Remembering Larry Korn

"I frequently told Larry that it was greatly due to his persistence and lack of ego that the message of natural farming was able to have such a deep and lasting impact on people globally."

To Larry From  Bobby

As a young, first time organic farmer in upstate NY, I was quickly disillusioned about the reality of commercial farming and it’s standard practices. One of my co-workers suggested I would enjoy “The One-Straw Revolution.” It wasn’t until a couple of years later that the book ended up in my hands, however. 

Like countless others around the world, Fukuoka sensei’s words instantly resonated with me and forever changed the trajectory of my life. While reading “Sowing Seeds In The Desert” back on the farm in Upstate New York, I noticed that the editor was a man named Larry Korn, and serendipitously he just so happened to live in the same small Southern Oregon town I had fallen in love with and was about to move to.

When I arrived back in Ashland, Oregon, I contacted Larry. He later confirmed he wasn’t able to respond to everyone who contacted him but had felt compelled to meet with me for tea upon my request. I was especially interested in getting advice on how to visit Fukuoka sensei’s farm, as I was about to go to Japan for the first time. I now realize how lucky I am because I’m sure countless people contacted him with the very same request. Somehow, I got his blessing to go and see for myself the place that changed his and so many other’s lives.

After returning to Ashland again, I was able to spend more time with Larry. He always made my wife and I feel so comfortable, just like family, and he extended his support to us as he knew that we were struggling as newcomers to the area. We would have dinners together and talk about everything from music to philosophy and he always both surprised and fascinated me with his stories and hidden talents, such as being a fan of old Broadway show tunes, and a former drummer, as well as the time he met and saw BB King perform twice in Japan. He was even able to hack a horse race! Then there was his unique sense of humor with constant puns and jokes.

I’m sure everyone has the same feelings and impressions of Larry that I do. He was a true embodiment of generosity and jovialness. He could also talk about serious matters in such a calm way that made them more approachable. I felt I could talk about anything with him, regardless of how personal it was, and he reciprocated as well. Larry welcomed me into his home and listened to my problems, even amidst going through major shifts in his own life with the loss of his mother. When I finally decided to throw caution to the wind and move to Japan with no funds or plans, he did everything he could to support me. He would spend 15 minutes composing a Facebook message to a friend in Japan he wanted to introduce me to, focused on using the right words to convey his message in his attempts to connect me with people who could help me along on my journey. Witnessing these qualities in him has truly made me a better person who wants to pay forward the kindness he extended to me.

Through spending a summer around Larry, I quickly learned why Fukuoka sensei had entrusted the translation of The One-Straw Revolution to him. I frequently told Larry that it was greatly due to his persistence and lack of ego that the message of natural farming was able to have such a deep and lasting impact on people globally. Even after it’s great success and global recognition, Larry remained humble and true to himself and the message. To spend time with him was both so surreal to me, yet natural. To me, he felt both like a mentor, a brother, and a friend at the same time. He was one of the first people to hear the news of my first child’s conception. She was just born a few days ago and I’m sad they won’t be able to meet in person, but I know his spirit will continue to guide us all as we move forward in this unfurling spiral of life.  I give thanks to the Korn family for creating and cultivating such a beautiful kernel of truth and grace that blossomed into the life that was Larry’s. His memory is truly a blessing that shall persist in the generations to come.

To Larry from Hannah,

In a healthy forest, there are Mother Trees, the old growths – if the forest is lucky enough to have one. These trees pass on the wisdom and nutrients it gathers from the soil and shares it with the other trees and flora of the forests. To me, Larry Korn was a “Mother Tree.” He learned such deep wisdom about how to live in harmony with nature from his mentor, Masanobu Fukuoka. Larry spent the rest of his life generously and wholeheartedly sharing his knowledge and kindness with all who were lucky enough to meet him or read his thoughtful words in his books.

When the Mother Tree of the forests reaches the end of its time, there is a great void left in the forest. I feel this great void in my heart today, being here without my dear friend Larry. However, just as a Mother Tree, I am sure that Larry would want us to keep reaching for the sun, and sharing what nutrients we can with each other through our mycelium-like connections. And just as a Mother Tree keeps sharing nutrients as it caresses the forest floor as it returns to the soil, I know that Larry’s legacy will continue for generations to inspire a deeper connection to nature and its wild side, and to our fellow human beings.

Larry, I will miss you, as will so many all around the world. I will think of you when I walk the forest, dig my hand in the soil, or reach for a piece of fruit from a tree.  I will think of you and your abundant smile and great humor when I need strength to carry on.