Friday, 29 June 2012

Wanted Farmers

What happened to the three generation families? We are living in an unused house in the rural village of Komatsuka in Ibaraki prefecture. It was formerly lived in by the owners parents. Husband and wife are living in the house adjacent to ours and their sons have gone off to the big city to complete university and make lives for themselves most likely away from the farm.
There are no bylaws preventing multiple houses from being built on one property. We have seen evidence of this in rural as well as urban areas. There appear to be multiple instances of this occurring here and there are many unused homes here. Some probably belonged to families whose kids left home and meanwhile the parents passed on. Now the kids show up in the village on weekends to maintain the family home.
When working out on the hatake (farm) you realize that the average age is in excess of 60. Hopefully some of the young people will come back. True a lot of the farming here is really more like community gardening, where a significant proportion of the produce feeds one's own family and the neighbours. There is a lot of unused farm land in existence as well. I suspect Japan could easily feed itself and many of its neighbouring countries. There appears to be a fanatical obsession with eating fresh food in season. More food could be stored or preserved.
Anyway it appears that farmers are needed. Farming includes many benefits such as long hours, exercise, fresh air including cold, rain and heat, frustration with crop failures, low pay and no boss. Farmers are required to be physically fit, intelligent as it is a constant battle of wits with weeds, insects and furry creatures believing they can share. I don't recall our host farmer ever being sick. They must possess an all encompassing skill set as they are their own "go to people". Farming should be the most respected of all professions.

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