Nothing-but-Lettuce near Mt Fuji

Sat, 09/11/2009 – Jude Fanton

The small village of Morimachi (meaning forest village) is in the area of Shizuoka, near Mt Fuji. But the forest has totally disappeared. To Japanese the village of Morimachi is now synonymous with lettuce. And it is no wonder for there are square kilometres of them in this wide flat valley. All are grown with chemicals, the ground covered with plastic and in cold times plastic tunnels to protect them from frosts.

The morning we were there our friend, Shinji, and his sisters were transplanting lettuce seedlings into a massive field. Two would walk behind a contraption like a large square bicycle spanning six rows into which they were feeding the seedlings. The machine inserted each into a hole and tamped it down.

We learnt that there is a modicum of diversity in that some farmers practise a rotation between summer sweet corn, autumn rice and the ubiquitous salad.

 

IMAGE Square kilometres of Iceberg style lettuce, here being transplanted by machine.

 

IMAGE Four hundred lettuces fit in sixty metres by one metre beds. 21,600 planted by machine that day.

All was assisted and translated by one of our former interns and seed saving activist, Masami Sakaban.