Some residents in the Tokyo metropolitan area are beginning to cultivate their own vegetables through expert advice and rented land and tools at farms operated by Agrimedia Corp.
The company links urban dwellers interested in growing their own produce, on account of fears about food safety, and elderly former farmers who had to abandon their land after failing to find a successor.
Founded in 2011, the company operates more than 20 shared farms in Tokyo and Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures.
Each group of users, who include retirees, women and families with children, is allocated 10 sq. meters of land to grow vegetables.
In addition to technical advice, the farms also provide all of the seeds, plants, fertilizers and tools necessary.
The participants must sign an annual contract and pay a monthly charge of around ¥9,000.
One of the hurdles to launching the system was the need for the company to reach agreement with local committees hosting the farms.
“Our service was unprecedented and negotiations (with the committees) were rough going, but they gave us the go-ahead, recognizing that our efforts would help revitalize local agriculture,” Agrimedia President Takashi Morofuji explained.
If the company can shore up its base in the Kanto region, it will expand the service to other urban areas across the nation, he said.
“When Japanese farmers struggle with structural problems in terms of distribution, production process and securing human resources, we picture a new style of agriculture that responds to the needs of urban consumers,” Morofuji said.