Food Chain Radio News
Food Chain Radio Show #1031
Michael Olson, Author & Urban Farming Agriculturalist
Grow Nothing, Harvest Everything
Guests: Larry Korn, Author, One-Straw Revolutionary: The Philosophy and Work of Masanobu Fukuoka
Can we grow nothing and harvest everything?
I was, thanks to the U.S. Navy, freed from my work as a teenage herbicide in Montana, and riding a bicycle in wide-eyed fascination across the Japanese countryside.
The object of my fascination was the contrasting use of space between the Montana of my recent past and the Japan of my present.
Montana has a lot of land and very few people. Consequently, Montanans almost always enjoyed the freedom to spread things out. Japan has very little land and lots of people. Japanese have to compress their activities into much smaller spaces.
And so everywhere I looked on my bike rides through the Japanese countryside I saw space-intensive farms. It was as if those “farmers of forty centuries,” as F.H. King called them, had somehow managed to take my grandparents’ 320 acre farm and compress it into 3 acres.
So I became an ardent admirer of the space intensive production technologies of Asia, and the potential those technologies presented to farms serving the metropolitan areas of the world.
But later, I learned of a new farming technology coming out of Japan that seemed to turn everything I thought I understood about intensity upside down. It was called the One-Straw Revolution or, more simply, “Do-Nothing” farming. And so, standing on my head, I must ask…