Masanobu Fukuoka was a Japanese farmer and philosopher celebrated for his ‘natural farming’ method and re-vegetation of desertified lands. He was a proponent of no-till, no-herbicide grain cultivation farming methods traditional to many indigenous cultures. His method is commonly referred to as ‘natural farming’ or ‘do-nothingfarming’ of which he is considered to be the originator. He has been the author of several Japanese books, scientific papers and other publications, and was featured in television documentaries. His influences went beyond farming to inspire individuals within the natural food and lifestyle movements such as the Bill Mollison’s permaculture. He was experimenting for years and as far as possible, Fukuoka was trying to take the human intellect out of the decision making agriculture process.
‘To get an idea of the perfection and abundance of nature’ Fukuoka says, ‘take a walk into the forest sometime.There, the animals, tall trees and shrubs are living together in harmony. All of this came about without benefit ofhuman ingenuity or intervention’.
Approach But where to begin? Fukuoka had no model to go by. “’How about trying this? How about trying that?’ That is the usual way of developing agricultural technique. His way was different. ‘How about not doing this, and How about not doing that?’His developed farming technique known as ‘Natural Farming’ requires no machines, no chemicals and very little weeding. Some other principles are not plowing the soil or using prepared compost, no-tilling, no pruning. No pollution is created and this technique does not require fossil fuels. This method requires less labor than any other, but it took him more than thirty years to reach this simplicity.
Program 1 Scarecrows 2 Get rid of weeds - He learned to control them with a ground cover of white clover and a mulch of barley straw. 3 No tilling, no pruning 4 Clay balls
One of the challenges of Fukoka was the re-invention and improvement in the use of clay seed balls. Clay seeds balls were originally an ancient practice in which seeds for the next season’s crops are mixed together, sometimes with humus or compost for microbial inoculants, and then are rolled within clay to form into small balls. This method is now commonly used in guerilla gardening to rapidly seed restricted or private areas.
Scale For many years Fukuoka worked virtually alone in his work and for most of his life Japan was not receptive to his message. But in the mid-1980’s he came to a Permaculture Convergence in Olympia, Washington and met Bill Mollison when all his efforts where finally recognized. Then, the many examples of nautral farming throughout the world show that a natural farming system is truly universal. It can be applied to arid climates as well as humid, temperate Japan.
How Instead of deciding which vegetables would do well in which locations he mixes all the seeds together and scatters them everywhere. He lets the vegetables find their own location, often in areas he would have least have expected. The vegetables reseed themselves and move around the orchard from year to year. Vegetables grown this way stronger and gradually revert to the form of their semi-wild ancestors. Here’s the recipe: 5 parts dry red clay* 3 parts dry organic compost 1 part seed** 1 – 2 parts water
Challenges and Opportunities The challenges and oportunities may be trying to import this model to architecture and taking nature in account during our desicion making process, leting natural elements to guide our design way. Also adopting the attitude of ‘not doing nothing’ or doing ‘the less possible’ would be interesting in some case of desing.
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