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Thursday Snapshot: Goats on the Farm in Tokyo
Who doesn't love a good cabbage leaf?
It is with great pleasure that I introduce two of my replacements at the farm in Tokyo where I used to help out. Above are May and Satsuki, the two lovely rental goats who are spending six months munching their way through the grasses and weeds in the kuri (chestnut) grove at the farm. Granted, they have eaten a few of the kuri branches, too. "They needed pruning," said C-chan with a shrug of her shoulders and a small laugh when we talked about it.
Nibbling the cabbage leaf.
Rental goats are part of a new trend in farming. (This article at Japan for Sustainability offers a nice overview of the idea.) They eat weeds, do a little fertilizing, and are generally friendly. Put up some fencing and a small shelter, and the hooved work crew will happily settle in.
May and Satsuki lounging between shifts.
May and Satsuki come when C-chan calls, and they enjoy a cabbage leaf or two when it's in season. The other night we spotted one lounging in the cool air while the other grazed nearby, their white coats glowing in the moonlight, a welcome and soothing sight.
Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti
Kamakura Farmers Market entrance A little more than an hour train ride south of Tokyo sits Kamakura. Like Kyoto and Nara, Kamakura is a former capital full to the brim with temples, shrines, and a bounty of historical sites lining its winding streets. Nestled in a cozy bay with beaches and a giant Buddha tucked amongst the rest, it's a city that invites multiple visits if not at least one. And those seeking a farmers market well-stocked with traditional vegetables, skilled growers ready to share recipes and chat about their wares, along with some nifty prepared foods to rejuvenate themselves after so many temples surely won't be disappointed, either. Kamakura Farmers Market - right side full of signs Started nearly twenty years ago, the Kamakura Farmers Market or Kamakurasui Nyogyou Rensokubaijo, runs seven days a week nearly year-round. A ten-minute walk from the station, the market is located in what at first glance looks like nothing so much as a run-down w
Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012 Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l