Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Oh the Farmer in the Dale...

Well, kinda. Actually we're on a hill.

One of the best things about life in rural Japan is the fresh veggies. One of the most aggravating things about life in rural Japan is what to do with all the fresh veggies.

Since the merger of our little town into the larger city, more and more houses keep going up but we're still primarily a farming community. There's still large chunks of area within the town that are nothing but rice fields, apple orchards, and watermelon patches (Our area is known for growing the best watermelons in Japan and I would claim the best in the world as well). Given that many residents are part time farmers, putting in man hours on those watermelons, apples, and rice after their work (Or if retired, just farming), many houses keep a garden as well. Some of them are quite large, like our neighbors' whose veggie patch is actually larger than the plot our house sits on (There's a reason for that if you want to take the time to find out why), others are a bit more modest. Our own attempt at veggies is actually just two cherry tomato plants that are currently going crazy in their pot in the backyard (They were needed, we go through cherry tomatoes the way Sherman went through Georgia). During the summer and into the fall harvest months, Nagano abounds with fresh fruits and veggies.

For example, from about July on till the snow flies, Beloved doesn't even bother with produce shopping at the local supermarket but heads to the various veggie stations/farmer's markets that dot the area where she can pick up quite a bit at a cheap rate (Japan does not farm efficiently, the cost of fresh produce is rather high with a zucchini being over 100 yen in the supermarket but 50 yen at the farmer's market). They taste better and there's less worry about food contamination due to the ongoing disaster up at Fukushima Dai-ichi.

Our main problem however is with friends being, well, Japanese. They know that we have two small boys, they know that we don't have a lot of land for a garden of our own, and with two small boys we don't have time to tend it. They also know that while I am good with computers, I tend to kill anything living that I have been put in charge of unless I have close supervision.

But mainly they know that with the above, we're the perfect dumping ground for extras. Which isn't bad, fresh salads right out of the field, cucumbers, corn, watermelons, potatoes, cabbages, apples, what's not to like? Until someone brings us about 20 cucumbers, and a whole watermelon for 4 people, a box full of potatoes, two crates of apples, a Chinese cabbage bigger than Hikaru, and enough corn to stock a movie theater with popcorn if we dried it...
This thing was grown with Unholy Miracle Grow
In other words, we end up with enough fruits and veggies for a year or more within the space of a week. Thankfully we have devised a solution, we simply ship everything we cannot eat down to Beloved's family. They live in a fishing town. Lots of fish, little veggies, and they're expensive. Right now I estimate we're feeding about half of Beloved's family's neighborhood and supplying them with Nagano veggies.

Which isn't bad... until the thank you gifts of fish start coming back up...

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