Archive for organic farming

Masanobu Fukuoka – The One-Straw Revolution

“When it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the attempt to possess them, the essence of natural farming will be realized. The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

“I do not particularly like the word ‘work.’ Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think that is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Other animals make their livings by living, but people work like crazy, thinking that they have to in order to stay alive. The bigger the job, the greater the challenge, the more wonderful they think it is. It would be good to give up that way of thinking and live an easy, comfortable life with plenty of free time. I think that the way animals live in the tropics, stepping outside in the morning and evening to see if there is something to eat, and taking a long nap in the afternoon, must be a wonderful life. For human beings, a life of such simplicity would be possible if one worked to produce directly his daily necessities. In such a life, work is not work as people generally think of it, but simply doing what needs to be done.”

“People think they understand things because they become familiar with them. This is only superficial knowledge. It is the knowledge of the astronomer who knows the names of the stars, the botanist who knows the classification of the leaves and flowers, the artist who knows the aesthetics of green and red. This is not to know nature itself- the earth and sky, green and red. Astronomer, botanist, and artist have done no more than grasp impressions and interpret them, each within the vault of his own mind. The more involved they become with the activity of the intellect, the more they set themselves apart and the more difficult it becomes to live naturally.”

“Until there is a reversal of the sense of values which cares more for size and appearance than for quality, there will be no solving the problem of food pollution.”

“We can never know the answers to great spiritual questions, but it’s all right not to understand. We have been born and are living on the earth to face directly the reality of living.”

“When a decision is made to cope with the symptoms of a problem, it is generally assumed that the corrective measures will solve the problem itself. They seldom do.”

“Fast rather than slow, more rather than less–this flashy “development” is linked directly to society’s impending collapse. It has only served to separate man from nature. Humanity must stop indulging the desire for material possessions and personal gain and move instead toward spiritual awareness.
Agriculture must change from large mechanical operations to small farms attached only to life itself. Material life and diet should be given a simple place. If this is done, work becomes pleasant, and spiritual breathing space becomes plentiful.”

“Food and medicine are not two different things: they are the front and back of one body. Chemically grown vegetables may be eaten for food, but they cannot be used as medicine.”

“I wonder how it is that people’s philosophies have come to spin faster than the changing seasons.”


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Would you like to live free? Brithdir Mawr, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Lets make a village from the land. Anybody interested?  Re-establish our connection with each other, the earth, the stars………in a secret eco-village.

Let me know and read of the following inspirational sorts, off the map, over the hill and living below roofs made of the earth.

We need a carpenter, an ironmonger, a farmer, a healer and a sage. I shall craft beans and beetroot (and make the tea).  Does anybody have a few acres of land to spare?

Lets make our dreams reality.


Here are these shining lights of Brithdir Mawr, who have been living in seclucion for years, but were found by a survey plane.  Our government don’t appreciate this level of freedom, these wooden huts with earthen roofs and sustainable ways, so they demanded they be demolished.  Planning ‘permission’ is needed to build using local natural materials on private land far from anywhere.  Permission?!  From who!  Anyway, good triumphed in the end.

I hope to pop down the coast for a visit, I’ll no doubt let you know how it goes.

These good people seem to have got it right, thanks to the Daily Mail for covering the story, but………….

……I like how the Daily Mail refers to this community, living off the land in what could be refered to as a state of financial and material poverty, as ‘middle class’.

What a society we live in.  Born in a leafy suburb to hard-working parents (indoctrinated by the media and a lingering Victorian work ethic) and then branded for life as one who has benefits from average material wealth and a comprehensive (hardly!) education.

Be careful.  Read a few books and partial to hummus, you’ll be getting yourself a reputation!


How we cast judgement based on such flawed understanding of our basic humanity.  It’s not our fault, it’s the poisoned, sneering hacks at institutions like the Daily Mail.  The class system, or the caste system, is maintained by those at the top, maintained by fear (wars, terrorists etc) and can only be conquered by love.  Love thy neighbour, as an equal to yourself and all will be well in the world.

If we all get together, move back to the land, form communities based on more humane values.  How can they stop us?

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WWOOFFing at ENCA Organic Farm, Acop, Philippines, 16th March 2011

Olive busy in the kitchen

I wake to the clear morning light of the dawn broken. The fresh breeze stirs many branches overhead. Giant black prehistoric looking ants patrol around my  clock. In the roof space above, around 6 young kittens begin to meow in unison, like hungry baby birds, they fancy some breakfast. Looking through the windows, without glass, I can see cypress, acacia, ipil-ipil, pine, papaya, calamansi and banana trees through the hazy vision of newly opened eyes. Mountain coffee beans and native rice dries on the clearing beside the bathroom, I fill my bucket from a hose laying in a flowery bush inhabited by many wasps. Spring water comes gushing out, flowing down the hill, gravity powered and crystal. A large black butterfly joins me inside the hut, flying without grace into walls, as I go about a quick bucket wash. The clouds are deep and ridged, billowing wider as they rise up. The sky is the brightest blue and small birds sing merry songs as they flit about.  All is well on the farm today.

The big red cottage pokes out over the forest

I set off for Olives hut and a warm bowl of porridge and banana. After eating and drinking 3 cups of fresh local coffee, and a gentle briefing, it’s time to walk down to the fields. Past the cow, the still pond, under the trees and the dangling horned caterpillars.

Momma Sophie

Olive is a great cook and rustles up some real organic delights. I have never left her little hut without a very full belly. The farm has belonged to the Cosalan family since 1800 and has been used to educate many about the native Ibaloi cultire.  In the ’70’s the government attempted to take away the families land the ensuing court case was won by the Cosalan family, a landmark case in the protection of indeginous peoples lands within the Philippines.

There is no electricity and activity occurs under the bright sun and inactivity occurs under the waxing moon. One night I am fortunate to witness a radiant silver full moon, each detail pronounced above a roaring wood fire and cup of steaming Tanduay rum and coffee.  I sleep well here, with many vivid dreams. Mornings are spent from 8am to 12:30pm weeding the green beans or clearing space for new varieties of plants. Next crop in the veg garden will be more legumes and some lettuces. There are edible ferns growing, a local favourite, yellow ginger (turmeric), coffee trees grow in the shade, peanuts and corn soon to follow. All the veg is bursting with flavour and vitality, the difference between a vac-packed supermarket attempt is complete. Cooking with this pungent produce is a real treat.  The green beans are the length of a tall witches finger and have an apple-like bite to them. They are consume locally or sold in a small organic market in Baguio twice a week. The soil here is nurtured and carefully managed. Micro-organisms kept in check, cultivated and regularly sprayed around the place.

On the way to the field, civet dung can be found on the flat trunk of their favourite horizontally growing tree. Civets are cat-like creatures with alien goggle eyes. Good for night vision. They love munching on the red berries surrounding coffee beans. The bean passes through its digestive system and emerges whole and grey. This bean can then be dried, roasted and ground to make the most expensive and sought after coffee in the world. Retailing at normally $10 per cup. It has quite a funky tang. It apparently cures colon cancer, parkinsons and asthma.  We estimate that this mornings long dung is worth around $15 dollars, but is a little fresh for any closer inspection.

Heart Shaped Flower

Lunch is served up on the ridge, normally fresh veggies and rice, with luscious mangos for dessert. Then at 1:30pm its back down to the veg gardens for maybe some mulching (sorting compost), harvesting coffee or green beans and more weeding. The work can be sweaty, hard on the back and thorns regularly draw blood. Tiny black flies hover around your eyeballs, making you dizzy. They then go for the ears, sounding like an old war plane spiralling out of control in the distance. This also happens when you are sleeping and can be a confusing noise to wake up to in the middle of the night. Ants get into your boots and attack your toes.  But in reality, I did more reading about farming techniques than actually working.  Relaxed pace and all.

Dinner is served by candlelight in Olives kitchen, Rockey the one-eyed dog, yelps for scraps. He loves bread. Olley, the affection needy cat, is normally draped on someones lap. Spoilt as a kitten by a German Buddhist, I have never met such a friendly feline. We eat black beans and red rice, occasional peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (PB&J’s). These sandwiches arrive via Eric and Christina, my fellow WWOOFERs and great company. They love a band called the String Cheese Incident (who are very good) and are from Colorado. We talk quietly until at 8pm then tire rapidly and head to our huts. I am careful to skirt the small flower beds and in the darkness follow the uneven wooden fences that Bob made, resembling clusters of pagan wizards staffs nailed together. I read a little and am lulled to sleep by the constant chorus of cicadas and the clicking of small lizards that perch on the giant ferns.

Olive and the family have been accepting WWOOFing volunteers and all-comers for over 10 years and judging by the guest book, many other people have been deeply touched by this little spot of natural tranquility. The volunteers have invested much time and far flung ideas into the farm and the years of care and attention show in the details and great success. Olive is a wealth of information and using many progressive techniques, micro-organism management and traditional know-how, she produce’s amazing crops. Olive should be a shining example for all local farmers to turn organic, but this requires years of dedication and real passion for preserving nature and its beauty. Prospering from its bounty. Most will instead opt for maximum yield and profits, pesticides and a short term view. Industrialised ways.  I have learnt much here and now have a distinct desire to start growing my own. Somewhere.

Full Moon over ENCA farm

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