Modern agriculture and its methods have been hurting the environment and people’s health for decades. There is a growing interest in organic food and natural farming as well as preserving biodiversity, and many seek to gain more understanding about the conventional food industry and its harmful processes. As a vegetarian with serious concerns about modern agriculture, I am excited about this new food awareness and the changes that are taking place.
A Master and Teacher
My favorite farmer and probably the most outstanding natural farming pioneer and teacher of the past century is Masanobu Fukuoka.
Born in Ehime, Japan and trained as a plant pathologist, he devoted over fifty years to farming as a spiritual path. His ideas run contrary to everything about conventional farming. His work philosophy is based on growing healthy, abundant crops while doing as little as possible in manipulating nature.
I first heard of Fukuoka-san while traveling around Europe and visiting numerous farms. Fukuoka was seen as a legend and stories of him were shared around the dinner table. His methods have been put into practice at numerous of farms in Japan, Europe and around the world. In fact, Fukuoka-san was an avid traveler and visited many countries to share his techniques and philosophies.
Fukuoka-san did not cultivate nor use machines; he used no chemical fertilizers or herbicides, and no compost. Yet his crop yields were as good or better than other farmers, and his soil grew richer year after year.
Fukuoka’s ideas on natural farming are based around observing nature’s natural cycles and then working in union with these cycles to grow crops in their ideal conditions. His actions are based around healing the land while also purifying the human spirit. He believes that we must change our way of doing things if we are to make lasting peace with the earth and ourselves.
One of Fukuoka’s biggest accomplishments was developing (at the time) the highest yielding strain of rice in the world. I tracked down this rice about five years ago and have been growing it ever since.
Fukuoka-san has left this world, but his inspiration and ideas are living in the rice that I enjoy every day.