The other day 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 strawberries 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 Hagiwara 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.
“Yuyama 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 narrow 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 work and Natsuko for her great help!
Mochizuki Akihime Strawberry Garden
Shizuoka Ken, Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Yuyama, 826-2
Private orders through the phone welcome.
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