Mr. Hiroyuki Ooba/大場弘之, growing ice plants and tomatoes at Ooba Garden/おおば農園 in Yaizu City/焼津市
“Looking forward to diversify!”
Meeting 100 students in my classes at University does prove useful when I wish to discover new producers and farmers as in Shizuoka Prefecture some of these very students are bound to be the sons and daughters of local farmers!
One such student was kind enough to introduce to her father, Mr. Hiroyuki Ooba (51) growing ice plants and tomatoes in his farm!
He kindly accepted to pick me up at Fuijeda City JR Station last Sunday on a beautiful day.
Yaizu City and its surroundings being a very flat area we can admire Mount Fuji in the distance all day long!
Mr. Ooba is second generation farmer.
His father was mainly cultivating tomatoes and cucumbers before he took over.
He has since stopped growing cucumbers to concentrate on other green vegetables, always experimenting on new varieties and species.
Mr. Ooba apologized for the “messy” farm, but actually I found it very welcoming with those old pine trees at the entrance!
Well, this certainly looks like a real farm!
Many bicycles! Mr. Ooba has two daughters, the second one being my student and a son, the youngest of his children still at high school, but who already has decided to attend Agricultural university to follow in his father’s steps!
Mr. Ooba grows ice plants in greenhouses covering 6a and 5a, whereas tomatoes are grown in 3 greenhouses for a total area of 12a.
Mr. Ooba started growing ice plants/アイスプラント a couple of years ago, thinking that these African vegetables should be easy to grow in a hot environment. He was surprised to find out that they didn’t like heat much after all!
Enormous ice plants!
The Japanese eat only the top part of the ice plant raw which is crispy and are not interested in the larger leaves as they don’t cook them. on the other hand the plant grows quickly and can be continuously harvested for its top crispy young leaves.
Mr. Ooba allots some space for his own needs: Qing geng cai/チンゲンサイ and thin leeks/細葱.
He also grows and partly sells cabbages as the land is propitious to vegetables whereas trees such as orange trees are not really suited.
Incidentally a great part of Yaizu City farmland is dedicated to rice, which is of very good quality.
Mr. Ooba and his father have been growing tomatoes for about 40 years.
They used to grow Momotaro tomatoes, but Hiroyuki thought he was getting better results with Misora 64 tomatoes.
he grows between August and December and again between January and May. Between May and August he will grow some Momotaro tomatoes.
The cultivation system is nutriculture/養液栽培, a system that he found most practical over the years allowing for a better control and reduction of pesticides and artificial fertilizers.
For all the practicality of this system, cultivation is not that easy.
Plants have to be regularly trimmed and prunes.
One big tomato might look good (above picture) but all tomatoes after that big beauty will not develop properly.
You have to choose two sizes and the consequent technique according to consumer and market demands.
Either you grow them big and few as above or,
or clusters of smaller but more regular and abundant tomatoes!
I personally tend to like them in-between but I’m being selfish.
In any case we already agreed on a second interview next may when i will be able to find great quantities to choose from!
Messrs. Hiroyuki Ooba/大場弘之 and Hajime Matsuda/松田肇 of Six berry Farmers!
I found out that Mr. Ooba is actually a friend of Hajime Matsuda, one of the six merry Berry Farmers growing Toukun/桃薫, peach strawberries!
Funnily enough it was discovery for Hiroyuki!
The three of us shared a long constructive talk about future ventures.
Hiroyuki is seriously thinking of starting grapes and fancy pumpkins next year. great fun in store for me!
Although Mr. Ooba’s vegetables are sold in Yaizu City markets, direct orders are gladly accepted through the phoneor by mail!
Ooba Garden, Mr. Hiroyuki Ooba
421-0212, Shizuoka ken, Yaizu Shi, Riemon, 250-2
Mobile E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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