The Helpful Gardener
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One Reason That Natural Farming Has Not Spread

This chapter is a tough one for me. This is the place where I find F-san's hardest rejection of science; it is without remorse or compromise...
There are always those who try to mix natural and scientific farming. But this way of thinking completely misses the point. The farmer who moves towards compromise can no longer criticize science at the fundamental level.
This sentence implies to me that the point is to criticize science; hardly why I garden as I do. I am thinking this may have been a tough part to translate, as the next sentence clarifies the position some...
Natural Farming is gentle and easy and indicates a return to the source of farming. A single step away from the source can lead one astray.
Still I look to Dr.s Stamets, and Ingham and Tallamy and McKibben, and I see science siding with Sensei while he does not return the favor. I see a place for science, perhaps not so much in my backyard garden, but certainly not to be excluded without reason either. I am swayed by Sensei's edicts more than not, but still find myuself troubled by such stern pronouncements...

HG
Scott Reil

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Maybe it's because these scientists you named have been inspired by Fukuoka-sensei, whereas there were none that inspired him in his time. He might have been, had he known about some inspiring scientists abroad.

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I dunno AS. F-san seems to have eschewed science from more than just a scientific frame of mind. From the preceeding chapter...
To the extent that people seperate themselves from nature, they spin out further and further from the center. At the same time a centripetal effect asserts itself and the desire to return to nature arises. But if people merely become caught up in reacting, moving to the left or the right, depending on conditions, the result is only more activity. The non-moving point of origin, which lies outside the realm of of relativity is passed over, unnoticed. I believe that even "returning-to-nature" and anti-pollution activities, no matter how commendable, are not moving toward a genuine solution if they are carried out solely in reaction to the overdevelopment of the present age.
To that end, Stamets and Ingham (et al) are still scientists reacting to particular stimuli. They are reacting with whole system solutions, certainly a new wrinkle to F-san's earlier objections, but are still certainly "moving to the left or the right". This is the place I am torn on; this crux of science meeting ancient technique. I recognize value in both, but cannot seem to find the place where they dovetail seamlessly, and Sensei says they don't...

Is he right?

HG
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When sensei wrote TOSR science was still rigidly specialized. It's much better now with scientists like Ingham and Stamets and whole new fields of science arising which emphasize the interconnectedness of various branches of scientific study. I can tell you for sure, though, that Fukuoka would not soften his views on this topic anyway. It goes to the core of his way of seeing the world. Even refering to the study as "ecology" implies a separation. That may not seem like much, but to him it was very important.

I'm not sure I can do justice to his beliefs here except to say that he is being quite literal when he says that scientists can never see the way nature is put together no matter how sensitively the research is done. It is by not doing that we can live again within nature. Remember Einstein's famous quote, (paraphrased) "It is folly to think we can solve problems by using the same way of thinking that created the problems in the first place."

We can never know the ultimate consequences of our actions no matter how well meaning. He tells that little story about how he once thought that putting wood ashes in the fields would be a good thing. The spiders in the field disappeared over night as a result. :cry: All we can do is make the tools nature needs available to her so she can manifest her inherent nature of abundance and self-renewal. Let nature do the doing. We can only observe nature's clues very closely and go that way.

Sorry I am not being of more help here. We all want so desparately to do something.
"There is no time in modern agriculture for a farmer to write a poem or compose a song" --Masanobu Fukuoka
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I've been thinking...actually trying to think of ways science has had a positive affect on our lives and the development of our culture. There must be ways in which science has been helpful. I'm not trying to be agrumentative here. I'm wrestling with these issues the same as you are. :? Can anyone suggest a few?
"There is no time in modern agriculture for a farmer to write a poem or compose a song" --Masanobu Fukuoka
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how about our ability to share information / thoughts/ ideas/ philosophy on a forum like this?

How about our ability to stay in touch with people all over the world?

To travel easily? My first trip to Costa Rica, having never been outside this country, I planned all on line and made us reservations at a series of the most wonderful out of the way unique hotels, cabinas, etc. that I probably never would have found even from inside Costa Rica otherwise.

To save lives that were once lost to diseases? I think the ultimate eg of good technology is the polio vaccine. I am old enough to remember people crippled up with polio and when polio technology was gigantic iron lung machines that people would have to live in.

Can you argue that every one of these has a down side? Of course; every blessing is a mixed blessing. Even the polio vaccine and all the other ones, contributes to over population. Does that mean we would rather let all those people die horrible deaths of polio and typhus and pertussis and smallpox? I certainly hope not. Do we turn away blessings because there is a possible down side to them? We learn to control our population in other more humane ways.

There's also a difference between science and technology. Science is a way of thinking about the world, of observing and testing hypotheses, of understanding how things work. Science helped us learn to treat mentally ill people humanely rather than killing/ torturing them for the demons inside them.

Do I sometimes wish I lived in a less technological world and one less threatened with environmental catastrophe? Sure. Would I go back to the dark ages (before science) and live in ignorance and filth and likely die in childbirth? Not as long as I have a choice.
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Plusses to be sure, but double edged swords as well...

The Web has allowed for the quick transition of information, but it now talks a more disseminating eye to gather fact from fiction; I am oft guilty of grabbing info that supports my paradigm only to find later it is not of best veracity or thouroughly researched. Surely there is more communication but is it an electronic Tower of Babel or virtual university? Depends on how you use it, I guess.

Sociologically speaking it HAS been a boon, but to all sorts of groups, from concerned gardeners like ourselves to hate groups and religious extremists. Again depends on useage...

Travel? We humans have become a speedy vector of disease, invasive plants and creatures, and of economic models and military adventures amongst ourselves. Another wash in my mind...

But as RBG has noted, all plusses have negatives and vice versa. I think the true measure of the values of technology or science come from our thought about the need for, or impacts of, said science. When Paul Stamets talks about a cure for not just H1N1 but every virus he's tried it on, derived from a rare deep woods fungus, now we not only have a wonder drug, but a reason to preserve deep wood (as Stamets puts it, it is now a matter of vital national security to preserve these forests). This is a positive outcome for all involved. So there is a good example, Larry...

When we begin to make our scientific decisions based not on the needs of a single genus or species, but on as many genii as we can factor into the equation, then science begins to do the right thing. Much as I am a fan of Dr. Stamets' work I always harken back to a discussion with Dr. Ingham (on antifungal fungi) when she told me she always thought we were headed in the wrong direction when we concentrated on one species, or genus, or even kingdom. Ecosystems work best when all species are balanced. I have been unable to find fault with that reasoning. Ever.

I think Doc Ingham and F-san would have found common ground eventually. I think science and natural farming can coexist. Scince is simply a tool like a hammer or a saw, and we are still in need of tools to fix the mess we have made. I have to think that because we are running out of time and boith these memes are necessities as I see it.

Perhaps when we achieve something close to the balance that allows humans and other organisms (from top to bottom) to coexist happily, the truths of F_san will win out over the facts of science. But at the moment, humans are a long way from that as a whole...

HG
Scott Reil

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fukuoka was a scientist. his railing against it strikes me more as a lover's ideation that develops after the affair is over. so he forgets all the good times he had with science, and how important science was to his own enlightenment. for all his talk, he denounces science as untrue, ergo unscientific.

since his time, science has improved, but perhaps the same general contradiction remains. to me, Fukuoka is the contradiction, not the resolution.

Before we say "natural farming hasn't spread", we should define that. Yeah, corn farmers are not taking up Zen, but are they working the soil with radishes? Or the rice harvest in California - isn't it direct seeded? Isn't no-till farming the new gold standard?

I think Fukuoka's influence is there to see if you look. And to be frank, contradictions seem to have more and better uses than convictions.

That said, I am careful about recommending this book to someone. My mind tends to be on the open side, but many passages in this text are just too damn unreasonable.
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