© Laÿna Droz

 

Three months as a volunteer on the Kanazawa Farm in Japan

A report by Laÿna Droz

The project I chose to join last summer is called “Kanazawa Farm”. It consists in helping the farmer, Yoko-san. My motivation to join this project was mainly to discover a new culture and a new way of life, and because it was an environmental project. I didn’t yet feel apt and mature enough to care for people in difficult situations like it is the case in other long term projects.


Every working day began the same. First, I cooked and had breakfast with Yoko-san in her kitchen (complete Japanese breakfast, including rice, fried vegetables, eggs and miso-soup). Then we went to the chicken-house to take care of the chicken and the ducks (clean up the food boxes, give new food, cut and give grass, change the water and pick up the eggs). It took us about two hours. After this, the work depended on what needed to be done. In June, I spent many afternoons in the rice field to pick up the grass which hadn’t been eaten by the ducks. Usually, we had to collect vegetables, to take care of the fields, to clean the eggs, and to prepare boxes for Yoko-san’s deliveries.
Two workcamps took place in Kanazawa farm during my stay. It was a great opportunity for me to meet other Japanese people and other volunteers from all around the world. We did a great job together which wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the whole group of volunteers, like cleaning the edge of the bamboo forest and a small river.
I felt really useful during this camp. Yoko-san is doing a huge job alone, but after the nuclear catastrophe of Fukushima, the economical situation has become worse. She lost clients, and she cannot sell her vegetables at the same price than before. Directly after the catastrophe, she had to plough the ground about 30 cm deep on all her fields, and lost the main part of the harvest. Moreover, there had been no long term volunteer since the catastrophe. It was a wonderful human experience to me. Yoko-san is very gentle and patient. I learned a lot of Japanese, and above all about human kindness and strength. I met scientists who were checking the radioactivity levels on the farm, and it appears that most of the time it fulfils the international norms for civilians. I truly wish new volunteers to go to Kanazawa Farm, because Yoko-san needs help, and it was one of my most wonderful life experiences.