CHIBA – A citizens’ group in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, is working on making pumpkins grown from seeds taken to space into a local specialty.
The city, which came up with the idea, asked Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, a Matsudo native, for cooperation. In 2010, Yamazaki took 230 seeds of Matsudoshiro, a local variety of pumpkins, on board the space shuttle Discovery.
A group of residents and farmers started production of pumpkins from the seeds and hope to market them under the name “space pumpkin.” This year, some 1,000 pumpkins were harvested in time for Halloween and offered to sweets manufacturers in the city to make bread, jam and other products.
The seeds were also distributed to local elementary schools for children to grow pumpkins from them and use them in school lunches.
“We hope to increase production of the pumpkins in the future by asking more farms to join the project,” said Mamoru Hayashi, 74, who represents the citizens’ group.