We found a big bag of beautiful fresh-picked kiwifruit available at a local farm stand yesterday morning. I've shopped other local stands at farms in the areas for vegetables and had heard fruit was also available, but this was the first time I'd ever encountered it. Utterly thrilled is one of the best ways I can describe how I felt seeing those fruit sitting there ready for the taking. We could see more getting ready to be picked in the orchard, along with a selection of othersthat we will be delighted to eat once they are in season.
As I've mentioned before, a number of local farms in our area have small stands where seasonal fruits and vegetables are sold. I travel about looking to see what's available at the moment. Usually, the stand sits at the edge of the the fields, with bags of produce organized and ready for the taking. The shopper scans the shelf, chooses what they want, and pops the appropriate number of coins in a cannister. With the exception of larger stands on busy streets, the grower is hardly ever present to monitor inventory and take money. The prices are always at least comparable or more than fair in comparison to the local market. It's also, of course, a chance to give my money directly to the farmer. I like to think this helps keep the land under cultivation rather than under another building or parking lot.
Our area of Tokyo, Musashino Shi, was at one time agriculturally based. Now, small farms, like the one I work at appear on city blocks between high rise buildings or not too far from train lines. There is something terrific about being able to live in one of the world's major cities and bike to a local organic farm to buy produce. It feels a bit like a treasure hunt at times - rumours fly about a great little stand somewhere over there or here - but it's always well worth the search. We usually find any number of good things along the way - blooming hydrangea bushes, a sweet little garden path to an old farmhouse surrounded now by modern homes, a little park, or a great noodle shop - and come home with a basketful of summer bounty.