Waking up to Wisdom
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Reader comment on Masanobu Fukuoka's passage ...

The Way of the Farmer

On Oct 7, 2012 Ricky wrote:

Many species take time to rear their young and care for them and feed them and teach them how to go out into nature and sustain themselves before setting them on their way, and many even develop extended family units to facilitate this…i.e. whales, lions, elephants, wolves, dolphins, crows.  We humans, in industrialized civilization, send mixed messages to our children.  Instead of helping them to understand where their food comes from (sustenance), we now substitute the ritual of gathering , preparing , and eating the meal together with an overscheduled after school regime of sports and activities in the name of getting ahead and then gather at the pizza place or McDonald’s as a way of nourishing the body.  YIKES!  We are presently raising a generation on fast food, completely disconnected from nature and how she operates, and the result is expanding the implied need for intervention by way of the health care system. 
Big box stores and big corporations continue to thrive in the name of capitalism and progress and are entitled with help from many highly placed former executives and lawyers in governmental jobs to justify a right to greed, all in the name of the American dream-prosperity, and at all cost.
I teach agriculture education.  Here urban and rural students learn about agriculture through classes such as animal science, horticulture, floriculture, agriculture science, farm business management, agriculture issues, and also shop.    Some would like to be farmers even though most arable land is owned by big farms around where I live.  What I have noticed during agriculture teacher education is that land grant universities where teachers are certified to teach don’t enjoy as much governmental support as in the past, so grants and funding support from big agriculture, big corporations, and special interest groups have been used, and in my opinion have skewed some of the research in favor of bigger is better, more efficient, and more mechanized.  This means teachers coming out of education preparation have a focus on accelerating the natural life cycle of plants and animals rather than nurturing their health is the way to teach youngsters.  We are losing the intuitive nature of sharing love of soil and farming to corporations who supply both seed and pest intervention poison, on a scheduled spray regime, also supplied by the corporations.  Recently, though, one behemoth is taking come significant heat!   Monsanto’s attempt to condemn the scientific evaluation of the results of a recent French study conducted on the link between genetically modified engineered seeds and cancer in rats has actually helped stir the debate about the wisdom of patenting life.  I think this and the proposition 37 fight in California that requires labels to include genetically modified food on packaging and in produce in the United States finally helps begin another shift in thinking.  And with this in mind, my hope is that we continue toward Mr. Fukuoka’s way of the farmer…smaller, more connected, simple, with an emphasis on allowing rather than manipulating nature to care for the seed, and us.  The planet requires it, as do all its inhabitants, no matter the species.
What is also sad is my culture’s view of a farmer, that it is hard thankless backbreaking work, and doesn’t pay enough to get you anywhere in the definition of success as an American.  Jason, a homeless 26 year old I met a couple weeks ago with a baby on the way, told me what he really loves to do is work in the soil, and when I asked him why he wasn’t doing it, he said his family discouraged him from following this path because it wasn’t lucrative enough, he had much more ‘potential’ than that, and thus did not financially support his education and/or pursuit of this passion.  Being disconnected from his passion was one cog in the wheel that disengaged after he graduated from high school which has set him on a path with a series of choices and events that brought him to the place he is now…homeless.  I see this so often recently how students and graduates suffer under the guidance of well-intentioned but culturalized thought focused on greed and more and according to Mr. Fukuoka, ‘Fast rather than slow, more rather than less’.  
On another vein, after I read the passage, ‘but it’s alright not to understand’, I heard the news report of Earth’s Chorus as recorded by NASA from the Van Allen rings around the earth and found this link. I taped it on a voice recorder and shared it at the beginning of the high school yoga class.  They were utterly mesmerized by the music, and I asked them how it is possible to be somewhat fearful about the future and what it holds for them when the earth is singing with such joy, encouraging us to dance!  To once again rejoice in a simpler way of living.  Studying the environment through conservation and preservation can begin this awakening.  In the presence of soil, sun, water, and warmth the seed is nourished, and not only the plants thrive but also the farmer who works the land, by hand, with bare feet even.  Several books that have been of great insight to me are ‘Ancient Mysteries, Modern Vision’ by Phillip Callahan, ‘Civic Agriculture’ by Thomas Lyson, and ‘Micro Eco-Farming’, by Barbara Adams to mention just a few.   A quote from Rumi’s God in the Stew poem; ‘…Anyone who steps into an orchard, walks inside the orchard keeper.’  To me, this is how farming and even the act of rediscovering nature according to Mr. Fukuoka can be…such a deeply connecting spiritual experience.  And it remains a strong priority if we are going to heal anytime soon.

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