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Outside/In: The “Do-Nothing” Farmer

A photo of Hiroki Fukuoka  rice natural farming
Yoshinori Okada
Hiroki Fukuoka in the rice field. Courtesy Taro Nakamura.

Masanobu Fukuoka was working as a plant pathologist when he experienced a revelation – and promptly quit his job and returned home to his family farm. Eventually, he wrote The One-Straw Revolution, a manifesto on his method, shizen noho, and the philosophy of “do-nothing farming.”

Published in 1978, the book has been described by writer Michael Pollan as “one of the founding documents of the alternative food movement.” But its reach goes far beyond farming: The One Straw Revolution has been translated into 25 languages and is admired by artists, writers, and philosophers.

What is it about this slim green book that has touched so many people?

Featuring Takeshi Watanabe, Robin Calderon, and Hiroki Fukuoka.

Robin Calderon in a field of basil and zinnias. Courtesy Robin Calderon.
Robin Calderon in a field of basil and zinnias. Courtesy Robin Calderon.


Masanobu Fukuoka Natural Farm

Fukuoka in discussion with Bill Mollison and Wes Jackson for Mother Earth News, which took place at the Second International Permaculture Conference in Washington state.

Many of those practicing natural farming in Japan learned about it from Yoshikazu Kawaguchi, who adapted Fukuoka’s practice and started a natural farming school called Akame Shizennou Jyuku.

The 1978 review ofThe One Straw RevolutioninAkwesasne Notes, a newspaper published by the Mohawk Nation.

For more on the story behind the book’s publication and Fukuoka’s travels in the United States: The One Straw Revolutionary: The Philosophy and Work of Masanobu Fukuoka by Larry Korn.

More, at

Justine Paradis is a producer and reporter for NHPR's Creative Production Unit, most oftenOutside/In. Before NHPR, she produced Millennial podcast from Radiotopia, contributed to podcasts including Love + Radio, and reported for WCAI & WGBH from her hometown of Nantucket island.
Hannah Kirshner is a writer, artist, and food stylist.
Outside/In is a show where curiosity and the natural world collide. Click here for podcast episodes and more.

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