Thursday, October 22, 2009

Megapolis radishes - Tokyo city farm

Here I am, trying to spot my house in Tokyo from up rather high. If I do A Google Earth zoom to my home with the Ota family, I might see this:

Oops too far. That's the garden of the old lady around the corner, still farming the family plot, generations on.

The gate carefully clipped Dr. Zeuss pine says 'direct selling place Entrance'

The farm is impeccable, the buildings from before the war, and the technology low and beautiful.

I popped in today, and the nice old lady tells me I can have beets or cabbage. Next week leeks and Persimmons. She chooses the six most plump, and I give her 2oo yen ($2)

About 20 minutes later, they are home, and a couple are sliced thinly and seasoned with salt, pepper and vinegar.
I can't stop eating them. I'm embarrassed by the amount of pleasure their yielding sweet flesh is giving me. Its like eating Snow White.
Their green tops have been sauted with mirin, soy, and strips of Tofu. Im trying to think of a better use of sixty cents, but I'm struggling.

If beets are anything like radishes, they would probably grow in a balcony in less than two months. I can't wait another year to eat this again. So if you are in melbourne, and want to make ceci very happy, put some beet seeds in for me, and we will do a nice trade when I get back in late spring.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Soil and Peace festival, Tokyo

Its been about 30 years since I spent an entire Sunday playing in the park, but the 'Soil and Peace expo' (Tsuchi to Heiwa no Saiten) at Hibiya park just wouldn't let me go home.

Broccoli grown in hand-sewn pots,
with hand-made soil, all for sale
at today's "Soil and Peace' festival.

There were good things to climb, things to put in your mouth, ingenious toys and contraptions to puzzle over, marvel over, and best of all, a constant stream of my favorite kind of people.
Clever Nature-Farmers and musicians and entrepreneurs, all lit-up with excitement for the projects they were pushing and pulling into existence, excited at the small, important work they were doing, changing the world.

Appropirate technology: Now I know how to thresh and hull rice, the human-powered method.

These machines have been going for over half a century, and will be spinning merrily when I'm old and gone. What are they made of? Trees, Grass. You just GROW them.

These Trashy ladies surrounded the park, cheerleaders urging us on to colorful connection-making.

O'hashi-san's project is creating and bringing this fine vine-nut oil out of the Amazon, to the rest of the world.
Its delicious, it will keep you fresh and beautiful (as demonstrated by Mr Ohashi), and its cultivation can completly green ravished Amazon land in a year. I'm happy that the native people can now have stables lives, working and living in their forest. But I kind of want to see this green nut doing its thing, twining over, shading all the hot balcony gardens of the world. See Inca Inci Green Nut Virgin oil.

This gang called me over to enjoy their tatami-party, with sake to drink from freshly-cut 'cups' of bamboo. Their bamboo farm might be one that I see from the Narita Express. Hillsides covered in feathery bamboo are the first truly beautiful things you see when entering Tokyo from the airport, reminding you that you have come to a land where shinto gods dwell. These guys are responsible for the beautiful bamboo stalls at the festival (look up, and down. Attractive.)

Bamboo exhibition stalls. Note the shoes.

Here they are again, the $4 pots you can fold up an put in your pocket. They are sewn from recycled plastic fiber, last about 3 years. and look so much better than a rag-tag collection of whatever pot the nursery doled out to you. They would allow evaporation to keep the roots cool, drain well, be light and easy to manuver on your balconies, and I'm a fan. Except they are not quite my color, so I might just have to make my own.

Here is the fellow from Hafuu looking proud of the bags he has made. He also 'makes' and sells soil, around $10 for a small pot-plant worth. If that seems weird to you because dirt is lying around everywhere, free for the digging, that's because you havn't grown edibles in pots, or havn't got a wormfarm. Delicious soil makes delightful flowers and fruit, and there is no other way.

The good guys at Wehab want you in their ricefield. The more life forms, the merrier.
This detail is from their carfully-researched chart, and shows you just how many life forms your bowl of chemical-free rice 'sponsors'. Write them, and they will invite you for a splash in a richly organic, heavily populated rice paddy (April and May), to do a bit of creature counting.

Tsuji-san, MC for the festival's live music area, popular writer, and Chief Sloth at the Namakemono (sloth) Club. So good to see this positive, immensly productive and fun-loving man again.

Liberace: Straw, not Gold!

Hiromi Matsubara. Photo: Greenz website

Strolling along, a voice called out 'Is that... Cecilia?'. The voice belonged to Hiromi Matsubara, who runs the online cultural-creative organization Greenz, and reads Balcony Gardening Blogs. Nice find, Hiromi.
She moves, shakes and organizes so well, that within a few minutes of meeting her, we've got a Tokyo Permaculture balcony party happening (mail me if you want to come, late October)

A Ball of children

Children went crazy playing with stits, with slingshots, with string-powered flying whirigigs. I know why they were happy, I remeber. I remember playing hard with six little brothers and sisters, and whatever was lying around in the garden. It was play you had to be dragged away from, cold, tired and happy at sunset.

Now I'm thinking about 'Soil and Peace', but sometimes I get tired of my own opinions. Sometimes just tired. I'd love to hear your comment and insights on how what these guys are doing with soil is connected to Peace.
Inspire me!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

mini dwellings, boats & edge gardens at Dragor, Copenhagen

The fishing village of Dragor is 10 minutes from Copenhagen's modern Airport, yet 2 or 300 years away from life as we know it.

The people who built it where traders and captians of tall ships, who almost certainly took the image of Dragor with them to sustain them over the rough and salty months at sea. Like cold Hobbits longing for The Parish, their night fantasies would probably zoom in on the domestic: the sweet wife awaiting them by the fireside, larder stocked with the berry jams she picked and preserved from the summer garden, baby on the way.

Due to photographic incompetence, the loveliest of Dragor is not shown here: Amythyst colored fish layed out for sale by the burly man who caught them, 'fast food' fish, just whisked from their shoal and ready to be eaten before the chimney in which they were smoked. The scent of birchsmoke was familiar, the scent of 'lapsang-souchong'.

I do believe there are tuna about the size of this fishing boat. Don't get too ambitious, mate.

Wooden boats rock

Perfect decoration for a jewel-like window

Every home had a tiny 'edge garden', tall self-seeded hollyhocks now in their hundreth or so generation. Useful perinnial Rosemary, or berry bushes, which where just finishing for the summer when I arrived.

I remember reading about oilcloth curtains in Robinson-Crusoe style tales. I wonder what these are? Little cubby houses cluster in the lanes where men dry their nets, lanes stacked with piles of old racks for drying fish, cages where plump bunnies were once kept, because fish pie every night gets dull.

Aspirational living

Heres a nice house for my mum. The internet reception would be great.

Well, these days Dragor has a few thousand residents, with a supermarket, library, community noticboards and choir. Most of the gardens are edible, thats just the way its always been here, as they had to wait quite a while for hubbie's ship, and even longer for the supermarket.

As a destination for starting a new life, writing your novel, or learning the art of medicinal herb gardening, this town could be just the spot.