Recently, natural farming has become a buzzword in Hawaiʻi with sustainable agricultural methods. But what is natural farming and what makes it so unique? According to Cho Global Natural Farming (CGNF) and the organization’s founder, Master Cho – natural farming is an agricultural method that “utilizes natural resources made locally by farmers themselves with natural farm by-products aided by locally available indigenous micro-organisms (IMO) instead of using herbicides and pesticides.” Farmers are able to farm vegetables, fruits and livestock at a minimum cost and have agricultural products that are healthy, tasty and good for you and the environment.
Indigenous Micro-Organisms (IMO)
In many Asian countries and especially in Korea, farmers have been culturing IMO’s as part of revitalizing soil depleted of minerals, organic matter and nutrients. IMO’s are naturally found in forested areas that are in their natural state or other highly vegetated areas. The natural farming method uses IMO’s to encourage soil health and improve crop production. For those who are busy at work but do backyard farming, KTA Super Stores has small bags of prepared IMO in their garden section.
Natural Farming Workshops at CTAHR
Natural farmer instructor, Kim Chang, demonstrated and shared her knowledge at a recent workshop for Department of Hawaiian Home Land farmers and residents. We watched her prepare an Oriental Herbal Nutrient (OHN) with gigantic angelica root, cinnamon bark, licorice root, garlic and ginger. Several glass containers were filled with the dry ingredients, brown sugar, vodka and/or beer to increase fermentation. Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ) was made with watercress and bananas. Chang shared that the origin of FPJ began with fermented kimchi which has microbes and probiotics which are healthy for humans. The OHN and FPJ methods looked and smelled “natural” unlike the strong odors of chemical fertilizers.
Chang shared that “Natural Farming is creative, fun and healthy for everyone! Start collecting jars and make your OHN in small amounts first. Then later you can begin to make larger amounts as you see the benefits.” She smiled as she prepared and demonstrated how to make a Fish Amino Acid (FAA) with fish heads, brown sugar, IMO and OHN in a large cooler. The FAA “juice” is diluted with water and sprayed onto compost, soil and leaf surfaces to help with nutrient absorption.
The Odorless Piggery and the Hubbell Bubble Chicken Coop
As part of sustainable agriculture, natural farming methods are currently being used with swine production. Mike DuPonte, UH-CTAHR Livestock Extension Agent learned about South Korea’s natural farming techniques and created a small-scale system on Hawaiʻi Island that has been successful. The piggery is almost odorless, nearly free of flies and has happy healthy clean pigs! Learn more about the natural farming piggery, DuPonte’s publication, The Sweet Smell of Success: The Odorless Piggery.
Another natural farming project was the Hubbell Bubble Chicken Coop for small scale poultry production. The airy large chicken coop designed by Mike Hubbell allows chickens to roam freely and has comfortable nesting areas for laying eggs. The Hubbell Bubble can be easily assembled in a few hours and the lightweight features make it easy to move. The eggs from Mike Hubbell have a rich golden yolk color, are large in size and delicious!
Natural farming crops and livestock are another way to improve the quality of life here in Hawaiʻi. Natural farming provides a safe and effective farming environment that produces food for our tables that taste good and are healthy. To learn more about natural farming methods, to attend a workshop or a meeting, contact CTAHR Extension Agents, Mike DuPonte at firstname.lastname@example.org and Glenn Sako at email@example.com or at 808-981-5199.