World Messenger of Natural Farming: Larry Korn (1947-2019)

By Bharat MansataonNov. 22, 2019in Environment and Ecology

“There is no big or small on the earth,
no fast or slow in the blue sky.”
– Masanobu Fukuoka

Larry first visited Sensei Masanobu Fukuoka’s farm in 1974, when he was 26. He spent the next 2 years living there as a student-worker.

The first Japanese edition of Fukuoka’s ‘The One-Straw Revolution’ was published in 1975. But it was only after the 1978 Rodale Press edition in English (co-translated and edited by Larry Korn) that “it became a sensation”. The book then went on to be translated and published in more than 25 languages, shining as an evergreen world classic on natural farming and living in harmony with the natural order.

Larry also edited Fukuoka-san’s subsequent book, ‘Sowing Seeds in the Desert’, and accompanied him on his visit to the United States in 1979 and 1986. Larry’s own book, ‘One-straw Revolutionary’, published in 2015 by Chelsea Green, offers a rare, deep, personal insight into the mind, philosophy and work of Masanobu Fukuoka.

The first Indian edition of Fukuoka’s ‘The One-Straw Revolution’ in English came out in 1984. It immediately struck a chord here, and was soon translated and published in at least 6 Indian languages, exciting the imagination of its readers. In January,1988, Fukuoka-san came to India to receive the Desikottam Award. This was the first of his 4 visits. (The Illustrated Weekly of India published my article, ‘The Harbingers’, on him and Bill Mollison.) On Fukuoka’s last visit in 1997, he spent a day at the legendary Bhaskar Save’s farm, ‘Kalpavruksha’.

Larry Korn’s own first visit to India was in early 2018, after the two pioneering contemporary giants of natural farming – Masanobu Fukuoka and Bhaskar Save – had passed away. Larry was invited to conduct a workshop on natural farming at Raghava Raghava’s farm in Karnataka. But his first homage upon landing in Mumbai was to visit the Save farm (in southernmost coastal Gujarat) that Fukuoka famously described as “the best in the world, even better than my own farm!” I had the pleasure to accompany Larry and translate for him on that overnight visit, along with Roman Banjankri and 2-3 more of us.

Larry gifted me several books. One is a much-treasured autographed copy of his ‘One-Straw Revolutionary’, bearing a personal message. The second is Fukuoka’s ‘Sowing Seeds in the Desert’ (edited by Larry); and the third, ‘Tending the Wild’, by M. Kat Andersen (University of California Press), a tome on ‘Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources’.

After the visit to Bhaskar Save’s farm, we all spent 2 days at Vanvadi, where Larry co-anchored a workshop on natural farming and the contributions of Masanobu Fukuoka and Bhaskar Save. Later that month, I visited Raghava Raghava’s farm during the last 2 days of Larry’s workshop there. We had then planned to visit Raju Titus at Hoshangabad, for whose farm too, Fukuoka had complimentary and encouraging words.

Unfortunately, the visit to Rajubhai’s farm did not happen as we had not booked our travel early enough. Instead, we took a bus to Goa, and spent a few happy hours at Clea Chandmal’s permaculture farm.

It felt sad waking up to the news that Larry is no longer with us in flesh and blood. But surely, his dedication and invaluable contribution to the cause of natural farming will continue to inspire many for a very long time; and those who had the privilege to know him personally will treasure too his memories as a gentle, generous and encouraging human being.

Today, I spent a few hours reading/re-reading parts of Larry’s ‘One-Straw Revolutionary’. I have pencil-marked some lovely passages in it that I would like to share when I can. I hope too that Chelsea Green will bring out an affordable Indian edition of it, or perhaps co-publish it here, along with Earthcare Books, so that many more people can read the book.

First sent on email by the author

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