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Sowing Seeds In The Desert Pdf

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Once we return to a way of life dictated by nature, not institutional religions, he says, we can apply his unorthodox farming methods to make the deserts bloom and the green fields stay lush without much expense or even labor involved. Be prepared to be mystified, irritated, shocked, and maybe even, if you persevere to the end, enlightened and encouraged by this trail-blazing book.

Disagree with Fukuoka's provocative pronouncements at your own risk.

Some of what he predicted in this book, originally written in Japanese in the s has already happened, especially the collapse of the Japanese economy in recent years and the spread of deserts throughout the world. Now with Sowing Seeds in the Desert, Fukuoka Sensei's teaching of Natural Farming continues to grow, sending deep roots down into the terrain of global restoration and food security for a hungry world. This wonderful book is to be celebrated and savored for its grounded, encouraging wisdom.

It is a rich treasure trove detailing how his own philosophy of farming evolved and how he decided to apply what he learned on his own farm in Japan to other parts of the world. His insights into the tragedies of taking Western, industrial agriculture to places like Africa to 'enrich the national economy,' and his alternative approach of working with indigenous farmers to enable them to become self-sufficient, is instructive for all of us.

It challenges us to think outside our normal, rational frames and venture into a whole new way of relating to spirituality, the earth, and the growing of food. As I read, I was tempted to pick holes in Fukuoka's prescriptions for greening the world's deserts, but I kept coming back to the inescapable fact that he farmed his own land according to these principles over many years and produced a lot of food.

He studied plant pathology and spent several years working as a customs inspector in Yokohama. While working there, at the age of 25, he had an inspiration that changed his life. He decided to quit his job, return to his home village, and put his ideas into practice by applying them to agriculture. Over the next sixty-five years he worked to develop a system of natural farming that demonstrated the insight he was given as a young man, believing that it could be of great benefit to the world.

He did not plow his fields, used no agricultural chemicals or prepared fertilizers, and did not flood his rice fields as farmers have done in Asia for centuries, and yet his yields equaled or surpassed the most productive farms in Japan.

This book has been translated into more than twenty-five languages and has helped make Mr. Fukuoka a leader in the worldwide sustainable agriculture movement. William Sears Dr. As February began, the farm designated a bit of acreage surrounding some elderly, malnourished palm trees as an experimental patch to see if we could create a cooling ground cover to aid water retention and soil regeneration, and rejuvenate the palms, by sowing clay seed pellets of white and red clover, desert marigold, sunflower, golden poppy, grasses including alkali sacaton and rothrock grama, and more.

Berms of soil were piled around the flat area to deflect wind and hold in moisture, then we mulched, added microbial nutrients, sowed the seed pellets, and added more mulch. Clay seed pellets: Coating seeds with hardened, fine, powdered clay is meant to make them optimal for greening the desert. It's an old method revived by the Japanese farmer-philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka author of Sowing Seeds in the 2 Desert and The One Straw Revolution , and it's being used more and more worldwide especially on dry, compacted sites.

The pellets are often aerially sown, because the hard coat can protect them from breakage. The clay coating may have additives mixed into it: small quantities of bittern a salty liquid ; seaweed; lime; certain bitter medicinal herbs; water.

Goats, sheep, insects such as red ants in deserts , birds and other animals that may eat unprotected seeds before they sprout are repelled by the herbs and bittern. Three weeks later clusters of green clover sprouts poked hopefully through the mulch in our experimental patch, but as yet they remain small. Interestingly, most of the clover is atop the berms.

In March some grasses appeared and are growing well — also, mostly atop the berms. The farmer had to fill two large containers from a well and transport them to the site on a flat bed truck; though the distance is short, the process could take up to three hours.


At the end of March, a volunteer installed a water line. I ultimately reached the conclusion that there was no need to plow, no need to apply fertilizer, no need to make compost, no need to use insecticide. When you get right down to it, there are few agricultural practices that are really necessary. When Mr. Fukuoka first inherited the orchard, however, most of the natural systems had been damaged so badly that he had to do many tasks himself that later became unnecessary.

Once the permanent soil-building combination of plants had become established, for example, he no longer needed to fertilize. In the early years, until he established a diversity of plants and habitats for insects, he had to grow chrysanthemum plants from which he derived the natural insecticide pyrethrum. He used this to control aphids and caterpillars on his vegetables.

Once the soil improved and the natural balance of insects was restored, this too, became unnecessary. Eventually there was very little Mr.

N at u r a l Fa r m ing , G l o b a l R estor ation ,

Fukuoka needed to do. He scattered seeds and spread straw, cut the ground cover back once each summer and left the cuttings right where they were, replaced some trees and shrubs from time to time, and waited for the harvest. He got the idea for his rice growing one day when he passed a rice field that had recently been harvested.

There he saw new rice seedlings growing up voluntarily among the weeds and straw. Fukuoka had already stopped plowing his rice fields, but from that time on he stopped flooding the paddies. He stopped growing nursery beds in the spring and then transplanting the young shoots to the main field.

Instead, he broadcast xviii. And instead of plowing to get rid of the weeds, he learned to control them by scattering straw and growing a more or less permanent ground cover of white clover. In the end, as with the orchard, Mr.

Fukuokas way of growing rice eliminated all but the simplest of taskssowing seeds, spreading straw, and harvesting. He relied on nature to take care of the rest.

[Read PDF] Sowing Seeds in the Desert: Natural Farming, Global Restoration, and Ultimate Food

Fukuoka returned to his familys farm and began practicing natural agriculture, it was with the goal of demonstrating that his way of thinking could be of great value to society.

After twenty-five years, the yields in Mr. Fukuokas unflooded fields equaled or exceeded the top-producing farms in Japan. He also grew a crop of barley over the winter in the same rice fields, and shipped nearly two hundred thousand pounds of mandarin oranges each year, mainly to Tokyo where many people had never tasted naturally grown food before. Natural farming does not use any of the products of modern technology. While still attaining high yields, it creates no pollution, and the soil improves each year.

If Mr. Fukuoka was able to get yields comparable to those of the other farmers in Japan, who use all the latest tools of science and technology, create pollution, grow sickly plants, and ruin the soil, then where was the benefit of human understanding and technology? After just twenty-five years, he had proven his point.

There were no modern conveniences in the orchard. Drinking water was carried from the spring, meals were cooked at a wood-burning fireplace, and xix. Fukuoka provided his student workers with thirty-five dollars a month for living expenses.

Most of that was used to buy soy sauce and cooking oil, which were impractical to produce on a small scale. For the rest of their needs the students relied on the food that was grown in the fields and in the orchard, the resources of the area, and on their own ingenuity.

Fukuoka purposely had the students live in this semi-primitive manner because he believed it helped provide the sensitivity necessary to farm by his natural method. He did not pay the students for working there, but no one objected.

They felt that living in such an idyllic situation and receiving Mr. Fukuokas teachingwhich was itself freely givenwas more than adequate compensation. It has been more than thirty-five years since I lived at the farm. All the work I have done since that time to promote natural farming has been my way of repaying Mr.

Fukuoka for what I learned from him. When I was at the farm, there were five or six of us who stayed continuously for several years. Others would come and stay for a few weeks or a few months and then head back down the mountain.

There was a wonderful sense of camaraderie. We would get together in the morning and plan the days work. Hide-san had been there the longest and had the most comprehensive understanding of the farmwork, so he was informally recognized as the groups leader.

The agricultural jobs, such as thinning the fruit crops, cutting back the orchard ground cover, and harvesting might go on for a few weeks or a few months. The daily chores included xx. Once in a while the huts needed to be repaired or replaced. Fukuoka would often work with us instructing us on his techniques as well as practical skills such as making clay seed pellets, growing vegetables in a semiwild manner, and the proper use and care for tools.

He was quite friendly and patient, but his patience ran short very quickly when he saw what he considered sloppy work.

Fukuoka was tireless. Even at sixty-five, he would bound up and down the orchard hillsides like a mountain goat. We all had trouble keeping up with him. Some days, often on Sunday or during heavy rains, Mr.

Fukuoka would gather us together to discuss his philosophy. These sessions were difficult for me. Although I could speak Japanese fluently, I was more fluent in the everyday language we used around the farm. The philosophical and spiritual expressions he used during these discussions were impossible for me to understand.

What made this even more frustrating was that Mr. Fukuoka told us over and over that the philosophy was everything, and the farming was merely an example of the philosophy. If you do not understand the philosophy, he said, the rest becomes empty activity.

So I just did my best each day, and assumed that one day I would get the idea. One afternoon while we were threshing rice in the courtyard of his home in the village, Mr. Fukuoka emerged from the house with a big smile on his face. He was holding the copy he had just received from xxi.

Fukuoka had already written several books, but had been forced to self-publish them because he could not find a publisher willing to take a chance on ideas that were so far from the mainstream.

Then the first oil crisis occurred in the early s. Japan, as an industrial nation with almost no domestic fuel resources, felt particularly vulnerable. Suddenly everyone was looking for alternatives to petroleumbased production. A publisher finally came to Mr. Fukuoka and asked him to write a book introducing his natural farming method and how he came to be farming that way.

He wrote the book in just three months. After we read the book, the other students and I decided that we would translate it into English and try to get it published in the United States. Fukuokas philosophy and techniques were simply too important to languish in Japan where he worked in relative obscurity. I had studied soil science and plant nutrition at the University of California, Berkeley, and knew of the many problems caused by plowing the soil.

Many farmers and researchers, even in mainstream agriculture, were trying to develop a no-tillage system for grains and other crops, that would avoid the problems of using so much energy, causing soil erosion and burning out the organic matter in the soil, but no one could figure out how to do it, at least not without drenching the fields with herbicides.

So besides the inherent appeal of Mr.

About Masanobu Fukuoka

Fukuokas philosophy, I also knew that his twenty-five year example of a highyielding, chemical-free, no-tillage system would be welcome news in the world of agriculture. None of us had experience writing, editing, or doing translation, but we would not let that deter us. This was before the advent of personal computers or word processing, so the first order of business was to get the old typewriter that was in one of the huts into usable condition.

It had no ribbon, the d and the e keys were missing, and the carriage had a frustrating habit of sticking on the return.

Food Tank Book of the Week: Sowing Seeds in the Desert by Masanobu Fukuoka

I took the train to Matsuyama city several times to get it repaired, being sure to visit Matsuyama Castle and the public hot springs along the way. Chris Pearce was a friend I had met during my time living on rural communes. He had grown up in Japan and could speak and read both Japanese and English fluently. He gave us a first-draft translation. But Chris had never been to Mr. Fukuokas farm and did not have farming experience, so some sections of the manuscript seemed ambiguous or were difficult to understand.

One of the other students living on the farm at the time, Kurosawa-san, had just returned from a yearlong trip to the United States where he toured organic farms. Three or four times a week, after working all day, the two of us sat down with Mr.

Fukuoka to clarify these passages. Finally, when we had what we considered a reasonable draft, I was entrusted to go to the United States to find a publisher.

That was in I managed to get the manuscript to Wendell Berry, who lives and farms in Kentucky. Despite the rough, unprofessional condition of our draft, Mr. Berry liked the content of the manuscript well enough that he took the book under his wing and made sure everything went smoothly for it. He suggested that we use Rodale Press, partly because he did not want the book and Mr. Fukuokas philosophy to become characterized only as a new age work.

He wanted to be sure that the book would end up in the hands of real farmers, because he thought the message would be of benefit to them and could possibly help to reverse the degenerative momentum of modern-day agriculture.One either lives in the absolute world of nature, or in the fantasy world of human thoughts. I had been living in Japan for several years, working on backto-the-land communes and doing seasonal agricultural jobs when I could find them. He established a farm on the Island of Shikoku in Japan, and lectured around the world throughout his life.

After we read the book, the other students and I decided that we would translate it into English and try to get it published in the United States. As the chickens are moved from place to place around the farm their lifestyle so to speak will help with pest control and fertilization.