The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

The One-Straw Revolution

The One-Straw Revolution coverMasanobu Fukuoka's The One-Straw Revolution is a hodepodge of advice for farming and living.  To be completely honest, I adored the first third of the book, but was annoyed by the philosophical bent of the rest.  Sure, I agree that we should garden organically, eat locally, minimize our meat consumption, eat in season, turn away from commercial farms and back to the small family farm, reject growth economics, live simply, and work to live rather than live to work.  But those concepts are all old hat now.  Since I wasn't alive while he was writing the book, I don't really know whether Fukuoka's ramblings were insightful and innovative at the time or simply derivative.

That said, the first third of the book was rivetting.  His farming method (which I'll describe tomorrow) clearly paved the way for the entire permaculture movement.  Fukuoka dubbed his technique "natural farming", and it went far beyond simple organic gardening.  He advocated working with nature and mimicking natural processes, positing that many parts of modern agriculture systems are only necessary because the farms are out of balance and we're working against nature.  As a result, he also used the inspiring phrase "do-nothing farming", referring to the aspects of modern agriculture that he did without.

Although there was still a lot of work involved in Fukuoka's farm, his do-nothing farming was unique.  He promoted no-till techniques, green manure, and mulching.  You don't hear much about Fukuoka nowadays, but I wonder whether he wasn't as influential in the birth of the permaculture movement as its self-styled father, Bill Mollison.

Looking for a farm innovation?  Check out our poop-free chicken waterers.

This post is part of our One-Straw Revolution lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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