The idea of turning a farm into a place consumers can visit and enjoy, rather than just a place for production. Such a farm offers visitors the chance to sample farm products like freshly laid eggs and freshly harvested vegetables on-site, as well as wide-ranging forms of entertainment, such as learning, leisure and hands-on and shopping experiences. Such farms are common in Europe and North America.
Tategamori Ark Farm is located in Kinomi, Fujisawa-cho, Ichinoseki City, Iwate Prefecture. According to one theory, Kinomi, literally “golden sea,” was so-named because it produced gold, like many other places in northeast Japan in the olden days. According to another theory, the name describes the waves of golden heads of rice produced by this bountiful locale. Tategamori Ark Farm was created on a mountaintop in Kinomi. It opened in 1992 following four years of soil preparation. Here on this piece of state-developed agricultural land, my husband and Tategamori Ark Farm founder Teruo Hashimoto took upon himself the task of establishing a style of agriculture unique to Fujisawa-cho that could serve as a nationwide model, and to this end he embarked on realizing his uniquely studied and formulated “farm market plan.”
The name “Ark” derives from the well-known Noah’s Ark of the Old Testament. Steadfast and faithful, Noah built his huge vessel as instructed by God, and saved future generations by taking the seeds of all plant species and one pair of each animal species out of harm’s way during the Great Flood and to a new land.
Our farm in Tategamori was named Tategamori Ark Farm because we saw an analogy between the story of Noah’s Ark and the mission of this farm, which is to preserve Japanese agriculture for future generations. We felt that Japanese agriculture was under threat, and earnestly wished to do what we could, no matter how small, to pass on to the next generation what we believed to be sound, wholesome agricultural practices.
Sadly my husband passed away due to illness before his efforts came to fruition, but a large, enthusiastic staff has picked up where he left off, and Tategamori Ark Farm is enjoying steady progress. The “farm market plan” is taking shape—our farm is offering fresh produce while actively functioning as a place of relaxation and learning for nearby residents. In 1999 we opened our online shop offering food products directly from Ark Farm to customers nationwide. In 2005 we launched Wakaba, a facility for producing organic compost from livestock manure and restaurant kitchen waste, thereby establishing a system of sustainable agriculture, where products of the soil are once again returned to the soil.
As someone who cooks for my family, I have a keen interest in what people eat at home. I am sure all parents wish to serve reliable, safe food to their children, and hope this wish is shared by everyone working in agriculture. “Food is life”—I believe Japanese agriculture will achieve true transformation when this becomes an earnestly felt sentiment, rather than just a slogan. Although our “ark” is still small, I hope it will make powerful progress toward the future, taking on board more and more likeminded people.