Natural Agriculture

Nature Farming is based on the philosophy of Mokichi Okada. It is the practice of bringing out the natural energy of the soil by vitalizing it to its fullest potential. It is a method of growing fruits, vegetables and grains uncontaminated by pesticides and other unnatural substances.

 

By practicing this method, foods produced and consumed through this natural process foster health and vitality. We encourage the practice of creating small home gardens for people living in urban areas.

 

Respecting Nature and the Natural Energy of the Soil

(Excerpts from Mokichi's Okada's essays)

 

Principles of Nature Farming

 

The underlying principle of Nature Farming is to bring into full play the creative power inherent in soil. The dependence on chemical fertilizer has gradually developed into a fervent belief that good and healthy crops cannot be raised without it.

 

The number of farmers practicing Nature Farming has been increasing steadily and their harvests have been astounding. The practice of natural agriculture as per Okada's principles has resulted in successful prototypes and full production farms in North and South America, Asia, Europe and Africa.

 

Non-Johrei farmers are carefully making note of the sustained and drastically higher productivity of natural agriculture.

In Okada's own words, "...As the term implies, Nature Farming uses no animal or artificial fertilizers whatsoever, only compost made up of the dead leaves and grass that collect over the course of time. Whereas compost occurs naturally, nature does not provide, from the sky or from within the soil, manure or synthetic fertilizers. Such deliberately-produced soil additives cannot possibly be considered completely natural.

 

All of creation depends on the blessings of nature. Living things come into being and are able to grow and change because of the three elements of fire, water, and soil. These have known scientific properties--oxygen which comes from fire, hydrogen from water, and nitrogen from soil. Each and every plant requires all three. Nature's laws make perfect sense; they reveal the hand of God ensuring that the land always produces just enough grains and vegetables to support human life: not too much and not too little. If a nation is not producing enough to feed its population, the reason has to be that somehow the divine laws of nature are being broken; but as long as no one realizes this, there is no chance of finding a permanent solution to the food shortage.

 

Even to this day people assume that artificial fertilizer is the only reliable way to produce good crops. Is it any wonder that they, being so ignorant and out of touch with the laws of nature, can't grow enough food? Perhaps that is the cost of having failed to grasp nature's basic principles."

 

Natural Compost

 

Working with natural compost, which adds no outside matter to the soil, has three positive effects. First, it helps to warm the earth. For wet rice fields, you should gather rice straw from the previous harvest and chop it up as fine as you can, then work it well into the soil. Second, compost can counteract hardening of the soil in dry fields. Here, take leaves and grass and let them decompose until they are wilted and then mix them thoroughly into the soil. This softens the soil, letting in air. Roots of plants have trouble penetrating hard, packed earth and cannot grow and spread as they should. Mixing in compost allows air in, but it is not the air itself that benefits the roots, as agronomists mistakenly believe. It is simply that small pockets of air around the roots allow them to grow freely.

 

It is often thought that compost contains a fertilizing component, but it doesn't. The functions of compost are to keep the earth from getting too hard, to warm the soil, and to help keep moisture in. Mixing in abundant natural compost helps prevent loss of moisture when the earth around the roots has a tendency to dry out.

 

The basic objective of Nature Farming is to activate the soil's innate vitality by keeping it as free as possible from impure substances, which means, of course, refraining from introducing any contaminants such as artificial fertilizers. Then nothing will impede the soil as it recovers its full, original vigor and capacities.

 

The first prototype Nature Garden at the San Jose, CA, Center was started in 2009. To prepare the soil, bokashi  was made by hand from rice hulls and wheat bran. The bokashi took three weeks to cure in air-tight containers and another week to cure on the ground before it was roto-tilled into the soil. The bokashi was spread on the top of the garden soil, and then again when it was mixed with the existing soil. The soil preparation took a month or a little longer. This is an important stage in preparing the soil for this method of natural farming.

 

After the drip irrigation system was installed, the first summer garden was planted - corn, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans, asparagus, herbs and also some flowers. The winter crops include chard, arugula, spinach, kale, sugar peas, broccoli, strawberries, and winter flowers.

 

A new Nature Garden was set up in neighboring Saratoga using the same soil preparation method, with the installation of a new irrigation system. We have been getting full year garden production from the Saratoga Nature Garden just like in San Jose.

 

This effort has been led by some dedicated volunteers and the entire fellowship in the South bay area participate in the making of bokashi, periodic cleanup of the garden and contribution of plants and seeds. All of the produce grown in the Nature Garden is given to the members of the center free of charge, including providing “food that heals” to people who are experiencing health and others challenges, more commonly known as ‘purifications.’

 

The principles of natural farming and gardening are derived from Mokichi Okada’s philosophy of attaining physical and mental health through nutrition that is in harmony with and respectful of Nature. Growing crops based on this philosophy and consciousness provides seasonal, chemical-free foods which are fresh and full of vital energy.

 

We believe that respect for the 'Spirit of Soil' provides a subtle stabilizing and healing effect through the crops that are grown and harvested. Our membership and many others have benefitted from the many harvests of healthy vegetables and some fruits over the years.

1 Bokashi is a Japanese term meaning ‘fermented organic matter.’ It is often referred to as composting but it’s actually an anaerobic fermentation process.

 

2 EM is an acronym for Effective Microorganisms, referring to a family of microbial-based products.  This is a natural method through the use of beneficial microorganisms that help relieve farmers replace dependency on chemical fertilizers.

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