.com
        > http://FukuokaFarmingOL.net
        >
        >
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