JOURNAL / JAPAN
text by Michiko Watanabe / photographs by Daisuke Nakajima / English text by Susan Rogers Chikuba
Takanori Yamakawa farms 1.7 acres of land smack in the middle of a residential area in Tachikawa, Tokyo. About a fifth of his fields are JAS-certified organic. He follows Biological Farming (BLOF) methods for carbon-rich, optimally fertilized soil and stable, high-quality yield. One look at his thick carrots, which typically weigh three times the average, shows that his carbon sequestration is right on target.
“The soil is friable and well aerated, with excellent drainage, and I’ve seeded it with active aerobic microbes,” Yamakawa explains. “Leafy greens grow long straight roots. Harvesting is easy—one tug and the produce lifts right out.” Taking advantage of his location, Yamakawa hopes to one day make his farm a place where anyone can stop by and pick their own produce to purchase, straight from the field.
Takanori Yamakawa demonstrates how a two-meter pole slides right into his soft soil.
It takes two to three years for a given plot to become certifiably organic. Shown here is a “green manure”cover crop of rye.
Yamakawa lets the axillary buds sprout so multiple heads of broccoli grow on one stem.
Kale, spinach, turnip, arugula, cherry tomatoes, and cauliflower fill the boxed assortments he sells to restaurants, individuals, and even wholesalers.
“My dream is for customers to come to the field instead of the grocery store,” he says. “I’ll have the baskets and the clippers ready for them.”