PLANTALK Vol.2 ~ Collaboration of Real Farm & IT changing the future of Urban Farming ~ Urban Farming Club Takashi Ogura x PLANTIO CEO Takayoshi Serizawa Interview the 2nd Part

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1st Part is here.

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In Shibuya, we create “Shibuya Seeds”, and we want to exchange them with surrounding communities 

Ogura :Even from trying Vegetable farming just once, I believe that many people will start thinking, “That was fun. I want to do it again.” In reality, I saw many get really into growing vegetables and I realized that people that live in the city have the desire to grow vegetables. It was quite unexpected. 

Serizawa:I bet a lot of people felt the desire to feel nature, to create something on their own, and to do something good for the environment. 

Ogura :In that sense, I wanted to work on projects that put more emphasis on urban farming. And in February of 2018, I created the Urban Farmers Club. First we created rooftop farms in Ebisu and Harajuku, and then in four buildings in the Shibuya area. In that sphere, we would like to collaborate with PLANTIO. 

Picture: 2017 during holidays, a large urban farming event called “Ebisu Garden Farmers” was held where around 500 people visited. This year from May 3rd to 5th, the same event is planned to be held in Ebisu Garden Place. 

Serizawa:We are also thinking of creating an urban farming community. What we are able to do is to utilize communication technology and make the movement more visible. We can use application maps to create pinpoints for urban farming communities. Of course this is used to have new members become interested in urban farming, but its also a way for existing members within the four farms to know what is going on in the other farms. 

Ogura :What’s great about technology is that you don’t have to be conscious of the time and space. We are able to know what’s going on in another space while currently being in this space. 

Serizawa:We are currently developing a planter called “PLANTIO HOME”. This planter consists of a camera that can show the entire farm, Wi-Fi, and an app. If you put one in a farm, you are able to see the farm’s situation 24/7. In the future, if urban farms are built in areas not only in Shibuya, but possibly around the city or even around the nation, the convenience of such technology will be felt much more. 

Ogura :There is a limitation to man power, and there’s no way we can fly around the nation and do everything at once. Like the farmer I met in Sagamihara, there needs to be farmers that join each community and can teach. 

“The interesting part of vegetable farming is trial and error, however with too much error, people are prone to quit” says Ogura-san. “PLANTIO HOME is an option to fix that problem” says Mr. Serizawa. 

Serizawa:It’s ideal to have everything connected through an app. Are the vegetables grown in the Urban Farmers Club fixed seeds? or is it F1 seeds? 

Ogura :It would be fixed and native seeds. At “Weekend Farmers” we had a farmer from Sagamihara that was using F1 seeds, and we followed for a while. However from now on, we would like to adhere to fixed seeds. 

Picture: “Urban Farmers Club” members: Yui Keishi is an organic farmer that uses no pesticides or fertilizers and merely relies on the power of the dirt. 

Serizawa:The brand that was created through 3 generations of sampling is the fixed seeds. It’s amazing how we created the Shibuya Seed with our own hands. 

Ogura :Similar to other communities, we created a fixed seed and did some buck wheat, and wanted to exchange some seeds. During the Edo period,  in attendance transfers, Daimyos that came to Edo exchanged local vegetable seeds. 

Serizawa:They would take native seeds from other clans, and bring it home and grow it. At times it became another vegetable. It’s quite interesting. 

Ogura :It’s like how the radish from Tennoji Osaka, grew as a Nozawa vegetable in Nagano.

Serizawa:We are also planning on creating a seed exchange system and a seed library system where people can borrow and lend out seeds. We should work on that together as well. 

Ogura :If real Farms and IT collaborate, there are more and more thing that we can do. The future of urban farming may change. It’s quite exciting.