Secrets of Organic Farming in Japan

This is a sacred island, so it was thought that you shouldn’t go digging it up So no one was farming here But after WWII, since there was a shortage of food people were allowed to farm here. Here we have zucchini, the flowers are right there but they really don’t do too well in this heat. We plant them around March last month was the peak of harvest, we had tons of zucchini for the picking I sort of feel like if we start to become famous or something, then that probably means the world has finally gone crazy. P: Like this is it, world, this is your last chance The reason farming like this hasn’t really taken off is because the current system is working for the country and I think that’s great. We have crows, hawks, tanuki, and raccoons, So you get veggies like this and you look at it and go, “This was probably a tanuki or a raccoon” Or so I thought, but then we had veggies up here with the same damages Which means it was probably crows. And when you think about it, the damages were likely caused by them pecking at it with their beaks rather than by paws. This is actually the first year we’ve have crow-related damages. And this is our seventh year, so I suppose you could say a lot happens on the farm. This itself is actually a seed. We’ll take the seeds we need for next year from here and plant them. That’s one of the main characteristics of our farming, harvesting seeds. That way we can keep farming from generation to generation. So since I’m a man, after harvesting, I would just buy new seeds and try to start from scratch again. But my wife, being a woman, was like “why not just use the seeds you have already?” And that’s how we started harvesting seeds. That’s why I truly believe that women are the future, that’s this is their time. My time is over. The bees come with all their pollen which comes from all different places So this white guy here, and this one right here And this guy over here, they’re both sort of mixed with other species. They is a whole lot of variety. There aren’t a lot of thorns on this one but when you grow these older varieties of eggplants, they have a ton of thorns on them. So when you eat them you have to be careful or you’ll actually hurt yourself. But the reason they have these thorns it to protect themselves from predators But even still, the crows usually get to them. You can tell the quality of the field by what’s growing in it. It’s actually quite plain to see. So in our case, we let the weeds be weeds but at the same time, we want to raise vegetables. So it’s about finding balance between the two. This year we’ve started to — if come over here, it’s easier to see but– We alternate between a meter of vegetables and a meter of weeds. So that’s a new thing we’re trying this year. Before it used to be just row after row of vegetables. So we’re only planting half of what we used to but our crop yield is actually higher, at least it should be. So, a lot of it is struggling with that innate human drive for more Like, how much money does it take to live comfortably? Or, so we’re turning a profit, how much can we actually make? Because there is a limit to how much you can make and if you go over that, then what do you do? So like you start fishing or maybe raising chickens so you can make yourself more self-sufficient. That’s the way I see it anyway. With farming, work depends on the season: this season might be busy but there’s not much to do in the winter. So like if you’re constantly talking about how busy farming is your vegetables don’t taste as good to the consumer. So instead, I tell people how much fun farming it and that you do actually have days off. I think that’s going to be the new way of working in this era and I think it’s better for the consumers too. So I’m trying to turn this up-down business model into a sustainable flat business model. So like with fallen leaves– You can use them to provide nutrients for the plants but it will take a year or three years to break down. Because they’re pretty sturdy and everything. Which means that it’s not an instantaneous thing; you can’t just throw leaves down and expect overnight results. But if you’re patient and give it a year or three years it’ll become a solid foundation for your fields. So that’s what you can do in the off season, as it were. Then when you’re busy again, you won’t have to mess with it. That’s the ideal. I don’t think of it in terms of difficult. It’s more like there are lots of things that I just don’t have the capability to do at the moment. But there’s probably nothing that’s inherently difficult. And if I think something’s hard to do… it probably has more to do with what’s going on in my head. So like if I’m more concerned with upping my profits or thinking about how to produce more vegetables. That kinda thing is difficult. But I know what I can and can’t do and what my capabilities are so as long as I work within those, I don’t consider farming difficult. This is called tsuru-murasaki or Indian spinach It’s got murasaki (purple) in the name but, as you can see, it’s green but there are purple ones as well. J: and this is hijiki? That’s right. These cucumbers were made from seeds we’ve been harvesting for five years. Usually if you slice cucumbers this thin, they turn into mush, but these guys are pretty hardy. You can simmer them and bake them and they won’t turn into mush. If you use fertilizers to grow cucumbers, they grow really big really quickly. So it’s actually mostly water and it’s not very dense. But these cucumbers are different. J: what about the eggplants? What’s in this? In the eggplants, there’s mirin and soy sauce. You mix those in a 1:1 ratio and then your fry the eggplants and put them in the sauce. The oils from frying the eggplants gives the sauce just the right amount of oil. So it’s a pretty good meal for the summertime. J: it’s really delicious! J: how about these cucumbers here? These are pickled cucumbers, so it’s just vinegar and sugar. P: you haven’t sauteed or boiled these? The cucumbers? No, I just rubbed salt on them and then added the sugar and vinegar. This is also just mirin and soy sauce. But I’ve also added the plum vinegar from when I made these these umeboshi (pickled plums). The onigiri (rice balls) also have plum vinegar in them as well. It helps to keep the onigiri from spoiling in the summer. So there’s a little of that. Kushinai (Chinese water spinach) — the character for ku is empty (空), shin is (芯) or stem, and sai is plant (菜). The stem is actually hollow. So it’s a plant with an empty stem. J: so this is kushinsai and basil? J: this is ‘moroheiya’ (Jew’s mallow) It’s a plant from Egypt. Q: is there natto in this miso soup? No, that slimy texture is from the moroheiya. It’s got a sort of viscous texture when you compare it to spinach. It’s like okra: kinda slimy but it’s really hardy in the summertime. I don’t really know if people have pest problems or not but it probably has to do with the land being unbalanced. Like they’re only making one kind of vegetable so the pests that eat that vegetable will be concentrated there. We definitely faced those kinds of difficulties, and the reason for this is that I got greedy and planted more than I should, and then you’ve got more pests. That’s something we dealt with in the past. You need to keep a balanced mindset. The minute I start to get greedy or get too big for my britches Mother Nature comes to put me in my place. And I’m like “sorry!”

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