2012 Arigato Farm Project, Fukushima

21 images Created 18 Dec 2013

The March 11th 2011 earthquake and tsunami cause explosions and meltdowns at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant that contaminated large areas of the prefecture. The farming community in the affected areas quickly understood that their bucolic existence had ended. Fears of radioactive contamination have kept many shoppers, all over Japan, from buying products from the area and prices have tumbled for any that do find a market. Yet Farming is an important part of the cultural identity in Fukushima and whilst the fears about dangerously affected foods might be justified in parts there are large partsof the countryside that remain just as safe and potentially productive as they were before the disaster.
The Arigato Farm Project near Iwaki, which lies a little over 20 kilometres south of the nuclear plant, on the borders of the exclusion zone, was set up to address these fears and provide an attitude-changing means for locally grown crops to find a market again. Using fallow farmland donated by an Iwaki businessman, Satoshi Masaki, the farm is worked by a small group of volunteers, led by Seiji Kanari. Kanari san is determined to reinvigorate the local farming business again by providing organic, locally produced crops that can find a local market.
The farm consists of seven fields but at the time these images were taken only 2 of them had been cleared for cultivation. Volunteers were attracted to the project via social media sites like Facebook and Mixi and many are young, bringing new and innovative ideas into farming. Kanari san is happy to see younger people volunteering when and as they can, a little or a lot and bringing energy to a business that, even before the disaster, was suffering from old-fashioned traditions and an acute pessimism for its future. He believes that the young will again feel pride in their countryside and perhaps take better care of it than the older farmers did.
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