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Fukuoka makes seed balls

14 Jun

Here’s a YouTube video from 1997, in which he shows the method. He’s already about 90 years old…

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Fukuoka meets fusion–“lasagna gardening”

13 Jun

In the US, a woman named Patricia Lanza has made popular Fukuoka Masanobu’s techniques of “do-nothing” farming–she followed, in turn, the earlier work of a woman named Ruth Stout.

Her concept selects and adapts particular features of FM’s work, and is known as “lasagna gardening.” It’s called this because it starts off with sheet mulching and wild mulching–laying sheets of cardboard over grass to tame it and get rid of weeds, and using plant matter on the spot for compost, letting it have its unruly way, rather than putting it in a tidy (“”) pile in a corner to gestate. It’s a kind of translated version of do-nothing farming that still involves some of the processes (sheet mulching, notably, and lack of interest in tilling). But it also drops some key features, such as the compelling autobio, the relation to a general critique of modernity, and questions about the role of the local vis-à-vis spiritual/mystical/Romantic/poetic histories.

Cover of Lanza's Fukuoka adaptation/localization

See what you think, by paging through it at Amazon

Is anything added? Anything lost? How does she imagine the task of adapting, localizing, translating? And what does “culture” (i.e. from cultivare, the word meaning ‘to grow’) mean to her, do you think?

In the news: tomatoes demystified

10 Jun

This story has obvious links to the Fukuoka reading for Tuesday. A critique of food–>a general critique of modernity, and re-connection with the sources of food is urged…

How we ruined the tomato

The plump red fruit has become a symbol of everything that’s wrong with modern agriculture. An expert explains why

How we ruined the tomato

iStockphoto

Americans love tomatoes. As our second-most-popular produce item, we’re accustomed to the sight of them: plump and bright red, marble to soft-ball sized, and piled in abundance year-round in the refrigerated fruit and vegetable aisle of the grocery store. Many of us eat tomatoes every day: if not au natural, in ketchup, salsa, or marinara sauce.

Yet our favorite fruit may not be quite as innocuous and delicious as it appears.

continued, on Salon.com

Sustainable Food, Where It’s At

13 Dec

In the past week or two I’ve come across 2 TED talks related to food (I do realize this is a bit late for anyone who was looking for possible essay topics):

The first is about adding insects to our diet!

And the second is on creating Sustainable Restaurants!

Please comment if you watch either of these.  I’d like to know what you guys think!

Sayonara, Hashima

16 Nov

A bit more info on Gunkanjima (the slang name for Hashima island). The mine closed in 1974, when demand for coal petered out (and prices stabilized after the big “oil shock” OPEC oil embargo of 1973). A nice article in the nifty magazine Cabinet has some testimony from a Korean guy who was mobilized to work there, and explains how it was a “company town” for Mitsubishi.

The mine was deep under the sea, the workers reaching it by elevator down a long narrow shaft. The coal was carried out from a spacious underground chamber, but the digging places were so small that we had to crouch down to work. It was excruciating, exhausting labor. Gas collected in the tunnels, and the rock ceilings and walls threatened to collapse at any minute. I was convinced that I would never leave the island alive.

Schoolchildren spelling out "Sayonara Hashima" in the schoolyard in 1974.

The writer of the article gives some specs, too:

Indeed, Mitsubishi owned the island and everything on it, running a kind of benevolent dictatorship that guaranteed job security and doled out free housing, electricity and water but demanded that residents take turns in the cleaning and maintenance of public facilities. Thus the people of Hashima huddled together, all under the wing of “The Company” and all bent on a common purpose.

But coal is not edible. The community depended completely on the outside world for food, clothing and other staples. Even fresh water had to be carried to the island until pipes along the sea floor connected it to mainland reservoirs in 1957. Any storm that prevented the passage of ships for more than a day spelled fear and austerity for Hashima.

The most notable feature of the island was the complete absence of soil and indigenous vegetation. Hashima, after all, was nothing more than a rim of coal slag packed around the circumference of a bare rock. A movie shot there by Shochiku Co. Ltd. in 1949 was aptly entitled Midori Naki Shima (The Greenless Island).

Some links to “ruins” blogs

16 Nov

A relic of the 1980s "bowling boom." Source: michaeljohngrist.com

When we look at the mystery-horror novel OUT, one important precedent to keep in mind is the gothic novel: the novel of architectural decrepitude and feminine confinement par excellence.

OUT‘s 1997 publication coincides nicely with a small boom in gothic tourism, to abandoned industrial properties located on the outskirts of towns. They are not necessarily feminine spaces, but still, they evoke similar senses of gloom, abandonment, and strange lyrical beauty. Here are some links to “ruins” (haikyo 廃墟) blogs which document and brood upon these abandoned spaces.

Michael John Grist is an American guy who has caught onto the ruin trail.

This guy is more nostalgic, and includes images of bygone foods you might have eaten in the ryōkan of ages past…

And finally, I include this one because it shows and links to the Amazon.jp page for several of the amazing sub-varieties of ruin appreciation–railroad, amusement park, and most famously, Gunkanjima

DVD cover. Source: Amazon.co.jp

Article in Washington paper on Sonoko & Akila

25 Oct

It turns out that Akila is in the States not only to teach a round of classes, but is looking for a more local supplier of buckwheat to use in making his soba here. This Washington State paper published an article today about some of their journey, and conversations with WA farmers.

Source: tricityherald.com