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Our Summer Reading Choice: One Straw Revolution

I am very happy to report our Summer Selection for the Book Club will be [url=https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1590173139/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0878572201&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1G7XMX1Y3B4CAE47VYFP]Masanobu Fukuoka's One Straw Revolution[/url]...

This book has been much talked about on this site (I sometimes think we have probably put the book in it's entirety on this site, one line at a time, scattered here or there...). It is a seminal work in so many ways; this book gave birth to the macrobiotic diet movement of the Seventies, was the key thinking behind the Permaculture movement, and was the sparkplug for Emilia Hazelip's French Intensive style of gardening.

Fukuoka-sensei was the first of many farmers to disprove the thinking that chemicals were a necessity for agriculture, and his Natural Farming Style is being much copied in this day and age. His recent passing has engendered new interest in his writings, and time has not dulled his words or his message. As we embrace organic foods, locovore eating and farm to table, his words take on a new urgency and meaning. This book may be three decades old, but it is as topical as todays news...

I look forward to starting this conversation in the next week. Get your copies and lets do the forwards (Wendell's and Francis') and Chapter One for next Friday... I am most happy and anxious to start this discussion...

Scott
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What a great book. Very good one to discuss on here.

Though the discussion on Teaming with microbes didn't goes as well as planned. It has been busy and so much going on.

I will try to keep posted on this thread.

I might have to read it again. :)

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gixxerific wrote:Though the discussion on Teaming with microbes didn't goes as well as planned.
What did you find lacking in the discussions re. Teaming with Microbes? I found them sufficiently informative that, even though I was unable to read the book *with* the group, I picked it up later and was able to read the parts of it I had time for (*sigh* :( ), knowing what I was skimming vs. what I was reading.

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Rereading this book has been a bit of an obsession with me; it is deceptively short and simple. I worry I have missed pieces and sometimes find a new nuance as I reread a chapter, or muse on an idea...

One of the shortcomings of the the last book was a lack of a schedule to read by and we will be more diligent with this one. The short chapters allow for easy reading and even rereading and the density of thought and information make that advisable at times, but this is not a long book. We will not be relying on author participation either, which was... let's just call it irregular... so keeping a schedule will be easier...

Also if someone hasn't gotten their book for next Fridays read, they will not be chapters behind in a scientifically challenging book, but a short chapter back in a fairly gripping story, with a weekend to catch up. Leaving the wounded behind will not be an issue either :lol:

Looking forward to the discussions...

S
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Were these gixx's feelings also? I know that, as much as you ("You" being Scott, the original HG) like to pose as an easy-going gardening guy, you're actually an excellent self-taught scientist who is maniacal about

1) soil health,
2) closing the gardening loop (no external inputs), and
3) not using synthetic chemicals on plants.
:twisted:

Which isn't a bad thing, but maintaining the two roles simultaneously isn't easy. (Ask me how I know; I kept the maniacal part and gave up the "easy-going" part long, long ago. Maybe in grade school. :roll:)

I just wondered what gixx felt the shortcomings were of the Teaming discussions.

Sadly, even if Fukuoka-sensei had still been alive and in his prime, I don't know whether (and in fact doubt that) he was comfortable in English, so any "author participation" would have been very unlikely.

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WOOHOO!! I'm so excited! Now I have to wait for my book :roll:
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I cannot speak for Gixx, but those were my takes on the downside of our otherwise excellent discussions on Teaming.

Hmmm... scientist...no... self taught naturalist with some scientific leanings; closer to the truth. Soil health is key to the whole game in my mind, tis true. Doing without externals just makes sense in both a naturalistic and sustainability paradigm. And synthetics in growing was an experiment that has run it's course in many ways; not to say that there are not some interesting things being done in botanical and mycological extracting that don't deserve a closer look, because they do.

I believe that Fukuoka-sensei's pronouncements against all things scientific was mostly of the moment, based on a time when the scientific community that at the time was so inculcated in the world of chemistry (and still is in many places) that they simply ran roughshod over the natural world. I think he certainly tells a cautionary tale, and his message is not lost on me, but I have been rubbing elbows over the past decade with the Elaine Inghams and Doug Tallamy's of the world, real scientists who are more based in F-sensei's world than Dow or Monsanto's. There are scientists who understand the need for natural systems thinking in solving ecological issues, looking for solutions that mirror O-sensei's thoughts more than Descartes or Newtons.

I had this conversation with the translator of this book, Larry Korn, and he remains adamant that scientific thinking is anathema to the process of natural farming. I think this will likely be a topic for discussion, one of many ideas this book raises. I respect that Fukuoka-sensei returned to the earth and did things more simply, more naturally, and I have done what I can to mimic that in my own garden. The results have been surprising to me (I suspect that he would not be :) )

I have worked less, and while the garden does look a bit wild, things are progressing nicely. More cherry tomatoes than ever before as they spill and tumble about the squash. More squash and less bugs with less spraying this year... I have not used as much milk, as much fish, NO compost tea this year (F-sensei was not a huge believer in compost). I have done little weeding, and there are a few spots in need of scything, but the crops are looking good. LOTS of tomatoes, peppers are finally catching up, cukes are better than last year (not saying much, but I am still learning...). And the straw makes things so much easier; less watering, weeding, and rot on the things that end up sitting...

Less is indeed more...

So yes, I can pore over all this with microscopes, and do tests on the soil and wax fanatical about mineralization and brix and nutrient densities, but I can also let go and let nature do the gardening as well. It has been liberating at a time when I needed liberation; a "lazy man's" garden for someone with too few hours in the day ("lazy gardeners" are discussed in the book; we'll talk then). I think we all fit that bill today and hope we can get a few folks to understand that the sterilized row crop garden they chain themselves to with tillers and hoes and chemicals is not the only way to get things done.

Viva la revolution!

S
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:There are scientists who understand the need for natural systems thinking in solving ecological issues, looking for solutions that mirror O-sensei's thoughts more than Descartes or Newtons.

I had this conversation with the translator of this book, Larry Korn, and he remains adamant that scientific thinking is anathema to the process of natural farming. I think this will likely be a topic for discussion, one of many ideas this book raises. I respect that Fukuoka-sensei returned to the earth and did things more simply, more naturally, and I have done what I can to mimic that in my own garden. The results have been surprising to me (I suspect that he would not be
Since Fukuoka-sensei had a degree in Agronomy, he was indeed inculcated in the chemistry of the time as well as in the thoroughness for which the Meiji culture was well known in adopting Western ways. Quite a burden, which in his crucial illness in his mid-20s he threw over, returning to his family's land, just in time for the military mobilization of the Japanese nation, another burden to him and to his country(wo)men. :(

We receive Science News, Scientific American (which used to be a scientific journal and is now more like a popular scientific magazine), National Geographic, and Science (which is a peer-reviewed journal) at this house. Science News and Science are weeklies; NatGeo and SciAm are monthly.

So I am well versed, since I actually read articles of interest in all four publications, in the machinations of what Korn would likely describe as The Enemy, scientific thinking. However, I've noticed over the past 10 to 15 years that the tenor of the reports in Science, especially, has changed. There are many more interdisciplinary reports than there used to be. "Scientific thinking" itself isn't what it used to be, at least not in most of the reports I read. The last few issues of Science, contrary to previous practice, no longer name the field of specialization for a report (e.g., paleoclimatology, crystallography, geosciences); there are too many fields to which a given report pertains! Scientists are having to take a broader perspective than formerly, and this can only be for the better.

Just today, SciAm arrived. There's an article by Prof. Curtis W. Marean discussing a genetic bottleneck the human species survived approx. 195,000 years ago. This article draws from genetics, climatology, mathematics, archaeology, paleoanthropology, botany, geology, and others, and therefore is highly inter-disciplinary, but there is more...

Many scientists are now learning by re-creating ancient technologies. Rather than restricting themselves to logical abstractions regarding unearthed artifacts, these scientists are re-creating, or attempting to re-create, products which exactly duplicate the artifacts. This is crucial to the article at hand, "When the Sea Saved Humanity." Scientists--exactly like Fukuoka-sensei himself did--started at the beginning and used the same rock, silcrete, to flake tools as the ancient inhabitants of the cave had done to test an idea about available technology 165,000 years ago. Fukuoka-sensei started with rice straw, which was in abundance, and the earth. Like O-sensei, the scientists recorded what happened. Did it work? Did it not work? If not, what might work next time?

This is the *essence* of the scientific method.

O-sensei may have thrown over the sterile teachings of an educational system he no longer needed or could tolerate, but he was a careful and patient observer and (as I remember; I don't have a copy of TOSR at hand yet) kept notes. What more could anyone ask of any...scientist, gardener, or farmer?

Please give us an idea of what Larry Korn means when he says he has no use for "scientific thinking," if he so venerates O-sensei's work but at the same time doesn't seem to value the process of O-sensei recording his observations (i.e., using the scientific method) over so many years? :?:

Cynthia

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Larry kept bringing it back to that singular point that F-sensei makes, that the scientific process tends to be myopic from staring in one place too long. I do really get what he meant, and I think I got from Larry a need to understand the spiritual side of what Fukuoka was about. You do find it throughout the book, where he speaks to the farmers having time to compose haiku, and that being gone, or when he is talking about the seasonality of food, that there is more than just agronomics going on; he is speaking to deeper human needs than keeping the lights on and the plants growing.

But I think it is too easy to become equally myopic about our prejudices; when Paul Stamets puts on his science hat and comes up with boxes for food that turn into more food, just add water, and he has done this not with chemicals from the lab or mined materials but with fungi gleaned from the soil, then F-sensei's systems are being not just utilized, but venerated (and if you think I misuse that word, look at the gleam in Paul Stamet's eye when he talks about saving the deep forest as a matter of national defense, or how he talks of saving the world with mushrooms...)

This is not the science that was treading heavily on that world Fukuoka abandoned, this is science that embraces that world. I do believe there are still missteps to be made with natural technologies; they remain at their heart technologies and mankind has a knack for misusing them. But we cannot step back too quickly from our technological world without precipitously crashing our abilities to maintain our current populations (another topic entirely) or drastically reducing our demands for goods and services, and I see no sign the current crew wants to do either. Adoption of a more suitable technology seems a necessary evil, and not so evil if we do it in concert with nature...

But I am not a society, or even a farmer really. I grow a little food. So if I do that in the manner F-sensei would have liked, and makes the place I live on a little nicer and cleaner and friendly for all the species that live there, that makes me happy. And that is good for my soul too... There is room for both in my mind...

S
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cynthia_h wrote:
gixxerific wrote:Though the discussion on Teaming with microbes didn't goes as well as planned.
What did you find lacking in the discussions re. Teaming with Microbes? I found them sufficiently informative that, even though I was unable to read the book *with* the group, I picked it up later and was able to read the parts of it I had time for (*sigh* :( ), knowing what I was skimming vs. what I was reading.

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I'm sorry I didn't mean any harm. The discussions were great. I was just expecting MYSELF to participate more. Nothing against the forum. I did try to follow most of the postings when I found them, usually late. But the information posted was beyond what I could add so I just absorbed and went on. I really wish I could have participated more in that thread. And yes the book was great I have read it 1 1/2 times.

I just wish I had more time to actually go point for point which would help me understand even better.

To be quite honest a lot of it was so technical it was above me to a certain extent. I understand the info but putting my understanding into words was the problem. :D

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Yeah, that was a topic of discussion amongst the mods afterwards. It was a pretty technical read to be sure. One reason we went for a shorter, less technical read with this one. Thanks for the honest feedback.

OSR will not be that kind of book at all.

HG
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Book discussion

Time to reread the introductions to The One-Straw Revolution. I'm looking forward to this discussion. -Larry
"There is no time in modern agriculture for a farmer to write a poem or compose a song" --Masanobu Fukuoka
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Larry, we are most pleased to have you joining us for the discussion. I suspect we will find your insights most helpful. We'll give you a better introduction as we get started... in the meantime...

Welcome to THG!

Scott
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:shock: I can hardly believe it!! Welcome to the forum Larry! I have a feeling I'm about to learn a LOT. :) I'm thrilled you are joining us!!
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My book didn't come. :( It was supposed to be here yesterday or today.

One another note, who besides Gixx, Cynthia, HG, Larry, and me are participating? I feel like I'm outta my league with you people :lol:
Seriously though Cyn and HG, I have had to pull out a dictionary or google something more than once after reading some of your posts :oops:
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I just purchased my copy today. :wink:

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We will try not to go too deep on you, but this is a book with a lot of deep stuff in it. Plus I have a tendency to complicate things sometimes; F-sensei would probably laugh at me and tell us I was overcomplicating or doing too much, and he'd likely be right. I will do my best to not meander into esoteric verbage or scientific nomenclature...

But I do find that stuff cool 8) nutz:

Cynthia, face it, we're geeks... :lol:

Fear not late book aquirers! We are starting at the very beginning and picking up speed slowly; we are reading only a wee bit of Sensei's writing and concentrating in the Prefaces and forwards so far. Priming the pump as it were. But get 'em now...

HG
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While we had just decided on the Francis Moore Lappe and Wendell Berry prefaces along with the first chapter ("Look at this grain"), most of you with books will have noticed there are two sections I did not mention; an Editor's Introduction and Notes on Translation. I hope you can find some time for these as well; please let them serve as your best introduction to Larry Korn, who will be joining us for the discussion as his time allows.

While not part of the "assigned reading" they give a great oversight of life at F-san's farm and his modus operandi. Insights like these can shed great light on the rest for us, and we are most lucky to be joined by Larry.

Looking forward to tomorrow night; I will post the kickoff at 9:00PM Eastern Time. Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Scott
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Don't worry Dixana, no one will be left behind in this discussion although I admit that I, too, had to go to the dictionary a few times while reading HG and Cynthia's discussion. Just stop me if I start posting in Japanese (just kidding). This should be fun. I am looking forward to learning from all of you as well.
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Dixana wrote: Seriously though Cyn and HG, I have had to pull out a dictionary or google something more than once after reading some of your posts
It's good for ya! :D Sometimes the Latin- or Greek-based word really *is* the one needed; sometimes it just feels good to be able to use it after sitting here for the last two months conversing (?) with Vergil the Dog, whose vocabulary is--shall we say?--significantly limited. (Surgery was May 26, so just over two months; def. nine weeks. :shock:)

Even though he's no longer on cage rest/restriction and is on the "exercise/build up those muscles again" program, he's severely deconditioned, and does a lot of lying around while I either do quilt stuff, gardening stuff, or (when I have it) WORK! But I can only say things like, "Doggy wanna go potty?" "Vergil, drink water" or "What a good boy!" (and similar phrases for my girl dog) so many times a day before I need to use 25-cent words, dollar words, and the occasional five-dollar word. :lol:

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The Helpful Gardener wrote: Cynthia, face it, we're geeks... :lol:
Ya just now figured out that I'm a geek? Hmm... Not only am I a natural reader, but all the leg/neck/migraine "fun" that severely limits my gardening and other outdoor time means that I need to get those jollies by--yep--reading more about gardening...

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I will be participating -- I bought my book 2 days ago --- I hope it gets here soon.

I am in for a good learn -- but I like a challenge -- and I have no problem using a dictionary.

... book get here already! :D

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Where are you? :?:
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I'm in WI. And my book still didn't come :( I'm going to contact amazon. I might see if I can get a copy locally, I'll just give the other one as a gift or something :)
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Apologies for technical difficulties; all posts are up.

Sorry to hear that some have been unable to get books in a timely fashion, but know we are staying in prefaces and the very first chapter this week, so we will not journey far ahead without you... Our discussions here will focus more on setting up the rest of the book than the contents thereof. Go get your copy and join us...

Scott
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I posted elsewhere, my copy won't arrive until 8/16. Catch up with you later!
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Could it be that THG's reading club itself is causing a market flurry on these books? :shock:

Just a thought, since the difficulty seems so widespread.

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A thought, but it seems unlikely based on the participation... s'not like we are Ofrah or anything... :lol:

If the big boys are unable to deliver in a timely fashion might I suggest local bookstores or even chains?

Could be you would get faster service. It would make an interesting test case...

HG
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Reporting on an exploratory foray into Barnes & Noble in El Cerrito. No copies.

I can also report that the B&N in-store computer system lists TOSR by title and then lists Frances Moore Lappé as the "author." Only down in the description of the book's content does the listing bother to say that she wrote the Introduction and that Fukuoka-sensei was the actual author. Nowhere do they mention a translator, preface, foreword, or anything else. I suggested to the person looking it up for me that listing "Masanobu Fukuoka" as the author would help more people find it, as he really was the author.

The clerk looked very confused. Not encouraging.

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Bought mine at Borders in Waterford, CT. They only had one in stock. Tried to purchase it at local Bay Area independents but they didn't have it. I haven't started reading it yet, but will within the next few days. Seems like enough people are starting it later than sooner that the discussions will be ongoing at different speeds.

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Perhaps we might delay the start of the next section a week?

I would be interested to hear thoughts from everyone on that idea... I think there is plenty to discuss in the sections we have covered already (I'd think weeks of discussion would be conservative...).

Cynthia, thanks for the scouting report; I 'd agree it's less than heartening, but at least it's in the system (although not as pleased to hear it's under Lappe, Francis Moore, :roll: ) And they call themselves booksellers...
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I found ONE at a Barnes and Noble 45 minutes away :( I'm going to hold out a few more days before going to get it/calling to see if they still have it. No answer from Amazon as to WHY I have no book yet. When ordered it did not say it was out of stock or backordered...
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Amazon sent me an email saying my copy would not arrive until 8/16, but then it arrived unannounced today.... there's hope!
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I'm in, too, but also a tiny bit late.

I had hoped to begin the book on my vacation, but it didn't arrive in time. I got home last night and my book was here, so I'm ready to start reading!

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Glad to hear books are arriving. Any other feedback here? I do not wish to leave folks too far behind, so have scheduled a slightly slower start anyway. But I would love to discuss the next three 'chapters" Friday night...

Speak now... who else is getting stuck in late?

HG
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Today's scouting foray: Black Oak Books in its new location, foot of Carleton @ San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley.

No new copies, no used copies. *sigh*

Although I am loathe to use Amazon (for many reasons), I may have to if I can't find a copy in Davis tomorrow. (Going to Davis for other reasons, but will also look in bookstores.)

Cynthia

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I'm so happy to hear that Black Oak Books is still in business, although at a new location.
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Darn. Cody's would have had it for sure. :(
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muland wrote:Darn. Cody's would have had it for sure. :(
Agreed. *sigh*

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Scouting foray #3: Avid Reader, Davis, California ( https://www.avidreaderbooks.com/ ) knows what's what. :D Anyone near Davis--by which I mean within an 80- or so mile radius--hie thyself hither and purchase a copy of the book from them. Call first; I know not how many copies they have.

But their service is nonpareil. The clerk saw me reading the Gardening shelves. He asked whether I was looking for a specific book, and I said yes... He said, "Oh, we have that one in Nature; let me get it for you." And he brought it to me and placed it in my hands! :D

I tried, really tried, to purchase an additional book or two, but the two that looked most promising--ones with titles like "Small Spaces, Bounteous Yield" or something like that, and "How to Preserve the Harvest: New Recipes for Traditional Vegetables" or something similar--were complete busts.

The "Small Spaces" book considers a 20' x 20' garden to be small! :shock: God only knows what the author would think of my 96 square feet, cobbled together here and there from 4'x4' raised beds, random patches, and containers. And the "New Recipes"? What a bunch of...ah...old recipes. If you have canning, pickling, dehydrating, or other preservation instructions you like, use 'em and leave this book where it belongs: on the shelf, gathering dust.

So now I can dispense with worrying about the library's reserved copy of TOSR and read mine own. Maybe tomorrow (if no paying work shows up in my email), I'll have something coherent to say....

Cynthia

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