Korean Natural Farming  | Natural Farming

by Monica Um

Many are familiar with the on-going debate on “GMO foods,” the possible harmful effects of commercially grown products from pesticides, hormones and antibiotics, and the increasing popularity of “organic” foods.  But what is “Korean Natural Farming” or “Natural Farming”?  Natural Farming was developed by Master Cho Han-Kyu as a cheap and environmentally friendly way to grow healthy plants and animals. It follows the “Nutritive Cycle Theory,” which examines the changing growth stages of a plant or animal and adjusts the inputs accordingly (a combination of indigenous microorganisms (IMO) and foliar sprays). The general idea is that crops and livestock need nitrogen when young, phosphoric acid during adolescence, and calcium after maturity.

Here are some of the benefits of Natural Farming:
  • All-natural, cheap inputs—no pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics, or other chemicals are used
  • Healthy plants and animals
  • High yield, nutrient dense foods
  • Uses 40-50% less water
  • No ground water or ocean contamination
  • No waste, runoff, or foul odor
  • Increases soil health over time

Some of our program participants have been learning this method of farming from David Wong at the Mountain View Dairy in Waiʻanae, and have produced beautiful eggplants, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, corn, green beans, and chicken eggs.

There are a growing number of farmers who recognize this as a path towards sustainability especially for our isolated islands, because it’s shown to be successful on a small scale (e.g., Palolo elementary, backyards) as well as on larger farms.  By growing a variety of quality food at low cost, Hawaiʻi will be less dependent on imported foods and more self-sufficient.