Masanobu Fukuoka (and Elementary Cultivation)

Masanobu Fukuoka (and Elementary Cultivation)

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Surely Masanobu Fukuoka is a fundamental point of reference for anyone who approaches cultivation with natural methods, we have already written about it in Orto Da Coltivare (see the article by Giorgio Avanzo). I asked Gian Carlo Cappello to tell us something about Fukuoka's thinking, also in relation to the “non-method” of Elementary Cultivation developed by Gian Carlo. Enjoy the reading!

Around the age of 27 (class of '57) with the reading of Larry Korn's interview in Fukuoka published as a book in the 1970s ('80s in Italy) with the title "The Straw Revolution", I began to change the view of agriculture. A single reading was not enough for me to understand his philosophy and his apparently simple way of cultivating.

Before him, no one in the world had ever grown cereals and citrus fruits the way Fukuoka did. After him, no one has continued to adopt those practices, not even the children in his own company; not one of the countless intentional communities, ecovillages, neighborhoods, social gardens and not even a single organic farm in the world has followed and strictly follows its example in the field.

What's left of the Fukuoka method

As anticipated after Fukuoka there was no one who followed his method: not one of the countless intentional communities, ecovillages, neighborhoods, social gardens and not even a single organic farm in the world has followed and strictly follows its example on the field.

His disciple Panos Manikis, who also worked side by side with him for years on the island of Shikoku in Japan, still cultivates in Greece inspired by him, but the differences are abysmal. A curiosity: even Osho mentioned him with admiration in one of his writings, but the thousands of his disciples in the now abandoned community of Wasco County, Oregon, and in the one still existing in Pune, India, did not cultivate or cultivate the land according to the practices now commonly defined, using the idiomism coined by Fukuoka, of "not doing".

Despite everything the influence of the Fukuokian philosophy on the choices of those who cultivate according to generically "biological" principles remains decisive, even in a field in which Fukuoka has not significantly experimented: horticulture.

Fukuoka's philosophy and practice owe their fame in Italy thanks to the editions "I Quaderni di Ontignano" (later LEF), that is to the strong will of the Florentine nobleman Giannozzo Pucci - founder among other things of that publishing house - who hosted him in Italy for a series of meetings in 1981 (the transcripts of those events are collected in the book "Italian Lessons").

The evolution of Fukuoka's thought

In "The Straw Revolution" the description of his cultivation method in the strict sense takes up a few pages, but from the philosophy that is expressed there real glimpses of the infinite alternative possibilities compared to conventional agriculture, that is, historically tiring for the farmer and today disastrous for the entire planet with the advent of modern technologies.

The original contribution of Fukuoka's radical thought exponentially expands the mix of the legacy of Eastern culture and the new air that came before him in the West with Rudolf Steiner: to give consistency to the spirituality of that doctrine and that esoteric basic philosophy evidently needed the concreteness of the Farmer.

To emphasize the concepts, I will add some capital letters: in Fukuoka Nature is the Center of All that expanding in any direction, or perhaps without direction, includes the All, however an Entity beyond our ability to understand, a place not of struggle but of interdependence between all the components, where the intervention of human rationalism can represent at most a momentary alteration, always destructive.

Contrary to the expressive refinement of intellectuals of all time, in Fukuoka the reading of the most extreme philosophical concepts becomes simple and can be accepted as a goal of indisputable common sense: a point of arrival from which to continue on the path of revising the preconceptions gangrenous in thousands of years of agricultural theory and practice.

That source of ideas, which flows from the flow of an older thought hidden by the economic interests weighing on agriculture, it irrigates the majority of the organic agricultural thought schools known today, including Elementary Cultivation, where the hay-thread revolution proceeds uncompromisingly beyond the path traced by Fukuoka.

The core of Fukuokian practice is the non-working of the land, neither at the beginning nor in the course of cultivation; this is the most disregarded point, but not the only one, from subsequent biological methodologies where the earth undergoes more or less invasive processing and alterations, where actually biocidal activities are entrusted to substances of non-chemical origin, but not always: Fukuoka himself he faced (... advising others not to do it!) the cochineal spraying the plants with motor oil. The same can be said for the harmful and unnecessary fertilization practices adopted by Fukuoka with the spreading of "droppings" from his farm: Fukuoka was neither vegan nor vegetarian.

Another curiosity: in the multiplicity of its practices of great interest, a secondary, if not insignificant, aspect has found the greatest success in Italy, until it reaches the present day unchanged after being soon abandoned in every other part of the world: preparation of the "seed-balls”, Clay balls (sometimes with manure or compost added to the mix) containing the seeds and scattered in the ground. But this isn't a psychology blog, so I'll go further.

Fukuoka and Elementary Cultivation

Where does the evolution of the wisdom contained in Fukuoka-thought lead us? Non-selective respect for every single appearance - but also for everything that we define as non-tangible with our mind - is in fact an integral respect for every single element of Nature.

From this post-Fukuokian perspective the incongruity of working the land, of administering substances of any origin is definitively defined - including excess water - capable of altering the energetic and material processes, of forcing the subtraction from the life of any animal or plant, including that which until now has been considered "pest" or "parasitic". Everything is already perfect and remains so for us when we accept it without altering it, thus accepting to be part of it beyond the schemes of Darwinian hierarchies.

The practical application of this new path, which I define Elementary Cultivation, is for me the ultimate result of the evolution of the philosophy outlined by Fukuoka.

Elementary cultivation is a non-method in which everyone is already able to operate immediately as part of the Whole, with no other quality than its own genetic specificity and then the unaffected experience, first handed down and then acquired, which becomes the main way to go consciously to solve with creative extemporaneousness the difficulties that gradually arise, immersed in a Nature where we find food and well-being.

To learn more

I would like to point out an interesting offer: the possibility of buying together (with a discount) the fundamental book of Fukuoka, The revolution of the straw, and the new edition of the book by Gian Carlo Cappello, the civilization of the garden.

For those who have found reading this article stimulating, the natural continuation of the in-depth path passes through the reading of these two texts, which obviously go much deeper than a simple online post can do.

Find the offer on the Macrolibrarsi online store, from which you can buy both Gian Carlo's book alone and the combination Fukuoka + Cappello.

NB: the offer is from Macrolibrarsi, not from Orto Da Coltivare, I just report it and it is active as I write this post. I don't know how long it will remain valid, if it should cease or change conditions it is not up to me.

Video: Natural Farming with Masanobu Fukuoka


  1. Werian

    It seems to me an excellent phrase

  2. Chadbyrne

    Well done! Keep it up!

  3. Osmar

    Well done guy !!!!!!!!

  4. Dartagnan

    I am sorry, that I interfere, but it is necessary for me little bit more information.

  5. Devron

    It is a pity, that now I can not express - it is compelled to leave. I will return - I will necessarily express the opinion on this question.

  6. Tora

    Bravo, I think this is a great phrase

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