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The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming [Paperback]

Masanobu Fukuoka , Frances Moore Lappe , Wendell Berry , Larry Korn
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 2 2009 New York Review Books Classics
Call it “Zen and the Art of Farming” or a “Little Green Book,” Masanobu Fukuoka’s manifesto about farming, eating, and the limits of human knowledge presents a radical challenge to the global systems we rely on for our food. At the same time, it is a spiritual memoir of a man whose innovative system of cultivating the earth reflects a deep faith in the wholeness and balance of the natural world. As Wendell Berry writes in his preface, the book “is valuable to us because it is at once practical and philosophical. It is an inspiring, necessary book about agriculture because it is not just about agriculture.”

Trained as a scientist, Fukuoka rejected both modern agribusiness and centuries of agricultural practice, deciding instead that the best forms of cultivation mirror nature’s own laws. Over the next three decades he perfected his so-called “do-nothing” technique: commonsense, sustainable practices that all but eliminate the use of pesticides, fertilizer, tillage, and perhaps most significantly, wasteful effort.

Whether you’re a guerrilla gardener or a kitchen gardener, dedicated to slow food or simply looking to live a healthier life, you will find something here—you may even be moved to start a revolution of your own.

Frequently Bought Together

The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming + Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition + Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening
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"The One-Straw Revolution is one of the founding documents of the alternative food movement, and indispensable to anyone hoping to understand the future of food and agriculture."—Michael Pollan

"Only the ignorant could write off Fukuoka, who died two years ago at the age of 95, as a deluded or nostalgic dreamer...Fukuoka developed ideas that went against the conventional grain....Long before the American Michael Pollan, he was making the connections between intensive agriculture, unhealthy eating habits and a whole destructive economy based on oil." --Harry Eyres, The Financial Times

"Fukuoka's do-nothing approach to farming is not only revolutionary in terms of growing food, but it is also applicable to other aspects of living, (creativity, child-rearing, activism, career, etc.) His holistic message is needed now more than ever as we search for new ways of approaching the environment, our community and life. It is time for us all to join his 'non-movement.'"—Keri Smith author of How to be an Explorer of the World


“Japan’s most celebrated alternative farmer...Fukuoka’s vision offers a beacon, a goal, an ideal to strive for.” —Tom Philpott, Grist


The One-Straw Revolution shows the critical role of locally based agroecological knowledge in developing sustainable farming systems.” —Sustainable Architecture


“With no ploughing, weeding, fertilizers, external compost, pruning or chemicals, his minimalist approach reduces labour time to a fifth of more conventional practices. Yet his success in yields is comparable to more resource-intensive methods…The method is now being widely adopted to vegetate arid areas. His books, such as The One-Straw Revolution, have been inspirational to cultivators the world over.” —New Internationalist

About the Author

Masanobu Fukuoka (1913–2008) was born and raised on the Japanese island of Shikoku. He was the oldest son of a rice farmer who was also the local mayor. Fukuoka studied plant pathology and worked for number of years as a produce inspector in the customs office in Yokohama. But in 1938 he returned to his village home determined to put his ideas about natural farming into practice. During World War II, he worked for the Japanese government as a researcher on food production, managing to avoid military service until the final few months of the war. After the war, he returned to Shikoku to devote himself wholeheartedly to farming. And in 1975, distressed by the effects of Japan’s post-war modernization, Fukuoka wrote The One-Straw Revolution. In his later years, Fukuoka was involved with several projects to reduce desertification throughout the world. He remained an active farmer until well into his eighties, and continued to give lectures until only a few years before his death at the age of ninety-five. Fukuoka is also the author of The Natural Way of Farming and The Road Back to Nature. In 1988 he received the Magsaysay Award for Public Service.

Frances Moore Lappé is author or co-author of sixteen books, including Diet for a Small Planet and Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity, and Courage in a World Gone Mad. She has co-founded three organizations, including the Institute for Food and Development Policy and, more recently, the Small Planet Institute, which she leads with her daughter Anna Lappé. In 1987, she received the Right Livelihood Award, also called the “Alternative Nobel.” She has received seventeen honorary doctorates and has been a visiting scholar at MIT.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars my little green book March 3 2004
A critique of current farming practices as well as consumer values, Masanobu Fukuoka's One Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming outlines a more simple life that strives to work with the earth rather than against it. Mr. Fukuoka states that natural farming is not just a method of agricultural production but it is a way of life.
In The One Straw Revolution Mr. Fukuoka explains that modern methods of agriculture work to control nature with the assumption that humans can understand nature and there by improve on it, but modern techniques using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are only temporary solutions that humans have discovered in order to correct the imbalance they have caused. "Human Beings with their tampering do something wrong, leave the damage unrepaired (SIC), and when the adverse results accumulate, work with all their might to correct them. When the corrective actions appear to be successful, they come to view these measures as splendid accomplishments."
Natural farming allows for nature's processes to take care of most of the work that farmers find necessary in conventional methods of agriculture. Mr. Fukuoka claims "there is no time in modern agriculture for a farmer to write a poem or compose a song." When he first began, Mr. Fukuoka thought, "How about not doing this? How about not doing that?" By allowing for the natural processes of decomposition and growth to occur there is very little work to be done and the farmers have more time to enjoy life. This line of thought has been central to Mr. Fukuoka's natural farming philosophy. Eventually he came to the realization that "there are few agricultural practices that are really necessary."
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zen and the Art of Farming? June 22 2004
Masanobu Fukoka was a laboratory agricultural scientist who worked on fighting plant diseases. He also had many unanswered questions about the interrelationship between man and nature. After a long sabbatical he resigned his position and took over his father's rice and mandarin orange farm. Fukuoka thought that by putting the subjects of his questions into actual material challenges he might find the answers he sought.
Fukoka was immediately drawn to organic and natural farming methods, and over the years developed a type of natural farming that he refers to as "do-nothing farming". Contrary to what you may imagine, this method does involve work, much of it menial, but at least in Fukoka's experience the benefits outweight the negatives. His method of farming is thus:
After the seasonal heavy rains, the rice is planted by scattering it by hand throughout the farming area. The planting rice is rolled in a type of clay that will help prevent animals from eating it but will not inhibit sprouting. Clover seeds are also sewn at the same time in the same method. The clover acts as a natural barrier to the young rice shoots, and helps the soil from eroding.
The rice will grow naturally over the course of the next few months without constant pools of water as are often seen in traditional(from 1600-1940s) Japanese rice farming, albeit shorter and stockier than the cultivated rice. After the rice harvest, the leftover straw is scattered over the field to decompose, adding nutrients back into the soil. Afterwards, barley is planted as a winter crop and to further enrich the soil for the next rice season.
Fukoka does not use compost on his rice fields or on his citrus orchard as he finds that the byproducts of the plant provides all the soil nutrients needed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to Guide? No. Fabulous Read? Yes Jan. 17 2011
Having heard about this book from the perspective of permaculture, I picked it up expecting to find a how-to manual for Natural Farming. The author did have some details about his methods of growing rice, barley and other crops without tilling, chemicals or any of the other methods attributed to either western or traditional Japanese techniques. However, much of the book is dedicated to Fukuoka's philosophy of agriculture, japanese culture and living in general. Fukuoka could easily be considered a father of the slow movement, living more simply and healthily through his "do-nothing" agriculture methods.

Did I like it? I loved it!! I would recommend this book for anyone looking to learn a little about Natural Farming and especially to examine an alternative, simpler way of living on this planet.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK......But Dec 27 2013
By Hempman
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a pretty darn good book dealing with natural farming. We have gotten away from reality and gone to chemical farming, which as we are seeing, cannot continue. But, and that is a big BUT. How do we apply this to a world that is dangerously overpopulated and wants more food all the time? For an individual or small farm this is great stuff. But seriously, how do we feed the world when the people keep using more land to build houses on? Shopping malls? How would you apply this to a large farm? I would have given it a 5 star if it would have at least looked at that. Still a good read and if you are a very small farmer it will give you a lot of information on natural farming.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful Dec 24 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read this book years ago when it was first published and it has been a magor influence on me and my gardens for all these years. I've followed Fukoka's ideas as much as closely I can living in a city and have had wonderful results. He is right, let nature do the work. My garden is the most beautiful in the neighborhood, and without any pesticides, fertilizers, tilling, or backstrain. Buy this book, Gaia's Garden, and Forest Gardening. They all follow the naturalistic, symbiotic, permaculture mode that mother nature has been evolving for a billion years - just plug into the natural order and start growing!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book About Farming/Gardening Ever
I swear this is the only book anyone will ever need for understanding how to garden all the way up to large scale farming... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Stephen Guptill
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and worth while having done so.
This man did good work for sound reasons. He has communicated his thinking. Glad I took a chance on this book. There was no risk in the end.
Published 9 months ago by David T. Beatty
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring!
Proof that the sustainable farming movement is not just a new fad. It is a return to our roots. the Author is an inspiration to all people who must "walk their talk".
Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars The One-Straw Revolution
This is one of those revolutionary books that should be read by everyone. The author is one of a few people around the world who began the change in perspective to soil care,... Read more
Published 11 months ago by J. E. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Make nature your friend not your enemy
Reading this book reminds me of a day at work when a coworker asked me for help. His C++ program of 500 lines of code did not work. He gave me the program and I looked at it. Read more
Published on Jan. 11 2012 by U. Maier
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind Boggling!
True courage and convincing arguments and practical demonstrations how sustainable farming can feed the world.
This man's convictions and courage are inspiring.
Published on March 6 2011 by Gilbert D. Wyse
5.0 out of 5 stars An even more powerful message today....
This is a 'must read' for all citizens of Planet Earth but especially important for food producers. However, it is so much more than about farming; it is about our connection with... Read more
Published on Aug. 28 2010 by D. Crawford
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