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Wanting to start a farm using Fukuoka's farming techniques....

 
Brian Marchesseault
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Hello everyone, this is my my first post here, and I'm very new to farming and the way of life associated with it - so forgive me if I'm really out of my element at the moment, but I'm trying to learn. To be straight to the point, I'm planning on starting a farm in the Philippines (3-4 hectares of land); this idea was first proposed to me by my wife's family who come from a long line of farmers there. I've been doing a lot of thinking about what life would be like if I did start a farm there; and how involved do I want to be with the farm besides the business side of it; so I started doing greater research into the lifestyle of farming and the different skills and practices of farming used in Asian countries. Well, I came across Masanobu Fukuoka and his philosophy and methods of farming, and it left a mark on me for sure. Not only do I see the beauty in this style of farming, but I can see how it makes practical sense for our health and well-being, not to mention the benefits from a business point of view.

What I really would like to know is, how can I practically make Fukuoka's methods a reality for my future farm? No farmer in the Philippines I could hire will know these kind of organic/natural techniques of farming, so how can I possibly learn these methods and also teach them to my farmers? I'm planning on reading "The One-Straw Revolution", but is this book alone able to prepare someone to start farming like him?

Just to be clear, this isn't something I want to do to make money or get rich; it's a way of life I greatly admire, and I feel like this might be an opportunity for me to live the kind of life both me and my wife want for our family so we can get back to a more traditional and simple way of living, which is more fulfilling and gratifying than living in the corporate dominated culture here in America. Any help or advice anyone could provide would be immensely appreciated - cheers!
 
S Haze
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Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
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Be sure to read another book of Fukuoka's titled "farming the natural way" I think that's the title but not completely certain. The book is kind of hard to find and is out of print but it has more of the nuts and bolts of how to convert fields and orchards into a natural farming system. It details the rotations and methods he used. I hope this helps. I was able to find an online version available for download. You'll probably have to make modifications for your climate and conditions and the process is sure to take many years of careful observation with a good chance of failures (or lessons) along the way. Good Luck!
 
Devon Olsen
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Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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^you mean this one?
EDIT: no idea if it'll be accessible through my link here but i think it worked on the other site i was on...
Filename: fukuoka.natural.farming.pdf
Description: now out of print, hope it works for ya
File size: 6333 Kbytes
[Download fukuoka.natural.farming.pdf] Download Attachment
 
S Haze
Posts: 225
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
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duck forest garden trees woodworking
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Be sure to read another book of Fukuoka's titled "farming the natural way" I think that's the title but not completely certain. The book is kind of hard to find and is out of print but it has more of the nuts and bolts of how to convert fields and orchards into a natural farming system. It details the rotations and methods he used. I hope this helps. I was able to find an online version available for download. You'll probably have to make modifications for your climate and conditions and the process is sure to take many years of careful observation with a good chance of failures (or lessons) along the way. Good Luck!

/\
Yes that one! |
\/
 
Walter Jeffries
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Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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I would strongly urge you to practice those techniques for years before trying to earn a living from them. Farming's fickle. Even more so than other businesses.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop

Check out our Kickstarting the Butcher Shop project at:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sugarmtnfarm/building-a-butcher-shop-on-sugarmountainfarm
 
Alex Ames
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Location: Georgia
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Your wife's family is a long line of farmers. Fukuoka was a bit of a non-farmer. He was a scientist and had a
very philosophical attitude toward crop failure. I think he was unique and his methods would be difficult to replicate.
His ideas of "not doing" would drive most people mad. There is a big difference between what he did and being an
absentee farmer. He was totally immersed in his environment.
 
Leila Rich
steward
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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As has been mentioned, your wife's family may have all sorts of skills that you can learn. They were probably farming in a way wew'd call 'permaculture', before the word was invented
As far as I know, Fukuoka spent his entire life developing his ideas. I'd hope to learn from and develop them, rather than use them as atemplate.
I don't know much about tropical permiculture, but check out Willie Smits! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Smits
 
Deb Stephens
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Location: SW Missouri, Zone 6b-7a
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I found the other book you are all talking about on bookfinder.com.
Author is Masanobu Fukuoka
Title is The Natural Way of Farming: The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy
Book is written in English

You can go here to choose whether you want new, used, paperback or hardback and how much you want to pay for it. Usually Abe Books is cheapest, but this time Amazon and Alibris have it too -- used, softcover -- for the same price - $13.40 (including shipping). Be sure to read the descriptions of the condition before choosing which one you want. Most times it will just be dusty or missing a dust jacket or have a dog-earred page or two, but sometimes the book will be missing vital pages or have a highlighter blown up inside! You get what you pay for!

http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac=sl&st=sl&ref=bf_s2_a1_t1_1&qi=AkNJAnr4aIZx9UWgix5xTrafpRw_4475573086_1:26:302&bq=author%3Dmasanobu%2520fukuoka%26title%3Dnatural%2520way%2520of%2520farming%2520the%2520theory%2520and%2520practice%2520of%2520green%2520philosophy
 
Alison Thomas
pollinator
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Location: France
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First of all Brian, welcome to permies.com and I hope that you find a whole load of useful things here.

As for the great Fukuoka. I read One Straw Revolution and was massively impressed. I have the other book too. We have 17 acres here and we tried to grow a grain crop using no-till, sow into pasture, Fukuoka style stuff but alas it wasn't successful though I think that was down to using a modern variety of seed that couldn't compete with the natural flora. So we'll try again with a heritage breed.

I think folk are right here when they say to practise things first. Fortunately we can afford to experiment here so the 'learning experiences' (failures) are not so hard to take.

Plus it's true that you'd need to adapt the method for your own location but then that's what permaculture is all about - watching YOUR shade patterns, watching YOUR weather, watching YOUR soil types and moving in accordance with the findings. For me, that has been the greatest life lesson I've had from permaculture - to slow down! I am by nature an enthusiastic, impatient person but I am learning to slow down and learn, watch what nature does as she's SO much better at this growing stuff than I am!

Hopefully your wife's family still have all their traditional skills in farming that land, skills that hopefully haven't been too corrupted by the modern agri-business. Those would be good to learn whilst at the same time running perhaps a part of your land in a Fukuoka style to see how you can dove-tail the two.

If you do a search on the forum for Fukuoka you'll get loads of info back like this
http://www.permies.com/t/2214/permaculture/masanobu-fukuoka

What a lovely opportunity - enjoy
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 436
Location: Eastern Kansas
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I LOVED Fukuokas books, I have read them all!

That being said, learn from the wife's family FIRST if you can. Starting out a new business can be very tricky, and by listening to your wife's family you will have a market (very important in a new business), and a growing technique that is great for your climate.

This is why it is important: EVERY climate is different! Fukuoka's techniques seem to be fine for my trees. I have used it for years. Great. BUT! the grain that I planted using his techniques did badly and they looked like they were not getting enough water. OK, the midwest is more arid than some countries, and I made a mental note that seed balls do badly here. *IF* my income were dependant on the crop I would have been in very deep trouble! Instead I made a mental note: fruit trees with an understudy of vegetation and minimal pruning do pretty darned well for me, just as they did for him in Japan. But, in the midwest, grain seeds need to be buried so that they can take advantage of the winter moisture stored in the soil.

Climate matters. Some of his techniques might work in the Phillipeans but some of them might fail: do not trust your financial security to his work until you have tried it out in your climate.

By learning from your wife's family you can have a more secure income while you try out his techniqes on a small area. An experienced farmer to learn from is a treasure indeed! Try out Mr. Fukuoka's ideas on a garden-sized plot. Then, incorporate what works for you into the main area of your farm. And, after it works for you, other farmers might be interested (or not, having one's own business means that a person can run it as they wish).

 
After burning through the drip stuff and the french press stuff, Paul has the last, ever, coffee maker. Better living through buying less crap.
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