page contents The Little Bonsai: The five principles of natural farming - 自然農法の原則

Growing and Caring for Bonsai Trees

Growing and Caring for Bonsai Trees

The five principles of natural farming - 自然農法の原則

The five principles of natural farming Permaculture -  自然農法の原則

Here is something interesting for all of you guys, a Tsunami of information to cure or at least to reduce some of our ignorance is often necessary; we don’t need millions of dollars in equipment to run a farm nor thousands of dollars to build our own Eden on earth. Before we start explaining about natural farming, its important to understand and start with Permaculture. You will soon realize there is a connection between the two! Permaculture was created in the 1970's by Bill Mollison, an Australian ecologist and University of Tasmania professor. He had spent many years out in nature as a wildlife biologist observing how natural systems work and became very distressed at the destruction that he saw going on around him. He decided that instead of being angry about what was happening and reacting against the destruction he wanted to work on creating a positive solution And he thought the solution would be living based on the patterns he had observed in nature.
By observing nature, Mollison came up with several important insights. He observed that natural
systems, such as forests and wetlands, are sustainable. They provide for their own energy needs and recycle their own wastes. He also observed that all the different parts of a natural ecosystem work together. Each component of the system performs important tasks. For example, bees help to pollinate, birds provide pest control, certain plants pull nitrogen out of the air and fix it into a form that other plants can use. So everything does useful work. He applied these and other insights to design and create sustainable agricultural systems.

In the 1970's he and his student David Holmgren wrote and published some books explaining his ideas. In the 1980s he published his design manual and started teaching permaculture design courses to spread his ideas around the world. By the 1990s permaculture had started spreading throughout the US, although it's more well-known in other countries around the world. To this day, it's continuing to grow as a global grassroots movement and people primarily learn about it through permaculture design courses and workshops that generally happen outside of academia.

Natural Farming recognizes that farmers and gardeners must first attend to nature so that they may then learn how to tend. This gentle practice turns farming from the science it has become in the West into a craft; where this craft is a focused understanding of the primacy of nature.

The Natural Way of farming by Masanobu Fukuoka
Temperate Natural Farming proceeds from simplification applying the ‘do-nothing’ approach from deep observation through opening ourselves to nature, which is the work of a lifetime. Curiously, as we progress along the path of Natural Farming there comes the realization this is not agriculture at all because it wants to go nowhere and seek no victory and, ultimately, it is not about the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.

Masanobu Fukuoka
A simple farmer still ahead of his time
Natural Farming is truly inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s practices, in 1975 he wrote a book called The One Straw Revolution that described his journey, his philosophy, and farming techniques. The One-Straw Revolution, in short, was Fukuoka’s plea for man to reexamine his relationship with nature in its entirety. In his most utopian vision all people would be farmers. If each family in Japan were allotted 1.25 acres of arable land and practiced natural farming, not only could each farmer support his family, he wrote, but each "would also have plenty of time for leisure and social activities within the village community. I think," he added, "this is the most direct path toward making this country a happy, pleasant land."

I would highly recommend buying and reading it again and again, because it tells so much facts and common sense of agricultural practices. In other words, its idiot proof to learn the basics of Natural Farming makes it really easy.

There are five principles to Natural Farming;

  1. No ploughing – because it destroys the cycles of life in the soil, 
  2. No fertilisers – because they deplete the land from which they are taken and disrupt the balance of the soils on which they are used, 
  3. No pesticides – because there are no ‘pests’, 
  4. No weeding – because there are no ‘weeds’, 
  5. No pruning – because a tree left undisturbed knows far better how to grow.
Natural farming is founded on the laws of nature. It assumes that all that is needed to successfully produce crops can be found in the natural environment. Engaging in natural farming, therefore, is a desirable venture. I don't have the opportunity to make use of these practices in Singapore, but I have to be patient. Good things come to those who wait!

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