Shizuoka Agricultural Products: The Nemotos’ Garden

Royichi/良一 and Sumiko/スミ子 Nemoto/根本

It was another one of those blistering days this year’s summer seems intent on inflicting on all of us, citizens or farmers alike.
I already had lost a sizeable amount of liquid when I reached Miwa Agriroad, my regular Wednesday starting point for investigating the local farmers and their products.

Yuyama/湯山 was still a long way away, but my good friend Natsuko Koyanagi/小柳奈津子 and I only had to wait a little while before her husband obligingly delivered his car to us. For all of the locally made chilled lemon and honey drink I had guzzled down, I was really thankful to make the second part of my trip in an air-conditioned car than on my dear bicycle!

The Nemotos are the second generation of that particular farming family.
Their main crops are rice and tea, but that still leaves them with enough time to look after a vast “garden” for extra cash.
Natsuko had called Sumiko Nemoto beforehand , and the dear lady was waiting for us!

Taking pictures and talking to the farmers were a pretty straightforward affair as everything was set as straight as you could hope for. The weather having been dry for a good couple of weeks, no need for boots either. While I was taking the pictures of the egg-plants/aubergines/nasu/茄子 above, the ladies were chatting away, but were always ready to answer questions. They wouldn’t let that city man repeat the same mistakes! LOL

The leeks/negi/葱 did look thirsty!

The hedge of cucumbers/kyuri/胡瓜 had been cleverly placed so as to block a good part of a single side of the garden from the sun and the elements.

These are okra/オクラ, and I’ve learned to appreciate them of late. The Missus chooses them as big as possible before lightly steaming them and then marinate them in the fridge. Make for great appetizers in summer! Have you ever seen their flowers? Beautiful!

Taro/Sato Imo/里芋. The Nemotos actually grow two varieties. I couldn’t see the tubers, but the stems were of two definitely different colours.

While the ladies were busy chattering and I taking pictures, Mr. Nemoto stolidly kept watering the garden. And it certainly needed plenty! He was using a motor pump for it as water is abundant underground.

Aster/アスター

It is not all vegetables in the Nemoto’s garden. Actually many farmers in this vicinity grow flowers, and I can tell you these disappear quickly form the market every morning.
The Nemotos have a special love for Asters, and I agree that they make beautiful flowers!
They also grow Chrysnathemums and daliahs!

Mr. Nemoto kept slowly walking back his hose in hand all the time…

Here’s the grand old chap at last!
I wonder if I might dress like them in summer.
We citizens seem badly protected, whereas Sumiko San in particular seemed to wear half a dozen layers without a sweat!

Bitter melons/Goya/ゴーヤー are not grown in the “warmer” areas of Japan anymore. They are very common in Shizuoka Prefecture where all vegetables and fruit seem to grow. They even grow bananas in nearby Shimizu!

Tomatillo, a Japanese variety.
Except for some specialized farms, these are used more for decoration than food. Very popular with flower arrangement/ikebana/活花 artists!

These are Devil’s Tongue Tubers/Konnyaku/コニャク. The Japanese love these “tubers” to make a kind of jelly. Very popular with vegetarians and people on a diet!

Talking to the farmers has definitely become a pleasure. There are always little stories to listen to and so much to learn!
And like many farmers all over the world, they are generous and proud of their work.
I shouldn’t tell you maybe, but I always end up with a batch of vegetables!
“Did you bring your ecobag?”, Natsuko asked me again with a laugh.
I wouldn’t have forgotten it, although this sounds like using these nice people.
To cut a story short, I ended up with enormous egg plants, small and juicy goya, okra straight as arrows, but then I had to stop them!

Nemotos’ Garden
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Yuyama, 1898
Tel.: 054-2941325

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