“One way to approach Shumei Natural Agriculture is to see it as an extension of the ideas behind permaculture and organic growing. It takes respect for the soil one step further. Unlike the organic method, it encourages growers to avoid crop rotation. Unlike permaculture, it advises them not to fertilise their soil, no matter how sustainable the process.
There are no rules about watering, weeding or tilling. It’s believed that every piece of land is different and that each grower will develop a unique understanding of what is needed based on his or her own observations.
However, if the soil is dry, mulching with leaves and grass clippings from around the planting area is encouraged. The thinking behind this is important. The grower’s intention is to keep the soil moist and soft rather than to feed it. Practitioners demonstrate in their thoughts and actions that the soil is capable of feeding itself.”
– Liz Ware
Generally speaking, Natural Agriculture has a broader, more philosophical approach to agriculture and aims not only to produce health benefits but also aid in fostering the well-being of entire ecosystems and of the whole individual, mental and spiritual as well as physical. It grew out of a vision of the interrelationship of all life. Farmers using the Natural Agriculture method base each decision on consideration for the entire web of life.
While Natural Agriculture may use natural compost such as leaves and grasses, it does not use manure because it does not believe this benefits the natural soil. When compost is used, local materials are encouraged, and they are used not as a nutrient but to keep the soil moist, warm and soft. Since no animal manure is used, our vegetables is also suitable for vegans.
Natural Agriculture also does not recognize any insect as a “pest” that needs to be exterminated by chemical means. There may be reasons for the presence of these animals which we may not understand, for example a balancing of Nature’s systems. The Natural Agriculture method promotes a more comprehensive understanding of the role of insects and how to maintain their balance so they do not become excessive and damage plant life. Most often an imbalance of insects can be successfully addressed through natural means.
Organic and Natural Agriculture methods have many similarities. Working together, Natural Agriculture can contribute to the evolution of the organic movement worldwide. For example, a key tenet of Natural Agriculture is the vital energy of freshly grown food. Therefore it promotes the consumption of food grown locally. Food that has been shipped from long distances loses important nutritional value. Furthermore, there are important health benefits to be derived from eating what can be seasonally grown in one’s own locality. Eating tropical fruit in the middle of winter may not be what the body needs to conserve its heat.
Since we also offer our vegetables at organic shops, we are certified by the inspection body “DE-ÖKO-002” (in Germany).
Note: “Natural Farming” was developed by Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-2008) at about the same time as Okada was establishing his movement and has many commonalities with “Natural Agriculture”. However, Natural Agriculture does not apply the practises of Natural Farming (such as seed balls) and furthermore does not dispense with tilling or machines, weeding nor compost. Natural Agriculture also does not apply Effective Microorganisms.