Friday, August 17, 2012

Down on the Farm


      
                       


When I first set foot in Temple Valley I was more than surprised to see so many severely stooped-over senior citizens who called this hill hollow home. I was told that it was years spent bent over working in the fields and rice paddies that led to their crooked posture later in life. Whether that's true or not, the agricultural pursuit is back-breaking work for sure. In the rapidly graying Land of the Rising Sun silver-haired farmers work against the forces of nature, politics, and more to put food on the table for nearly 128 million. Here is a glimpse of life down on the farm in Japan from the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIR) in cooperation with NewsHour, the nightly news program aired by the American Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). The show is part of a larger project called "Food for Nine Billion," a series that takes "a yearlong look at the challenge of feeding the world at a time of social and environmental change." 


Related post: Can't Give It Away


5 comments:

  1. Hi JT, My Japanese family, like many small Japanese farmers, are part-time farmers who engage in small farming because they love it. Their day jobs are in accounting, teaching, medicine, banking, engineering. But they are not going to give up our ancestral farm, a remnant of a much larger farm that the US Occupation broke up during "Land Reform." The work is not back-breaking; it's incredibly rewarding on so many levels. My aunt, recently retired executive at an accounting firm, volunteers on apple farms that belong to her friends as well. In the US, we're seeing a revival of urban and small farms as well, for many reasons.

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  2. Your family sounds much, much stronger (and smarter) than I. The closest I've come to working the fields is cutting my family's front lawn when I was a young lad and I always found it to be a "back-breaking," punishing chore. We only held on to our small plot and the house that stood on it for less than a generation but despite the few minor hardships it saddled me with as a kid I still miss hugging that little patch of earth and reaping all the fun and lessons on nature it offered.

    I haven’t seen all of the CIR segments but I think they talk about the “back to the farm movement” in the US as well.

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    1. I was always under the impression (I've never actually studied it or anything) that rural land reform after World War II was a good thing and that it generally put the land in the hands of the farmers who actually worked the soil. - Not so I gather.

      I had actually kind of lamented that land reform was never extended to the cities since the land rent here in Temple Valley is out of this world. Most of the private land is basically owned by one extended family (I think the descendants of some feudal lord) who charge as much as 50,000 yen a month for parcels of land that aren't much bigger than 300 square meters.

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  3. Hi JT,

    My favorite thing growing up was always planting seeds and growing things.

    Overall land reform might have been a good thing in Japan. That's why there are so many small farmers still around doing great gardening and farming in Japan....In our case, it didn't hurt our family, which didn't suffer during WWII from hunger when so many were starving, because even though all the orchard workers were drafted...

    That is amazing about land reform not being extended to cities. Did not know that....

    Just came across this site which is touted by food democracy people: http://www.growingpower.org/

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    1. I recently watched a Colbert Report show featuring an interview with Will Allen but kind of forgot about him and his organization soon afterwards. This link was an excellent reminder.

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