Hello from Ibaraki

Please introduce yourself
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Hello from Ibaraki

Postby farmingnoob » Fri Nov 09, 2018 11:09 am

Hey guys, hello from Ibaraki.

I'm an ALT in one of those five years max situations. So I'm thinking about the future and what to do in addition to freelance English teaching. I think I might like to start a small farm for my family's use and maybe to make a little bit of extra money.

I just started growing vegetables at home this year so I'm a complete noob but I'm really enjoying turning dirt into food.

If anyone has experience I'd love to hear what you have to say about the business, legal issues, and the science of farming.

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Zasso Nouka
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Re: Hello from Ibaraki

Postby Zasso Nouka » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:17 pm

Welcome to JapanSimpleLife Farmingnoob and thank you so much for taking the time to sign up, we really do appreciate it.

So you want to start growing some vegetables, that's a great idea and we can help you as much as possible. The next question is do you want to just grow for yourself and your family or turn it into a full time occupation ? Growing for yourself can be fun and provide you with some good quality food that you know exactly how it was grown and what went into it. Becoming a full time farmer can also be fun and we might be able to offer advice and answer some of the questions you might have along the way.

Part time farming is a good way to see if it's something you want to pursue and will help you build up a knowledge base if you decide to go for it full time. If you are committed to the current place you are living then now might be a good time to sound out the local council about becoming a registered farmer and see if they will support you through the process or if they aren't willing to entertain the idea at all. They are the ones who have the power to make it happen so having a cooperative council onside will make all the difference and if they aren't into the idea then it may be better to consider looking further afield.

Even if they aren't keen on helping out there are still other options. You can still grow vegetables on non-farmland and sell them or you could marry into a farming family and become registered that way. You don't necessarily need to be a registered farmer to grow veg for yourself or even to sell veg, there are often other ways.

By the way, I'm just over in Chiba prefecture.

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Re: Hello from Ibaraki

Postby Eric in Japan » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:26 pm

Another Ibaraki farmer! Are you in North, Central, or South Ibaraki?
I am up here in the North.
"... so, the cucumbers said to the cabbage, `Lettuce Go.`"

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Re: Hello from Ibaraki

Postby farmingnoob » Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:13 am

Eric in Japan wrote:Another Ibaraki farmer! Are you in North, Central, or South Ibaraki?
I am up here in the North.


Yes a wannabe farmer lol. I'm near Mito.

How's your farm/homestead going?

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Re: Hello from Ibaraki

Postby farmingnoob » Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:39 am

Zasso Nouka wrote:The next question is do you want to just grow for yourself and your family or turn it into a full time occupation ?


The first goal is to produce enough veg that we can save money at the supermarket. Traditional Japanese vegetables like cabbage and daikon are pretty cheap here but things like peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes are so expensive that we unfortunately don't even eat them. After that, I'd love to make a side income of about 2000-3000 yen a day if possible.

Zasso Nouka wrote:If you are committed to the current place you are living then now might be a good time to sound out the local council about becoming a registered farmer and see if they will support you through the process or if they aren't willing to entertain the idea at all.


You told me that some councils are more accommodating that others, but how important is Japanese speaking ability when dealing with them? I can get help understanding paperwork or doing research, but do you think the council would automatically reject some gaijin without perfect Japanese?

Zasso Nouka wrote:You can still grow vegetables on non-farmland and sell them or you could marry into a farming family and become registered that way.


My father in law is a rice farmer, so I'll see if he has any connections.

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Re: Hello from Ibaraki

Postby gonbechan » Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:50 pm

If your father in law is a farmer, you will have a much better chance of getting in to the 'inner circle'.

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Re: Hello from Ibaraki

Postby Zasso Nouka » Mon Nov 12, 2018 6:29 am

As Gonbechan says you shouldn't have much difficulty registering as a farmer if your father in law is onside and you may even count as one as you are part of his family. I'd chat with him before going to speak to your local council, family connections are everything. Many folk will probably just assume you are a farmer because of your connection to his family and your wife may already count as a farmer so you by extension of being married to her may also count. As to your question about your local council worrying that you are gaijin, that shouldn't concern them overly. One other thing, if you are renting a small plot to grow food for yourself, although technically you should be a farmer the reality is that no one is ever going to check or even ever likely to enforce that requirement and one of the routes to becoming a farmer is renting a plot of 1500 tsubo and growing on it.

Having a connection like that will help you immensely, he can probably help you find a spot of land to start growing on (once word spreads that you are looking for a plot of land all sorts of plots start turning up that are not being used) and can also help you get a poly tunnel from someone that is no longer using it. We have four vinyl houses that have all been given to us by people who didn't want them anymore. If you want to grow sweet peppers and tomatoes then you will need one, growing tomatoes outside can be hit and miss depending on the weather and peppers do much better inside where you can control insects and disease much easier.

Your father in law can also probably help you get some basic equipment like a rototiller from someone that is no longer using theirs or has bought a newer one. We've been given several by friends of my wife's parents, so if you let it be known you are looking for one word will spread through the grapevine.

Try not to get involved with JA if you can help it as that will restrict your options later on, just maintain a friendly distance without committing yourself if they make an approach. If you do get involved quite often they will expect you to buy all your inputs from them and then expect you to sell all your produce through them at the price they set, which is not favourable to you. You can do much better opening your own sales routes.

Some further reading for you

Eliot Coleman - My favourite writer on market gardening. The New Organic Grower should be your bible, loaded with practical advice and tips and an all round invaluble guide to market gardening.

Jean-Martin Fortier - His book is highly recommended, lots of useful information, tips and techniques and his style doesn't involve lots of mechanisation so no high outlay to get started.

Charles Dowding - If no dig growing is your thing then Charles Dowding should be in your library. As with the other guys his books are an awesome guide to someone starting in Market gardening.

Curtis Stone - His Youtube channel is fantastic, lots of free and practical advice for a new market gardener. Not everything he says is applicable to Japan and sometimes he does make mistakes (which he is honest about) but you can learn from that so you can avoid them.

All of those guys are market gardeners and you may not choose to go down that route. A friend of mine sells around 20 million yen a year of broccoli, cauliflower and nasu using just two rototillers (one for mulch laying and one to build up raised beds) and he reckons market gardening is too much work and too complicated and after seeing his farm I agree he does have a valid point but I like market gardening.


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