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Summary

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.

Where to get it?

Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
Green-Shopping.co.uk
Amazon.co.uk
Powell's

Related Podcasts

Paul Wheaton Permaculture Podcast 007 - Discussion with Larry Korn About Masanobu Fukuoka

Related Videos



Fukuoka Style Seed Balls for No Till Farming

Related Threads

Masanobu Fukuoka thread at Permies
Seed Balls thread at Permies
Fukuoka forum at Permies

Related Websites

Larry Korn's website

COMMENTS:
 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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loved this book, have read it a few times..it is also available somewhere free online (first time I read it before I bought it)
 
Posts: 60
Location: France
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I give this 9 out of 10 acorns.

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.

 
Posts: 66
Location: Eastern PA
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7 out of 10 acorns.

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.


 
pollinator
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I give this book 8 out of 10 acorns

I really enjoyed reading Masanobu's thoughts. A very interesting read that opens the door to looking at permaculture in a philosophical way.
 
pollinator
Posts: 357
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I give this 8 out of 10 acorns.

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.
 
gardener
Posts: 777
Location: Soutwest Ohio
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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.

 
Posts: 32
Location: London, United Kingdom
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I give this book 8 out of 10 acorns

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.
 
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9 out of 10?
8 out of 10?

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

 
Dave Green
Posts: 32
Location: London, United Kingdom
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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.
 
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I give this book 9 out of 10 acorns.

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.
 
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I give this book 9 out of 10 acorns. I found it a wonderful read, and an inspiring philosophy towards growing things, although I was not tempted to try it out myself. I will read it again.
 
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I give this book 10 out of 10 acorns

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
 
master gardener
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I give this book 7 out of 10 acorns.

This was the first permaculture book I read that really introduced me to permaculture!

I don't agree with all of his techniques, but it has a some really good general ideas, which should give someone just starting out the main ideas of natural farming. Near the later part of the book, he goes into some philosophy, some of which I enjoyed and some not so much.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book!

The usual way to go about developing a method is to ask 'How about trying this?' or 'How about trying that?' bringing in a variety of techniques one upon the other. This is modern agriculture and it only results in making the farmer busier.

My way was opposite. I was aiming at a pleasant natural way of farming which results in making the work easier instead of harder. 'How about not doing this?' How about not doing that?'- that was my way of thinking. 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.

The reason that man's improved techniques seem to be necessary is that the natural balance has been so badly upset beforehand by those same techniques that the land has become dependent on them.



This quote could really summarize the whole book and blew me away when I first read it!

If nature is left to itself, fertility increases. Organic remains of plants and animals accumulate and are decomposed on the surface by bacteria and fungi. With the movement of rainwater, the nutrients are taken deep into the soil to become food for microorganisms, earthworms, and other small animals. Plant roots reach to the lower soil strata and draw the nutrients back up to the surface.

If you want to get an idea of the natural fertility of the earth, take a walk to the wild mountainside sometime and look at the giant trees that grow without fertilizer and without cultivation. The fertility of nature, as it is, is beyond reach of the imagination.



This encouraged me not to worry about weeding so much!

The important thing is knowing the right time to plant. For the spring vegetables the right time is when the winter weeds are dying back and just before the summer weeds have sprouted. For the fall sowing, seeds should be tossed out when the summer grasses are fading away and the winter weeds have not yet appeared.

It is best to wait for a rain which is likely to last for several days.



This technique has been super helpful when planting my own natural garden. It has been really fun and interesting observing the natural growth cycles of different plants, some of which overlap, making this a challenging and ongoing study to find out when to plan each different type of plant to minimize the work of planting. Also if you can time your planting before a good rain, you get a great natural watering for the seeds to get started!

Hopefully this review was helpful giving some general info about the book with a few interesting quotes! I hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it!
 
author
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We need natural farming, now more than ever.

My mom lived on an Iowa farm surrounded by miles upon miles of productive farmland. But when I visited years ago I learned that nobody could drink the well water. It was contaminated from all the chemicals and minerals sprayed on the crops. Local rivers and streams were becoming more and more toxic, particularly after the rains, as nitrates leached from the soil and into the water supply, finding their way into Gulf of Mexico where we now have a dead zone the size of Delaware. And yet when you drive through Iowa you see miles of seemingly healthy corn crops. Everything neat and orderly and green. But it’s an illusion, and an unsustainable illusion.

Mr. Fukuoka was trained as a scientist, so he knew the risks of chemicals. He also believed that there were better, more natural, ways to fertilize the soil. He gradually developed a system of planting clover (which is a nitrogen fixing plant, also known as “green manure”) and laying down rice stalks as ground cover. And he did not till the soil, not because he was lazy but because he didn’t want to damage the soil and its billions of microscopic creatures that were living within it.

And this brings me to the most compelling idea presented by Fukuoka — that humans, in our efforts to control nature, have only made things worse. Fukuoka wrote:

If nature is left to itself, fertility increases. Organic remains of plants and animals accumulate and are decomposed on the surface by bacteria and fungi. With the movement of rainwater, the nutrients are taken deep into the soil to become food for microorganisms, earthworms, and other small animals. Plant roots reach to the lower soil strata and draw the nutrients back up to the surface.


If you want to get an idea of the natural fertility of the earth, take a walk to the wild mountainside sometime and look at the giant trees that grow without fertilizer and without cultivation. The fertility of nature, as it is, is beyond reach of the imagination.

In other words, if our soil is doing so much of the agricultural “heavy lifting” for us, why are we killing it?

He cites the massive pollution caused by runoff from overfertilized and overwatered fields.

The most commonly used chemical fertilizers, ammonium sulfate, urea, super phosphate and the like, are used in large amounts, only fractions of which are absorbed by the plants in the field. The rest leaches into streams and rivers, eventually flowing into the Inland Sea. These nitrogen compounds become food for algae and plankton which multiply in great numbers, causing the red tide to appear … My modest solutions, such as spreading straw and growing clover, create no pollution.


The good news is that I’m reading more and more about famers embracing cover crops over chemicals. Even some of the research I’m seeing out of Iowa is showing a small (but growing) number of farms adopting cover crops. And, yes, the demand for organic produce is pushing farmers to try new approaches. But there’s also a general sense of unease with all these chemicals we were told would improve our lives. And this is the most revolutionary aspect of the book and natural farming, that it challenges us to question practices and beliefs and so many of us were born into, that we were raised to think of as right.

As far back as I can remember tilling was considered an essential farming practice. You fire up the tractor and turn over the soil. And yet, according to Mr. Fukuoka, tilling is simply not necessary. He has a field that he hasn’t tilled in more than 20 years, one that is more productive than any other farm in the region. So how does he get the seeds into the ground? He just tosses them onto the ground (Nature works in much the same way). And what a “mess” this ground is. There is nothing neat and orderly here. Just clover and rice stalks and no exposed soil, which is another rule of thumb: never let the sun touch the soil.

To be honest, I still appreciate the orderly nature of traditional farms — everything in parallel lines and perfectly in sync. Like so many of those Old McDonald children’s books. And yet I also know there is something intrinsically wrong with massive mono-crops, for soils, for pest control, for the quality of the food itself.

I appreciated Fukuoka’s focus on simple living, as in simple diets. He noted that Japanese were eating more meats because rice was considered a lower-class food. And he argued in defense of plain old rice. And it was nice to see that way back then he saw the environmental impact of so many people giving up grains for meat:

Meat and other imported foods are luxuries because they require more energy and resources than the traditional vegetables and grains produced locally … Brown rice and vegetables may seem to be coarse fare, but this is the very finest diet nutritionally, and enables human beings to live simply and directly.


This book is as much about establishing a relationship with nature as it is about growing vegetables and fruit trees. Ultimately, as the title attests, this book is about revolutionizing the way we treat the land beneath our feet. Even if you have no intentions of tossing a seed onto the ground (though I recommend a few showy milkweed seeds for the monarchs) you’ll enjoy this book.

 
steward
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I give this book 10 out of 10 acorns!

The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka does a wonderful job of explaining his philosophy of “no-mind” and the “non-discriminating mind,” which form the basis of his case for working and living alongside Nature. I believe that this book of Masanobu Fukuoka’s serves to underpin the lifestyle and “no-action” that makes living a sustainable and healthy life possible- acting with Nature. As he explains it, “no-mind” and “no-action” are not quite about doing nothing, because there is work involved with it, but instead, it’s about being and acting in accordance with the greater whole of Nature- to acknowledge and act with things as they are and not as we believe or interpret things to be. I found the concepts of “no-mind” and “non-discrimination” to be rather enlightening and informative- that as soon as we start breaking things apart and “discriminating” them, we separate them from the whole and stop seeing them for what they are. I believe that these two concepts make the book well worth reading.

I also appreciated how the book is a collection of short stories/essays by Masanobu Fukuoka about his personal experiences in natural farming and his accompanying beliefs. I find the the short stories format makes the book easy to read on the go and in my spare time.
 
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Ben Gorski and Dave Burton summed it up perfectly and succinctly.....I can't add anything to their respective summations.  It is not only a life-style but a consciousness to be developed here, not a physical technique.  If one is content to think they know more than nature, then this will not work.  It takes trust and faith but mostly patience.  We live in a society of "do it now"....and that is not a good thing.  When I first started, patience was not one of my virtues but I slowly over time began to realize that growing nature successfully will not work without Love and Patience.  We have to be willing to take a back seat, to guide when that inner prompting comes, and go no further no matter how precocious our intellect interposes itself.  What I had to break myself of, and had a very hard time doing so, was developing a consciousness that was not selfish in nature.  

I had to stop thinking that that tree, that vine, that plant was here to supply "me" with food.  I had to start thinking that it was here first, to be beautiful, to supply a feast of greenery for my eyes.  To be a home for birds or geckos.  Not just here solely for my needs and requirements. When I could Love it enough for just its beauty, totally and unconditionally, then I asked it to bear fruit, to be fruitful.  This was a hard one for me and it is only really now that I have broken myself of a need to take only and not give first then wait for a like reply.  Figure eight, its known as a figure eight interaction. Giving and taking on an equal plane, one never more than the other. Synergy.

Think of it this way. Nature is alive. People are alive, are we any different in our needs?  So I wouldn't walk up to some person I don't know and demand they give me money or give me their fruit.  I had to learn to be courteous to nature the way I had learned to be courteous and thoughtful to people.

I was already of this philosophy, I have lived it for a great deal of my life....so finding this wonderful man's works was like having a very dear friend stop in....Luther Burbank's works were another source of comfort and inspiration.  I read all of Fukuoka's books and loved them.  I tried his method, but it did not work in the desert.  I then began to understand that each situation is unique....nature's ways here are not the same as those over there somewhere, not even the same 2 miles away from me.  This was ultimately what Masanobu was teaching. I ventured out, learning to walk on the water and feel more and more comfortable.  I profusely read everything....even about traditional methods.  I wanted to know as much as I could so I could recognize patterns of gardening/farming that was showing up in a tree, a vine, a plant, that had been implanted by mankind as a consciousness.

I found Joseph, the land race guy and he helped me start to unwind the ideas that had been formed as concepts that had become a dominating, tyrannical kind of farming/gardening method, rather than working with nature, letting nature take the lead in many ways.

Over the decades I found what was right, what was restorative for this farm...a lot of it took giant leaps of faith and there was not really any previous works or writings for me to follow....it was learning to do something not done before, or at least not written about.  I was learning to follow not my intellect, not others ways, but my very own heart. I am quite certain people have been working with nature this way for aeons but these are not the people who normally write about it, they just live their lives quietly and victoriously.

And yes, it would be nice to have a forum dedicated to this kind of consciousness as a way of sustainable living.
 
pollinator
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I give this book 10 out of 10 acorns.

Yes, it's more of a philosophy than a "how to" manual. It reminds me of the movies by Akira Kurosawa. I even made an artwork inspired by one of these movies (Yōjinbō, "Bodyguard"). The artwork was about the contrasting views on silk - some people find it cruel, others - natural and beautiful. No one understood my intention, sadly ;)
If I ever made an artwork inspired by a book from a "permaculture library", The One-Straw Revolution would be first on my list. It's very poetic and philosophical. My copy was a Polish translation, poorly translated and designed, but I'm not judging that.
 
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Flora Eerschay wrote:I give this book 10 out of 10 I even made an artwork inspired by one of these movies (Yōjinbō, "Bodyguard"). The artwork was about the contrasting views on silk - some people find it cruel, others - natural and beautiful. No one understood my intention, sadly ;)



I am curious what your artwork looks like. Maybe permie people here will understand you better.
 
There will be plenty of time to discuss your objections when and if you return. The cargo is this tiny ad:
Devious Experiments for a Truly Passive Greenhouse!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/paulwheaton/greenhouse-1
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