In a former life, perhaps only a year ago, @Khemarato.bhikkhu and I were discussing the Vinaya and gardening, marvelling at how Buddhism transformed in its long journey from India through China and onwards to Japan. Indian monastics relied on alms rounds for food, yet these monastics suffered greatly in China, which often saw them as mere beggars of no worth. Chinese culture values productivity and wealth–gain for gain is a cultural axiom. Asking for food led to starvation.
Monks need food. And agriculture conventionally requires plowing, which is simply digging the earth. With plowing, one furrows the field, digging deep and long gashes in the earth. The Vinaya forbids this.
How the Chinese Buddhists dealt with this is a topic for another thread (perhaps @Khemarato.bhikkhu might shed light on this wonderful topic?) .
But in this thread, we’ll talk about growing food without digging. We’ll talk about how to keep the Vinaya and grow food.
To illustrate, here are tomatoes grown without digging.
MN81:18.12: He’s put down the shovel and doesn’t dig the earth with his own hands.
These tomatoes are grown from seed using the method popularized by Professor Kratky. The Kratky method requires no electricity except for light as necessary. Recent advances in technology this past decade have made such lights affordable and commonly available. Indeed, the plants shown above are growing in the garage during wintertime. Each tomato is a part of a meal. That tomato plant is three months old.
Does such a method permit monastics to grow food and educate their communities on agricultural methods that might benefit society as a whole?