Agricultural Experience with the Home-stay Participants
After picking up the participants and giving them a tour of Seika by bus we went to a local farm for an agricultural experience. We all went to Hanayagi Farms for picking sweet potatoes and black edamame. I have to admit that I am a city boy and so this was the first time in my life that I have actually gone out into the fields and done real farm work. First we went in and got our hands dirty while rooting around in the soil for sweet potatoes. It was really fun to just stick your hands in the earth and feel around until you got hold of the purple sweet potatoes. It was really exciting to grab hold of something unseen and then yank out a really big sweet potato!
Next we went over to where the black edamame were growing to harvest the beans. The farm guide brought a large pair of clippers to cut the base of the edamame stocks, but I thought that was no fun so I asked if I could just yank it out of the ground by hand. At first he looked at me like I was crazy, but said it was fine if I wanted to. Rather than just cutting the stock and walking away it felt like real work to have to rip the roots out of the ground by hand using raw strength. Of course we only pulled one plant each so if we were doing it all day I’m sure I would want to use the clippers.
After we finished our harvests we were surprised to find that we got to take home the sweet potatoes and edamame that we picked! Having a huge bag of sweet potatoes that I doubt I could eat on my own I gave some to neighbors and coworkers. The next day I boiled the edamame and put a little salt on them and they were delicious! My neighbor and her little daughter who I gave sweet potatoes came by my apartment the following day and gave me a dish of the sweet potatoes she cooked up and they too were amazing.
That day that we went out to the farms was a beautiful Autumn day with clear sunny skies and a cool breeze. Right next to the potato fields were rice fields that were also being harvested. All the home-stay participants really enjoyed the agricultural experience and we all had a lot of fun out in the fields picking potatoes and edamame. The participants then went home with their home-stay families and we all parted for the night, but would meet again the next day as we were all going to help out at the Children’s Festival the next day.
To be continued…