Farming to Nurture Life, Healthy soil to produce healthy foods

Modern farming practices do not sustain life

My interest in farming began from the doubt in modern farming practices which we abuse nature so much.
Nature has its own balance and yet we are ignorant to see that broken balance. In the end, nature has all the time she needs to fix the problems and we don’t.

If we are to apply the knowledge to farming, it has to be nature herself that teaches us how to farm.

Chemical fertilizers and pesticides were magic spray that seemed to cure all the superficial plant problems, but ignored what’s around and inside the plants themselves. NPK numbers can make the vegetables and fruits large, but what are we growing them for?

We grow our foods to consume. If it’s not healthy, how can we be healthy?
If our farming practice kills life, how can we nurture our life?

What’s wrong with “Organic”?

“Organic” is not necessarily sustainable. Too many rules restrict productivity and creativity. I remember that I wanted to use local resources as soil organic amendments so I asked both a local supplier and a local organic certifier. I had to ask a lot of questions, then have the local supplier prove that their material is suitable for organic production and go through voting at a board meeting before certain materials can be used as organic amendments. It takes a long time. Imagine that there are so much more materials out there that can be utilized at local basis. In the meantime, many organic farmers just give up and decide to buy imported organic fertilizers and amendments at a store.

Once I checked some organic fertilizers and soil amendments sold at various stores and manufactures online, which many organic farmers use, I could only find very few produced locally. Many of them are produced and packaged in far away places and get shipped using fuel. Here I see hidden food mileage and CO2 footprint.

Then I researched to see if any direct local sources sell or give out to farmers. Some do, but I could only find less than 5% organic sources.

Permaculture, Biodynamics and Natural Farming

Then I thought about permaculture and natural farming. You produce your own fertilizers right at your farm. Have some chickens, horses, grow some cover crop and mine your own minerals. This helps us to eliminate finding sources for fertilizers and soil amendments, and you control the quality of your own fertilizers. Most importantly, it’s really nature that controls all this, we are just working on the side.

It sounds really great, but it will add more work just to grow your fertilizers. Are people willing pay for this extra work?

Natural farming has developed so-called No Fertilizer approach. Soil already has ability and memories to adapt the environment and change it to suit its need. Soil can produce own fertilizer from nothing. Or I should be more specific. Soil, under truly natural conditions, can and does produce sufficient nutrients that is necessary for plants to grow healthy as long as we do not interfere with the nature’s way. Look at the wild forest and abandaned farm fields. Everything is growing so rush and plentiful.

The problem with much of the researches done on these topics are under “unnatural conditions” for the sake of controlling environment and ease of experimentation. In pots? or Bare soil? or maybe test tubes. All this leads us to false conclusions such as giving certain type of fertilizers is better, pruning or triming in certain ways make higher yield, or using certain cultivars grow better.

Breeding Unique Tea Varieties for Natural Farming

Important thing is that the soil changes. Bare soil organic farm field is not the same as established natural farms. Many farmers doing no-till method claim that soil get better as you continue no till, but it takes time till the fields get mature and productive.

It took me a long time to actually learn what nature really does. What I thought was natural wasn’t quite natural at the beginning and I had to make an adjustment to really understand how to farm naturally. In fact, it’s so difficult for well seasoned farmers who have abundance of knowledge to really understand this. I had to read the same sentences over and over and over…. Probably I read more than 50 times because I was stuck with typical organic approach that “people grow plants” instead of “plants grow”.

Some organic farmers have hard time understanding the idea of natural farming. They tend to think “organic=natural”, but it seems to me that “organic” is more of a political category. I started out doing organic so I had to make an adjustment too.

We are farming to nurture life, healthy soil to produce healthy foods

Tea is an elixer for life. We not only enjoy tea for drink, but also consume it for medicine.
Original story tells us that tea was used as an antidote. From ancient time tea was used to sustain our vitality.

Simply our farming is to bring things alive, healthy soil to produce healthy foods.