The Philosophy and Work of Masanobu Fukuoka
By Larry Korn
One-Straw Revolutionary represents the first commentary on the work of the late Japanese farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka (1913 – 2008), widely considered to be natural farming’s most influential practitioner. Mr. Fukuoka is perhaps most known for his bestselling book The One-Straw Revolution (1978), a manifesto on the importance of no-till agriculture, which was at the time of publication a radical challenge to the global systems that supply the world’s food, and still inspires readers today. Larry Korn, who apprenticed with Mr. Fukuoka in Japan at the time, translated the manuscript and brought it to the United States, knowing it would change the conversation about food forever. The One-Straw Revolution, edited by Korn and Wendell Berry, was an immediate international success, and established Mr. Fukuoka as a leading voice in the fight against conventional industrial agriculture. In this new book, through his own personal narrative, Larry Korn distills his experience of more than thirty-five years of study with Mr. Fukuoka, living and working on his farm on Shikoku Island, and traveling with Mr. Fukuoka to the United States on two six-week visits.
One-Straw Revolutionary is the first book to look deeply at natural farming and intimately discuss the philosophy and work of Mr. Fukuoka. In addition to giving his personal thoughts about natural farming, Korn broadens the discussion by pointing out natural farming’s kinship with the ways of indigenous cultures and traditional Japanese farming. At the same time, he clearly distinguishes natural farming from other forms of agriculture, including scientific and organic agriculture and permaculture. Korn also clarifies commonly held misconceptions about natural farming in ways Western readers can readily understand. And he explains how natural farming can be used practically in areas other than agriculture, including personal growth and development.
The book follows the author on his travels from one back-to-the-land commune to another in the countryside of 1970s Japan, a journey that eventually led him to Mr. Fukuoka’s natural farm. Korn’s description of his time there, as well as traveling with Mr. Fukuoka during his visits to the United States, offers a rare, inside look at Mr. Fukuoka’s life. Readers will delight in this personal insight into one of the world’s leading agricultural thinkers.
Reviews and Praise
"This book brings fascinating insight and perspective to the contributions of Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-2008), the founder of the worldwide natural farming movement. Written by a former student and farm intern of Fukuoka, it recounts his life and work, and documents the author's own travels in Japan and early experiences working on Fukuoka's farm in the 1970s. It goes on to discuss natural farming techniques using Fukuoka's farm as a case study, and describes the writing and publication of The One Straw Revolution (1975) and the resultant rise in international interest in natural farming. As it compares natural farming with indigenous farming, traditional Japanese agriculture, permaculture, and modern-day organic farming, the direction of the book changes from memory and reflection to an oversimplified discussion of agricultural theory. As a memoir it is compelling.”
“Larry Korn shines a light on the path that Fukuoka discovered integrating indigenous agriculture with a deep reverence for the land and natural processes. Many revolutions of the sun later, it is clear that the continued illumination of this path is necessary to bring about a stewardship culture of soil, plant, animal, and human. We are fortunate to have a torch bearer in Korn who embodies the words of Taoist sage, Lao T’zu, ‘what you do is what you are.’”--Don Tipping, founder of Seven Seeds Farm and Siskiyou Seeds
“This mind-opening book will provide the proper contextual knowledge and understanding on how nature works for any practitioner involved in farming, ranching, ecosystem restoration, or natural-resource management.”--Ray Archuleta, conservation agronomist, Natural Resources Conservation Service
“Larry Korn virtually brings Masanobu Fukuoka back to life in One-Straw Revolutionary by highlighting his experience of more than thirty-five years of study with Mr. Fukuoka. Here we not only get a new look at Mr. Fukuoka’s natural farming but also his life in general. For those who have or have not read the insightful The One-Straw Revolution, I highly recommend this delightful book about one of the world’s great agricultural thinkers.”--John P. Reganold, Regents Professor of Soil Science & Agroecology at Washington State University
“One-Straw Revolutionary is a profound sharing of the essential philosophy of natural farming translated through the friendship between Larry Korn and Masanobu Fukuoka. Larry’s engaging story offers wise insights into authentic practices that honor the community of all life. I deeply resonate with both the author’s perspectives and Fukuoka’s clear understanding of a revolutionary pathway for creating abundance by honoring the natural patterns of our earth.”--Katrina Blair, author of The Wild Wisdom of Weeds
“In One-Straw Revolutionary, Larry Korn revisits his experiences with Masanobu Fukuoka, one of the most important thinkers in agricultural history. This book is a sort of sequel to Mr. Fukuoka’s The One-Straw Revolution, clarifying and amplifying that book and then going on to reveal Mr. Korn’s own intriguing contributions to the new social and agricultural order.”--Gene Logsdon, author of Gene Everlasting and A Sanctuary of Trees
“I still think The One-Straw Revolution is the best book Rodale ever published, and we can thank Larry Korn for bringing it to us. Larry’s deep insight into Fukuoka-san’s Zen-like approach to farming threw a new light on the organic method of farming and gardening for me, as I was then an editor of Organic Gardening magazine. Through Larry, I was able to see that the question is not, ‘What can I do next?’ but rather, ‘What can I stop doing without diminishing the results?’ This impulse toward simplicity is the master’s great gift to the world, carried forth into the world by Larry Korn.”—Jeff Cox, author of twenty books, including the best-selling From Vines to Wines and the James Beard Foundation-nominated The Organic Cook’s Bible, and former managing editor of Organic Gardening magazine