Editorial Reviews

“Masanobu Fukuoka ran a course on natural farming and gave our Howard lecture at Navdanya’s biodiversity farm in the Doon Valley of India, and we even have a cottage named the Fukuoka hut. He was a teacher ahead of his time. Sowing Seeds in the Desert is what all of humanity has to learn to do, whether it is in an economic desert created by Wall Street or an ecological desert created by globalized corporate agriculture.”  
—Vandana Shiva, founder of Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology

“Distilling what he has gathered from a lifetime of learning from nature, Masanobu Fukuoka offers us his gentle philosophy and a wealth of practical ideas for using natural farming to restore a damaged planet. Sowing Seeds in the Desert will persuade any reader that the imperiled living world is our greatest teacher, and inspire them to care for it as vigorously as Fukuoka has.”

Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia’s Garden

“Masanobu Fukuoka’s first book, The One-Straw Revolution, introduced natural farming, a nature-integrated practice similar to ‘original’ permaculture, to a world where the environmental movement had just begun. As this plant pathologist-turned-farmer-philosopher journeyed around the world as a result of the popularity of his book and ideas, Fukuoka was shocked at the environmental degradation and desertification he saw. Sowing Seeds in the Desert, his final book, is his plan to set a ‘Second Genesis’ in motion: a green revolution led by vegetables, grasses, and trees.”

“From our first meeting with Masanobu Fukuoka-sensei in the late 1970s at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, he has served as a primary guide, teacher, and inspiration in the engaged practice of organic farming and Zen meditation. Now, with Sowing Seeds in the Desert, Fukuoka-sensei’s teaching of natural farming continues to grow, send- ing deep roots down into the terrain of global restoration and food security for a hungry world. This wonderful book is to be celebrated and savored for its grounded, encouraging wisdom.”

—Wendy Johnson, author of Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate

“This book is not a breath of fresh air, it’s a howling gale from the East. It challenges us to think outside our normal, rational frames and ven- ture into a whole new way of relating to spirituality, the Earth, and the growing of food. As I read, I was tempted to pick holes in Fukuoka’s prescriptions for greening the world’s deserts, but I kept coming back to the inescapable fact that he farmed his own land according to these principles over many years and produced a lot of food.”  
Patrick Whitefield, author of The Earth Care Manual

“Fans of Fukuoka’s The One-Straw Revolution will be delighted by Sowing Seeds in the Desert, his last book. It is a rich treasure trove detail- ing how his own philosophy of farming evolved and how he decided to apply what he learned on his own farm in Japan to other parts of the world. His insights into the tragedies of taking Western, industrial agriculture to places like Africa to ‘enrich the national economy,’ and his alternative approach of working with indigenous farmers to enable them to become self-sufficient are instructive for all of us.”  
Frederick Kirschenmann, author of Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher

“This book is a bombshell. Forget the gentle and retiring farmer of The One-Straw Revolution fame, replaced now by a flaming, world-traveling revolutionary. To achieve the kind of natural farming that can avoid worldwide collapse, Masanobu Fukuoka bluntly and fearlessly insists that we must first reject traditional ideas about God, the afterlife, accepted economic systems—especially capitalism, much of current agricultural thinking including organic farming, and even parts of science that he says are based on mistaken notions about the connection between cause and effect. 

Once we return to a way of life dictated by nature, not institutional religions, he says, we can apply his unorthodox farming methods to make the deserts bloom and the green fields stay lush without much expense or even labor involved. Be prepared to be mystified, irritated, shocked, and maybe even, if you persevere to the end, enlightened and encouraged by this trail-blazing book. Disagree with Fukuoka’s provocative pronouncements at your own risk. Some of what he predicted in this book, originally written in Japanese in the 1990s, has already happened, especially the collapse of the Japanese economy in recent years and the spread of deserts throughout the world.”  
Gene Logsdon, author of A Sanctuary of Trees

The Financial Times of London by Harry Eyres – August 2010

“When a friend lent me his copy of Masanobu Fukuoka’s The One-Straw Revolution… I was struck by one sentence in particular. Somewhere in the middle of this charming, eccentric book, one of the founding texts of natural, non-interventionist farming, Fukuoka asserts that ‘the one-acre farmer of long ago spent January, February and March hunting rabbits in the hills.’ Later on, he says that while cleaning his village shrine he found dozens of haikus, composed by local people, on hanging plaques; but ‘there is no time in modern agriculture for a farmer to write a poem or compose a song.’

An implication of Fukuoka’s vision is that many more of us would have to become farmers – but not farmers according to the model chillingly described in Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, perched in computerized towers in Iowa, operating fertilizer systems by remote control. Fukuoka reckoned that one-and-a-quarter acres of arable land, farmed naturally, was enough to feed a family in Japan, and to leave “plenty of time for leisure and social activities within the village community.”  
— Financial Times

This week I’ve read an extraordinary book, Masanobu Fukuoka’s One Straw Revolution. I first heard of it through Tom Hodgkinson at the Idler, and have seen it mentioned several times since then in various places. It’s something of a classic in permaculture and organic gardening circles.  
Read more: The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka  
— Make Wealth History. 

Early in his adult life Fukuoka had the following revelation: “Humanity knows nothing at all. There is no intrinsic value in anything, and every action is a futile, meaningless effort.” He immediately and scientifically then goes about his life’s work: proving or disproving this revelation with far. 

Every now and then you read a book which is so inspiring and such a pleasure that you feel impelled to stride down the street shouting ‘read this!’ Well, I’ve just read The One-Straw Revolution and I urge everyone to buy or borrow a copy without delay.  
— Tom Hodgkinson, THE IDLER

The One-Straw Revolution is one of the founding documents of the alternative food movement, and indispensable to anyone hoping to understand the future of food and agriculture.  
— Michael Pollan

With no ploughing, weeding, fertilizers, external compost, pruning or chemicals, his minimalist approach reduces labour time to a fifth of more conventional practices. Yet his success in yields is comparable to more resource-intensive methods…The method is now being widely adopted to vegetate arid areas. His books, such as The One-Straw Revolution, have been inspirational to cultivators the world over.  
— New Internationalist

The One-Straw Revolution shows the critical role of locally based agroecological knowledge in developing sustainable farming systems.  
— Sustainable Architecture

Fukuoka’s do-nothing approach to farming is not only revolutionary in terms of growing food, but it is also applicable to other aspects of living, (creativity, child-rearing, activism, career, etc.). His holistic message is needed now more than ever as we search for new ways of approaching the environment, our community and life. It is time for us all to join his “non-movement”.  
— Keri Smith, author, How to be an Explorer of the World  
Source: The New York Review of Books