Skip to main content

Review: Sowing Seeds in the Desert by Masanobu Fukuoka

This week's trip to a natural farm is, of course, inspired by Masanabu Fukuoka. During our first year here I ordered two books: F.H. King's Farmers of Forty Centuries and Fukuoka's One Straw Revolution. I dipped into Fukuoka's book first as it was most closely related to Japan, I'd just started helping on the farm here in Tokyo, and I was eager to learn everything I could.

I didn't like it. C-chan, one of the farmers I work with, and I read it at the same time. Fukuoka sounded  mad, like some guy who'd spent way too much time alone in the field. He rambled on about life, not farming, about nature and how crazy modern society was, blah, blah, blah. I forced myself to finish and tucked it on the shelf with a breath of relief.

But what stuck with me were the descriptions of his fields, rich with life and sparkling with dew in the morning sun. I recalled how one year he'd noticed many spiders, and another year another insect seemed to dominate. I remembered how heavy his harvest was, and he developed his recipe for seed pellets. Each vegetable seed was encased in a mixture of dung, mud, and other ingredients that would give the seed all it needed to grow once it was tossed into the field. And I remembered how he talked about working with nature, seeing yourself as part of its whole and learning to integrate with it to not just survive but thrive.

And then Chelsea Green Publishing sent me a review copy of Fukuoka's last book, Sowing Seeds in the Desert. It started with some of the same philosophical blah, blah, but this time I heard it with an ear better attuned to Fukuoka's ideas as he applied them on a global scale to alleviate desertification, hunger, and ultimately global strife. You can read my whole review at Permaculture Magazine, but suffice it to say that I recommend it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Kamakura Farmers Market: Giant Buddhas and Good Vegetables

Kamakura Farmers Market entrance A little more than an hour train ride south of Tokyo sits Kamakura. Like Kyoto and Nara, Kamakura is a former capital full to the brim with temples, shrines, and a bounty of historical sites lining its winding streets. Nestled in a cozy bay with beaches and a giant Buddha tucked amongst the rest, it's a city that invites multiple visits if not at least one. And those seeking a farmers market well-stocked with traditional vegetables, skilled growers ready to share recipes and chat about their wares, along with some nifty prepared foods to rejuvenate themselves after so many temples surely won't be disappointed, either. Kamakura Farmers Market - right side full of signs Started nearly twenty years ago, the Kamakura Farmers Market or Kamakurasui Nyogyou Rensokubaijo, runs seven days a week nearly year-round. A ten-minute walk from the station, the market is located in what at first glance looks like nothing so much as a run-down w

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l