honoring his legacy and contributions
“A farmer should have parental love towards his crop and livestock. This is a heart of a true farmer…” master cho
"Cho Han-Kyu, or Master Cho as he is most commonly known, was born in 1935 in Suwon, South Korea. Up to age 29, he worked on his family’s farm, from which he went to study Natural Farming techniques in Japan, under Miyozo Yamagashi, Kinshi Shibata, and Yasushi Oinoue." nico hill, garden culture magazine
Following the Korean war, the industry of the United States came to South Korea. Master Cho watched the beginning of an agricultural industry change. He became concerned that commercial and conventional agricultural systems would be bad for the country and bad for farmers. Master Cho offered an alternative, as he began developing Natural Farming into a complete methodology. Never before had Natural Farming research been composed into one elegant package with the whole picture of agriculture accounted for—both livestock and plants.
Master Cho attributed his Natural Farming methodology and practice to his three teachers in Japan as well as the sacred text of the Judeo-Christian Bible, the Natural World/Nature, 4-H's ideology of "head, heart, hand and health," and conscience over greed. Master Cho chose to think outside of the box of his formal gaduate study in agriculture and veterinary technology (1965).
Philippe Besnard shares: "Natural Farming has been embraced by the South Korean government after one county experimented and every farmer in the county practiced it for a year. Natural Farming rice farmers not only had bigger yields, but saved money on their inputs and sold their rice for a premium. Where Natural Farming is practised, it has the added benefit of cleaning up the waterways, rivers and even coastal waters. ...The entire country of South Korea has embraced this system of farming as the centerpiece for their agricultural policy. Mr. Cho, the founder, was ignored or scoffed at for years, but, after seeing the results of several large scale experiments, he has received various honors, and is now teaching over 300 agricultural agents in Korea."
Master Cho collaborated with farmers to create Natural Farming inputs together in community. The government noticed Master Cho's contributions. He was imprisoned several times, beat nearly to death, and released though persecuted and watched. The Korean church sponsored Master Cho to travel abroad. Master Cho spoke in India, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand. He taught Natural Farming Solutions and gained followers. Natural Farming iterations and spin-off methodologies are a result of Master Cho's connections and relationships fostered internationally.
Master Cho visited the United States for the first time to give an introductory Natural Farming talk at the request of Dr. Jung Park.
Dr. Park served Hilo, Hawaii as a family practice doctor for 40 years. He noticed throughout the course of his practice that people were getting access to better and better healthcare and treatments, but were consistently sicker and sicker. Dr. Park was disturbed and questioned what would could change the trajectory. Dr. Park visited Korea and attended a class from Master Cho in a warehouse space—packed with farmers, standing-room only. Class participants stood for 11 hours a day, for 5 days straight. Dr. Park was deeply impacted by what he saw, heard and experienced.
With the support of David Fuertes, Future Farmers of America, and the County of Hawaii, Dr. Park sponsored Master Cho's first visit to the United States in 2008.
Biomei Founder Chris Trump's dad, Jim Trump, attended that class. He was supportive of Chris learning from Master Cho when he returned in 2011. That 2011 5-Day Intensive in-person class was the only training Master Cho has ever given in the United States. Chris Trump first heard Master Cho speak there in Kapaau, Hawaii near his family farm. Learn more about Chris Trump and the Biomei journey here.
Cho Global Natural Farming Hawaii was founded later that year, and from that point in time began the birth of Natural Farming in the English-speaking world. For the first time, Natural Farming Solutions were translated into English, and spread like wildfire throughout the English-speaking world, and in cultures through English-speaking (Germany, and other places in Europe).
Master Cho began teaching classes for international participants in Korea. For 12 years, Chris attended all of those courses which gathered together farmers from all over the world. Tawanese, Japanese, Chinese, and United States leaders would bring their cohort, sit for a week and learn these Natural Farming principles and applications from Master Cho.
Master Cho has written books and literature in Korean, with two books translated through Cho Global Natural Farming Hawaii with limited release. Through his Cho Han-kyu Global Village Natural Farming Research Institute, travels and education—Master Cho has trained over 18,000 people in Natural Farming solutions. Natural Farming is now known within 100 countries around the globe as a result.
From Chris Trump
personal sharing and reflection
"I was deeply impacted by Master Cho. I'll never forget that first 2011 class. Master Cho's daughter, Cho Ju-Young, co-taught with him and powerfully communicated practical application of Master Cho's philosophical frameworks.
Master Cho sees a loving Hand—a loving Painter of Nature, and that we're abundantly provided for.
“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. The healing of the land and the purification of the human spirit is the same process.” masanobu fukuoka - the one-straw revolution
Master Cho taught more about the farmer than the methodology he created. In part, that's because I met Master Cho in his 80's. He came to believe that the humanistic element and philosophy was most important things to impart.
I was riding with Dr. Park and Master Cho on a bus, and Dr. Park translating. Master Cho said to me: "Natural farming is not finished. You need to finish it." I knew he was speaking to me personally, and also not to me—recognizing that this global work, this methodology, is still in development, in process. My sense is that is in part because that humans—with us as a species growing and in process. Natural Farming isn't new; it's us returning to the good science that was the norm 4-5 generations ago, before we could analyze everything. Things that worked were experimented and played with, and methods that didn't work were extracted from the record by default. And, now, in this era—we have the merging of understanding. We're able to dig into the interconnected nature of microbiology and all that goes on with ecology. The Natural Farming method and story continues. There's a lot of things yet to be figured out—things to be discovered.
Master Cho has called me "son" multiple times which was a big statement for him culturally and relationally. It was an honor to have Master Cho and his family over for breakfast at our Trump family macadamia nut farm. I'll never forget him saying that we are very grateful farmers—that's why the breakfast was so sweet. He toured the farm, and cried when he saw what I was doing—taking Liquid IMO and changing it to make it better. His son was floored and excited with what he saw. He joked with my family about how many kids I have—saying 'oh, Chris is a very good farmer. He is farming himself well.' Together we walked through the orchards and talked about the trees—his son and the whole team.
Master Cho is hilarious. His humor is witty and dry and slow-play. He's funny. It's all being translated mind you. The idiosyncrasies can never fully translate into English, but you can see it in his face. He laughs a ton, a very happy man. He would also cry any time there would be mention of the suffering that his country people were going through. He would cry and hold Dr. Park, and they would cry together. Master Cho had clearly been deeply effected by the journey that he went through as a young man.
Master Cho would slap you for stupid questions. If a lecture was going on, and you raised your hand to ask a question that showed you weren't keeping up with the conversation—he'd crook his finger and he'd call you to the front of the class to smack you hard. Here he was an 84 year old man in Korea—speaking from 8:00am until 11:00pm—sometimes even translating into Japanese if the translator was struggling for words, while also waiting for an English and sometimes Chinese translation. He would take rarely a break or snack for hours and hours. If he's doing this and you—a young, strong farmer—aren't tracking with him?! He was requiring us to have freshly cultivated soil of the mind, so that all the seed that he wanted to plant was going to grow and bear fruit. It was intense. And, he would also slap you hard for doing a good job, and he'd probably cry. Master Cho has a paternal kind of cultivating humans, so all his smacks are instructional. Really sweet in fact. He is a loving, sweet man.