Written Paper

The role of a learning site for urban residents hoping to do farming: Focusing on the spread of 'natural farming' by the Akame Natural Farming School  [2007]

Hokazono, S.(Mie Univ., Tsu (Japan)) Ohara, K.

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In recent years some urban residents who find it hard to accept the excessive industrialization, urbanization, and artificialization of modern society are now hoping to practice farming. No less than 250 urban residents meet monthly to be taught 'natural farming' by Yoshikazu Kawaguchi at the Akame Natural Farming School, one of the many voluntary agricultural schools in Japan today. According to the questionnaire survey, students in this school who have studied more than one year seem to deepen their understanding of the essence of farming, and they seriously and delightfully discuss their new way of living and the close relationships they have formed. As a result, most of them change their lifestyle to a more sustainable style and do farming steadily. Actually some enthusiastic students practice the farming life in various ways of life, such as a full-time, part-time, or weekend farmer. Moreover, graduates from this school have opened 44 similar learning sites throughout the country, where a total of more than 900 people, now learn 'natural farming' and form a so-called natural farmers network. This paper suggests that such voluntary learning sites as the Akame Natural Farming School do much to encourage urban residents to engage in more sustainable farming. This paper especially reveals the significant role of the Akame Natural Farming School in 1) providing a experience similar to life in rural society, 2) giving needed support to learn a new way of li
fe, and 3) supporting the formation of a new kind of community.