[permaculture] Brief comments on Natural Farming

venaurafarm venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Tue Oct 2 18:49:40 EDT 2012

On 10/2/2012 5:15 PM, Dieter Brand wrote:
>> They are part of one another, inextricably linked as I see it. NF
>> could be considered subjective while permaculture is objective.
>> Permaculture seeks to design and implement systems that emulate
>> Nature and become natural or NF in their most basic elements. NF
>> gives direction to those designs and installation of them.
>> Permaculture does not just "seek to emulate Nature" is seeks to be
>> nature, harmonious with on site and off site ecosystems, a dynamic
>> process, continually changing and self-stabilizing (sustainable,
>> regenerative). Permaculture leads to NF and NF provides timeless
>> and essential design criteria, not to mention inspiration.

I would add that permaculture is a systems approach to site use whereas 
nature farming is completely about one's ongoing presence on that site,
learning from it and taking that landscape to new  heights or rather 
letting Nature do that.

> Larry, these are words and concepts too.  The question is what does
> it all mean in the reality beyond the concepts?  By "emulating
> nature" you already take the first conceptual step that separates you
> from nature - there is nature and there is you who emulates nature,
> who controls nature, who designs nature, ... If there were any

Then by creating a permaculture site design, assemble all the components 
to install, construct or retrofit/reconstruct a site from that design 
you are merely, humbly, respectfully inserting a structure into an 
existing natural landscape with as little disruption or change as 
possible, i.e. adding a fertile element around and within which that 
landscape can grow and thrive, no different from Fukuoka adding chickens 
to graze and fertilize....adding seed from off site, manure from off 
site...this is the least invasive process I can think of or rather 
describe. Burn incense. Remain still and meditate for further direction. 
I suggest this thoughtful process as an alternative to "emulating 
nature". Using a site for Natural Farming should involve a period of 
contemplation and meditation, observation and recording your thoughts. 
Peace, tranquility, quietude then mindfullness, observation, analysis, 
documentation, design then implementation. The difference between 
Fukuoka and Natural Farming and Mollison and Permaculture is that 
Fukuoka would not bring in the track loader and backhoe whereas Mollison 

The more I think about this the more I like it. It seems I have always
had this view of our Earth. Maybe it is a mindset you are born with,
one you should seek to cultivate and derive nourishment from throughout 
your life.

You should see my natural farm. You would get lots of ideas, think of 
many possibilities. Case in point, I made major changes to this land 
after I bought it: hundreds of tons of manures, compost, soil amendments 
and quarry rock dusts combined, spread and deep tilled in with  70HP 
tractor, skid loader, rotavator, subsoiler, feld cultivator, 3 bottom 
plow, large hiller-bedder to make raised beds. Spread and incorporated 
all the materials, wore out the equipment and sold it
and am now ready to use my well prepared land as a natural market farm
and permaculture site. I have galleries of pictures of the equipment and 
the land during garden site preparation.

I needed to make sure, given the heavy soil I have, frequent droughts, 
and dependency on well water for irrigation that could easily work my 
land with hand tools and get a satisfactory food crop. Now the challenge 
is to gradually use Fukuoka's no till method to achieve similar results.

In retrospect, truthfully, I could have done quite well adopting NF on 
my farm and doing without all the off site inputs of materials and 
equipment. I noticed the condition of the soil when I first arrived 
here. After a rain you could walk out on the land and when you stepped 
onto a spot that was saturated but mostly drained and with a little 
standing water you would hear a popping and crackling sound and see 
little bubbles appear in the small puddle. This occured because the 
weight of your body squeezed air out of the pores and capillaries in the 
soil, perhaps deep in the soil to surface in the puddle giving you a 
little sound and light show. This was extraordinary to me at the time. I 
had wild strawberries and all kinds of beautiful wildflowers growing 
here too. This says volumes about leaving land alone to nurture and 
stabilize itself.

This is why I suggest taking time to contemplate how you will use land 
you have well before changing it in any way. Fascinating subject.

> philosophy to be extracted from NF (which there isn’t), than we could
> perhaps say that “the NFer IS nature, the NFer does not emulate
> nature”.  Thus, there is the duality of you and nature versus the
> ideal of the “unity with nature” of the NFer.  It doesn’t matter
> whether this ideal can be reached or not, since everything in life
> (and nature) is process.  There is no end and no beginning.  There is
> constant change.  Ultimately, the ideal too needs to be forgotten and
> only nature remains. Of course, a Permi can arrive at the same
> thought processes, methods etc. as an NFer, but does she?  How do
> things look in praxis? If I listen to a newcomer to gardening or
> farming who presents her computer-drawn Permaculture “designs” of her
> ideal garden or farm, I usually have to stop myself from saying
> anything, because I know that by imposing “our design” on nature we
> deprive ourselves of the things that only nature can teach us.  Of
> course, we are humans, we need to plan for tomorrow, we need to make
> designs; that is “our nature”.  Thus, how do I plan without making
> plans?  Likewise, we can endlessly make word constructions such as
> “method-less method” and the like; which sound intriguing at first,
> but tend to exhaust themselves in meaningless word games.  The art is
> in the doing.

Yes, it certainly is. The future belongs to those who show up.
There are timeless, trancendent designs created on the fly, as an 
afterthought as it were...:-) and there are good designs and there are 
the ones that stifle nature and the instincts of those who have to live 
with with them. The goal of a PDC should be to emphasize the importance 
of well thought out system design and implementation. A complete course 
would include grounding in Nature Farming. Thus the value of a PDC. I 
cannot stress the need for all interested in permaculture to take a PDC 
at some point in their lives. I participated in an in deoth afternoon 
session with Lee Barnes. This event started me on the path.

The word praxis is interesting. Wikipedia says this about it: ""Praxis" 
may also refer to the act of engaging, applying, exercising, realizing, 
or practicing ideas."

Brilliant, fascinating and absorbing, Dieter. I will think about about 
these ideas you've suggested for years to come. This is classic thinking 
about NF and PC.

Hah, all these gems of forum posts scattered around here, F_F list, 
Permies and elsewhere are like knowledge seedballs, dropped on the 
cyberturf and left to  germinate and flourish, seed themselves, go 
dormant and them to life again in the next cycle.

I always fret about the need to glean all these gems and add them to 
organized libraries for posterity. All that takes time. Right now I am
striving to save drafts of this email as I write it lest it get lost.

> Modern man is like a forlorn child.  We have lost our traditions, the
> customs of our communities that have fragmented and the wisdom of the
> ancients.  The traditional farmer didn’t need to design his farm with
> a row of pear trees here, some plum trees at a prescribed distance
> and the chicken scoop or fish pond at a certain place behind the farm
> house.  All these things and much more were given by tradition.  The
> contemporary city dropout needs to learn all of this again and
> artificially create his own traditions.  But with all the design
> features, the avalanche of websites to be studied and the numerous
> practical problems any newcomer will face, it is all too easy to
> forget the other thing.

This is the challenge and we can work to restore past traditions.
I guess I a an antiquarian. I played Flamenco guitar for a while. I only 
cared for the traditional forms of the music and their most outstanding 
exponents. I still have this attitude. There are many lessons to be 
learned from close listening, observation and skilled assimilation of 
experience and knowledge.  Putting this into practice, say, as a 
homesteading permaculture practicioner or nature farmer may well 
revitalize the best of the past as future paths are forged.

> The bottom line is that the NF philosopher, if she were to exist,
> does not believe in progress, does not believe it science, does not
> believe that humans can improve on nature or that humans can even
> “know” nature like an object to be studied.  That is a hard one to
> swallow for any Westerner, but swallow it we must, or there will be
> no NF.

This states the truth eloquently, Dieter. This mindset, should it be 
cultivated and widely adopted would put man's presence on Earth in 
proper perspective and revitalize humanity.


More information about the permaculture mailing list