Free Farm

Vegetable delivery from Free Farm: from farm to risotto

Free Farmの野菜をリゾットにしました。友達にもすすめます。http://freefarm.co.jp/ @TEDxSeeds で、Twitter の @FREEFARM_taro に会いました。

Free Farm vegetables made into risotto! Check out http://freefarm.co.jp/, which I learned about via @TEDxSeeds.

I learned about Free Farm, a farm-to-city vegetable service, at this year’s TEDxSeeds conference. Recently we received a box of incredibly fresh, organic vegetables that put our normal supermarket food to shame. The carrots tasted sweet, the shiitake were grown on trees and not artificial “medium,” the baby daikon were gorgeous and full of flavor. There was also a small Chinese cabbage and a mild leaf vegetable we had never heard of called okanori (おかのり), which means land seaweed. (Apparently, when dried, it smells or tastes like seaweed).

The vegetables came in a simple box and were wrapped in the Financial Times newspaper. Also included were the names of the vegetables, information about the farm in Tochigi, some ideas for how to eat the vegetables, and a hand-written note from the farmer. The box including the vegetables above cost 2,000 yen, or just over 3,000 yen with the costs of shipping and “furikomi.” I highly recommend this food service, and you will enjoy it even more if you can read Japanese. A similar French service in Tokyo is Le Panier de Piu.

Here’s the risotto we made from the okanori, shiitake, and baby daikon.

 

Rice planting in Nasu, Tochigi

It’s always an adventure to get out of Tokyo and see rural Japan. Recently, TEDxSeeds executive producer Ito Hiromasa (伊藤 弘雅) invited me to join some of his friends on a day trip visit to an experimental “mountain cow” farm and Free Farm, which produces rice and vegetables, in Nasu, Tochigi.

We were lucky to be there on the day of rice planting, called taue (田植え). Farmers use a simple machine that inserts the seedlings into the wet rice paddy. It is amazing how symmetrical it becomes. There was something magical about seeing rice planted. Along with the small machine, two women were working very hard unloading the seedlings and making the watery mud even with a large wood instrument.

The farmers invited us for gyoza dumplings and zero food mile rice. Free Farm has a great blog that connects city people to farmers, and a fresh food delivery service (link in Japanese with lots of great photos). Another TEDxSeeds organizer, Sato Hirotsugu, was at the farm for the weekend, and he was very welcoming.