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Wednesday
Jun062012

The One Straw Revolution

Both a philosophical treatise and a call to action, this permaculture classic is frequently cited by Bill Mollison, and transparently influential in the development of many of his ideas about polycultures and the ecological dimensions of human health. The One Straw Revolution is a one-of-a-kind thesis on the nature of our relationship with nature, and on the conundrum of power or control in that relationship.

In a matter-of-fact way, Fukuoka traces the arc of his journey of challenge and discovery. By doggedly following his intuitions about nutrition, lifestyle, spirituality and health, he has developed a personal farming system which, in terms of yield per acre, comfortably (lazily, in fact) competes with the world's most productive rice-monocultures, while needing virtually no external inputs of energy or nutrients.

One of the keys to Fukuoka's success is his attention to pertinent details of biology and the "preferences" of each element of the whole system (c.f. Permaculture design principles). This itself is a manifestation of his philosophical attitude to power, freedom, and responsibility: a distinctively Taoist sensibility that celebrates the natural expression of tendencies and rebels against (unnatural) authority.

It might be easier to dismiss such touchy-feely notions if it were not for his ROI rates, which are impressive enough when measured in mere bushels of rice per acre, but which boggle the mind when we account for the variety of other yields and benefits which also accrue.
Indispensable reading for the serious permaculture student, Fukuoka has restored science and ethics to their rightful places among the old gods of agriculture. It only remains for us to return to the altar.

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