experiential adventures learning about sustainability, balance and love.

Inden Farm! Seed bombs and Masanobu Fukuoka dreams. (wwoof Japan)

I’m now staying with the Inden Family- Tatsu and his wife Kanchi and their 1 year old son, Sota. Actually, they are not a wwoof host yet. They are friend’s of my last host family. Next year they plan on hosting wwoofer’s and I’m helping build a loft so wwoof’ers will have a place to sleep. The Inden farm consists of 2 tanbo’s (rice fields) and many hatake (vegetable gardens) spread out around their home. Everything is organic. Tatsu-san is studying permaculture and the methods of Masanobu Fukuoka.

Recently We planted a TON of soy beans around his 2 tanbo. The soy beans have (at least, surely i’ve over looked MANY) 4 functions I’m aware of. They prevent the aze (tanbo walls) from eroding and falling into the water channels, they provide food, they attract different insects than the rice (so biodiversity will increase around the tanbo, and hopefully no single type of insect will be able to reproduce and eat the crops in large numbers, frogs in the tanbo help with this also), and last but not least they will be improving the soil around the tanbo which is currently really rockey and well… shitty. All beans are legumes which fix nitrogen in the soil and over time the roots will help loosen the soil.

A few days ago I helped Yagi-san, a friend of Tatsu’s, plant a rice feild. He’s growing rice without water…errr without flooding the field. Rice fields are usually full of 5-10 centemeters of water. Most people (including most Japanese) think this is the only way to grow rice. The rice doesn’t need the water, and perhaps (according to the opinion of Fukuoka-san) doesn’t even prefer the water! The main reason the fields are flooded is to prevent other plants/weeds from growing and “competeing” with the rice. When rice is grown without water other plants are able to grow in the field. This improves biodiversity, balance, and reduces the need to use pesticides. Using this technique combined with planting white clover as a “cover crop” (cover crop = living mulch, clover is also a legume, so nitrogen is fixed in the soil as an added benefit) Masanobu Fukuoka achieved rice harvests equal to the highest harvests in Japan using modern agricultural methods.

Here is a video of Masanobu Fukuoka making “seed balls” which is a seeding technique he invented (or at least rediscovered.):

Using these seed balls you can seed plants simply by making the balls, then throwing them around the field. The seeds are then protected from birds, and as soon as the first good rain comes the clay balls “melt” into the soil and the seeds can grow. In america I’ve heard these called “seed bombs” and I’ve hear stories of people saving up tons of marijuana or hemp seeds, making a huge batch of seed bombs, and then driving down the street while tossing them out the window. Haha! I’ve also heard of “gurrila gardeners” using the seed bomb method to grow edible plants in parks and unused public (and sometimes private) land, that is going to waste by just sitting vacant. People are starving (or spending too much) while there is unused land everywhere! Bomb your blocks people! Bomb the parks! Bomb any piece of ugly grass you can find! (but try to be respectful!)

Here are some recent photos:

Japanese Monkeys up to no good!
Chasing monkey’s out of the garden! Tatsu says he’s ok with sharing some food with monkeys because long ago the Japanese people planted almost only cypress trees for lumber and altered the biodiversity of the forests… eliminating many food sources for the monkeys.

Inden family house
The Inden’s house and all of Tatsu’s drums, including a Tabla! (awesome indian drum, maybe the hardest drum to play)

Inden no Tanbo
This is one of the Inden Tanbos. The rice is much smaller than in his neighbor’s fields because it’s planted later and harvested later (Novemberish.) The cold temperatures at the end of a late growing season is important for the rice; it’s flavor becomes sweeter and nutrients are increased. The agricultual (non-natural) method of growing is timed purely to take advantage of maximum sunlight so that the rice is ready to harvest sooner and faster. This makes sense when you’re trying to make lots of money, but not when you want the highest quality food for your family.

Big Brown Rice Machine
Old style hand powered rice separator. Uses air to separate heavy and light particles. After the rice has the hulls removed the hulls still need to be separated from the grain. The heavier rice falls straight through the machine, the lighter hulls are blown out of the stream and come out of the 2nd shoot. This process of removing hulls and separating has to be done a couple times.

And some photos from the last week at the Asanomi Bakery:

Land Crab!
A little forest crab on my wrist.

Doing some stone work with Lou and Bradley
My first stone work experience! We’re cementing between the rocks to make a steady and beautiful base for the posts around the house. This was pretty fun, like playing rock tetris. Tetris is a really cool game the more I think about it. It trains the brain to fit patterns together. I wonder if cave men played such games with one guy throwing rocks from a cliff faster and faster and the other one trying to direct them into a wall.

Corn is doing nice.
Corn growing nicely in a garden full of “weeds.” ah weeds, hahaha. Fighting weeds is like arguing on the internet… or so the saying goes.

More pics of my Inden adventure’s later!

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6 responses

  1. ruben

    Hi,

    Thank you for the informative blog.

    My name is Ruben, I live in Israel, in an eco-kibbutz, I am a
    permaculture designer and teacher. I plan to be in Japan from 16/9/9-
    3/10/9. I was hoping you can direct me to contact details of places where I can volunteer in
    exchange for food and accommodation like these farms you stayed on? I looked at the links on your blog but all their sites are in japanese so I couldn’t make heads or tails of them.

    also I am interested in visiting any permaculture or Natural Farming (Fukuoka) sites you can recommend in Japan. In particular I am interested in forest gardening, reforestration, traditional skills (wood work, miso making etc.) and eco-villages.

    Thank you in advance for your time and effort.

    Kind Regards,
    Ruben

    August 19, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    • Laura

      Ruben,

      I am currently studying permaculture at Kibbutz Lotan. In which eco-kibbutz do you live? I am hoping to go to Japan this winter/spring to learn Fukuoka farming as an apprentice or volunteer in exchange for room and board. Do you have any suggestions or connections? Where did you end up going?

      Shalom,
      Laura

      September 9, 2012 at 3:21 pm

  2. mike

    hi there, i have the same question as ruben, except i’d like to stay longer in japan and i only speak english and a little bit of chinese. do you know of any oranic/permaculture farms in japan that’ll accept the likes of me? thank you.

    February 12, 2010 at 10:51 am

    • malleabis

      Yeah, no worries. There are lots of wwoof hosts… just see which ones interest you. Some places do forest work, others mostly animals like dairy farms, many grow mostly rice. Some hosts have their own website, which show many photos usually. The wwoof Japan pages only have a few very small photos. I didn’t have any bad experiences and I just chose which hosts seemed to resonate with myself. Of course I recommend all the hosts I mentioned in my blog, but that’s only a small slice of the wooof japan baumkutchen.

      March 10, 2010 at 12:03 am

  3. have you spoke to the Indens recently? I am trying to do an internship for my horticulture degree..this seems like a nice fit since I have been seeking the instilled practices of Mr. Fukuoka..would the Indens do an internship do you think?

    October 26, 2011 at 1:27 am

  4. vlado siljanoski

    Hello
    Im a vegan man Vlado from Macedonia south europe , I would like to be woofer in Japan in organic farm to learn about fukuoka
    metod of farming or other organic metod of faming , please write my e-mail address is
    veganvm@gmail.com
    sincerely
    vlado

    February 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm

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