Thursday, April 30, 2009

Public transportation is poor choice for some

Have to go to Kobe today, so took the train to work. Walked for 35 minutes, rode for 50 minutes, and waited for trains for 35 minutes. Cost 600 yen, about six dollars. In cost effectiveness, public transportation comes in last. Next is a car, costing about $2.34 in gas round trip and less than one hour one way. Next would be a scooter with 67cents in gas and one hour. Bicycle is number one! No gas, one hour.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On "How to save the world: One man, one cow, one planet"

Peter Proctor is a farmer in India using Biodynamic farming techniques to help people everywhere. He has seen first hand how the agrichemical based farming has ruined huge portions of India's farmland, and he has lived the good news of how organic/natural/biodynamic farming can produce sustainable yields into perpetuity.

The documentary "How to Save the World: One man, one cow, one planet" is a terrific introduction on how "The Green Revolution" in India was really chemical warfare on the earth, and how he has dedicated his life to building sustainable farming in India based on the work of Rudolph Steiner and Biodynamics. Biodynamics is really a comprehensive lifestyle that incorporates and sustains communities. This is the kind of future humankind can have.

I was also impressed by a quote by Ghandi that appeared in the film, and it sums up how this kind of farming is also a political act, supporting a democratic future.

Ghandi's view of Democracy

My notion of democracy is that under it the weakest should have the same opportunity as the strongest... No country in the world today shows any but patronising regard for the weak... Western democracy, as it functions today, is diluted fascism... True democracy cannot be worked by twenty men sitting at the centre. It has to be worked from below by the people of every village.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Honeybee shortage worries Japanese farmers : Read Pesticides killing off bees

I always wondered about this. I mean pesticides aimed at bugs kill bugs. There is probably some fine tuning one can do to limit collateral damage, but if you spray for insects, you will probably kill insects. Farmers spreading tons of insecticides are killing off the bees that they need to pollinate their crops. Then they blame it on Australian disease or ticks that have now become resistant to the pesticides that are supposed to kill them. It is all too ironic.

The answer is to farm with nature rather than against it. It may take time and effort, and much economic discomfort to the agrichemical industry, but it's possible.

04/19/2009 - Honeybee shortage worries Japanese farmers -

'Natural patterns' of farming touted in documentary -

If I have a hero, it would have to be "Joel Salatin: Lunatic Farmer."

'Natural patterns' of farming touted in documentary - "'Joel Salatin: Lunatic Farmer.'"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Four articles in the international press on younger people in agriculture in Japan

Four articles recently in the international press about young people getting intersted in farming in Japan. Most of the articles give the current economic conditions and concerns about food safety as reasons for the move.

Christian Science Monitor, Donga, Wall Street Journal and New York Times all give accounts of people heading to the countryside to work on farms in various capacities. I am intersted in how they are making it considering the relative difficult system of acquiring farm land. They will also have to bring creativity along with their strong backs to make a living, as prices of everything is dropping and the government is less and less willing to subsidize farmers.

Overall it is a great move, and as in all things, the tough will stick with it and potentially be very successful. If I were thinking of doing it all over again, I would certainly think about farming. Right now I would be working on growing organics and developing new distribution systems.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

G8 Warns Food Crisis May Become Permanent

The solution looks obvious to me, but agrimonopolies probably look at it differently.

To meet this challenge, Rev. Beckman emphasized that more resources should be made available to small subsistence farmers throughout the world. "Subsidizing corporate farmers who manage thousands of acres in Iowa will feed hungry people. But putting resources into the hands of small farmers can enable entire rural communities to thrive by providing jobs and generating income to stimulate local economies."

G8 Warns Food Crisis May Become Permanent

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

World Tea News - Teatulia Hits Ground Running in U.S. Expansion

This tea product company uses tea grown with natural farming techniques. Cool stuff. It is so funny. I went to a tea shop here once and asked for organically grown tea. The grouchy old guy who ran the shop said that there is no such thing as organically grown tea, and if they say it is they are lying. I get that kind of reaction alot when I try to explain to people what I want to do.

Anyway, would sure love to support these tea growers, but my guess is that they won't be coming here anytime soon.

World Tea News - Teatulia Hits Ground Running in U.S. Expansion

Sunday, April 12, 2009

planted half of a paddy and worked on making a place for the chickens

Went out this morning and planted rice in half of another paddy. Didn't really want to plant that much, but have so much seed left over, just decided to do it. Next year I'll do the calculations on how much seed to buy myself, and plant it. I will also plant the wheat in rows. Broadcasting it was easy to plant, but the weeds are going to start to compete here pretty soon, and It will be impossible to get between the plants.

Went to a friend's house to give him the seed if he wanted it. He took some of it, but he plants field rice (rikutou) not paddy rice (suitou). I think he wanted it to make his rice a little tastier. Rikutou isn't as good tasting as suitou.

I am also going to get a couple of chickens from him. He keeps about a dozen hens and a couple of roosters. I haven't built my coop and pen yet, but have some ideas about how I want to build it. I want to make a mobile coop and attached pen so that it can be moved around my fields, letting the chickens eat the bugs and grass while their deposits will improve the fertility of the soil. He feeds them wheat, imported as animal feed from the US, rice bran, and vegies. He said he used to feed them corn, again imported from the US, but they aren't importing it much now, or at least he isn't able to get it from the supplier he used to get it from. He also uses rice bran on the floor of the coop to absorb the droppings and make it easier to spread as fertilizer. That is a great idea, as the bran absorbs the moisture making really easy to clean up and the smell inside the coop is only of rice bran, doesn't smell chickeny at all.

I think if his place had rice paddies it would be ideal. As it is, it sits on a hill, and he would have to rely on tap water or well water to irigate the paddies. Not the ideal situation.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Finished planting one paddy

Finished planting one paddy yesterday, and we have 2/3 of the seed left. I went to the farming cooperative and asked how much seed they recommended for the area that we are planting. They told me, and I bought it. We only used about a third of it on the one paddy we expected to plant. We will use up the remaider on the paddies that aren't planted yet and give some to friends, but I'm really surprised that we had so much left over. Beautiful day for it, though. Really pleasant day.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

april wheat

april wheat
Originally uploaded by touzanka
This is what our wheat looks like right now. The beautiful green part is where the wheat is flourishing. The brown patches are where it ain't. Either way, it is a great place to hang out and watch.

Shrine as the Cherry Trees Bloom

hirohata shrn
Originally uploaded by touzanka
Breathtaking, isn't it? I was really blown away by this. Usually I see shots like this in travel brochures and stuff, but rarely in real life. Real life is way better.