Recent history has seen western farmers teaching Africans how to plough like they do in the rich clay lands of Shropshire, and the results have been a disaster. Permaculture, in its heady youth, had Australians teaching Europeans how to do desert work in those same heavy clays. A balance has to come and we will then have chance to do what is sensible in each place.
‘The Harmonious Wheatsmith’ details the method that Marc Bonfils developed for growing grains without ploughing. It is compatible with the awe-inspiring work of Masanobu Fukuoka in Japan (‘The One Straw Revolution’) and so it has been called the Fukuoka-Bonfils method.
The value in terms of the erosion of soils speaks for itself. But beyond that I was fascinated by the time scale of the plantings. Marc, communicating through the late Emilia Hazelip, was adamant that his work should not be tainted by being published with any details of bio-dynamic farming, which also has a strong emphasis on timings. So I honoured that request and held off adding anything weirder than his own work. But now I think ‘wouldn’t it be interesting if the grain development of Hugo Erbe were to be the missing piece in getting the Fukuoka-Bonfils method to work more widely’?
This was the first book what I wrote – and I had a lot of assistance, primarily from Graham Bell. Graham was very patient since it took a long time to get the illustrations done as my genius illustrator fulfilled another aspect of artistic talent in relation to punctuality. After that it wasn’t very helpful to hear that some people hated the illustrations. Sorry guys, I still think they are great.