Natural Farming – the new way forward?

To supplement income from the bakery, which is not quite breaking even after two years, and given the two-day sourdough wood-fired brick oven method is not suited for 2-3 bakes per week, and given I have been yearning to get my hands in the soil for a while now but cannot because have been too busy in the summer selling into two FM’s (Sydney and Baddeck), notwithstanding the numbers are still not adding up, therefore be it resolved that something else has to be done!

So this post is going to be a repository of links about several main topics relating to my search for viable farming methods for here on the island. They must be able to be implemented for little or no money and be organic.

There are currently three main interests:

1. Cold season greenhouse operations. For this will be reading up on Eliot Coleman Four Season Farming technology, albeit also looking into heating mainly with compost the Natural Farming method (see next), and also am quite happy letting things go dormant for a couple of months in Feb-March. It’s good to rest, take a holiday, plan the upcoming year. It’s Nature’s annual version of the seventh day of rest principle. There are no links to this at present except what seems to be good quality greenhouse covering:

http://www.northerngreenhouse.com/

2. Natural Farming. This is the one I have been waiting to discover, namely a way of vitalizing soil – obviously the key to good (organic) farming – using fermentation. One of the key underlying principles evident in Nature and her Processes, is Abundance. Seeds of most species, be they plant or animal, are usually several orders of magnitude greater than the individual generating them. Males produce literally millions of sperm to make one baby. Microbial cultures are exceptionally fertile in this way as evidenced every time I build a sourdough starter culture. At the right temperature they double every few hours. Within a week a teaspoon could become a ton. Nature wants to grow, to flourish, things naturally wish to increase. There is not a scarcity problem in the world in terms of population numbers, food etc. There is only a political/cultural/ethical corruption/unconsciousness problem. For a good intro to consciousness-raising, try Eckart Tolle’s Power of Now (and then spend the rest of your life studying BuddhaDharma or contemplative Christianity if you can find it). But for financial and general material/societal corruption, the solution is for many more of us to create more vibrant local economies by providing local production and the simplest place to start is with food, i.e. cultivating the soil. Natural Farming is a great way to do this by growing microbial cultures from existing cultures in the immediate environment in the soil, nearby woodlands, milk, very few inputs (none needed but sugar can help speed things along, as can milk in small quantities to generate lactobacilli cultures). So here are some main links to Natural Farming:

http://naturalfarminghawaii.net/tag/master-cho/

from this site several key links:

http://naturalfarminghawaii.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/soilfoundation-lowres.pdf

7 page pdf article on how to collect your own IM organisms from your location:

http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/BIO-9.pdf

THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE ON THIS PAGE: Gil Carandang’s http://hkpi.webs.com/Indigenous%20Micro-organism%28Phil%29.pdf 

This one explains the basic philosophy along with how-to instructions on making indigenous beneficial microbial cultures from scratch from your property or nearby.

Another similar pdf article: http://www.cog.ca/documents/07SU_EffectiveMicroorganisms.pdf

excerpt:

How to make Bokashi
Ingredients:
100 lb wheat bran
12 L warm water
240 ml molasses
240 ml EM
Prepare a diluted solution of EM, molasses and water at a
ratio of 1:1:100.
Mix well and pour over bran and continue to mix until the
final product is about 30% moisture
Place the material in a barrel and place a lid on the container
to create an anaerobic condition.
Allow 3–5 weeks in the summer and 7–10 weeks in the winter
and the bokashi should have a sweet and sour fermented smell
(but not putrid).
The pH of the bokashi should be about 5. The material
should be used immediately.

and more:

“The literature on EM is overwhelmingly favourable and includes many peer-reviewed publications that demonstrated a wide-spectrum of benefits including: increased seed protein, crude fat, and seed yield in soybeans; increased N uptake by cowpea from crop residues; control of Sclerotinia in turfgrass; increased yields in banana, oranges, peanuts, papayas, mangos; efficiency of compost production from three months to three weeks, etc. From this superficial scan of the literature, EM appear to have been successful in agronomic applications worldwide, but data are lacking from Canadian experiences. For those growers using EM technology in their agricultural practices, I would love to hear your testimony on the products you used.

Av Singh, PhD, PAg, is the Organic and Rural Infrastructure Specialist with AgraPoint in Nova Scotia and is available for comment or question at 902-896-0277 or at a.singh@agrapoint.ca.”

Another set of how-to make from scratch:  http://forum.hydrobreed.com/showthread.php?1001-How-to-make-EM-1

http://permafornia.com/

Official EM site: http://www.emrojapan.com/application/agriculture.html

Case Studies, research links: http://www.scdprobiotics.com/SCD_Probiotics_Case_Studies_s/365.htm

Canadian EM1 re-seller: http://www.gardenerspantry.ca/microorganisms/effective-microorganisms.html

A cheat sheet with quick instructions for how to make EM1 from scratch (hard to find instructions): http://pinoyagribusiness.com/forum/cattle_carabao_goat_sheep/how_to_make_benificial_micro_organism_em1-t942.0.html;wap2=

From Georgia, United States:

http://www.prokashi.com/videos/

Also his research page: http://www.prokashi.com/research/

https://www.youtube.com/results?q=cho+global+natural+farming+method&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=w1

How to make lactobacillus with pictures. I did this recently starting with brown rice water and it worked fine, although I was not using these precise instructions, rather my memory of prokashi’s instructions. They are essentially the same. http://myfanwe.xanga.com/754896562/making-em-1-culture/

http://www.kalapanaorganics.com/natural-farming-with-indigenous-microorganisms/raising-chickens-the-natural-farming-way/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdNHEpMISmQ (1 hr chicken production for eggs)

This bokashi business (sort of) started again (officially) around 1982 with Dr. Teruo Higa. This clip promotes his derived product but of interest to you, perhaps, is that it can be used to clean off toxins in water or other substances.

So it is an organic, virtually free way of developing healthy soil, essentially meaning you can compost everything – meat, eggs, bread, sugars, not just veggies – and in so doing clean away toxins as well.

This site sells compost tea makers and has very interesting information – and pictures – of microbial life. http://www.microbeorganics.com/ In fact, it is so well written that I am making a companion post which will follow this one – ‘Organic Growing from a Microbial Perspective’…

3. Hugel Culture – or raised beds with wood logs as the nutritive and hydration base. This takes heavy machinery (realistically) up front, but then for years you have vibrant soil with no irrigation or fertilization needed. Combined with some Natural Farming home-grown soil enhancing additions, not to mentions regular infusions of additional nutrients from roaming chickens, perhaps pigs etc., you have a dynamic growing culture far more productive per sq metre than the best conventional farming methods at far lower cost. The problem, of course, is our Northern climate short growing season, which brings us back to Nr 1, winter greenhousing. Nr 2 solves the problem of the soil getting tired inside a greenhouse, albeit it will need an irrigation system, and/or it could be that one good solution is simply to have removable greenhouse covering which goes up from Nov-April and then comes off the rest of the year, covering over these Nr 3 section raised beds which themselves contain plenty of water, albeit still there would have to be some irrigation of course, but nothing intensive. Anyway, some links:\

The Godfather of this nowadays is Sepp Holzer. His latest book is Permaculture. Just Google his name for articles, videos etc.

A film of Holzer – growing lemons at 5000 ft in the Austrian Alps! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oF6-xh34ovA

Also: http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/ – some videos about making the raised bed with back hoes, results, methodology

http://www.permies.com/forums/f-2/permaculture This is an active permaculture forum and there is a sub-forum in there about the hugels, amongst many other things.

So this post is tagged with Farming, Solutions and Fermentation. It is a solution because I believe if more of us get into doing this, especially Natural Farming, even if it’s just for our flowers and a small vegetable garden, that the world would be a much better place, and the Power of the Evil Doers, whoever ‘they’ are, but ‘they’ are ruining our world and human culture, will be diminished. So this is all very worthy stuff, aka ‘Solution’. Fermentation is of course my special interest. I am not surprised to learn that the best way to farm involves using the natural abundance/fertility of micro-organisms. It’s sort of a head-slapping moment for me: the same stuff that makes sauerkraut (lacto-bacillus) and other great pickles that boost vitamin and phytonutrient content by 20-50 times, is also what you can use to turn any soil into highly fertile, microbially rich living soil. Elementary, Dear Watson!

Related to Natural Farming are various other techniques including, for example, fermenting grasses and the use of biochar, or charcoal.

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/79794950/Farmers-Coop-Begin-Innovative-Biochar-and-Soil-Project

http://www.biochar-international.org/

Making biochar yourself video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqkWYM7rYpU

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