Your Very Own Allotment—in Tokyo?
Have you ever tasted some newly harvested produce and wished you could grow your own? Or have you ever longed to get outdoors and work the soil with your hands, enjoying some fresh air while gardening under the open sky?
Creating a garden or allotment in Tokyo may seem like a tall order, especially given the space constraints: tiny balconies and miniscule yards. But there is a way to have your produce and eat it too, and that is to go west—western Tokyo, that is!
Whether you are interested in gardening as a hobby or perhaps even want to take up full-time farming, many opportunities are currently being cultivated in western Tokyo’s Minamitama district. The easiest way to get started is with a new approach called field-sharing.
Yes, the sharing economy has made its way to the world of farming, where it involves leasing a small plot of land sectioned off in a larger field. Fortunately, Agrimedia Inc. makes it easy to find a conveniently located plot with their service called Share Batake (batake meaning “field” in Japanese). The company offers farm leases in around 100 locations nationwide, including many parts of Tokyo. In the Minamitama district alone, they offer fields for leasing in the cities of Hino, Hachioji, and Tama.
In general, the rental fee is determined by the size of the plot leased, so it’s quite simple to start growing vegetables with just a small plot. The plot can also be shared with family or friends, making it a great way to get together and share the benefits of a personal garden. Moreover, gardening with the Share Batake service is done without the use of chemical pesticides, relying instead on organic fertilizers and nature itself to produce safe and delicious produce.
With the Share Batake service, everything you might need for gardening is available right there on the farm, so you don’t have to lug tools and other essentials to the plot yourself. Show up empty-handed, and you can obtain plant seeds, seedlings, and fertilizers there—and you can also borrow various farm tools. Every farm has its own water supply, so keeping your plants watered and your produce washed is convenient. Likewise, it facilitates cleanup, such as washing farm tools and removing mud from your shoes.
Another advantage of the Share Batake service, particularly for those new to farming, is the availability of garden advisers. Agrimedia’s experienced advisers are on hand around four days a week, so you can ask them questions and obtain gardening advice. Gardening seminars with demonstrations are also held regularly, so even complete beginners can start growing vegetables with confidence.
Finally, sharing the same field with others can provide a great opportunity to socialize, since you can interact with other growers around you and swap produce and farming tips. Agrimedia also hosts events throughout the year, encouraging people to contribute the bounty from their land to seasonal potluck parties.
Some young Tokyoites have decided to make farming a full-time occupation. Neighbor’s Farm sprouted up in the Tokyo city of Hino, the culmination of several years of planning and hard work by twenty-eight-year-old Kei Kawana. After graduating from the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Agriculture, Kawana decided she wanted to create a farm that would supply produce to local consumers.
In March 2019, she set up the 2,000-square-meter Neighbor’s Farm not far from a nearby housing complex. She sells a variety of seasonal vegetables, such as cucumbers, watermelon, turnips, arugula, and potatoes, both to her neighbors and to the general public at an on-site market (see the link below to her Instagram page below for more information).
Kawana is still developing her farm, now building a plastic greenhouse where she can cultivate cherry tomatoes using the latest technology, such as IoT, to produce the best flavor.
Local Production for Local Consumption
In recent years, for economic and environmental reasons, consumers have shown a preference for locally produced fruits and vegetables. Additionally, the success of farmers’ markets around the world demonstrates that consumers appreciate good quality farm-fresh food as well as the chance to get to know farmers on a personal level.
Now, thanks to field-sharing and other farming initiatives, the barriers between consumer and farmer are being reduced, paving the way for anyone to don a farmer’s hat and develop a green thumb with a garden of their own.
https://www.sharebatake.com/ (Japanese only)
https://www.neighborsfarm.com/ (Japanese only)
https://www.instagram.com/neighborsfarm/ (Japanese only)
This article was written by Noam Katz.Back