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Re: volunteer crops

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  • Forest Shomer
    Hello Carla, You are very perceptive. Others may have a concept of the word volunteer as being less worthy, but don t let that distract you from your
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 14, 2005
      Hello Carla,

      You are very perceptive. Others may have a concept of the word
      "volunteer" as being less worthy, but don't let that distract you
      from your observations.

      My experience is: gardening WITH volunteer crops since 1971, and very
      much including them in gardening classes that I have presented since
      then. Fukuoka visited me (in Washington State) in 1986, walked the
      gardens, and said, "This is 80% of my method." He suggested including
      more clover and nitrogen-fixers in the aisles of the garden to
      complete the picture. (Note: that garden is now in past-tense.)

      Where I presume the connection exists to your cosmology, is in the
      wonder of finding oneself in a Garden not of solely of one's own
      planting, but which includes many drop-in 'guests' that offer beauty,
      nourishment, shelter. More succinctly, to be in a realm of Magic, as
      in the original Garden that is so central to the West's principal
      creation story. To me, these guests are like people who enter our
      personal experience--some have been invited as we have a sense of
      what they may bring to us (of benefit, usually); others appear
      unbidden, yet they may have something very important to offer us.
      Each one, bearing a lesson for Life. The skill of being a successful
      human is in being able to recognize that each has a reason for coming
      to us, and in not rejecting any of them for being so humble and

      This is not to say that having made the acquaintance of these
      (species, or persons), that one isn't to determine that some are out
      of place in the garden of one's own choosing. But one must develop a
      keener eye for those volunteers that really do belong, but that one
      hasn't had the wisdom at first to have invited.

      I find that there are as many niches or spaces in the garden matrix
      for desirable volunteers as there are for the purposely-planted. For
      example, as we learn from companion planting wisdom, there are
      multiple stories or tiers in the garden canopy. We may have intended
      to plant something low and spreading like heads of lettuce or
      cabbage, and not seen that there are vertical spaces for onions
      between the heads. Now if these onions or leeks or vertical elements
      happen to volunteer--isn't that a blessing? We can learn from that.
      In the Fukuoka method one leaves some onions et al to re-seed
      themselves; when they volunteer the following year, the garden
      naturalizes into a multi-story 'paradise' or realm of magic. There is
      no limit to how far one may explore in this dimension.

      One of the blessings I found was that after about three or four
      years, the soil became sufficiently natural and undisturbed that
      wildflowers began to seed themselves in from the margins. This adds a
      truly wondrous dimension, which most gardeners overlook. Work with
      the gifts you are given.

      I believe that the reason you resonate so strongly with the insight
      of 'volunteer crops', is that in our souls we have been in this
      garden before and therefore recognize its natural harmony. We've seen
      elements of it, perhaps, in this lifetime in some natural place,
      maybe a mountain meadow of wildflowers perfectly set among the
      boulders. Our souls know this garden from the time before
      agriculture, in the mythic past 10,000 years ago when the planet's
      climate was most congenial and we dwelt amidst abundance that was the
      garden's heritage, uncultivated as it was. There have always been at
      least a few gardeners and farmers who understand 'the Fukuoka method'
      (as it is called in our time). Now we are challenged to spread this
      wisdom while there is still some fertile soil left in which to grow.

      From my conversations with Fukuoka, I am confident he would agree
      with these statements, or
      'at least 80%' of it! Blessings,


      > Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005 10:28:39 -0000
      > From: "Carla OHarris" <beowulfrebel@...>
      >Subject: intro
      >My name is Carla O'Harris and I am interested in Fukuoka's "taoist
      >farming" techniques of working with nature permaculturally so it is
      >very little work.
      >I am an expert in the field of Norse Mythology, and am also a student
      >of medieval heresies. The study of paradise narratives and their
      >influence in history (including revolutionary narratives) is also
      >very interesting to me.
      >I just discovered a new word : "volunteer crop". What a fantastic
      >word! A crop that wants to grow itself!! Isn't this in essence the
      >idea behind Fukuoka's farming?
      >Carla O'Harris


      Inside Passage Seeds and Native Plant Services
      Forest Shomer, owner
      Port Townsend, WA, USA
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