musings

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Mycorrhizal Fungi Application to Soil and its Effect on Fruit Sugar Content By Peter Jackson

  • Here is something I wrote for the September Newsletter for NW Fruit(Western Washington Fruit Research Foundation)
    -full newsletter here: http://nwfruit.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/September-2019-email-final.pdf

    Since July of 2017, a small trial has been conducted with espaliered  Honey Crisp apples in the WWFRF orchard. The objective of the trial was  the use of Brix measurements to quantify nutrient density of apples that  were given beneficial microbes  versus those that were uninoculated.  Results were recorded the last two falls, and another final test will be  done this September. During the 2nd year, we received of a small  donation of mycorrhizal fungi from Fungi Perfecti which led to the  inclusion of a third row of the vertical cordon Honeycrisp(which became  the new control), and the Belgian espalier receiving the commercial  spores, and the one consistent row being the Welcome row receiving  homemade inoculants done in the styles of Natural Farming of Japan and  S. Korea. Mulch consisting of grass, weeds and wood chips was also  applied to suppress weeds and provide shelter for the proliferation of  microbes. The highest recorded measurements came from the Welcome row,  while also testing on a higher average in the low end, and the other two  rows had similar highs, but the lowest averages were on the  uninoculated row.
     Brix(symbol °Bx) is the sugar content of an  aqueous solution such as the apple juice squeezed from individual apples  off the different trees in the different rows. One degree Brix is 1  gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution and represents the strength of  the solution and if the solution contains dissolved solids other than  pure sucrose, then the °Bx only approximates the dissolved solid  content. The °Bx is traditionally used in the wine, fruit juice, maple  syrup and honey industries. A vintner measure his must(from the Latin  vinum mustum, "young wine") ito obtain the °Bx, which is the  concentration of sucrose by percent mass. It is important to point out  that neither wort nor must is a solution of pure sucrose in pure water.  Many other compounds are dissolved as well but these are either sugars,  which behave very similarly to sucrose with respect to specific gravity  as a function of concentration, or compounds which are present in small  amounts (minerals, tannins, acids in must). In any case, even if °Bx are  not representative of the exact amount of sugar in a must or fruit  juice they can be used for comparison of relative sugar content. Grape  juice for example, contains little sucrose but does contain glucose,  fructose, acids, and other substances. In such cases, the °Bx value  clearly cannot be equated with the sucrose content, but it may represent  a good approximation to the total sugar content. Modern optical Brix  meters are divided into two categories. In the first are the Abbe-based  instruments in which a drop of the sample solution is placed on a prism;  the result is observed through an eyepiece. The critical angle (the  angle beyond which light is totally reflected back into the sample) is a  function of the refractive index and the operator detects this critical  angle by noting where a dark-bright boundary falls on an engraved  scale. The scale can be calibrated in Brix or refractive index. In the  winemaking industry, a growing season is considered vintage if the rain  does not fall before harvest of the grapes, as the more water a plant  uptakes directly before fruit harvest, the total sugar content will be  lower, making for a lower Brix reading. I for sure have noticed that  these summertime droughts are making for some high sugar content in all  the fruit I grow! As well though, many studies have been done with cover  cropping, Biodynamics, and many other modalities of regenerative  agriculture, showing that working on plant and soil health and  remineralization, makes for higher sugar content in fruit juices. For  more information on the subject, see the Bionutrient Food Associations  writing on this: http://bionutrient.org/site/bionutrient-rich-food/brix
     Part of the philosophy behind many aspects of regenerative  agriculture, is that soil health directly correlates to the pest  resistance and immune system of the crops we are nurturing. In the  modern era due to conventional farming practices, there are often high  ratios of bacteria to fungi whether due to disturbance from tillage or  chemicals as products like Roundup tend to select for “super” weeds that  are able to adapt until humans come up with a new strategy or chemical.  Weeds are pioneer species that can proliferate in more barren  environments as nature abhors a vacuum, and tries to keep soils covered  with whatever seeds are available, and for that reason many of them have  preference for the same high bacteria to fungi ratios, as they thrive  in disturbed areas where less hardy plants cannot.  If we instead use  the knowledge that certain ground covers like clover, which are nitrogen  fixing because of Azobacterium, are able to help fill that void in  absence of herbicide use then we can get greater diversity of microbes  and prevent evaporation, while putting carbon and nitrogen in the ground  in the form of roots and root nodules. In tree fruit though, many of  our crops prefer a higher fungal to bacterial ratio, wherein they form  symbiotic relationships with fungi wherein exchange for sugars created  by photosynthesis are secreted through the roots of plants, are traded  for minerals such as phosphorus, mined by the acids created by the  fungus. More moisture is able to be retained in an active soil food web,  and the greater ability of the plants to uptake minerals then makes for  a more nutritious fruit or vegetable. This also stabilizes against soil  erosion, as the greater amount of soil organic matter and increased  porosity and aggregation helps prevent it being swept away by the winds  and rains. Utilizing crop residues as mulch and planting cover crops to  build habitat for microbes can even be seen on a commercial scale up the  Skagit River at Sauk Farm LLC. The two of eastern Blueberry rows out at  the WWFRF orchard also have been employing the use of ramial woodchip  mulch for weed suppression as the buttercup out there is voracious,  though oddly enough, also a nitrogen fixer, giving it some redeeming  benefits.
     The Welcome espalier was inoculated 2017 with Indigenous  Microorganisms harvested from my property in Anacortes from underneath a  feral apple tree surrounded by 2nd growth, and a Hawthorne at the edge  of a field. Hard-cooked rice was placed about an inch thick in woven  baskets and buried several inches down under the two trees for a period  of about a week, where upon being uncovered were found to be  satisfactory collections with a nice smell and a white mold similar to  tempeh, and was shelf stabilized with the mixing of equal weight sugar.  Then the culture, when needed, can be propagated onto a cheap medium  such as rice bran, wheat mill run, or other agricultural residues in a  manner the Japanese call Bokashi, which is then a rich agricultural  amendment and microbial supplement. The first part of this technique  goes back over 400 years in Japan, and shares many cultural parallels  with the rich history of fermentation in China, Japan and Korea going  back 2500 years for making rice wine as fungi such as Aspergillus Oryzae  that break down the starches with enzymes for the yeast to make alcohol  from the sugars released. There are also many modern parallels to  concepts such as fecal transplant, when a doctor transplants  feces from  a healthy donor into another person to restore the balance of bacteria  in their gut, when probiotics aren’t enough. The idea being that by  going into a microbiome or ecosystem that is more in balance, that these  sort of microbes can be spread to help ensure proper digestion by  either roots or our guts. A common statistic is that there are over  50,000 microbe species in a teaspoon of healthy soil, so in collecting  Indigenous Microorganisms we are basically providing the tree roots a  microbial all you can eat buffet,/sort of meet and greet of symbiosis.  The highest apple tested came from this row, with a Brix reading of 17,  and an average low end at about 12, with an increase of 2 degrees  average from the previous year.
     The Belgian espalier was inoculated  in 2018 with the Mycogrow product, having the previous year been the  mulched but uninoculated control for the experiment. This soluble powder  contains about 30 known species such as endomycorrhizal fungi species  of Glomus, ectomycorrhizal fungi like Rhizopogon, disease suppressing  organisms including Trichoderma, and beneficial bacteria such as  Bacillus, along with soluble kelp, humic acids and vitamin B1. This  formula is designed to help promote fast plant and root growth by  increasing nutrient and water uptake. All of these have been individual  strains have been studied and formulated into a powder of spores, with  known properties and a fairly ubiquitous nature, in that they are able  to bond with most of the plant kingdom, although some families like the  Brassica form no mycorrhizal relations whatsoever. While the highest  Brix reading from this row was a 15 last year, that was 2 degrees higher  than the year before, and as well it was about one degree higher on the  low end.
     The Vertical Cordon row was added when the Belgian row  was inoculated as the new control. It received no mulch last summer as  there was still enough residual Roundup residue that no weeds were  growing aberrantly. It’s highest Brix reading last year was also a 15,  but on the low end it was about a degree lower average than either of  the microbial inoculated rows. Last year it was given a woodchip mulch  in the fall, but due to miscommunication it was sprayed with Roundup  this spring, thus skewing any final test results of what a no spray, but  mulch regime would do in comparison to mulched with Indigenous  Microorganisms, and mulched with commercial microbes. Still I plan to do  one final testing this fall to wrap up this project and see what three  summers of inoculation next to two summers of inoculations, and nothing  at all.
     From my own personal perspective, I would say that the  most palatable apples have been from the highest Brix row, the Welcome  espalier. There was also talk of measuring the anthracnose lesions with  picture documentation in the dormant season, but as we are a volunteer  organization, sometimes things don’t happen! Honeycrisp are a fickle  tree, having susceptibility to powder mildew, and the espalier technique  does make for dense foliage requiring more constant pruning than your  traditional, free standing, open centered trees. As I’ve since learned  as well, Brix may not be the most accurate measurement for collating  data related to sugar content, as it rises in the morning til the  afternoon as the plant photosynthesizes and stored sugars go from the  roots up to the fruit. So because I was picking the apples solo and  labeling them, it would be about an hour from picking them on the first  of the Welcome trees, to the last of the Vertical Cordon, leading to  some inaccuracies in comparing measurements. This has been a very  interesting learning process and visibly there is a lot of fungal hyphae  in the mulch layer, helping break down and make available nutrients for  the trees. The most visible fungal growth has been in the Welcome  trees, but they did get a head start! The start of this project has  since led to a merger with the previously mulched blueberry rows, and  the addition of four Jonagolds receiving a micro-clover covercrop, to  stake out about 12% or the Northeastern octant of the fruit orchard as  the No-Spray section. A lot of help and encouragement has been received  from Tom Wake, Kristan Johnson, James Weisswasser, and Mike Mcwilliams  on this project. I would like to extend my thanks to them and the rest  of the WWFRF for having this wonderful organization that helps build  community and further progress what is growable in our maritime climate.

Whole systems perspective

  •             So culturally, the technique of burying rice to attract microorganisms  for agriculture goes back at centuries in Asia according to the   Indigenous Microorganisms paper published by Hoon Park, who brought  Korean Natural Farming to Hawaii. However for the purposes of making  wine, starters such as Nuruk or Koji go back over two and a half  millenia, utilizing species such as Rhizopus or Aspergillus to  saccharify the grains(primarily rice) so that the starches are converted  to sugars, which can then be metabolized by the yeasts into alcohol.  This explains to me why there is a bias for white molds in IMO  collection because of the associated history of using filamentous fungi  for miso, tempeh, sake, makgeolli, and a whole host of other ferments.  
  •              Just as the aerated compost tea folks play it safe saying all anaerobes  are bad(a gross simplification), so too does the practice of collecting  microbes on rice try to play it safe saying discard certain colors and  maintain 75% white molds in a culture. The JADAM organization says we  don't know enough about what is good or bad, as we have yet to analyze  every species of microbe, and it's complex interactions with others, and  doubtfully ever will. The EM Research Organization in bottling their  formulation, however uses only microbes that are FDA listed as  GRAS(Generally Recognized As Safe) such as lactic acid bacteria, yeast  and photosynthesizing bacteria, although in the past it has contained  nitrogen fixering azobacters, actinomycetes, and aspergillus oryzae(koji  mold). Dr. Higa equates 90% of microbes as neutral and the way they go  is the way the soil goes, and it is merely whether there is greater than  5% beneficials or 5% pathogens that syntropy or entropy takes hold.  
  •              Still the preference for fuzz on bokashi made with EM-1 is white with a  sweet smell , just the same as the preference for making IMO 1 or IMO3  Master Cho style, because in the days before microscopes we had to rely  on our senses and our guts. We in the West have our sauerkraut, our  fruit wines, silage for animals, but in the East, solid state  fermentation was practiced for millenia on a whole host of ingredients  that closed the loop between what was grown, what was eaten and what was  in the soil. The notion of burying rice to attract microorganisms is  reflected in some old folk wisdom I've heard in relation to growing  blueberries, that one should throw a handful huckleberry soil in or  around the soil of the blueberries. As we understand commonalities  between our guts and soils, we can apply the hermetic wisdom  encapsulated in the phrase: as above so below, as within so without. http://www.fao.org/docrep/x2184e/x2184e09.htm
    https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/bio-9.pdf
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspergillus_oryzae
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhizopus_oligosporus
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168160511007586
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4053917/
    http://www.recyclefoodwaste.org/files/bokashi-prelesson4-bokashiEM.pdf
    https://patents.google.com/patent/US5591634A/en
    https://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/gras/microorganismsmicrobialderivedingredients/default.htm

  

  • Gardening with Beneficial Microorganisms, both Indigenous and Effective
    by: Peter Jackson

             Agriculture and Fermentation represent two of humanities greatest endeavours. As we progressed into pastoralist societies, the production of more milk than could be consumed daily became a reality, and the bacteria intrinsic to mothers across all mammalia, became one of mankinds key allies in longer storage of dairy, lactic acid bacteria. Since the domestication and of wheat, hemp, corn, and many other staple food and fiber crops, one of the tasks has been preservation, whether as a dry grain, or fermented into an alcoholic beverage using saccharomyces yeast. While the topic of how long mankind has been a seafaring species promotes much discussion, one ancient technique of preventing spoilage in fish has been salting to create fish pastes, which then have a high amount of phototrophic archaeabacteria. One thing that is a commonality between all three methods of preservation through fermentation is that secondary metabolites are produced that have a higher nutritional density than the raw starting product. Yogurt has more digestibility than milk(at least when we drink cow’s milk, not our own mother’s breast milk which has bacteria specifically tailored for our stomachs); alcohol breaks down in our stomach to a glucose and acetaldehyde molecule;  the fish sauce took parts like bones, guts, and other scraps to make a sauce rich in glutamic acid that stimulates the glutamate receptors in our brain. Similarly, complex interactions happen between these very same microbes and the plants we depend on for survival, as long before industrial civilization developed and degraded the whole surface of the world’s soils, evolution drove symbiosis between the kingdoms of DNA to create the hospitable environment that allowed us to carve out a niche as tool using hominids.
           Because of thousands of years of logging, mining, farming, fishing, and many other forms of unregenerative resource extraction, the current analysis of soil health worldwide leads to dire conclusions. We have turned life-giving soil that took millennia to build, into lifeless dirt. At best, there is a third of the world’s surface undisturbed by the hands of man, which is reflected in the mouths of our rivers, our own digestive systems and the agricultural lands turning into a second Dust Bowl. A common statistic is that there are more microorganisms in one teaspoon of healthy soil than humans on the planet by a factor of ten, although if you went to your average American corn field and you would not find such numbers. Also it is estimated by cell count, not total biomass, that we are only %10 human. Sadly, because our food is grown in soil denuded of minerals, soaked with chemicals, and then generally overprocessed with a focus on shelf life instead of dietary needs, this also impacts our own gut microbes. As man tries to develop a new roundup ready species for our monocultures, so too is nature engineering a weed to compete. As we pump our livestock full of antibiotics, so too does nature evolve a resistant virus that wreaks havoc to our systems. But just as no-till and covercropping can alleviate our dependence on herbicides, so too can probiotics help improve health from plants to animals, including people. The idea is that we have to understand the whole system, and not isolate things into discriminate parts. The bigger picture is that nature is a community, and we, as much as we deny it in in our mythologies of religion and science, are a part of that community. That is where nature farming works on the principle of biomimicry.
            Two of my own personal heroes have been working to change the face of agriculture starting in their home countries. Master Cho Han-Kyu of South Korea, created a comprehensive system involving Indigenous Microorganisms(IMO) and fermentation, and his organization Cho’s Global Natural Farming has spread to over 30 countries. Meanwhile, Dr. Teruo Higa of Japan, originator  of  the Effective Microorganisms culture(a blend of Lactic acid bacteria, yeast and Photosynthetic archaeabacteria or EM-1) helped create the Effective Microbes Research Organization, which has licensed distributors in over 130 countries. Master Cho and Teruo Higa are pioneers in the fields of syntropic consortiums of microbes, as previously the focus had been on single species and their isolated effects. Yet nature does not exist as a sterile laboratory, and instead is a caucophonous symphony. Both of these men have helped create systems that fall under the umbrella term of natural farming, although a lot of it does harken back to traditional practices.  

              In the history of Asian fermentation, white molds assist in the creation of miso, tempeh, and predigestion of rice for sake/makgeolli. By capturing microbes from undisturbed ecosystems, we are promoting diversity of bacteria and fungi, which provide services from nitrogen fixation to phosphate solubilization. . It has its genesis in ancient compost techniques that were sped up utilizing microbes from the forest captured with a buried rice ball. The initial forest microbes captured on rice(IMO1) are supposed to visually be at least 75% white molds, to avoid culturing of pathogens. They are then placed into dormancy using raw sugar, which provides a shelf stable mother culture(IMO2). Both IMO propagating from Cho, and extension of the EM culture from Higa, utilize readily available crop residues, whether rice bran or wheat mill run or some other locally available starch rich substance, to create what is called either Bokashi or IMO3. This can then be applied to fields within two weeks as either mulch, or dug into trenches as a fertilizer. Regional variations abound, including IMO4 where the inoculated rice bran is mixed with field soil to extend the culture, and balance the forest culture with the field microbes. Ultimately it is the trees/plants tailoring of sugars fed down to the roots(of which %40 of total photosynthesis is for), which cues the responses from the soil food web. In essence we are providing the tree roots, a symbiotic all you can eat microbe buffet in exchange for root exudates. Diversity is the goal when applying forest microbes, which have adapted to exist in our local environments for thousands to millions of years.
             Lactic acid bacteria(LAB) are another important group in nature farming of Japan and Korea. Under Cho’s system, rice rinse water is used to gather airborne bacteria, that then milk is added to, a curd forms, and the resulting middle whey layer is harvested for use as a foliar spray or soil drench. Lactic acid decomposes or chelates minerals stuck to soil particles, which are not easily dissolved; thus making the minerals available in a form plants can absorb. It also has odor eating properties that are useful in rearing of animals, and can be added to their water or sprayed on their bedding. A process similar to silage is also done with banana stalks as pig feed. In EM usage, similar things are done from fish warehouses to animal farms, where a EM spray is employed to control smell. LAB are facultative anaerobes, which means that they thrive in above oxygen rich and oxygen deprived environments. They enable resistance from the rhizosphere to phytosphere against fusarium, powdery mildew and botrytis.
            Sacchoromyces Cerevisiae or ale/bread yeast, has a long history with humans, as there is debate whether the first domestication of wheat was for beer or bread, of which saccharomyces is involved in making both forms more digestible to humans than the initial grain. Even in the animal kingdom, we see butterflies, hummingbirds and even elephants and giraffes enjoying the intoxicant effects of alcohol produced by our fungal friends. S cerevisiae can live in both aerobic as well as anaerobic conditions by changing its cellular metabolism from fermentation to aerobic respiration. The addition of live or dead yeast to fertilized soil substantially increases the nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) content of roots and shoots of plants. Yeast addition to soils also increases the root-to-shoot ratio. It is one of the most common species in blends of soil inoculants, being a part of both Mycogrow by Fungi Perfecti and EM-1.
              The phototrophic archaeabacteria are split into two categories, Purple Sulfur Bacteria(PSB) and Purple Non-Sulfur Bacteria(PNSB). In EM-1 it is a species called Rhodopseudomonas Palustris, a PNSB. R. palustris can grow with or without oxygen, or it can use light, inorganic or organic compounds for energy like how it is also capable of fixing nitrogen for growth and can metabolize lignin and acids found in degrading plant and animal waste by metabolizing carbon dioxide. In addition, it can degrade aromatic compounds found in industrial waste. Phototrophic archaeabacteria have been used in industrial waste management since the 1930’s in the USA as they have bioremediative and odor managing properties. A recipe for their culturing that originates from Thailand and Malaysia involves pond water, raw egg and fish sauce, left to sit in the sun for a month until the liquid turns a crimson red. In absence of a pond to collect from, de-chlorinated city water can be used, as the archaeabacteria are present in the gills of fish worldwide. The rice farmers from SE Asia claim a reduction in water usage and twice the weight at harvest.
              All of these species from the three smallest kingdoms of DNA’s family tree, are also useful in the production of bionutrients. While throwing chopped up weeds into a bucket or barrel of water for compost “teas” are an ancient practice of producing liquid fertilizers, use of EM-1 or forest microbes creates a less stinky end product. Master Cho also created a system replacing the salt from brining Sauerkraut or Kimchi, with raw sugar to create the Green Juice from Heaven, or as translated into English, Fermented Plant Juices or Fermented Fruit Juices. By going and harvesting abundant and vigorous fresh growing tips in the spring from plants such as mugwort, stinging nettle, comfrey, dandelion, or almost anything medicinal or edible, the hormones at their peak for the day before photosynthesis starts at sunrise, can be captured into a liquid form for foliar application as the osmotic pressure of raw sugar splits open the cell walls to release the watery juices. Strained after a week, sugar can be used to preserve it further for later application. The idea also is that you can ferment fruits being thinned or falling off early to return fertility to the plant and help strengthen the stems of the still growing fruit, or save ferments from the year before to help with the different growth stages. In Japan and in the JADAM system of S. Korea, it is much simpler. Just throw what you want into a barrel of water, and the longer it ages the higher quality fertilizer you have produced. If you are growing crops such as strawberries, tomatoes or apples, it is likened to mother’s milk to make a liquid fertilizer from your crop residues to act as a biostimulant crafted to the plants specific nutritional profile.
                So whether being used to bioaugment the soil, bioremediate our polluted waters, or create bionutrients that build the soil food web, the microbes are as much responsible for current food production as all of humanities greatest achievements. Truly the hidden half of nature is no longer so invisible to us in modern times, though there has often been respect for the generative principle in nature, the life force that flows through us all. The more recent research is even showing how interconnected the ecologies of our own microbiome are to diet and surroundings, as much as the terroir of a grape vine in one mountain valley is to the next. The fractal components of our bodies and our guts is analogous to the root symbiotes interacting with a plant.
            Having researched and experimented with various components of these systems of natural farming in my own gardens and orchard for several years led me to create a website to spread this information so I bought the domain of www.cascadiannaturalfarming.org . A few weeks later I joined the WWFRF as a volunteer last spring. By July I had been granted approval for a proposal to test out a homemade preparation of IMO4 , of which I sourced the initial microbes from underneath a feral apple and a wild hawthorne. I also applied a liquid culture similar to EM-1 crafted from LAB serum, spent yeast from brewing mead, and a phototrophic archaeabacteria brew using a recipe from Malaysia. This year the study was expanded to include another row of espaliered apples being inoculated with a commercial mycorrhizal product to test the efficacy of ~30 known species against the diversity of tens of thousands of soil borne microbe species. So with a control that is the vertical cordon espalier being kept with it’s same maintenance prior to my volunteering, I am measuring anthracnose resistance and sugar content differences in the Belgian Espalier inoculated with Fungi Perfecti’s Mycogrow product and the Welcome Espalier inoculated with the homemade IMO liquid and solid cultures on in the North East corner of the Fruit Garden. It will be interesting to see the results in the future! 

            Natural Farming has many diverse methods of employing microbes to aid in our production of nutrient dense food. Many of those same microbes are ubiquitous in environments around the world. From helping in the creation of soil and plant matter in a cycle of regeneration, to preserving our food in the days before refrigeration, beneficial microorganisms shape a large part of our planet’s history. When applied science is combined with traditional farming techniques, the power of biology is revealed.

  • Metaphors
    I really enjoy making farming and music analogies because those are two of my biggest passions. They are both living traditions that sadly have been poisoned by technology! Master Cho's KNF system has been likened to Classical music, as it is a very symphonic approach with an array of preparations, with precise times to apply according to the nutritive theory cycle. JADAM, his son's organization, meanwhile is compared to Rock and Roll, as it is more of stripped down quartet that is easier for learning, no reading of sheet music required or too much complex theory. But what about the comparisons to folk music, or my favorite, the spectrum that is jazz and blues. Like Louis Armstrong said when asked on return from his European Tour if what he played was "Swing" he replied, "first it was called Ragtime, then Syncopation, then Jazz, now Swing... It's all just music." Later in life after playing the Newport Jazz Festival in the 60's, he was asked if what he played was folk music, to which he replied, "''I don't know no other kind of music but folk music. I ain't never heard a horse sing a song!" And most famously, "Man, if you have to ask what it is, you’ll never know."
    also "Never play anything the same way twice"
    and "Jazz is played from the heart. You can even live by it. Always love it."
    as well "To jazz, or not to jazz, there is no question!"
    furthermore "What we play is life."
    Or we could draw on Duke Ellington's words, as he made arrangements for his jazz band that left little room for improvisation that it almost was like classical(and later in life he did write what would be considered classical). Duke said both "There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind." and "The most important thing I look for in a musician is whether he knows how to listen." Mr. Ellington is also quoted as saying "It is becoming increasingly difficult to decide where jazz starts or where it stops, where Tin Pan Alley begins and jazz ends, or even where the borderline lies between between classical music and jazz. I feel there is no boundary line."
    Farming reminds me of jazz music, or at least that was my epiphany last year. Improvisation and substitution should teach us that like jazz, farming is about finding that part of our soul that gives us peace and brings the whole assemblage of existence together. But a jazz band could be as complex as a large orchestra with over 20 bandmembers, or as simple as the Mound City Blue Blowers who consisted originally of a banjo, a kazoo, and a comb with a piece of paper for a reed effect. There was the Mills Brothers who had only one guitar and the rest was all acapella. Work with what you have!
    Natural Farming could also be compared to the blues. Even if you employ just say mulching and IMO, it is comparable to a lone bluesman on guitar singing about his worried mind. You will see changes happen maybe a bit slower, but even stripped down to a basic Do Nothing farming like Fukuoka managed, yields eventually were higher than chemical agriculture. John Lee Hooker said "The blues is a feeling, you can't get it out of no book. You can't write the blues on a piece of paper, you just feel the blues." That statement reminds me also how in the One Straw Revolution, talking about the "discriminating mind" and how we need to look in to a whole systems analysis approach. Or just listen to Teddy Bunn play solo, and with jazz bands or Blink Blake playing solo, and listen to him playing with Johnny Dodds. Don't even get me started on the genre blurring capabilities of jug bands and string bands from Memphis and Dallas! Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong reported that his string band would play Italian music, German music, Polish music, Hillbilly music, Rags, Blues, Stomps, Jazz, Novelty pop tunes, whatever the audience wanted to hear. The goal of a musician at the time was versatility. Or then you have somebody like Reverend Gary Davis who adapted blues fingerpicking to play the most badass, soul stirring Gospel once he rejected the "devil's" music and became sanctified and holy. Joseph Spence, is a Bahamanian man who combined Calypso rhythms with a Southern church songbook, to create one of the most unique and entrancing solo guitar styles ever made. Lonnie Johnson recorded the first single string guitar solo in history, was typecast as a bluesman, but some of his most fascinating playing is with Eddie Lang as a duo and sometimes quartet, and with Louis' and Duke's bands. All music is a spectrum.
    The Chaos magicians in the 70's and 80's certainly pissed off a lot older magical practitioners with their amalgamation of whatever they felt like. Every era of Jazz music or Classical pissed off an earlier generation of player and like Robert Anton Wilson said, "dogma is yes or no, catma is maybe". Innovators were always absorbing fresh new ideas, and then sometimes it gets lost, like when bebob took over and jazz was no longer a dance music. Then you have revival periods where we try to trace things back to a historical root, and recreate and imitate the masters of old and create all sorts of genre classifications like country blues, Delta blues, Piedmont Blues, Chicago blues, but at the time of it's creation there weren't such fine distinctions. Of course, there should be things done more respectfully than say Bob Zimmerman/Dylan stealing songs from Scrapper Blackwell's records while he's dying in poverty to copyrighting Dave Van Ronk's version of 'In the House of the Rising Sun which was taught to Zimmerman only to have him go and record the arrangement before Dave could, gaining copyright. And I'd hate to have a repeat of Jelly Roll Morton's end of days, bemoaning being ripped off by the gangsters in the publishing industry while he should have been a millionaire. However folk music is an organic living process. How many classical songs started as peasant music only to be codified, and in some cases eventually reliberated to the people in the case of Grieg's Norwegian Dance #2 then being rearranged into Django's Danse Norvegienne.
    A sufficiently developed magic is indistinguishable from science. This is true alchemy, turning leaden dirt into gold. It just doesn't have to be one system, one approach. If diversity is what we are going for in our soil ecology, diversity in approaches is what is needed to adapt these principles worldwide.
    Holistically, we are all seeking something more than just making a living, we want a living planet for future generations. Things adapt over time as that is a key part of any viable evolutionary strategy. Really one of the best uses for these ideas is in habitat restoration, by cultivating IMO's from old growth, and inoculating areas being replanted for recreating ecosystems man has destroyed. I'm just saying that more important than humans profiting, is that the life force in general is what the focus should be on in returning to landscapes. Fukuoka saw farming both as a means of producing food and as an aesthetic or spiritual approach to life, the ultimate goal of which was, "the cultivation and perfection of human beings". He suggested that farmers could benefit from closely observing local conditions and mimic nature. It makes sense to focus on the economic aspects, but at some point we are just going to realize capitalism has eaten the soul of this planet, and we have to get over our anthrocentric mentality. There needs to be no dead zones around the mouth of every river tied to agriculture. We can bioremediate and remineralize the earth at the same time as we exist on it. It doesn't have to be the history of man to be the bringer of deserts. So in the immortal words of Blind Boy Fuller, "Keep on Truckin'!"