Urban Farming in Hino
If you live in Hino, you’ve probably noticed little house-sized plots of farmland tucked between homes in the city’s residential areas. While they look small, they’re actually fully-fledged professional farms! Called “urban farms,” farms in cities are set apart from large rural plantations by their flexibility and proximity to communities.
For example, mass-producing and selling crops takes a lot of work, but the market-based income can be unreliable. Instead, farmers in Hino hold direct contracts with the city to produce the vegetables used in local schools’ lunches. The contracts allow them to earn stable incomes while only growing what they need for their quotas. Moreover, the harvesting season for many of the crops lasts for a month or more, so the farmers are able to harvest several small, manageable batches throughout the period. This also means the schools always have locally-grown, farm-fresh vegetables for healthy, tasty lunches!
In addition to stocking schools’ kitchens, a number of Hino’s farmers are also involved with education as teachers themselves! For 15 years, local farmers have taught in the Farming School program, a year-long class on how to plant, tend, and harvest various beginner-friendly crops. The class is completely free; instead, students offer their time and volunteer at farms in Hino after completing the course. Students explained the program is great because they can have fun farming casually, and it also helps the local farmers.
The Farming School’s head farmer proudly told me that people in Hino in general are very supportive of farmers, and that the way the city, farmers, and average citizens are interconnected sets an example for other Tokyo cities. In addition to supporting programs like the Farming School, the city also celebrates local industry at an annual county fair called the Hino Sangyo Festival. One of the students explained that was where she first heard about the class. After seeing the fruits of Hino’s agricultural industry up close at the festival, she was inspired to learn farming herself.
While the farming school class is aimed at adults, the head farmer also recommended farming as a great way for kids to learn about growing from failures. “Farming is a battle between you and nature,” he explained. The weather can completely change a harvest, which means farming is inevitably a win-some-lose-some activity. “You can’t get that kind of experience from a textbook,” he remarked. He jokingly added that if you make lots of mistakes while you’re young, by the time you’re an old man like him, you’ll have learned so much you won’t have any mistakes left to make.
Locally-grown produce is used all around Hino in schools, cafes, and restaurants, so there’s a good chance you’ve been eating it all along without realizing it. You never know – the veggies in your next salad could come from your own neighborhood!
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Industry and Sports Department, City Promotion Division
Phone (Direct Line): 042-514-8098
Phone (City Hall): 042-585-1111
Address: Hino City Hall, 3th Floor
1-12-1 Shinmei, Hino, Tokyo 191-8686
Contact the City Promotion Division through our online contact form