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© 2019 Kaitlyn Chu • Harvesting Hope

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Aiding farmers in Japan: Initially the search was for individual farms to aid and help get back on their feet to help them begin feeding their community.

 

The majority of farms are small in size and depend largely upon family members to work the land. Because of the small size of the farms, the vast majority of them belong to government cooperatives to get better prices on the inputs that they require and to market their produce. Because of this, a strong bond is created among the members, many instances one farmer helping another to tend the farm.

 

This leads to the difficulty of finding an individual farmer to accept a donation for their farm only. They would be embarrassed to be singled out for aid. No matter how much or how little, they would want to share with other farmers in their coop.

 

Now the search has narrowed itself down to seeking out a small group of farmers and below is their info.

Tsuneo and Kiyohiko lived in the Idohama community in Sendai, less than a mile from the coast of the Pacific Ocean. They were home when the earthquake hit and, when they received the tsunami warning, assisted in transporting elderly neighbors to the evacuation center. When they returned to their home, they found the front side of the bottom floor of their home

completely gone.

 

The contents of their first floor are no longer there; instead, debris from other homes and businesses in their community was deposited by the surging currents. The piano that once sat in their living room was never found. The barn and all its tools and equipment are gone as well.

 

The second floor of their home is still accessible, with all the contents still intact. Their house is one of three that is still standing, all uninhabitable, and it is hard to imagine that it was once sitting in a neighborhood of numerous other homes.

 

They own their land that they once used to farm rice and vegetables. In their 60s, they have still to make a decision as to what they plan to do next – try to rebuild their farm and home, or lease their land and plant their “roots” elsewhere.

Tsueno & Kiyohiko

Takao is 65 years age and lost his wife three years ago. He has one son, two daughters and three grandchildren and all of them help on the farm. They did not hire any outside labor.

As with many farms in the area, the main crop was three acres of rice and one third of an acre of greenhouse strawberries (commercial production, not u-pick).

 

 Even though his home was not located on the farm, as a result of the tsunami, he did lose both his home, the farm, several vehicles and farm machinery to the tidal wave. 

 

Before the tsunami there were about twenty eight members in his coop. Four members were killed and nineteen he does not know their whereabouts. He has met up with four others and have decided to work together again.

 

We will be revceiving information about the others in his newly formed coop and will post as soon as possible.

 

Takao and his family has just moved from a shelter into a government built temporary house where they may live for two years. He is currently looking for a job (to help out with the bills until he may begin farming again) but is extremely difficult in the damaged area.

Takao

Kohno took over their farm when her husband hurt his back a year ago. They grow cherries, apples, peaches, pears, and grapes. Her husband is a well-known and honored farmer for his cutting-edge farming and fertilizing techniques. Once revered for their quality fruit, they are finding that the radiation stigma is making it difficult to sell their products.

 

Extra precautions must be made by the farmers in this area, which include removing the bark from fruit trees and power-washing the trees. Branches cut from the trees cannot be burned, as the ash would then float in the air, potentially spreading any radiation that might have been in the wood.

 

Kohno and her husband have to make a decision whether they plan to continue farming or to look for other options. But Kohno was most thankful that people from another country cared about them and were willing to help people that they never met. They were not forgotten in this disaster.

Kohno

Shoichiro snow plows the local roadways and started farming leased land a couple of years ago. Currently, he isn’t quite able to see the future of his grape orchard. But because of his helpfulness to his fellow farmers, they are all willing to help him and motivate him to continue through this setback.

 

Although it is hard to fathom what these individuals experienced, one can only “hope” for a brighter future for all of them.

Shoichiro

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