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Mr. Fukuoka's Know-Nothing, Do-Nothing Philosophy

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  • John Warner
    Hello, Fukuokans, I hardly have time to post anymore but I d like to share my interpetation of Mr. Fukuoka s know-nothing, do-nothing philosophy. To be sure,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 10, 2005
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      Hello, Fukuokans,

      I hardly have time to post anymore but I'd like to share my interpetation of Mr. Fukuoka's know-nothing, do-nothing philosophy. To be sure, however, my method differs markedly from his but has resemblence to Emelia's work in France.

      I have pasted the introductory page from our Whole Systems Agriculture website below but the illustrations and a good deal of the readability are lost going through Google. Better to click on http://www.wholesystemsag.org and get the original.

      Good wishes, all

      John Warner, Madera Whole Systems Agriculture near Fresno, California
      Hand-scale market growers since 1996


      [ MAIN Page ] [ ELEMENTS of the Whole Systems Agriculture Method ] [ Food Security for the Millions ]
      [ Articles and Websites Illustrating Whole Systems Concepts ] [ The Whole Systems Classroom ]
      [NEW INTRODUCTION! A Total System Approach, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA ]
      [ NEW PHOTOS! Garden Gallery Illustrating the Current Madera Method ] [ Contact Us ]

      ~Whole Systems Agriculture~
      including material on
      applying systems theory in the classroom and community





      It's my pleasure to share our experience and our vision as we continue to develop the whole systems agriculture concept at our little farm near Fresno, California. The year 2005 marks our 10th season in business and, for all but the first of these years, our hand-scale farm has completely supported two adults and has contributed substantially to the material well-being of a five-child family. Economically, we have held our own in a climate generally hostile to small-scale farmers. Although our monetary return to labor is low by the standards of industrial society, we are living the agrarian dream of finding security on a small piece of land. Our work is supported completely by sales at farmers markets and we are glad to share what we are learning freely with the greater community. We do not solicit grants, subsidies or donations. Our labor is family generated. We have no volunteers, interns or hired workers.
      You don't need to know a lot or have an advanced education to practice the whole systems method. One can do well just shoveling up beds, mulching, planting, watering, pulling some weeds, and following simple directions on seed packages and in very basic books. I call whole systems agriculture "know-nothing-agriculture" because my garden system, just like my body, does a hundred things for me that I never need to concern myself with or think about things like breathing, blinking and walking. Systems manage themselves. Better to know few things about whole systems than a thousand details about their parts.



      Being aged or sick or lazy should not be a barrier to success as a whole systems practitioner. Pushing age 70, I let my garden system do much of my work. Forking mulch is much, much easier than digging heavy soil. Pulling a few lightly rooted weeds is much, much easier than tilling or hoeing thick weeds growing in tight, unmulched soil. I probably spend no more time in my garden than I spent in my classroom when I was teaching school--say 1000 hours a year compared to the 2000 hours that regular people work. Lots of that time is not real work either; I walk around and enjoy the wonder of it all. That allows me to putter and weave my theories. This is why I call whole systems agriculture "do-nothing" agriculture. In a world that places value on more and more, I hold up the goal of doing less and less.

      Many of the best principles of systems are counter-intuitive and indirect. Causes will often be widely separated from effects in time and space. The intuitive way to deal with pests is to poison them. The results are immediate and satisfying but there may be unforeseen difficulties. When pests die, so do the predators that depend on them for food; when pests return they multiply unchecked creating infestations even more severe. This is why, at the first sign of a problem, I do nothing. And so it is that in many ways by doing nothing, I can accomplish everything.

      It's been said that systems theory turns the world inside-out and upside-down--and my experience has shown this to be true. In the more than 20 years I've been formally acquainted with systems theory, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of adults I've found that take more than a polite interest in it. The academic community has kept it locked up in their ivory towers. Most people like to see their world outside-out and upside-up. In many cases, I've found that children are more receptive to the systems view of things.


      Finally, there is a children's song that captures the essence of the kind of know-nothing, do-nothing agriculture I'm talking about. It illustrates the cycles of initiation and completion inherent in natural systems.


      Oats and peas and barley grow.
      Oats and peas and barley grow.
      Do you or I or does anyone know
      How oats and peas and barley grow?
      First the farmer plants the seeds,
      Stands up tall and takes her ease.
      She stamps her feet and claps her hands
      And turns around and views the land.
      Next the farmer waters the seeds.
      Stands up tall and takes her ease.
      She stamps her feet and claps her hands,
      And turns around and views the land.

      Then the farmer pulls the weeds.
      Stands up tall and takes her ease.
      She stamps her feet and claps her hands
      And turns around and views the land.

      Last the farmer harvests the seeds.
      Stands up tall and takes her ease.
      She stamps her feet and claps her hands
      And turns around and views the land.


      Oats and peas and barley grow.
      Oats and peas and barley grow.
      Do you or I or does anyone know
      How oats and peas and barley grow?

      Go to ELEMENTS Index


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      [ MAIN Page ] [ ELEMENTS of the Whole Systems Agriculture Method ] [ Food Security for the Millions ]
      [ Articles and Websites Illustrating Whole Systems Concepts ] [ The Whole Systems Classroom ]
      [ NEW INTRODUCTION! A Total System Approach, Proceedings of the National Academy, USA ]
      [ NEW PHOTOS! Garden Gallery Illustrating the Current Madera Method ] [ Contact Us ]


      Whole Systems Agriculture ~ Madera, California ~ ©2005
      www.wholesystemsag.org
      Permission is granted to freely print and distribute copies of this document.







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