The One-Straw Revolution – 5 Quick Lessons

All hail Masanobu Fukuoka who encourages agriculture with consent! Nature is alive and well, however modern-day large-scale monoculture agriculture is one of the biggest contributors of global warming and environmental devastation. How many animals have gone extinct in your lifetime? Despite the doom-and-gloom subject matter that it covers, the One Straw-Revolution reads like an inspirational philosophy book that forces readers to reflect. Lots of quotes below because, to me, its so perfectly written that it warrants that. Enjoy the 5 lessons I’ve learned from: The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka

1. Humans don’t Understand Nature

You know nothing John Snow! (Couldn’t resist). As demonstrated in his quote above, Fukuoka playfully refers to modern-day agricultural practices as “know-nothing” practices. This is the founding philosophy of his Natural Farming method. He explains that people often 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.”

Masanobu Fukuoka – The One-Straw Revolution

In other words, the more involved that someone becomes with what he refers to as “the activity of the intellect” and really hones in on a single facet of a topic, like most academics are encouraged to do, the more they separate themselves from the whole which inevitably makes it abstract. It’s like studying a hair in attempt to understand the entire head. The person studying the nose, and the one studying the back of the neck will all have very different theories about the function of the head.

2. Our desire to “Control” Nature comes from a place of fear and ignorance

History has shown us time and time again that when we’re afraid, we can do terrible things. #BlackLivesMatter (had to). Our attempts to control a situation, most situations, often aggravate the problems and blow up in our face.

The One Straw Revolution describes Modern-day Agri-business as a vicious cycle of failure. When The result of agriculture is devastation and barren, infertile fields that lose their ability to grow anything, it’s not only unsustainable, it’s ineffective.

“ methods of insect control which ignore the relationships among the insects themselves are truly useless”

Fukuoka explains in plain terms that pesticides can never work, it’s a blatant attempt to control nature, and it’s inefficient. Nature isn’t that simple (exhibit A, point 1).

“Nature isn’t one insect, it’s billions upon billions of visible and invisible living things that are greatly affected by the constant flow of elements. Rainy year? More frogs, less spiders. Dry year, more spiders less leaf-hoppers, less frogs.”

Masanobu Fukuoka – The One Straw Revolution

3. Less work, more harvesting

“Fukuoka taught that the best methods of food cultivation are those aligned with nature, which means minimal soil disruption (no tilling, or weeding) and no application of chemicals (be they fertilizers or pesticides).”

Fukuoka encourages us to trust nature’s bounty in One Straw Revolution. In the book, his modestly sized-natural farm, that looked like chaos to some produced massive amounts of food! It even rivaled the yields of neighboring farms who spent hours on end tilling, digging fertilizing and spraying harsh chemicals in attempt to control nature.

Fukuoka however, works with nature, paying close attention to the patterns and cycles, and how everything is connected in the garden. He doesn’t believe in observing a plant in isolation, instead he looks at nature as an intricate living breathing entity that ebbs and flows with life.

“He assures is that as we come to experience nature’s patterns we can let go of our fear of scarcity.”

Frances Moore Lappe – The One Straw Revolution

4. Less work, more connection

In a 1982 interview with Mother Earth News, Fukuoka said

“The real path to natural farming requires that a person know what an adulterated nature is, so that he or she can instinctively understand what needs to be done— and what must not be done to work in harmony with its process.”

Natural farming’ is so to speak is a lot less labor intensive, allowing the farmer with more leisure time to build meaningful connections with their land. Another good word for this farming method can be mindful gardening . A successful gardener is familiar with the ins and outs of the gardens, which critters visits, what they affect, how they interact with the plants, etc etc.

There is so much useful information available to us if only we cared to sit, and observe our gardens. We could then use that information to work with our micro-ecosystem and grow more food. The best part about natural farming, is that it encourages you to be passionate about nature, and enjoy it in a consensual way.

“ make your way can’t believe through the fields. Dragonflies and moths fly up in a flurry. Honeybees buzz from blossom to blossom. Part of the leaves and you will see that infection, spiders, frogs, lizard and many other small animals best thing about in the cool shade.”

5. Natural Gardening = “Do-Nothing Gardening”

Everything Fukuoka has done as a farmer has been within the 4 principles of Natural Gardening. 1. No cultivation (no plowing and turning of soil) 2. No chemical fertilizer or prepared compost. 3. No weeding by tillage or herbicide. 4. No dependence on chemicals.

“These 4 principles of natural farming comply with the natural order and lead to the replenishment of nature’s richness.”

Masanobu Fukuoka – The One Straw Revolution

When I initially read about the four principles I was a little bit afraid. How could he possibly farm successfully without doing all of the things I’ve been taught with necessary? Fukuoka does a bold thing, when he speaks against farming methods that have been normalized and become standard practice for decades. Worry not, he doesn’t just speak about natural farming as a radical-yet-hypothetical idea: Fukuoka actually does it! The best part about it is that The One-Straw Revolution doesn’t read like a conspiracy theory book, it’s an eloquently detailed practical guide providing readers with a step-by-step method on how to cope with the weeds, control pests & fertilize soil without it being labor-intensive and harmful to the environment.


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