Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Fukushima Farmer Finds Comfort at a Tokyo Farmers Market

Takako Kimura at the Nippori Farmers Market.
One of the things I love best about farmers markets is the chance to talk with the farmers. I've met some extraordinary people over the years, including this one from Fukushima Prefecture. I've also learned some great recipes, and shared ideas on how to grow this or that. Farmers, it seems, the world over, are really the same: show the slightest bit of interest, and next thing you know you're invited in for tea and sweets, to spend the night, to come back again and help out.

The language may be different, but just under a different culture and maybe a different skin tone beats the same heart. Again and again I find people as generous and kind as any farmer in my home state, as hard-working, as weathered, as cautiously optimistic about the future of their livelihoods. It is, perhaps, how I stay connected with my own culture and history while living so far away.

One such farmer is Takako Kimura from Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture. Takako comes to the Nippori Farmers Market each month with her vegetables, some yummy homemade pickles, and rice. She's charming, knowledgeable, and fun to talk with. (Yes, she's invited me to visit and help out on her farm.)  She's a young farmer determined, like all young farmers, to make a go of it.

Takako has held up remarkably well given the fear the name of her prefecture now engenders. After the March 11th disasters, she struggled to find a way to make sure her farm and the food she brought to market was safe. With the help of the Nippori Farmers Market and their support of Tohoku growers and producers, she's been able to regain some ground, farm safely, and keep bringing some of the cutest miniature daikon I've ever seen to her customers. Read her full story here at ecotwaza.

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