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Showing posts from May, 2014

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, May 31st and Sunday, June 1st

A lovely day for a market! Straddling May and June, this weekend bring a nice mix of the regular weekly markets as well as one of the bi-monthly markets. Don't miss the opportunity to bustle out and see what pre-rainy season fare is on offer. As the temperatures rise, the vegetables come out! Don't miss the fun! Ebisu Market Sunday, June 1st Ebisu will be in full form this month with its two usual markets. Don't miss the opportunity to head to a nifty part of the city where on these sweet Sundays you'll find farmers and producers galore. (One even comes from Okutama with a lovely array of vegetables and a vegetable-based spread that will knock your socks off.) It's worth noting, too, that  Do One Good , an animal NPO will be on hand with some of the cutest dogs ever waiting to go home with you! 11am to 5pm Map UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables

Getting started in a farming business in Japan and beyond: a few thoughts

Visiting markets is a great way to see what's going on. Oiso Market, April, 2014. Another running theme of recent emails is setting up an organic farm or a farm-to-table business in Japan. Folks often ask me to share my observations of the situation here even though I am not necessarily an expert. I completely support such ventures, whether its in Japan or elsewhere, but I do have a few bits of advice. Here they are. Read. I know, I know. That sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry, but I stand by this advice. I've had the pleasure to review some excellent books this past year on getting started in farming. The two I recommend the most are Market Farming Success: The Business of Growing and Selling Local Food by Lynn Byczynski (Chelsea Green, 2013) and Farms with a Future: Creating and Growing a Sustainable Farm Business by Rebecca Thistlethwaite (Chelsea Green, 2013). Both are excellent starting points for those looking to make farming their business wri

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, May 24th and Sunday, May 25th

Most excellent goat cheese and jam at the Earth Day Market. Rainy season approaches, which means fields are planted and the great wait for summer vegetables begin. Don't miss the great markets this weekend to still find seedlings, early summer vegetables, and perhaps the first of the ume? It's a little early, but a girl can dream, right? I'll be at the Earth Day Market on Sunday gathering up some great grains, some mochi, and seeing what else catches my eye. See you there! Earth Day Market Sunday, May 25th I could go wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. Instead, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing. This month the market will be a bit of its wonderful normalness. If something exciting comes up, though, I promise to alert folks. Planning is in the works, so who knows what Fairtrade

Building a Cardboard Garden

Two of seven cardboard 'beds' in place. As readers may have noticed, in March we moved house. We left Tokyo for the wilds of Kanagawa Prefecture and new jobs at a new university. My husband's five-year contract limit had been reached, so we bade farewell to wonderful friends in a beloved place to strike out again on our own. We have landed once more in university housing with plenty of farms and orchards all around. While I won't be wheedling my way onto a local farm this year (writing and a new teaching job are keeping me plenty busy!) I have started a garden and flower pots are starting to fill balconies and verandas. Unlike my Tokyo garden, this one is not on a farm. It is, instead, in a small park-like space behind our building. Once well-used and well-tended, the space when we first saw it late last year was full of weeds, moldy furniture, and unpruned shrubs. The manager said I could do whatever I liked there, and so the thinking and planning began. 

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, May 17th and Sunday, May 18th

Best manju EVER at the Nippori Farmer's Market! Welcome to the hippest, happening farmer's market weekend in Tokyo! Choose your location for foodly adventure and head on out to see what you can find. There should be no shortage of wonderful vegetables, seedlings, fruit, and jam all ripe and ready for the picking. I, however, will be up in Soma with Minowa Rice Field and farmers there helping put the first rice seedlings in the soil since the disaster in 2011. I imagine it will be an event full of mixed emotions, mud, good food, and good company. I can hardly wait. Ebisu Market Sunday, May 18th Ebisu will be in full form this month with its two usual markets. Don't miss the opportunity to head to a nifty part of the city where on these sweet Sundays you'll find farmers and producers galore. (One even comes from Okutama with a lovely array of vegetables and a vegetable-based spread that will knock your socks off.) It's worth noting, too, that  Do One Good

How to Get on a Farm in Japan

Me on the farm in Tokyo. I often get asked how to get on a farm in Japan. Farming and food are hot topics right now, and travelers often want to try their hand at getting dirty on a Japanese farm. And with good reason. Farms are often where the the roots of culture and tradition can be found and tasted. There is much to be learned and shared.  Yet, travelers need to keep in mind that each farm is unique. Each farmer or farming family has their own techniques and practices, traditions and habits. Keep in mind what your goals as a traveler are (learn a new farming technique, lounge in a hammock after working a couple hours, learn recipes, or get in some language practice, for example) and then keep an open mind and be flexible. There's some good fun to be had out there! WWOOF Japan – The easiest and best place to look for farming opportunities in Japan is WWOOF. An international organization that pairs those hankering to get on a farm with those who need extra hands, W

Tokyo Farmer's Markets: Saturday, May 10th and Sunday, May 11th

A sunny weekend awaits those who venture out to find spring vegetables and fruit this weekend in Tokyo! Don't be shy to step out the door, but do take your sun screen. And a big backpack! And your mother, of course! There's plenty to be had even in these first days of the season! See you at the market! Market of the Sun Saturday, May 10th and Sunday, May 11th The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets, Market of the Sun professes to be one of the largest. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, it's worth a stop for a selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals that at the UNU Market. 10am to 4pm No map but step out of Kachidoki Station exits A4a and A4b Koenji Farmer's Market Saturday, May 18th A new market I spotted while riding the train on a Saturday morning into the city center. That circle of red awnings in front of the  Za-Koenji Public Theatre  could only mean one thing! Sure enough, I found a small group of area growers a

How to Find Organic Food in Tokyo (and Beyond!)

Organic kohlrabi at the Earth Day Farmers Market. Recently, I've received a lovely run of emails asking how to find organic produce in Tokyo. It seems a number of folks are moving to the area or preparing to move, and are working on sorting out their grocery options. I decided to put my answers into a post here so others can find it, too. That said, if others have more ideas or suggestions or even other questions about food, farming, and farmers markets in Tokyo (or even gardening!) then let me know. I'm happy to help out as best I can. - JB Hands down, the best way to get the least expensive organic produce is to head to the Earth Day Farmers Market in Yoyogi Park. Prices are incredibly reasonable and the selection is great. It's a great way to begin learning what is in season when in Japan (citrus in winter and bamboo in spring, for example) and how to cook with these items. Whether the item in question is tea or tomatoes, the tanned and smiling person behind the t

May Farmers Markets in Tokyo

Yoshioka Atsuo at the Earth Day Market in Tokyo holding part of a cinnamon tree. I'm typing this up on a rainy afternoon just before Golden Week arrives. Already, the fields around my new place in Kanagawa are bursting with green and the local chokubaijo are full of citrus still. The mixing of the seasons is one of the best things about Spring. There's some sweet anticipation of summer favorites while bidding a fond farewell to the soft taste of daikon (summer daikon is spicier!) and winter greens . It means the mint in the garden is going gangbusters, and that means mojito's on those hot evenings. It means the ume will soon be ready for boshi-ing (a made up word, of course) and shu-ing . Rest while you can because the market is only going to get better! Ebisu Market Sunday, May 4th and Sunday, May 18th Ebisu will be in full form this month with its two usual markets. Don't miss the opportunity to head to a nifty part of the city where on these sweet Sund