11th August 2012 – Natural Farming Weekend

I spent many years of my youth foolishly searching for something I ‘should’ have been doing. Instead, I should have entrusted everything to the flowers blooming in the meadow. Even if people do nothing at all, the grasses and the trees and the songbirds will live on…. I have finally learned that, although nature does not reach out to people directly, people can always approach nature and seek salvation that way. Masanobu Fukuoka, Sowing Seeds in the Desert

coreopsis

Our invitation to Larry Korn (editor of The One Straw Revolution) to be a key speaker at our weekend of workshops, coincided perfectly with the launch of his latest work: Fukuoka’s Sowing Seeds in the Desert.

flowerarrangements

Wwoofers and volunteers worked hard to create a beautiful environment for the workshop, including flower art by Whitney…

dome barn tomatoes

… in the newly cleaned and renovated round barn.

bonfire

Larry joined our temporary community for meals (prepared by volunteers), bonfire and conversation.

Larry Korn presenting

He emphasized the philosophy of natural farming and shared tales and images of his experiences with Fukouka. When the visionary Japanese farmer told him that his soil yielding a thick crop of barley had not been ploughed for 25 years, Larry thought he had discovered “the holy grail”.

audience

Videos of all the inspirational presentations will be posted later.

Krista Rome presentation 3

Krista Rome lead us beautifully though the various steps of threshing, winnowing and using screens to clean locally grown grains and beans.

Krista Rome presentation - group

Lots of work for many hands and feet! A great communal activity.

Krista Rome presentation 1

Her fantastic manual is available at www.backyardbeansandgrains.com

Errol Speed's tools

Tools of the trade, including Japanese hand sickles, like the ones used on Fukuoka’s farm (we love them!) were demonstrated by the highly skillful Errol Speed.

Errol Speed presentation 1

Passionate about every kind of hand tool. He lead us through the complete process of transforming sod-covered ground into a bed without tilling. From sharpening your scythe to using the broad-fork. Errol’s tools can be purchased at his store on Orcas Island www.smithandspeed.com

Ana Manilof presentation 1

Seed Saving and honoring the life cycle of a plant is a crucial aspect of working with nature. Ana Manilof from Lopez Island has been selling seeds through her company Green Heart Gardens for a number of years. She quoted from one of our favorite books: Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth:

kale seeds in hand

The seeds that gardeners hold in their hands at planting time are living links in an unbroken chain reaching back into antiquity… Whenever gardeners begin to save their own seeds, they also become part of an ancient tradition.

Ryan Drum presentation 1

Ryan Drum from Waldron Island, talked about another ancient tradition: foraging and healing with plants.

Ryan Drum presentation 2

He managed to find an incredible amount of beneficial wild plants to discuss, just sitting in one spot in the garden. This is because we do not excessively eliminate weeds as part of our natural farming processes. These wild plants help keep the soil and crops healthy. Including Shepherds Purse, that Ryan told us can be used to stop heavy bleeding. What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. Ralph Waldo Emerson

RP presentation

We finished the weekend with a presentation from RP, who has been volunteering at the farm. A former Phd student in applied chemistry who wanted to warn us of the dangers of the newly developing nano-technology field.

workshop lunch

Lots of information and new ideas to digest during all the delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners. On the menu: oatmeal and muffins, local poached salmon, BBQ beef from Talking Horse Farm, fresh garden salad, grilled zucchini and leek, couscous and chick pea taboule, borscht, home made bread and ratatouille with brown rice. Dining was accompanied by the lovely gypsy band OPA. We were all too busy eating, conversing and dancing to take any pictures. Thank you to everyone who contributed their head, heart and hands to this very special event.

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