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Fukuoka and INdigenous Land Management  RSS feed

 
Nolan Robert
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Hey all. This is my first post on this site. I've just started getting into permaculture and no till practices, although my family has a long history of gardening and agriculture.

Recently I read One Straw Revolution and Sowing Seeds in the Desert, as well as Tending the Wild by Kat M. Anderson, about the native californians' land management, and I'm currently reading The Largest estate in the world, which is about the Indigenous people of Australia's land management practices.

Now, according to Mr. Fukuoka's ideas and methods, humans should work with nature, and allow nature to take it's natural shape (e.x. his orchards are not pruned, he doesn't till) He doesn't improve the land with tilling, he let the land naturally do what it does, which led to good soil, ecological equilibrium, etc.

However, the land was managed very intensively by the indigenous people of california and australia. They did till, they selectively burnt large areas for their own uses (however it also helped certain plant species and animal species), they transplanted plants, and grew yams/indian potatoes. This was pretty sustainable, however I wish the australia book had more input from the indigenous australians, as I would like to hear directly from them how sustainable or not it was.


Do these two ways of living with the land (intensive land management and fukuoka's natural, do nothing farming practices) mix at all? Or are they coming from two separate view points? I feel like Fukuoka's is saying that you shouldn't think you understand what nature needs because human beings cannot fully understand nature, and human beings thinking they understand nature is what leads to its destruction, while the indigenous management system shows that mimicking natural processes (burning, transplanting, tilling the soil) is o.k. and beneficial. (But this does lead to the depletion of nutrients in the soil, more grassland rather than forest, etc. eventually)

Can indigenous controlled burning practices be used in compliance with Fukuoka's Natural farming techniques, and not cause soil damage? Can indigenous tilling and cultivation practices be used alongside Fukuoka's methods? Or are indigenous methods in the long run as damaging as traditional european agricultural practices.

Thank you!

(Also, if anyone knows any books that deal with this subject, Indigenous permaculture/ sustainable land management, etc. feel free to share their titles and authors and such.


 
Bryan Jasons
Posts: 62
Location: Maine
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Hey! It's nice to see other people think about this sort of thing too. I'm new here as well.

I think there's a distinction to be made between fukuoka's methods and philosophy. I don't think he'd like the methods that involved "intervening with nature". That doesn't mean you can't partially use his methods as you want, even when you don't entirely adhere to fukuoka's philosophical underpinnings. I think different ways of managing land can be used at the same time, it's just a matter of having lots of space to do them separately or lots of time to experiment with integrating them.

I don't quite understand this : "Can indigenous controlled burning practices be used in compliance with Fukuoka's Natural farming techniques, and not cause soil damage?". How would controlled burning be useful in agriculture - maybe clearing land for planting crops? I thought it was mostly for creating grasslands for ruminants or something like that?

I guess it brings up the question of specifics; what are your actual goals? You could burn down forests and use clay balls to reseed the land, and that would be an integrated use for these methods, but that would also be a strange thing to do and I'd have to question your motives! I'm kind of an idiot and probably missed the original point of your post by now, so I'll stop now before it gets out of hand hahaha.

See you around!
 
Nolan Robert
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I didn't quite know how to word the question. I guess what I'm wondering is do you think that these Indigenous land management practices were sustainable and in line with natural processes and so agree with Fukuoka's philosophical underpinnings? Or are they, in the long run, destructive, as they assume human's know what should be done with the land; what should be grass land, what should be rainforest, etc.


I think that the fact that many indigenous people looked over large tracts of land led them to not have to be as intensive as traditional Agriculture. It was more like edible landscaping,which I think could be brought back to some degree in cities (Fruit trees along the side walk, etc.)

Burning certain berry plants and perennial bushes, where I live, allows them to reproduce more when they grow back. Since this is a form of pruning, would this be in line with Fukuoka's philosophy? Would burning parts of the country side to increase savannah, keep down un-wanted species, and attract game, deplete the soil over time, thus not adhering to Fukuoka's principles?


I know I could try multiple things, and i am. So I guess this is just a philosophical questions hahaha.


Thanks for replying!
 
Bryan Jasons
Posts: 62
Location: Maine
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Hmmm, I don't think we can know if the things done were sustainable if nobody practices them anymore. But I'd *guess* it's a matter of context; the population, the amount of land available to it, and how often they burned, dug, and cultivated. I doubt they consistently improved soil fertility very much by managing land, in contrast fukuoka said that soil was enriched over time with his approach.

Fukuoka might've said that the management was unnecessary.

It's possible people adopted land management, not out of necessity, but out of boredom hahaha. I think humans have a tendency to use their large, energy demanding brains to try to *do things*. Inactivity is very unnatural I'd guess. In rats they use physical restraints to study the effects of stress (hormones and such). From personal experience I feel much better mentally when digging, scything, and working compared to just mulching and planting only. Maybe there are ways of channeling this need or desire to be active, without actually taking over all of nature, or adopting methods that are too reliant on lots of labor.
 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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I think people everywhere throughout all of history have made amazing discoveries and amazing blunders. Burning is not good for the soil no matter who does it . Allan Savory has shown that burning by all peoples - whether indigenous or westernized - has contributed to ever increasing desertification. Here is a good 20 minute speech by Allan Savory that demonstrates that :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sBDnXi0PAI
Fukuoka practiced a form of land management also . He did not exactly "do nothing ". Here is one of Pauls videos :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQOG-dBsgzQ
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 469
Location: Eastern Kansas
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While there are some similar horticultural practices, I suspect that Mr. Fukuoka and the American Indigenous people are approaching the subject from different viewpoints. I think that Mr. Fukuoka was trying to find a more natural and healthy way to raise food, a way that would not damage the land, while the Indians were thinking about the easiest way to feed their families.

The Indian, for instance, used the Three Sisters gardening in the upper Midwest. Because the beans grew up the corn stalks they did not have to plant stakes. It was natural, yes, but it was also easy. The Indians, however, cultivated the ground around their small plants to kill the weeds while Mr. Fukuoka did not.

One common ground is that, at least for a while, the fields would be left alone. The Indians would leave their Three Sisters gardens once the plants were large enough and go off and hunt, and I assume Mr. Fukuoka would let his grain fields be while he went to go and work on some other farming project.

I think that Mr. Fukuoka loved what he did, while many Indians regarded raising crops as nothing more than a chore.

At any rate, the Indians did work with nature, as did Mr. Fukuoka. The Indians, however, cultivated their gardens to remove the competition from weeds (and Mr. Fukuoka did not) and every few years they tended to move to fresh ground so that they never had to worry about fertilization. Mr. Fukuoka raised his own fertilizer in the fields instead.

Oh, yes.

When the Indians burned it was to kill trees and brush and to allow a better stand of grass (the grass was not injured by the burn). The grass fed the buffalo and the buffalo fed the Indians. I would not call that intensive, and they only burned every now and then when they thought the range needed it. I would consider their gardens to be intensive, but not so much the burning.
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 469
Location: Eastern Kansas
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Oh, yes. I just remembered.

Euell Gibbons was famous for writing books about gathering and consuming wild edibles. He pointed out that the reason that there are so many wild things to eat where the Indians once lived was because they used the plants in a sustainable manner. For example, when they dug a clump of edible bulbs they would put a bulb or two back, so that a new clump would be produced in that same spot. In that way the area would produce edible bulbs for many generations. This is similar to Mr. Fukuoka allowing some of the wild vegetables to go to seed in his fields.
 
Craig Foulds
Posts: 16
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC
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This article by toby hemenway might help you better grasp the issue of land management and how Fukuoka might have felt.

http://www.patternliteracy.com/116-native-plants-restoring-to-an-idea
 
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