This book is about the innovative farming system that Masanobu Fukuoka developed to be more in harmony with the natural world. Fukuoka talks about his "Do-Nothing" farming philosophy, growing grains, growing vegetables like wild plants, his orchards and much more.
Overall, this book served for me, and can for others, as a practical, easy to read, easy to understand guide to the practice of permanent agriculture. Not as much as a textbook as a reflection on Fukuoka's field work, he shares with you his personal evolution from scientist to agriculture.
When my best friend handed down her copy of One Straw Revolution to me, i was, at that time, an experienced gardener with a love for Edible Landscaping. My experiences in EL gave me a drive to create permanent food systems long before i had heard the words permaculture, agro-écologie, agro-foresterie, etc. The book was the first (of many many) Ah-Ha! moments i've had in recent years in relation to everything that CAN be possible in permanent agriculture . As mentioned before, i kept it by my side, as inspiration more than practical information, and enjoy reading through it when im seeking inspiration, motivation.
In recent months I, with my partner, have been cultivating an idea to grow a farm in france. Im currently head deep in studies and books trying to understand permaculture principals before the eventual event of buying land and installing our farm. Unlike other books that are read once and then collect dust; the more books i read on the topic, the more i keep going back to this book as a spiritual reference.
Highly recommended especially for anyone looking to understand permanent food systems without the technical information.
Background on the book: As a young man, Mr. Fukuoka worked as a research scientist. He worked hard and long hours, and also enjoyed the night life after work. Burning the candle at both ends led him to fainting at work. Eventually he got very sick and almost died in the hospital.
After his close brush with death, he found a new inner truth. He found that all of his life has been meaningless. All of his pursuits, all of his work has been for nothing. This thought could either be depressing or freeing. I found the thought depressing. He found this new personal truth set him “free”. After he left the hospital, Mr. Fukuoka went to his job and quit. All of his peers thought he was insane.
He then went and lived on his parent’s farm. While there, he was in charge of the citrus trees. He decided that since everything in life was meaningless, he did not have to care for the trees. The lack of care caused all of the trees to die. Needless to say, his father was less than happy, and Mansanobu Fukuoka had to look for work off of his father’s farm. He eventually came back to living on a farm, and began the “no-work” farming method. This method was planned out a little more, and he started experiencing great success with is farming methods.
This “no-work” farming method was actually quite a bit of work. But he used no chemicals. He grew rice without flooding the fields. He used a cover crop of white clover and mulched with long straw. He then scattered seeds around that were covered in clay pellets. The clay pellets protected the seeds from rotting or being eaten by slugs or other garden creatures. His results were very good and comparable to his neighbors who used chemical means on their fields. He harvested his yields using hand tools. Nothing more.
He decried the “organic” farmers of the West (AKA Americans) as taking too much work. The idea of composting seems like too much of a hassle. He felt they didn’t get it. He said they could scatter the straw on the fields and essentially let the waste compost on it’s own without all the extra work of formal composting.
My thoughts (for what it's worth) Other than those basics, I didn’t really get any major “how-to” take aways. I got a lot of philosophy though. Some of it was esoteric. Okay, most of it was esoteric and I didn’t quite grasp what he was trying to say. and I disagreed with some of his philosophical thoughts. It would not be how I chose to live. He is against what we would call progress. From his book he stated that if our economy has an increase in growth from 5% to 10% are we twice as happy? I agree that wealth doesn’t make us happy, but it does allow us to make more choices. Sometimes these choices can allow us to live happier lives. He lived his life (as far as I know) living up to his ideals. For that, I deeply admire him.
Overall the book was a good read. I think it will help you to become a more well-rounded gardener, and it will help you to think about your land in a different way. However, I don’t see myself ever referencing this book for the sake of my land. I’m glad I read this book, although I don’t see myself using any of the techniques. His methods have been critiqued for being hard to follow and unsuccessful unless they are followed exactly. I believe once you understand how all of his methods work, it works well.
It has been the first "permaculture" book I have read. Fukuoka's philosophy was so intriguing, that more books has followed, I have found permies.com, and soon after I was sold to permaculture for good
While I do not follow Fukuoka's techniques (they turned out not to fit my circumstances), I admire his philosophy.
I recommend this book to those who are seeking spiritual motivation to re-shape their relationship with Mother Earth.
I am going to say 9 out of 10 acorns. Those of you who think it is the greatest of all permaculture-related books, don't form an angry mob yet, let me explain.
This book is one of the benchmark reads of permaculture. It's undeniably helped shape countless permaculture experts in their path to understanding. It is powerful and I can't deny that it has a lot of great things to offer. I didn't come to permaculture through men like Mollison and Fukuoka, so I read books like this from a different perspective than many others. Make of that what you will. What dropped it from a ten for me was actually the running commentary tied to it.
Before you can even start reading, there was an introduction that more or less said that 'these techniques don't work outside of Fukuoka's farm'. While some of the things he mentions may not be right for every environment, certainly the philosophies all apply. After all, he goes so far as to say that each unique location would take a great deal of time to assess and apply techniques suited to that location. He wasn't really saying anything he did was a catch-all for the entire world.
Peppered through the book are also similar statements. Some of the footnotes are very helpful for anyone unfamiliar with the cultural context of the book, but some came across as if they were trying to downplay Fukuoka's success. It was really off-putting for me as I read and each time it happened I was yanked out of the narrative somewhat.
Unrelated to my rating of the book, I did notice a quirk in the book from what I had learned elsewhere. The nature of his seed distribution method differed somewhat from other accounts of what I have seen called the 'Fukuoka method' and seed balls. It was an interesting little aside that fixed my attention for a time on trying to decide what that was. I think I have an answer, but you are free to come to your own conclusions.
As a philosophy book, it is certainly a 10 of 10 situation. The introduction doesn't tout it as simple philosophy. It mentions a practical guide, etc. Fukuoka himself flatly notes within the book that this isn't about being a practical guide, but instead more of a book about understanding the right mindset and how he came to progress along his path from a scientist to a farmer.
I don't know. I liked the book. I am happy to have read it. If it had been edited to remove the above-mentioned aspects, I don't think I would have rated it the way I did, but since those aspects were indeed there, I had to drop a point off. Get the book. Make sure you have it in your collection. It is a source of inspiration and interest worth having. Just remember to accept that there are two opinions within and they don't always align.
It's short and mostly about philosophy or his life. When it did get round to explaining the grain growing process, I think it took up about two small pages, with one or two pages on seed balls and some more on pruning (or not pruning).
I'm not really the target market for this book as I dont have the patience or interest for philosophy but I did take some things from it. There is definitely a value in just contemplating and following the simple life eating simple seasonal food. I think it would be a good thing for societies and communities to re-connect with the natural food growing in their area and their seasonality. He makes me want to grow these 8-10 classic japanese herbs and vegetables he talks about. I was also getting hungry for basic rice and vegetables while reading it.
It's all kind of biographical but the bits specifically talking about his journey through life and why he followed that path was very enlightening.
From some research it seems like the UK climate is not suited to his grain method of doing 2 types of grain per year which is a shame and probably means I wont read this again but I'm glad I did in the first place.
The high score reflects that I think it's an important book for permaculturists to read and that most people are more willing to read philosophical musing than I.
did we read the same book?
thruout the 1st half he rants about his stupid competitors or fellow farmers who did not jump his band waggon but stuck to what they knew
the 2nd half he gets all warm and fuzzy about philosophy and believes
practical take away for someone who does not have >50F thruout the year and reliable monsun type rainfall, who can not grow winter-whatever after the regular harvest
and who does not have a huge orchard, all the time on earth and a gozillion of deciples who do all the not-work for him ? ? ?
practical take away for someone like that? ZERO
plus down here in the south, thanks to a bunch of 'gifts' from Asia, laissez faire does not work in an orchard or for any place I want to harvest something other than kudzu or privet
Location: London, United Kingdom
posted 3 years ago
8 out of ten felt right to me. It's not a big investment time-wise; I read it slowly in a day and it gave me plenty to mull over plus some new ideas and made me consider things I wouldnt normally think about.
Fukuoka's One Straw revolution is something I was grateful to see on scribd since I had always meant to read it.
As for the review of the book. Wow, simply wow. While I had to start skimming through the latter chapters I only did so because at about the one third mark I determined that this was a book that would be joining my library and as such a book that I would read multiple times. It starts off describing his life and his philosophies (many of which seem nearly identical to my own) and goes on to describe his method of cultivating grains. He is thorough in his explanations and the writing style inspires confidence in the reader as to their ability to replicate such methods.
Unfortunately that is also why I had to give it only nine acorns. His method, while great sounding is for the vast majority of people only an example they can draw inspiration from for their own systems. While this is great and it has inspired a few ideas I am toying around with, I will say that if taken as only a guide to a farming method a person might be slightly disappointed.
All in all, my recommendation would be to see if you could read a few chapters first and see if Fukuoka's philosophies resonate with yours. If so, then purchase a copy new (the price is reasonable) because you will go back to it over time to read the words of a kindred spirit. If they do not then I would only recommend reading it once so that you can broaden your understanding of permaculture.
First off Fukuoka's lifestyle works, the proof is in his orchard and rice fields, the yields he receives with relatively 'no work' involved.
Fukuoka presents ideas and techniques for working with nature and not using the human intellect to try and 'figure-out or design' a landscape. This book focuses on a more holistic view than simply landscape-design and delves into a lifestyle solution. The ideas presented can be applied all over the world. It would nice if we had a thread where people who have tried the lifestyle of Fukuoka and applied it their region successfully could shares their insights and ideas as well as possibly seed if we are LOCAL to one another. This sort of knowledge is price-less as now thanks to Fukuoka-san's effort we do not have to wait 5-10 years to see if this might work, we know it does.
Fukuoka-san's ideas are expressed in a Eastern-style of writing. Yet the book is an EASY and QUICK read. As i found it very enjoyable and tough to put down. The main points are repeated numerous times as the examples and experiences relevant to the points is introduced.
The main points of the book are easy to comprehend, but a KEY factor is that ALL the ideas MUST be taken together and applied in UNISON as a LIFESTYLE not a technique. IF you read this book quickly focusing on the techniques and miss the narrative that Fukuoka-san shares you may miss the whole message. I understand it like so:
Don't till, Don't use any chemicals on your land, Use nature as your 'work-force/fertilizer/pesticide/etc...' and simply intervene as little as necessary. If the landscape you inherit is already damaged or has been manipulated by humans, who were disconnected from nature and simply 'using' the land, you may need to intervene a bit more in the early stages by say; seeding clover or other perennial N-fixer ground cover, add in N-fixing shurbs and trees here and there if you have the space. Seed with nature's natural cycles and mimic nature in how that plant would self-seed if it were in nature(so return all of the plant matter to the field as mulch for the seed after harvesting some for your self, and don't cut-up the mulch or place it neatly, simply toss it about onto the ground randomly as would occur in NATURE if that plant were left to itself)
I will read the book again. I recommend reading the book slowly and stopping to reflect when there is a point made that seems interesting or gives your mind a moment of pause/emptiness, as the author intends to do i believe as this book is not a bunch of techniques to be taken in isolation, but a mind-frame-shift. SO you may see contradictory ideas presented, but the aim is to break your current train of thought/mind state and have you in essence stop over-thinking and trying to understand or KNOW everything and simply find your place in nature.
Search up some talks by LARRY KORN as student (from USA) of Fukuok-san this this book will be a better read with the context provided, also read "one straw revolutionary" by larry korn, before reading this book and it will be a yet better read.
Ultimately the ideas Fukuoka present can Revolutionize the world and set it onto a path of peace, prosperity, food-for-all, time-for-leisure-for-all, and more natural existence for all....looking forward to doing my part ASAP, hope you will join
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Soil Testing: Genius or Snapshot of the ever-changing?