Today, we met the new face of farming in Date City. Syotaro Ohashi, 28, looking like anything but a farmer with long hair and a winning smile, came to speak with us about his family farm and his prize-winning strawberries. As the only son in his family, Ohashi-san understood his responsibility of taking over the family farm. However, he is more the exception than the rule. Most of his friends did not go into the farming business, citing long hours — no days off, no vacations — and too little money.
But for Ohashi-san, farming is his calling. He attended college to learn as much as he could about farming and then served as an apprentice to a strawberry farmer in another Prefecture for a year. Now he works side-by-side with his parents, his wife and one hired employee.
He opened a farm stand to sell directly to customers. He said he loves to see people smile when they eat this fruit. He advertises through his Facebook page…he takes pictures of the customers who come to the farm stand and posts them on his page. He sells directly to restaurants and has been trying to form partnerships with other local farmers so they can all do more business and keep agriculture alive and well in Date City. He hopes to hire another employee.
His parents don’t always agree with his new ideas and approaches, but Ohashi-san understands that things need to change for farming to survive.
Not only did Ohashi-san’s strawberries look beautiful, they were literally the sweetest strawberries I ever tasted. When we asked him his secret, he said he puts a little bit of love into his crops. It certainly works.
In addition to our strawberry treat, we helped another local farmer prune the flowers from their peach trees. My teammate Gene blogged about our experience.