Did you know there's a dedicated Japanese vegetable farm right here in Sussex?
I spent last Saturday with the Brighton Japan Club at Namayasai, near Lewes. Namayasai a Japanese vegetable farm owned by Robin and Ikuko, from Devon and Japan respectively.
Namayasai is a Natural Agriculture farm - a specific type of organic farming that uses no pesticides / herbicides / artificial fertilisers.
Robin started by giving us a tour of the farm, showing us their rainwater collection system, lots and lots of interesting plants, and compost toilet (I resisted the temptation to take a picture of the compost toilet).
We had a go at eating nettles, identified a nashi pear plant from its buds, spotted some daikon (sadly a bit frosted on top - the non-frosted ones were protected under a sheet so no photos of them):
...and even found some rhubarb!
As well as outdoor crops, the farm has a huge greenhouse filled with Japanese herbs and leafy vegetables.
Tour over, we had a quick stop for cake, and then it was time to do some actual work!
We mixed the compost and Robin told us we were going to plant 113 trays of seeds. That sounded like quite a lot to me, but he seemed confident we would get it all done.
Robin showed us how to plant the seeds with chopsticks (well it is a Japanese farm...)
We planted mitsuba (also known as "Japanese parsley" but more like shiso), shungiku (edible chrysanthemum) and daikon, amongst other things. The daikon seeds were bright orange, which was cool / surprising.
I can't remember what these guys were planting but it looked significantly more fiddly than what I was doing:
When we'd finished planting (yep, all 100-and-something trays), Robin sent us home with bags and bags of vegetables.
I spent the next four days eating massive amounts of green veg, which made me extremely happy.
It was a lot of fun - massive thanks to Robin for having us, and Tom at the Brighton Japan Club for organising!
As well as locally, Namayasai supplies lots of famous Japanese restaurants in London, and Robin and Ikuko also run a vegetable box scheme with collection points around Sussex which I now have my eye on.
They have lots of info about the veg box, the farm itself and work/volunteer opportunities on their website - please do check it out!