In many countries around the world, the past decades has seen the number of farmers & food producers go down. Hard work, low income. Farmland does no longer go automatically from parents to children.
In Japan, this matter is very serious and concerning. An entire generation of farmers is retiring, with no-one to take over their land. In the outskirts of Kobe, 1,285 farm owners have disappeared over the last 35 years.
The local food production is lowering, whilst the government is seeking for better food autonomy.
A new movement is starting in Kobe city.
Welcome to the Micro Farmer’s School !
The school is set up and managed by EAT LOCAL KOBE with support for facilities and staffing by the City. EAT LOCAL KOBE has been collaborating with the Municipality to bring farming back into the city through different initiatives such as the weekly farmer’s market or public events.
This new unique program targets working citizens who see interest in farming. Through the 1-year course, they learn the fundaments of farming in an enjoyable way and in addition to their regular job.
While the direct target is not to have them change activity, the purpose is to give a better image of what farming is, to reconnect the citizens to the origin of the food they eat.
Indirectly, the Municipality hopes to attract more youth into the sector in the next years.
Considering that the farming land is just 30 minutes away from the city, some students are taking the program to set-up their own garden to work on during the weekends, some are considering to have farming become an additional income. And other are looking into eventually taking over a local farm full time. The impact of Coronavirus has been important in the perception of some people with regards to urban living.
The 11 first students have enrolled in the fall of 2020 for the first session. Most of them are in their 30’s and 40’s and the group is a mix of company employees, restaurant owners, freelancers and more. They gather twice a month with both hands-on training and theoretical learning in classrooms.
100 square meters are proposed for students to practice their skills.
The theoretical courses include the history of farming in the region, recycling, land management and more. They are provided by farmers themselves and university experts.
There is still a long way to go for Kobe to fill its deficit of farmers. But through this initiative, the Municipality expects to build a solid bridge between the city and land, and for Kobe to retrieve it’s historical agricultural strength. By giving the opportunity to experience agriculture in a variety of ways, the city hopes to build a community of local consumers who understand and defend their terroir.
For more information, , contact Agriculture and Fisheries Promotion Division Kobe city government : firstname.lastname@example.org