Shizuoka Agricultural Products: Stick Ginger at Hatada Garden
Toshikatsu Hatada/畑田敏克, the 7th generation of the Hatada Family!
With Chiba and Inbaraki Prefectures, stick ginger (or leaf ginger/ha shyouga/葉生姜 in Japanese) is a specialty of Shizuoka Prefecture, and the best are said to be cultivated in Kunou/久能, Suruga Ku, Shizuoka City near the sea where the sandy soil is most propitious!
Yesterday morning I found the whole family and their employees hard at work cleaning, sorting, cutting and packaging the leaf ginger harvested that morning.
Father, Mother, son and 4 staff, including a full time are not too many to harvest the vegetable grown on 1,500 tsubo/4,000 square meters in greenhouses.
Toshikatsu’s fater hard at work!
Toshikatsu’s grandfather first grew leaf ginger 34 years ago!
Ready for packaging. Beautiful, aren’t they?
For a closer look!
The root extremity will be snapped off (not cut!).
The snapped off extremities will not be thrown away. They are just too good! Their filaments and other unwanted parts can easily be pared off before the pieces of fresh ginger can be served in many ways, cooked or raw.
Toshikatsu recommend them fried rolled into tasty bacon!
Toshikatsu makes his own jam with the snapped off extremities of the fresh ginger and honey only. A true health food!
Or pickle them in amazu/sweet vinegar! I was offered that lot! a beauty!
The leaf ginger are carefully selected before delivery.
They usually harvest enough to prepare 100 boxes daily, but they have been asked to limit their delivery to forty daily boxes by their Association due to the recent earthquakes in north east Japan.
Half the boxes will be delivered immediately to Tokyo and the other half to various parts of Shizuoka Prefecture.
The inside of the leaf house greenhouses are hot!
I was advised to take off as many clothes as possible before entering.
40 degrees Celsius! No wonder!
The temperature is controlled by automatic ventilators, but Toshikatsu has to visit the greenhouses every morning and lift the second vinyl sheets where, if one is not careful, the temperature might go into the 70′s!
As for fertilizers, Toshikatsu uses only organic fertilizer, liquid or solid.
Pesticides will be spread at the the bare minimum only once a year.
The care for the health and quality of the vegetables will mean an unavoidable number of them rotting away that have to be taken out at once.
Toshikatsu does not market the rhyzomes (roots) that are found in markets all over the world, but use them for planting.
Choosing the right rhyzomes requires a lot of experience, good eyes, nose and ears (the snap sound is the best indictaion of their health!)!
The ryzhomes will be divided and planted from January to April to produce crops from March to July.
I can assure that the planting alone is back-breaking work!
Toshikatsu and his family grow “leafy” leeks between July and December inside the same greenhouses.
They also grow all year round tomatoes on 300 tsubo/1,000 square meters inside green huses, maily Momotaro and Chuudama varieties.
I certainly intend to come back soon to have a close look at those tomatoes!
Now, I took two batches of those freh leaf ginger with me to introduce them to restaurants of my own choosing. Two gastronomic articles are coming very soon!
422-8015 Shizuoka Shi, Suruga Ku, Naka Hiramatsu, 212/静岡市駿河区中平松２１２
Mobile Phone: 09014137499
Corporate and individual orders accepted!
Strawberries: Akihime Strawberries at Mochizuki Garden
The other I was back on the road (I mean i”n the fields”!) with my always so young friend, Mrs. Natsuko Koyanagi/小柳奈津子 to interview a strawberry farmer and family in Yuyama/湯山 on the other side of the Abe River/安部川 in Shizuoka City.
As you can see on the above pictures we were right in the middle of the peak season and they Mochizukis were very kind to let me interview them. The fact that Natsuko came to explain half of the “story” certainly helped as usual!
Mr. Mitsuhiro Mochizuki/望月光広 (65) is a first-generation grower as far as strwberries are concerned.
He certainly needs all the help from his wife, Aiko/愛子 (65) and that of
his son, Fumihiko/文彦 (40) who came back to the family business 7 years ago, ensuring the future of the enterprise.
They exclusively grow “Akihime Strawberries/章姫苺”, which were first developped in Kuno/久野, Shizuoka City along the seashore in 1992 by a grower called Hagiawarあ Akihiro/萩原章弘 who gave half of his own name “Aki/章” and “Hime/Princess/姫” in reference to his daughter when he came to naming his new strawberries!
Akihime Strawberries have the particularity to be sweet with no acidity.
The very independently-minded Mochizuki family not being a member of any agricultural association grow, pick, package and deliver everything by themselves. Their strawberries will find their way directly to large wholesalers or private customers.
“Yuayama Strawberries” being very popular, they don’t bother grow much else!
I found their strawberries more akin to those I used to eat back in France and quickly bought 4 packs of them (ridiculously cheap!)!
Their 16 greenhouses are lined up along the narow road just next to their house.
More than half of them have to be surrounded with electric wires because of the hakubishin/白鼻芯/civets!
As for the pollinating bees, they buy them every year as raising them proved too problematical.
As for equipment and cultivation methods, these are pretty standard, although care and attention makes “the” big difference!
The reason why Yuyama strawberries are popular and of high quality mainly resides in the fact that this paricular area goes through wide differences of temperature which improve the shape and quality of the fruit.
I can assure you they deserve their great reputation!
I’d like to take the opportunity here to thank the Mochizuki family for allowing me to interview them in the middle of their workand Natsuko for her great help!
Mochizuki Akihime Strawberry Garden
Shizuoka Ken, Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Yuyama, 826-2
Private orders through the phone welcome.