The One Straw Revolution is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand permaculture. The concepts, practices, and philosophies in this book cannot be ignored by anyone who seeks to understand sustainable agriculture or sustainable living.
Masanobu Fukuoka had never heard the word "permaculture" when he took over his father's orchard in Japan. He had been studying plant pathogens in a laboratory, and he had a hunch. He intuitively believed that he could grow food more successfully than any conventional farmer, just by letting nature take its course. He shares this story with us, told as a personal story, in The One Straw Revolution.
The One Straw Revolution describes Fukuoka's development of a process that he calls "do-nothing farming." He tells the story of how he invented several natural farming techniques through observation and attempting to mimic the patters of nature around him.
Several of the methods that Fukuoka arrived at intuitively are common concepts in modern permaculture. He practiced what is now called "chop & drop" mulching, without ever receiving any instruction on the matter. He used "seed bombs" long before anyone had coined the term "guerilla gardening." And in The One Straw Revolution, he literally wrote the book on no-till farming.
Masanobu Fukuoka recognized that the complexity of ecosystems is beyond the grasp of human understanding. He teaches that trying to manipulate ecosystems is folly, and that food can be grown effectively and reliably by standing aside and allowing natural processes to operate normally.
The One Straw Revolution stresses the idea that chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides are unnecessary and detrimental to the ecosystem.
Fukuoka also believed that seasonal pruning of fruit trees was unnecessary. He experimented with this idea of the course of several seasons. He found that when pruning, fertilization, and pesticides are used the farmer becomes dependent on them. However, when all of those practices are avoided, nature restores a balance and none of them are needed. He demonstrated that the yields from his naturally managed orchard were as good or better than conventional orchards in the same region.
The One Straw Revolution is a whirlwind education in natural farming. It is pleasantly written as a personal story. And the underlying philosophies are just as beneficial as the practical methods Fukuoka shares.
This book is a great departure from the more technical permaculture books. It reads like a novel, and it's a wonderful casual read for anyone interested in permaculture or natural farming.