What if the Agricultural Revolution Was a Mistake?

Masanabu Fukuoka Natural Mind – Interviews with Larry Korn

City as Nature (2019)

Film Review

City as Nature has released this three-part interview as a tribute to Larry Korn,* who died in 2019. They concern his work with the so-called “father of natural farming” Masanabu Fukuoka.

Fukuoka (and Korn) believed that humanity made a serious error 12,000 years ago in departing from the way human beings had lived for hundreds of thousands of years.

During the agricultural revolution, which occurred around 10,000 BC, human beings decided they were separate from nature and superior to other species. This led to the widespread adoption of the myth that science and “progress” improve the quality of our lives.

They also took up three specific technologies that have proved disastrous for the biosphere and human welfare: plowing, logging, and irrigation. Ironically Fukuoka made these observations decades before soil scientists discovered that 1) plowing and logging destroy essential soil bacteria that enable plants to take up basic nutrients and 2) irrigation destroys soil by making it more saline.

Since then (according to Fukuoka and Korn) all new farming innovations (synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc) have simply been unsuccessful attempts to mitigate the damage caused by plowing, logging and irrigation.

In the first video, Korn describes Fukuoko’s philosophy of natural farming: that by fully accepting themselves as part of nature, human beings will intuitively know how to produce the food they need to survive.

In the second video, Korn describes how Fukuoko taught himself natural farming by systematically challenging conventional agricultural practices. He eventually discovered not only that plowing was unnecessary, but also weeding, composting, pruning and flooding rice fields. His approach mainly involves scattering food crop seeds among plants occurring naturally in ecosystems. Once he restored a natural insect habitat to his fields, he found they attracted enough insect predators that he no longer needed to apply (natural) pesticides to his food crops.

In the third film, Korn describes how the economics of industrialized society supports a materialistic lifestyle that’s harmful to nature. After working with Fukuuoka, Korn began to actively challenge many of his other personal beliefs. He found the vast majority were cultural precepts he had learned via indoctrination. Four he considers the most dangerous are progress, open field agriculture and the dogma that science will find a solution for all our problems.


*Larry Korn, a student of Masanobu Fukuoka, helped translate and edit the English language version of The One-Straw Revolution. He was also an educator, consultant, editor and author in the fields of permaculture, natural farming, sustainable landscaping and local food production.