As seen in: Issue 18

Korean Natural Farming: Master Cho Biography

Korean Natural Farming (KNF) is a relatively new movement in the growing scene. It has quickly built up a draft of followers all keen to capitalize on the natural world around them and enhance the soil food web already present in their soil. Every giant redwood starts as a tiny seed, and KNF is possibly the best representation of this analogy in the current agricultural climate.

It all started with a thought from the brain of a guy called Cho Han-Kyu, or Master Cho as he is most commonly known. He was born in the year 1935 in Suwon, South Korea. Up to the age of 29, he worked on his family’s farm, from which he then went to study natural farming techniques in Japan, under the tutelage of three teachers: Miyozo Yamagashi, Kinshi Shibata, and Yasushi Oinoue.

Master Cho Bio

When he returned to South Korea, Master Cho combined his learnings in Japan with more traditional Korean techniques of farming, particularly fermentation (think kimchi, but for plants). His ideas were first put into practice in 1966 when he set up the ‘Labour Saving Abundant Harvesting Study Group.’ After years of experience and a few shenanigans along the way, he set up Natural Farming Life School and Research Farm in 1995. The school has since trained over 18,000 people in the finer arts of KNF. Farmers in Hawaii, surprisingly, were some of the quickest to pick up the idea and run with it.

Referring to the events up to 1995 as ‘shenanigans’ is somewhat underplaying things to be completely honest. Master Cho was incarcerated a few times by his government, under pressure from big agricultural companies who did not see eye to eye with his teachings. Considering that most of his teachings meant that a farmer could rely on the natural world around them, and not what they bought off a shelf, it is no wonder why.  These setbacks did not put him off, however, and he continued his work despite their best efforts to silence him.

Even to this very day, Master Cho has been vital in spreading and tutoring the techniques involved in KNF, and it has slowly and steadily been gaining credibility as a viable alternative to intensive agricultural practices, which work with forces of nature rather than against it. It has proved to be one of the most successful sets of techniques that a gardener can enjoy, which you can read all about in the article Korean Natural Farming.

More from the Korean Natural Farming series:

Korean Natural Farming and Indigenous Microorganisms

Creating a good IMO collection is the fundamental principle of successful KNF practice. Microbial soil fauna makes it all possible. This article shows you everything you need to know to harvest your beneficial microbes, courtesy of Korean Natural Farming.

Korean Natural Farming: Feed Ferment To Your Plants

If you’re looking to get into a more genuinely organic form of farming, then you are in the right place, my friend. Korean Natural Farming puts the ‘fun’ in the fundamentals of organic gardening. Okay, that might be an embarrassingly weak pun, but you know what I mean.

Korean Natural Farming: DIY Organic Growing Inputs

Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) are a particularly interesting group of bacteria that are one of the key components of a full-blown KNF regime. Why are they particularly interesting, I hear you ask? Well, they are one of the few groups of bacteria that are capable of functioning in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions. “Anaerobic bacteria?” I hear you cry, “What the crikey-fuck do you want them for? That’s root disease territory isn’t it?” Well, yes, the majority of root diseases are anaerobic pathogens, but these bacteria are cut from an entirely different cloth, my friend.

The Fundamentalists Of Korean Natural Farming

The Korean Natural Farming movement is one that has been steadily snowballing along for a good while now. Starting geographically from its roots in Korea, of course, it has slowly and surely gained momentum and spread throughout the entire world.

Korean Natural Farming: DIY Water-Soluble Organic Nutrients

If there is any one place where the complaints of organic gardeners differ to that of my wife, it is in relation to the speed of which particular practices occur. Much like my gardening friends, I am inclined to justify the opinion that a quick release is a much more preferable option to a longer one. The problem is, typical organic nutrients are bound up in carbon complexes and take much longer to release their special life-giving properties.

Korean Natural Farming: DIY Herbal Remedy For Plants

Ancient homeopathy has certainly gained a lot of traction in today’s society. Herbal remedies have a huge market helping to cure anything from the common cold to an overly flaccid and lazy John-Thomas. There is almost no ailment that an ancient Chinese remedy can’t fix, using all sorts of weird and wonderful things to do it with.

Merging Hydroponics With Organics In Korean Natural Farming

This article was originally published in Garden Culture Magazine US24 & UK26. Segregation is not usually synchronistic with peace and …

A Guide To Korean Natural Farming

With the current state of world geopolitics being what it is, you’re forgiven for thinking that this is some propaganda tool from Kim Jong Un. Don’t worry, my friend, this is no such method of MKUltra-style mental warfare, but more a process of growing that, when mastered, will have you busting out overly flamboyant, self-righteous dance moves to celebrate your success.

Korean Natural Farming: Master Cho Biography

Korean Natural Farming (KNF) is a relatively new movement in the growing scene. It has quickly built up a draft of followers all keen to capitalize on the natural world around them and enhance the soil food web already present in their soil. Every giant redwood starts as a tiny seed, and KNF is possibly the best representation of this analogy in the current agricultural climate.

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Author

After many years as a hobby, I began my career in Hydroponics working for Aquaculture in Sheffield, the UK's largest and most forward-thinking grow shops of the time. From there I began to work for Hydromag, responsible for the hydroponic content. Most notably, the product tests and comparisons, breaking ground in the industry and cutting through marketing hyperbole by showing consumers exactly how products stacked up against each other. From there I worked with CANNA, as editor of CANNAtalk, author of the research articles and delivering seminars throughout the UK to grow shops on the finer details of cultivating in a hydroponic environment. I'm currently writing for a number of companies in the hydroponic industry, of course, the most important of all being the powerhouse publication that is, Garden Culture.