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Re: [fukuoka_farming] Flirting with nature

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  • Jamie Nicol
    Dear All, it is very encouraging for me to hear the words of Andrew and Bart. I feel in their words my own restless moving from one position to another, always
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 5, 2007
      Dear All, it is very encouraging for me to hear the words of Andrew and Bart. I feel in their words my own restless moving from one position to another, always attempting to be right, to follow the true...only, of course, to time and again to have all positions exposed as false. It is indeed our minds that move.

      This, I believe, is why there is NF. There is no better way to be brought back time and again to the spectacle of the restlessness of our minds in the techniques with which we choose to grow our plants. Because it is nature that grows plants, not us. Perhaps it is better not to even attribute agency to nature and say plants just grow.

      If we once make that commitment to attempt 'do-nothing' then we discover that in letting go we are open to everything and the discovery of what a very scary place that is when we have been used to dictating just where, when and how a plant should grow. Fukuoka calls NF a 'methodless method', but how difficult it is to let go all the techniques we have learnt, even the unconscious ones, and it takes a very remarkable person to just let go and accept that nature is perfect.

      It would be easy to imagine that NF is simply the words we are anonymously sending out into this electronic ether, but NF is nothing if it is not what we actually practice. If NF remains just words it changes nothing, NF is practice, every day. Working outside with the ever unfolding of nature is constantly to be brought back to the unknowableness at the heart of existence', which certainly contains fear but can also transform into the most extraordinary joy at the simple wonder of existence itself: "Why am I alive? I don't know. But I'm just so happy to be so".

      NF is not just doing nothing either, it is not renunciation of the world and withdrawal into ourselves. The world is real, intimately so. It is as if through the resolute practice of NF that we learn through experience to stop chasing techniques for this and that, to let all our goal directed activity recede like the tide on a beach. Having let go fully, the tide does not disappear over the horizon, but at some moment the tide turns. I hope that what we can do here with these disembodied words is to describe what our practice of NF actually is having experienced the turning of the tide. Making what we discuss here the actual embodiment of our understanding of NF in our own gardens or fields.

      I live in a bioregion prone to weather extremes, heat in summer, cold in winter, strong winds, inconstant and sometimes destructive rain, even though it is a wonderful climate for most of the year...what does that mean for a natural agriculture on my small piece of land? Fukuoka describes the need to know before you begin what a natural agriculture should look like. But, therefore, one would also have had to have had the experience of letting go all techniques first. So what have I deduced (deduction rather than induction, says Fukuoka) in the few years I've been here? That NF in this bioregion begins with trees, whether for orchards, cereal fields or vegetables. That's it. It isn't much, but when I look at the overgrazed hills above and the wasted vines around, I can feel the lack of trees like an ache in the ground that passes through my boots and into my body.

      So I cast tree seeds whenever I can, on my land and the land above that makes up my small watershed. Indeed, it might well be that there is nothing else to do but cast seeds.

      I'd like to finish with a question: Is there a difference between Fukuoka's NF as detailed in 'One-Straw', 'Natural Way' and 'Road Back' and his last book, 'Recapitualtion'? Does anyone know or has anyone had an insight in their practice that might have offered an answer to this question, because it seems to me that Fukuoka ultimately simplified everything to just casting seedballs.

      I've probably gone on longer than I should have and combined too many things, but I hope it is still possible to follow what my path of NF looks like. I'd love to hear yours?

      Jamie
      Souscayrous

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Andrew E Fister
      To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Sunday, February 04, 2007 4:30 PM
      Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] Flirting with nature


      I flirt with nature, like the woman I love. One motivation for farming
      naturally as far as I can tell is "First, do no harm". It used to be for
      me that my motivation for farming naturally was to prove I am right and
      anyone not getting on my band wagon was wrong, or greedy, or ignorant.
      Whether the people I know who are farming conventionally are guilty or
      not, my whole motivation was to prove they are. This motivation, until I
      realized it, was nothing less than a form of war. I made conventional
      farming and those farmers my enemies. I judged them and what they were
      doing as criminal and I put them in the prison of the concepts I believed
      in. The result became this great divide between us and I became
      imprisoned in the same prison I constructed for them.

      I now view all this suffering as my greed, aggression and ignorance, not
      theirs, my war in myself with the enemy being me against myself. I
      couldn't see Nature until I stopped thinking in a way that was harming
      myself. Until I stopped believing in the illusion that something or
      someone outside my mind was causing harm, my natural farming was merely
      academic....dead, no joy, like a weapon. Yes, I know the damage done by
      conventional farming methods, but I doubt condemning the people who
      practice it will end the harm.

      I am in conflict with and divided from Nature in myself when I believe
      the yield I get "should" be different than it is. I am in conflict with
      and separate from Nature when I get stuck on thinking a crop failure
      shouldn't have happened, or that success is based on a fixed set of
      results. This is not to say that I don't have results in mind. All
      results are exactly what they should be and when I see that, I am
      grateful. There is no harm in being grateful for reality. I get
      aggressive and greedy if I believe it should be otherwise. Conventional
      farming methods and conventional farmers are, in a sense, my teachers. I
      am grateful for that too and then I remember my gardening practices have
      nothing to do with them, not as a means of opposing them. This makes me a
      harmless activist, not because I oppose them. I don't oppose them...they
      don't oppose me. Their minds change when they change, and they are
      changing, just like mine.

      Andrew Fister
      Wandafar Sanctuary
      Glasgow, KY

      On Sun, 4 Feb 2007 06:49:38 -0600 Andrew E Fister <aefister@...>
      writes:
      The only time an argument exists between natural farming and conventional
      farming is when I am having it in my mind. If I am arguing (making one
      view good and another view wrong) that's when I get trapped in the
      illusion of concepts. If I make a distinction between "nothingness" and
      "somethingness" as if they are states of mind I could be trapped in, I am
      also trapped. Once I start having this petty argument with my neighbor, I
      am indeed trapped. Unless of course I also know the trap is an illusion,
      in which case I can play and be in love with my conventional farming
      neighbor.

      If natural farming is about how "to do" and how "not to do" then I am not
      doing it and not - not doing it.

      Andrew Fister
      Wandafar Sanctuary
      Glasgow, KY

      b 2007 08:53:16 -0000 "Bart" <bartovan@...> writes:
      I agree wholeheartedly that this is the real issue of natural farming,
      and that in natural farming yield is not a goal - in a sense, there is
      no goal. Thank you for pointing this out.

      However, let's be careful not to get trapped in Nothingness (which is
      one of the diseases of zen). If my industrial farmer neighbour comes
      to me and tells me, "hey, did you see the sun came up in the west this
      morning", I will tell him that this is not true, i.e. that this is not
      the right way to use these words. I know there is really neither east
      nor west, that these are concepts or illusions, and that the sun
      (another concept) doesn't care, and so on. However, if you open your
      mouth and use words, you should use them correctly.
      In the same way, if he comes to me and tells me "you and your natural
      farming, your yield is pitifull", I think it is important not to let
      ourselves be trapped in his incorrect (selective) use of the term
      "yield", only referring to weight/volume and making abstraction of
      many other important factors.
      Or we can just smile to him of course, but I for one know that if my
      smile doesn't come profoundly from the heart, I better argue :)

      This "industrial high yield"-lie is a stick behind the door with which
      organic producers/consumers/sellers are often beaten on the head -
      with their own full cooperation, choosing to go along with the narrow
      weight/volume-perspective and not finding an adequate response.

      But again, I do think it is very iportant to remember, time after
      time, that he real issue in natural farming is doing nothing.

      Bart

      --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, "Jamie Nicol" <jamienicol@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > Dear All, in an attempt to broaden the discussion of 'success' and
      to avoid falling into 'esoteric' chatter, I thought some words of
      Fukuoka would be pragmatic:
      >
      > " To achieve a humanity and a society founded on non-action, man
      must look back over everything he has done and rid himself one by one
      of the false visions and concepts that permeate him and his society.
      This is what the 'do-nothing' movement is all about. Natural Farming
      can be seen as one branch of this movement. Human knowledge and effort
      expand and grow increasingly complex and wasteful without limit. We
      need to halt this expansion, to converge, simplify, and reduce our
      knowledge and effort. This is in keeping with the laws of nature.
      Natural Farming is more than just a revolution in agricultural
      techniques. It is the practical foundation of a spiritual movement, of
      a revolution to change the way we live."
      >
      > Obviously, the tenor of these words seems to suggest that NF and
      'success' might not be to do with yield, qualitative or quantitative.
      >
      > Jamie
      > Souscayrous
      >

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Steve Gage
      Jamie, I really get a lot from your (and many others of you!) posts here - you help me realize what it is that I ve already been thinking about, or at least
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 5, 2007
        Jamie,

        I really get a lot from your (and many others of you!) posts here - you help
        me realize what it is that I've already been thinking about, or at least the
        kind of things I've been thinking about. I love the "flirting" idea - that's
        really how I feel sometimes, though often it's just simple all-out love :-)

        Here are a few random thoughts from an ecologist (who also teaches a
        sustainable gardening class), brought forth by your last post, but also the
        past few days' excellent sharing here. Please consider this "thinking out
        loud" and sharing, not some dogma that I adhere to or promote. And please
        excuse my abundant use of "", but I don't know how else to inflect my
        meaning.

        I sometimes think of NF, and "do nothing", in slightly different words - I
        think of what I "do" with my land as "allowing", or maybe even better
        "getting out of the way as much as possible". Busy-humans seem to have a
        need to DO things, and most of what we do is thwart natural processes. Ah,
        but what constitutes "as much as possible"?... That seems to me to be where
        most of our questions lurk.

        The more I learn about soil microbiology and ecology, the more I realize I
        don't need to know about soil microbiology and ecology, except insofar as my
        learning reminds me continuously to get out of the way! I would no more
        "turn over" the soil in my garden than chop off my hand - such a violent and
        personal grotesquery - not only because I know what it would do, but equally
        because I don't know. To me, science is for wonderment, not control. Every
        new "fact" that comes to light merely shows how deep (indeed bottomless!)
        the well of the unknown and unknowable truly is.

        Fortunately, and this to me is MF's (Happy Birthday, Good Man!) great gift
        to us all... We don't NEED to know! Imagine being told that in five minutes,
        you were going to be consciously responsible for and in control of all your
        bodily functions and metabolisms and whatnot. You'd be dead shortly
        thereafter. Fortunately, you don't have to, and life goes on just fine. Just
        as impossible and idiotic to me is the notion of "managing" ecosystems. You
        don't manage ecosystems, you get out of the way.

        That said (here comes the busy monkey!), so much of our land is so hurt, and
        it seems natural to want to, well, "do" something to help it along. We throw
        seed, we throw mulch. So far so good. Of course we never spray chemicals,
        but do we hand-pick bugs? Do we pull up sod-forming grasses coming into our
        vegetables? There are plenty of other "weeds". And of course, there's the
        ultimate kicker: do we have any "right" to even "grow" "vegetables" in New
        Hampshire, USA? Do we only grow what comes up without any help? The "weeds"
        that we have around here are 99% introduced by humans anyway - why shouldn't
        we pull them? MF writes about chopping down trees and burying them to put
        carbon back into the soil - that seems pretty extreme to me...

        My point is that many of us, I believe, have our hearts in a very seeking
        place, and we get hold of principles, and we want to take them to their
        logical conclusions. And at the same time, we want to eat real food from our
        land. And we struggle over just where that line falls between "doing
        nothing" and "fidgeting". We are all trying to find that line, and trying to
        find it under all different conditions of climate and soil. That's one
        reason I value this group so much.

        I will close with a little story. A very good friend of mine grew up in a
        family that always had large vegetable gardens, and grew a lot of their food
        with what are, I'm afraid to say, "traditional" methods around here:
        rototill every spring and fall, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc. He
        knew my gardening ways very well, and needed no convincing to go in a more
        NF direction, and tried to persuade his father (a real engineering type) to
        at least go somewhat organic, and then, finally no-till. He wasn't getting
        anywhere. One day his father called him to say that he was selling his
        rototiller - he'd been digging a hole to transplant something or other, and
        discovered a big fat toad resting down in the cool earth. It was the very
        thought of rototilling that toad* that changed this man's whole notion of
        gardening, and indeed soil. The moral of the story? I don't know, but
        certainly there is one...

        All best,

        Steve

        *PS - It helped that he liked toads. I guess that somehow, in his mind, that
        toad became "toads", and "toads" became that toad, and *presto*, that was
        the end of rototilling. A beautiful thing :-)
      • Robin, Maya, or Napi
        Another thanks to all the wise questioning that goes on here, making every day a celebration of Masanobu Fukuoka s birthday. The practice in letting go of
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 5, 2007
          Another thanks to all the wise questioning that goes on here, making every
          day a celebration of Masanobu Fukuoka's birthday.

          The practice in letting go of attempts at control in Natural Farming is a
          skill that I am trying to practice with the current situation in the
          community garden here. The thoughts expressed on this newsgroup, always
          fascinating, have been especially helpful lately.

          As submitted in our report a while back, our school has for some years been
          involved in various park & neighborhood projects that were based on
          no-till, mixed seed grouping (not in clay balls, though), weed & insect
          inclusion & study. The park projects, planted borders along an alley, were
          repeatedly, if inadvertently, mowed down by constantly changing maintenance
          crews who simply saw them as a big jumble, even after official meetings &
          signage. The park border projects have been frustrating as well as
          intriguing.

          We contacted other schools & churches in the area to found a community
          garden on land that one of the churches could share. From the outset, we
          spelled out that we wanted the garden to contain examples of Fukuokan
          inspired gardening, as well as allowing all other gardeners their own
          choices of models to follow (from reading Ruth Stout's lasagna gardening,
          Mollison's permaculture, Jeavons' biointensive, or just what they remember
          their grandparents telling them) as long as no petrochemical,
          non-biodegradable fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides were used. Another
          community garden in the city got a grant for their professional designers
          to serve as consultant to new gardens, & we invited them into our garden.
          To our surprise, the first thing that they had to say was that everything
          that we had done in the months we had spent building the garden should be
          back-hoed & the whole thing started over (after they spent a few months on
          their paid professional design.) A contract requirement for community
          gardeners would include keeping the bed weeded.

          The conflict in the community garden is a force that is pushing against
          allowing anyone to maintain a Fukuokan respect for studying their garden
          bed, & my lesson in letting go seems to be yield like the willow so that
          the passing storm will not break my stance. In this case, it may be called
          "smile as if saying "Okay, we will all do what the consultant says,"
          without actually saying "Okay, we will all do what the consultant says."
          Eventually, the consultants, conventional organic gardeners, will likely
          make an example of our school's garden, probably using the standard
          comparison of yield in weight, to show that Natural Farming methods "do not
          work as well" as labor-intensive control of more aspects of the garden bed.

          This community garden, however, was founded as a project of the
          neighborhood's Emergency Preparedness & Sustainability Committee. The
          stated purpose of the garden includes examining how well the garden could
          be sustained during changing times, including really hard times, including
          emergencies, including the likes of James Howard Kunstler's book, The Long
          Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, & Other Converging
          Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century
          <http://www.amazon.com/Long-Emergency-Converging-Catastrophes-Twenty-First/dp/0871138883>.
          That possibility stands in contradiction to the presumed requirement for
          every food plant everywhere to be dependent on a double-digging rototiller.

          The toad sitting passively in the hole has challenged the rototiller, & the
          lesson has not been lost. Flirting with the toad is playful enough. If
          anyone has to kiss it though, the consultants may have to learn to
          demonstrate that.

          Peace,
          Napi
        • Andrew E Fister
          Another way to say what Jamie said....I think. Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub. It is on the hole in the center that the use of the wheel hinges. We
          Message 4 of 6 , Feb 5, 2007
            Another way to say what Jamie said....I think.

            "Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub.
            It is on the hole in the center that the use of the wheel hinges.

            We make a vessel from a lump of clay,
            It is the empty space within the vessel that makes it useful.

            We make doors, walls and windows for a room,
            But it is the empty space contained that makes the room livable.

            Thus, while the tangible has advantages,
            It is the intangible that makes it useful."

            This is my experience of NF. Whatever advantage I may perceive in some
            method for handling the tangibles of gardening, it is ultimately and
            always only the intangible I serve. Thus, I have noticed, my own
            usefulness in NF is not in culturing nature necessarily, but in being
            cultured by the intangible. And this is not to say that I need to be, or
            do anything differently than I am already, until that changes. It seems
            to me every step on the path of NF is stepping into empty space and
            seeing I am there.

            Andrew Fister
            Wandafar Sanctuary
            Glasgow, KY

            On Mon, 5 Feb 2007 14:50:41 +0100 "Jamie Nicol" <jamienicol@...>
            writes:
            Dear All, it is very encouraging for me to hear the words of Andrew and
            Bart. I feel in their words my own restless moving from one position to
            another, always attempting to be right, to follow the true...only, of
            course, to time and again to have all positions exposed as false. It is
            indeed our minds that move.

            This, I believe, is why there is NF. There is no better way to be brought
            back time and again to the spectacle of the restlessness of our minds in
            the techniques with which we choose to grow our plants. Because it is
            nature that grows plants, not us. Perhaps it is better not to even
            attribute agency to nature and say plants just grow.

            If we once make that commitment to attempt 'do-nothing' then we discover
            that in letting go we are open to everything and the discovery of what a
            very scary place that is when we have been used to dictating just where,
            when and how a plant should grow. Fukuoka calls NF a 'methodless method',
            but how difficult it is to let go all the techniques we have learnt, even
            the unconscious ones, and it takes a very remarkable person to just let
            go and accept that nature is perfect.

            It would be easy to imagine that NF is simply the words we are
            anonymously sending out into this electronic ether, but NF is nothing if
            it is not what we actually practice. If NF remains just words it changes
            nothing, NF is practice, every day. Working outside with the ever
            unfolding of nature is constantly to be brought back to the
            unknowableness at the heart of existence', which certainly contains fear
            but can also transform into the most extraordinary joy at the simple
            wonder of existence itself: "Why am I alive? I don't know. But I'm just
            so happy to be so".

            NF is not just doing nothing either, it is not renunciation of the world
            and withdrawal into ourselves. The world is real, intimately so. It is as
            if through the resolute practice of NF that we learn through experience
            to stop chasing techniques for this and that, to let all our goal
            directed activity recede like the tide on a beach. Having let go fully,
            the tide does not disappear over the horizon, but at some moment the tide
            turns. I hope that what we can do here with these disembodied words is to
            describe what our practice of NF actually is having experienced the
            turning of the tide. Making what we discuss here the actual embodiment of
            our understanding of NF in our own gardens or fields.

            I live in a bioregion prone to weather extremes, heat in summer, cold in
            winter, strong winds, inconstant and sometimes destructive rain, even
            though it is a wonderful climate for most of the year...what does that
            mean for a natural agriculture on my small piece of land? Fukuoka
            describes the need to know before you begin what a natural agriculture
            should look like. But, therefore, one would also have had to have had the
            experience of letting go all techniques first. So what have I deduced
            (deduction rather than induction, says Fukuoka) in the few years I've
            been here? That NF in this bioregion begins with trees, whether for
            orchards, cereal fields or vegetables. That's it. It isn't much, but when
            I look at the overgrazed hills above and the wasted vines around, I can
            feel the lack of trees like an ache in the ground that passes through my
            boots and into my body.

            So I cast tree seeds whenever I can, on my land and the land above that
            makes up my small watershed. Indeed, it might well be that there is
            nothing else to do but cast seeds.

            I'd like to finish with a question: Is there a difference between
            Fukuoka's NF as detailed in 'One-Straw', 'Natural Way' and 'Road Back'
            and his last book, 'Recapitualtion'? Does anyone know or has anyone had
            an insight in their practice that might have offered an answer to this
            question, because it seems to me that Fukuoka ultimately simplified
            everything to just casting seedballs.

            I've probably gone on longer than I should have and combined too many
            things, but I hope it is still possible to follow what my path of NF
            looks like. I'd love to hear yours?

            Jamie
            Souscayrous

            ----- Original Message -----
            From: Andrew E Fister
            To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Sunday, February 04, 2007 4:30 PM
            Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] Flirting with nature

            I flirt with nature, like the woman I love. One motivation for farming
            naturally as far as I can tell is "First, do no harm". It used to be for
            me that my motivation for farming naturally was to prove I am right and
            anyone not getting on my band wagon was wrong, or greedy, or ignorant.
            Whether the people I know who are farming conventionally are guilty or
            not, my whole motivation was to prove they are. This motivation, until I
            realized it, was nothing less than a form of war. I made conventional
            farming and those farmers my enemies. I judged them and what they were
            doing as criminal and I put them in the prison of the concepts I believed
            in. The result became this great divide between us and I became
            imprisoned in the same prison I constructed for them.

            I now view all this suffering as my greed, aggression and ignorance, not
            theirs, my war in myself with the enemy being me against myself. I
            couldn't see Nature until I stopped thinking in a way that was harming
            myself. Until I stopped believing in the illusion that something or
            someone outside my mind was causing harm, my natural farming was merely
            academic....dead, no joy, like a weapon. Yes, I know the damage done by
            conventional farming methods, but I doubt condemning the people who
            practice it will end the harm.

            I am in conflict with and divided from Nature in myself when I believe
            the yield I get "should" be different than it is. I am in conflict with
            and separate from Nature when I get stuck on thinking a crop failure
            shouldn't have happened, or that success is based on a fixed set of
            results. This is not to say that I don't have results in mind. All
            results are exactly what they should be and when I see that, I am
            grateful. There is no harm in being grateful for reality. I get
            aggressive and greedy if I believe it should be otherwise. Conventional
            farming methods and conventional farmers are, in a sense, my teachers. I
            am grateful for that too and then I remember my gardening practices have
            nothing to do with them, not as a means of opposing them. This makes me a
            harmless activist, not because I oppose them. I don't oppose them...they
            don't oppose me. Their minds change when they change, and they are
            changing, just like mine.

            Andrew Fister
            Wandafar Sanctuary
            Glasgow, KY

            On Sun, 4 Feb 2007 06:49:38 -0600 Andrew E Fister <aefister@...>
            writes:
            The only time an argument exists between natural farming and conventional
            farming is when I am having it in my mind. If I am arguing (making one
            view good and another view wrong) that's when I get trapped in the
            illusion of concepts. If I make a distinction between "nothingness" and
            "somethingness" as if they are states of mind I could be trapped in, I am
            also trapped. Once I start having this petty argument with my neighbor, I
            am indeed trapped. Unless of course I also know the trap is an illusion,
            in which case I can play and be in love with my conventional farming
            neighbor.

            If natural farming is about how "to do" and how "not to do" then I am not
            doing it and not - not doing it.

            Andrew Fister
            Wandafar Sanctuary
            Glasgow, KY

            b 2007 08:53:16 -0000 "Bart" <bartovan@...> writes:
            I agree wholeheartedly that this is the real issue of natural farming,
            and that in natural farming yield is not a goal - in a sense, there is
            no goal. Thank you for pointing this out.

            However, let's be careful not to get trapped in Nothingness (which is
            one of the diseases of zen). If my industrial farmer neighbour comes
            to me and tells me, "hey, did you see the sun came up in the west this
            morning", I will tell him that this is not true, i.e. that this is not
            the right way to use these words. I know there is really neither east
            nor west, that these are concepts or illusions, and that the sun
            (another concept) doesn't care, and so on. However, if you open your
            mouth and use words, you should use them correctly.
            In the same way, if he comes to me and tells me "you and your natural
            farming, your yield is pitifull", I think it is important not to let
            ourselves be trapped in his incorrect (selective) use of the term
            "yield", only referring to weight/volume and making abstraction of
            many other important factors.
            Or we can just smile to him of course, but I for one know that if my
            smile doesn't come profoundly from the heart, I better argue :)

            This "industrial high yield"-lie is a stick behind the door with which
            organic producers/consumers/sellers are often beaten on the head -
            with their own full cooperation, choosing to go along with the narrow
            weight/volume-perspective and not finding an adequate response.

            But again, I do think it is very iportant to remember, time after
            time, that he real issue in natural farming is doing nothing.

            Bart

            --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, "Jamie Nicol" <jamienicol@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > Dear All, in an attempt to broaden the discussion of 'success' and
            to avoid falling into 'esoteric' chatter, I thought some words of
            Fukuoka would be pragmatic:
            >
            > " To achieve a humanity and a society founded on non-action, man
            must look back over everything he has done and rid himself one by one
            of the false visions and concepts that permeate him and his society.
            This is what the 'do-nothing' movement is all about. Natural Farming
            can be seen as one branch of this movement. Human knowledge and effort
            expand and grow increasingly complex and wasteful without limit. We
            need to halt this expansion, to converge, simplify, and reduce our
            knowledge and effort. This is in keeping with the laws of nature.
            Natural Farming is more than just a revolution in agricultural
            techniques. It is the practical foundation of a spiritual movement, of
            a revolution to change the way we live."
            >
            > Obviously, the tenor of these words seems to suggest that NF and
            'success' might not be to do with yield, qualitative or quantitative.
            >
            > Jamie
            > Souscayrous
            >

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          • Jamie Nicol
            Dear All, when we start on the road of NF I m sure we all soon start rubbing up against the line we ve drawn between intervention and non-intervention, action
            Message 5 of 6 , Feb 9, 2007
              Dear All, when we start on the road of NF I'm sure we all soon start rubbing up against the line we've drawn between intervention and non-intervention, action and 'do-nothing', as Steve points out. Just how much do we let nature be?

              Fukuoka realised there is a difference when he destroyed his father's citrus orchard by neglect, this is when he learnt the difference between doing nothing and 'do-nothing'.

              But, as I hoped to suggest in my last post, I believe that the personal process that occurs as we follow the path of NF has the effect of changing the very ground upon which this question of intervention rests. When we give up our goal-based, technique-driven orientation to gardening/farming there comes a point when it is no longer about intervention at all. When we have actually seen into 'do-nothing' and can be said to start farming with 'no mind', which Fukuoka says is the prerequisite for NF, it is not a matter of our intervention on nature at all because we have discovered that we are not not nature ourselves.

              Therefore, I do not feel that it is any longer about how far we intervene, but from where we begin gardening/farming. As Steve points out, Fukuoka cut down and buried trees on the hillsides he transformed into a citrus orchard after it had been left denuded by a previous culture of potatoes. Fukuoka undertook such an interventionist step because of the felt need for the remediation of the soil.

              But, surely, this is just the instrumentalist approach of conventional or organic farming? But, of course, the answer to this question is no: Fukuoka had already had his insight and long started on the road to NF. He knew every contour of the land, every change of weather and the wild foods and their seasons - he had real-ised (ie made real in his own life) already that in life there was simply nothing to do, simply be alive and grateful for it. He knew what to do because he felt what to do, because he wasn't other than what was (nature itself, thusness, tathata).

              But, all this is very well, but how can we know that the destruction of the trees, the digging of the soil and the burying were not conventional agriculture but NF? And the answer to this question is what NF itself is, perception - the ability to see what is and not the conceptions and theories with which we normally see the world. The actual fact of the incredibly diverse, lush and productive orchard that soon came into being on that hillside (there are photos in Fukuoka's books and I have also seen videos showing this orchard) and the fact that through the practice of NF, the ever simplifying of the practice itself, Fukuoka realised he could achieve the same effect of the buried trees by planting black acacia (Acacia mearnsii [molissima]).

              I do not believe that where we draw the line of intervention (or non-intervention) is in fact a question to be decided from within NF. Or, to say the same thing from a different direction, one can do anything one wants.

              This leaves nature wide open to abuse but, as NFers, our work is not to protect nature but to start the long journey that brings us (ourselves) back to nature. If we begin from the right place then what we do will embody our understanding, just as Fukuoka's farm has done, and by this embodiment there will be something from which others can learn if they so desire.

              Jamie
              Souscayrous

              ----- Original Message -----
              From: Steve Gage
              To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Monday, February 05, 2007 8:38 PM
              Subject: RE: [fukuoka_farming] Flirting with nature


              Jamie,

              I really get a lot from your (and many others of you!) posts here - you help
              me realize what it is that I've already been thinking about, or at least the
              kind of things I've been thinking about. I love the "flirting" idea - that's
              really how I feel sometimes, though often it's just simple all-out love :-)

              Here are a few random thoughts from an ecologist (who also teaches a
              sustainable gardening class), brought forth by your last post, but also the
              past few days' excellent sharing here. Please consider this "thinking out
              loud" and sharing, not some dogma that I adhere to or promote. And please
              excuse my abundant use of "", but I don't know how else to inflect my
              meaning.

              I sometimes think of NF, and "do nothing", in slightly different words - I
              think of what I "do" with my land as "allowing", or maybe even better
              "getting out of the way as much as possible". Busy-humans seem to have a
              need to DO things, and most of what we do is thwart natural processes. Ah,
              but what constitutes "as much as possible"?... That seems to me to be where
              most of our questions lurk.

              The more I learn about soil microbiology and ecology, the more I realize I
              don't need to know about soil microbiology and ecology, except insofar as my
              learning reminds me continuously to get out of the way! I would no more
              "turn over" the soil in my garden than chop off my hand - such a violent and
              personal grotesquery - not only because I know what it would do, but equally
              because I don't know. To me, science is for wonderment, not control. Every
              new "fact" that comes to light merely shows how deep (indeed bottomless!)
              the well of the unknown and unknowable truly is.

              Fortunately, and this to me is MF's (Happy Birthday, Good Man!) great gift
              to us all... We don't NEED to know! Imagine being told that in five minutes,
              you were going to be consciously responsible for and in control of all your
              bodily functions and metabolisms and whatnot. You'd be dead shortly
              thereafter. Fortunately, you don't have to, and life goes on just fine. Just
              as impossible and idiotic to me is the notion of "managing" ecosystems. You
              don't manage ecosystems, you get out of the way.

              That said (here comes the busy monkey!), so much of our land is so hurt, and
              it seems natural to want to, well, "do" something to help it along. We throw
              seed, we throw mulch. So far so good. Of course we never spray chemicals,
              but do we hand-pick bugs? Do we pull up sod-forming grasses coming into our
              vegetables? There are plenty of other "weeds". And of course, there's the
              ultimate kicker: do we have any "right" to even "grow" "vegetables" in New
              Hampshire, USA? Do we only grow what comes up without any help? The "weeds"
              that we have around here are 99% introduced by humans anyway - why shouldn't
              we pull them? MF writes about chopping down trees and burying them to put
              carbon back into the soil - that seems pretty extreme to me...

              My point is that many of us, I believe, have our hearts in a very seeking
              place, and we get hold of principles, and we want to take them to their
              logical conclusions. And at the same time, we want to eat real food from our
              land. And we struggle over just where that line falls between "doing
              nothing" and "fidgeting". We are all trying to find that line, and trying to
              find it under all different conditions of climate and soil. That's one
              reason I value this group so much.

              I will close with a little story. A very good friend of mine grew up in a
              family that always had large vegetable gardens, and grew a lot of their food
              with what are, I'm afraid to say, "traditional" methods around here:
              rototill every spring and fall, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc. He
              knew my gardening ways very well, and needed no convincing to go in a more
              NF direction, and tried to persuade his father (a real engineering type) to
              at least go somewhat organic, and then, finally no-till. He wasn't getting
              anywhere. One day his father called him to say that he was selling his
              rototiller - he'd been digging a hole to transplant something or other, and
              discovered a big fat toad resting down in the cool earth. It was the very
              thought of rototilling that toad* that changed this man's whole notion of
              gardening, and indeed soil. The moral of the story? I don't know, but
              certainly there is one...

              All best,

              Steve

              *PS - It helped that he liked toads. I guess that somehow, in his mind, that
              toad became "toads", and "toads" became that toad, and *presto*, that was
              the end of rototilling. A beautiful thing :-)





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