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Lions Roar : January 2017
I DISCOVERED “DO-NOTHING” farming in my reading of Masanobu Fukuoka, author of One Straw Revolu- tion and one of the pioneers of natural farming and permaculture. After farming for six years with his words in my heart, I have found that Fukuoka’s “do noth- ing” does not mean an absence of action. Rather, it is an active and committed practice of mu—emptiness, negation. Here are four of the lessons I have learned as a “do-nothing” farmer. These can be applied to any agricultural project, MARK FRANK is a writer, translator, and farmer living in the Missouri Ozarks with his wife and two young children. MARKFRANK whatever the size, from a tiny veranda garden to a large farm with many acres. In fact, with some adaptation, they can be applied to many of our activities in life. Lesson 1: Spend Time with Your Plants My farming day starts before dawn with zazen meditation. While counting my breaths, I put myself out there with the new seedlings, hovering over the beds, fertilizing them with my presence. I begin the outside part of my day by slowly and deliberately walking through the fields and beds. I make note of something new every time: a fresh bit of growth, an insect that has just returned for the season, a place where a varmint has nibbled, the first setting on of fruit. In the evening, I walk again and note more changes, for the early garden and the late garden are very different things. These endless changes are the steps of our dance through the wild world. Lesson 2: Build the Soil from the Top Down I build my farm’s soil from the top down, as nature does. I layer on sea minerals, animal manure, and rice hulls, followed by a heavy mulching of straw. A few months later, I turn the straw and repeat. When you’re working from the top down, a certain patience is built in. The microbes below do their work over time, and the process cannot be hurried or HEART & MIND The Do-Nothing Farmer’s Guide to a Perfect Harvest MARK FRANK’s five steps to successfully doing nothing—in your garden or any other part of your life. Mark Frank’s winter crop of Asian greens and Japanese turnips. The mizuni, red mizuni, kamatsuna, and bekana go into his popular Asian salad mix. LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2017 21 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE