This week we hear about three people who, unimpressed by technological 'progress', quit city life to live successfully off the land - all three of them remained active into their 90's. Although travelling widely, they remained rooted to their homestead farms. In our first hour, Masanobu Fukuoka, who researched no-till farming in Japan for decades before Bill Mollison and David Holmgren coined the word permaculture. In our second hour, an audio adaptation of a film on the life and death of US back-to-the-lander Helen Nearing, and her husband, Scott.
In our first hour, we hear an interview with Larry Korn, one of the most prominent disciples of Masanoba Fukuoka. After learning traditional methods of rice cultivation, Masanoba Fukuoka became inspired by the perfection of nature and began to question the value of what he had been taught. Surely nature had her own way, which humans interfered with at their peril? He began to research no-till farming, and aimed to build up rather than draw down nature's resources. Fukuoka's ideas have a lot in common with permaculture, though Permaculture is about careful design of systems, while Fukuoka's thought instead emphasises chaos and letting nature work out Her own way. Friend and student of his, Korn describes both practical aspects of Fukuoka's methods and its philosophical basis. Fukuoka's insights sprang from an awareness that nature has its own wisdom which defies simple understanding. We hear how Fukuoka's work was never widely understood in Japan because it was just so different from traditional methods, but how in his lifetime, he achieved superior yields with less work.
In our second hour, we hear a radio adaptation of the film Helen Nearing - Conscious Living - Conscious Dying. Focussing particularly on Helen Nearing, we hear some of the philosophy of this couple who inspired so many through their writings about "the good life", living off the land without electricity. As well as looking at their life together, the film talks about a topic which is so often hidden in modern discourse - death. Helen Nearing died in a car accident aged 91, Scott Nearing decided just before his 100th birthday to give up solid food.
Thanks to Frank Aragona for the AgroInnovations interview.