Nestled in a wooded corner of the Shizuoka Exercise Park, the Shizuoka Organic Festival might be difficult to find if it weren’t for the sounds of music and scent of freshly cooked food wafting through the trees.
The first annual event held in December 2018 included 160 growers and producers offering everything from fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables to bread, jam, pickles, and organic beer and wine. The event offered a little something for everyone, which was exactly what Maki Yumamoto, one of the eight-member crew that organized the event, hoped would happen. “We wanted to show people that everything they need is available in organic form here in Shizuoka. That’s why we chose tsunagaru (connection) as the theme for our first year,” she says.
Visitors indeed found a little bit of everything. Beauty products, clothing, accessories, and household items could be found in unique colors and designs, often using reclaimed materials or natural dyes. Workshops on wreath making, wood carving, alternative energy, green building, and seed saving all took place along with a seed swap and talks with growers and producers about what organic meant to them and why they believed it was particularly important now.
Kanae Tanizaki of Yasashi Farm and Makoma Warashina of Damonde Farm both arrived from Fujinomiya to be on hand for the event with their array of fresh vegetables. A self-taught organic farmer, Tanizaki started working her fields only five years ago and sells most of her produce to restaurants and organic shops. The deep green of her Lacinato kale is impossible to pass up as are the vivid colors of the heirloom carrots she displays. Warashina began farming just four years ago with a focus on growing sansai (mountain vegetables), some of which—like gobo (burdock root)—she uses as a rich, earthy tea, even though they are difficult to work with. “I like things that are challenging,” she says as she passes out samples of the tea.
Eriko Hirano of Farmers Kitchen turns the organic produce and grains into cookies, sandwiches and mouth-watering sweets. Other bakers were scattered around the grounds, some pulling steaming fresh pizza from portable stone ovens on site, while others, like Kirkekafe Bakeri, brought their loaves, muffins, and other delectables in for the day.
Fujiyama Hunter Brewery tapped tasty organic kegs of Yoki—a hinoki (cypress) flavored beer—along with a rice IPA. Peace Tea Factory, Kawane’s three-year fermented bancha tea, packed a subtler punch. Both were perfect companions for listening to one of the live music performances or watching children of all ages test their skills on a bamboo jungle gym, an improvised skateboard park or rope climbing. One day seemed too short to take in everything Shizuoka Organic Festival offered, but for now it will have to do.