Archive for the ‘Farming’ Category

As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, we are growing all of our organic young barley grass at our parent company’s farms in Usa, Japan.  From my trips to our farms in Japan, I’ve noticed a few striking differences between American farms and Japanese farms.  In Japan, we use much smaller sized farms, we don’t use pesticides/herbicides, our farmers are older and more experienced, and the machinery we use is smaller. 

Does this affect the quality we get from Japan?  In fact, we get higher quality barley grass and powder from Japan because of their specialized knowledge, honed from 40 years farming barley on small plots where quality can be strictly controlled. 

Small Farms:  In Japan, a country approximately the size of California, the space suitable for farming is extremely limited.  In order to provide farmers in Japan with enough land to grow their crops, farms are divided into very small fields  scattered throughout the Usa region of Oita Prefecture.  At most, one of our numerous fields is 2.5 acres.  Because the fields are so small, each farmer is able to become very familiar with each plot of land, and more effectively grow crops.  These small farms also make it easier for the farmer to control the conditions (soil, nutrients, water) and as a result, can produce high-quality barley.

Use of Herbicides and Pesticides:  With the extremely large farms in the United States, it becomes extremely difficult to eradicate weeds, pests, and disease, once they gain hold at a farm.  Because they can spread so quickly, the use of pesticides is inevitable.  In Japan, fields are smaller and often surrounded by tall, dense vegetation which helps to prevent the spread of weeds, pests, and disease.  When a problem occurs at one field, we can easily cancel the cultivation of that particular field early in the process, thereby minimizing the expansion and impact of the problem to other fields.  The Japanese way of farming creates an environment where the use of pesticides can be reduced.  In order for us to eradicate weeds, we use machines as well as manpower.  Due to the fact that there is less to “look over,” our farmers can keep a close eye on their fields, thus avoiding the widespread use of chemicals.

Our barley fields are often surrounded by dense vegetation, to keep out unwanted pests and chemicals.

Career Farmers:  The farmers growing our barley have been with the company since it started, in 1969.  Throughout their 40 years of service, they have become experts in the cultivation of young barley grass.  Their intimate knowledge of proprietary cultivation methods, the land and climate have made them invaluable.  Growing young barley is not the same as growing barley (the grain) for food.  Specialized knowledge is required, and has been obtained by our career farmers.

Small Machinery:  Another big difference between the US and Japan is the size of the machinery used.  Because the machines are easy to handle and the growing area of each farmer is relatively small, there are many female and elderly people working in Japanese farms.  Our barley cultivation is also supported by many female and senior workers.  Their passion and dedication to quality allows us to offer the finest young barley grass.


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At our parent company in Japan, our employees have been busy bees preparing for the upcoming barley harvest.  The rainy summer season has ended , and the weather is starting to turn.  These past few weeks, the weather has been around 77 F (25 C) during the day, dropping to 59 F (15 C) in the early morning.  This is our signal that we should prepare the fields for another busy harvest season.

Farmers preparing to add organic fertilizer to freshly prepared fields

Through our 40 years of farming in Japan, we have learned that the most fruitful time to grow our barley is in the fall, winter, and early spring.  Though it seems counterintuitive to grow when it is cold and snowy, the barley is of better quality and more nutrient dense than the stuff that grows in hot climates.  Think of the lush tropical rain forests in Hawaii:  the plants grow fast and large, but they aren’t very nutrient dense.  Rather, they are filled with water and fiber, to support the heavy, fast growing leaves.  For Green Magma, slow growth in the fall and winter is key: the barley absorbs more nutrients and maintains its deep, rich green color.

Our head farmer, Mr. Kimura:

“Barley seeds do not sprout when the temperature is too high in the soil.  The optimum seeding period begins in the middle of September when the soil temperature goes down.”

Since we are an organic operation, the most important task at hand these past few weeks has been clearing the fields from weeds.  This involves repeatedly plowing up the fields to prevent the seeds of weeds from growing into any part of the fields.

After the fields are properly weeded, the farmers mix fully-ripened organic fertilizers (composts) into the freshly prepared fields.  Then they start planting seeds and prepare for the growth of young barley grass.  Since we cannot completely avoid weeds in the fields, the farmers continue to carefully remove by hand the weeds as the barley grows.  Without using any pesticides or herbicides, this is the toughest work in field management but very important to grow quality young barley grass.

Farmers adding organic fertilizer

Farmers preparing the rows for the barley seeds

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