My good friend Sawmi from Hualngo Land Developement Organization (HLDO) invited me to go to the farm. She explained that this wasn’t just a day in the dirt, I would be meeting the people who run ARI (Asian Rural Institute).
ARI is an organization that attracts candidates from all over the world to come the countryside in Japan for 9 months and they will learn, use, and become leaders of their agricultural homes when they return.
The students attend lectures in each group. They study about nothing going to waste on the farm. They are encouraged by the staff to figure out the yes way for them to solve projects giving to them. Each student is a member of a group which they will tend together. In addition, each student has a small plot to plant and reap what every they like as a personal project.
Stepping out of the station we all noted the air was a tad drier and cooler than Tokyo. It took nearly 3 hours of subways and local trains to get here. Kathy met us at Nasunoko station in the farm’s van and wisked us over to the farm. There was a mix of its permanent staff, volunteers, and the students. We walked around the administrative building before heading out into the farm. S
Nothing goes to waste on the ARI farm. Even the husks from rice are burned and added to the compost, or to make natural pesticides. The mission is to get the students to adapt what they learn to their home country. To learn how waste from one crop can be the nutrients that feds the next.
We came to Nisan’s groups plot of land. They had just put down some beans on raised beds and then covered them with the straw leftover from a rice harvest. The straw keep the grounds moisture and keeps the weeds from getting sunlight to grow.
All the classes are conducted in English and Kathy supported Nisan in her explaining their methods to us all in English.
We had a communal lunch of fried (tempura) green eggplants, tomato and vegetables salad, a a slightly spicy potato salad. I was thankful for the bounty, and even more so that it was a vegan meal. The meal was topped off with bowls full of luscious blueberries.
Nisan at the Communal Lunch
One man from Liberia named Romeo was giving drumming lessons to a Philippino guitarist before we all broke bread. Really a lovely harmony.
There was so much to see and do at the farm. I was full of joy to see Nisan coming forward as a farming leader. I will continue to support her and the Hualngo Land Developement Organization (HLDO).
I didn’t walk away empty handed. Nisan handed us a bag full of long beans, eggplants, okra, tomatoes, and long green peppers. Also picked up a little rhubarb jam for a breakfast treat.
Those of you in Japan who might be wanting to volunteer, look into the ARI (Asian Rural Institute). Or, if you know of a country’s people that could use some solid training filled with love invite them to check it too.
some special shout outs!
Kathy, for picking us up and showing us around.
Yukiko, for telling her story, and giving Nisan all the support she can.
Sean- from Hawaii, you are on your path.
Romeo- for making me feel welcomed and reminding me of my youth.
ALL the ARI staff, participants, and volunteers. Who have made my world, OUR world, a better place.
Garlic curing behind the communal kitchen
Rows of women’s workboots outside their dormitory.
Nothing but stone ground maize.
Fresh plucked blackberry in Nisan’s hand.