Re: volunteer crops
- 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@...>
>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?
Inside Passage Seeds and Native Plant Services
Forest Shomer, owner
Port Townsend, WA, USA