【PLANTALK Vol.4】“TOKYO MIDORI LABO.” in a position to setting off a mighty swell in the next green industry. -Interview SOLSO Taichi Saito and PLANTIO Takayoshi Serizawa-
SOLSO is a group of professional, leading green industry trend with their original creativeness. SOLSO CEO Taichi Saito and PLANTIO CEO Takayoshi Serizawa have joined hands to initiate “TOKYO MIDORI LABO.”They will be talking about behind the scene exciting collaboration, also sharing their perspectives and co-creating future since Urban Agriculture has been recently gaining further attention.
The Starting Point -Refurbishing the wonderful horticultural industry-
Serizawa: As urban agriculture and permaculture becoming a major global trend, You’re one of the very unique person who can speak of those with the knowledge of traditional horticultural background.
Saito: Mr. Serizawa is the third generation of a long-established planter shop, and I on the other hand, started as a helper of a gardening shop my relatives ran in local Hanamaki-city and then I was very absorbed in the world of gardening. Although we came from different places, I think we have in common that we were both surrounded by seniors rich in horticultural knowledge and skills.
Japan had a gardening trend centered on potted flowers in the 70s. I actually didn’t experience that exact time, but came to realize there were many signs of the craze after joining the horticultural industry. There are very few generations like us who’re aware of such trend background.
Serizawa: The gardening trend comes about every 20 years. The fashionable green trend wasn’t made in a day. While the craze kept coming and going, there’s been a considerable amount of hard work and quiet dedications to better and renovate the industry.
Saito: Two phases before, which you mentioned, didn’t assemble so many plant varieties and had less alternative for pots. Since there was limited choice of soil and fertilizer, it seemed people simply enjoyed growing plants. I think that the “growing and eating” style we currently are promoting is an extension of that very simple style.
Serizawa: I find that Mr.Saito and I share the perspectives on the necessity of updating the horticultural industry with a sufficient understanding of the conventional industry.
Saito: Since horticulture was originally coming from the landowner’s side business, there may not have been many people with awareness who sensed the necessity to make changes and progresses. However, over time, the demand for greenery and plants has changed in general, currently making it seem that the traditional horticultural industry is not quite prepared to meet those new demands.
Meeting New ways of Living Through “Grow and Eat”
Serizawa: So it’s about time we talk about the urban agriculture. Overseas, people are starting to make their own food.The United Kingdom, in particular, is an island nation as Japan, and the agricultural workforce is in a significant decline. There indeed is an option to buy vegetables from unknown producers with no traceability, while the world is turning to more primitive solutions.
Saito: I’m concerned that, during my lifetime, I might have to witness the earth facing a tough situation. Many people should have been feeling the effects of global warming recently. Now that things are generally homogenized, mass produced and mass consumed, the loads are even heavier to the natural environment. Under such circumstances, a mere thoughts of eating vegetables being healthy, or being satisfied just with the print of “organic” on the package will not give adequate descriptions of being aware of the heavy environmental load human is putting on to satisfy their needs. To have vegetables without burdening the earth, it is of course important to make them yourself, but the production site should also be close to where the consumption happens.
Since teaming up with Mr. Serizawa, SOLSO’s greenery lineup has significantly increased. As I am gaining the key knowledge, I’m willing to actively send out messages to indicate the gravity of urban agriculture through my skill to “fashioning fresh impressions to things with and in style”.
Serizawa: PLANTIO aims to support urban agriculture with technology. We opened a shared urban farm in Ebisu to verify our technology, and I sincerely feel the urgency of creating a platform for urban agriculture. If Japanese people are to exposed to more sites based on this idea, there is a high possibility of them starting to grow and eat their own vegetables on account of their agricultural backgrounds.
The Impact and the Future “TOKYO MIDORI LABO.” Brings About
Serizawa: The common ground between Mr. Saito and I is not just that we’re familiar with the great old days of horticultural industry. “TOKYO MIDORI LABO.”, will open in Hamacho, Nihonbashi next spring benefiting from Mr. Saito’s skills of directing things in style to exploit attentions, along with our IT technology, distribution and media forces.
Saito: I am participating in this project as a representative of DAISIZEN, which runs the SOLSO brand. This institute is joined by PLANTIO, Farmships, farm product distribution venture, and GreenSnap, a company that organizes greenery-specified SNS. And as the name suggests, this will be the institution to study about “eating greenery” from all angles.
Up till today, SOLSO has promoted greens in a aesthetically pleasing style or emotionally/spiritually gratifying way but we would boost that to a new phase of “palatable” greens. “TOKYO MIDORI LABO.” is meant to function as a hub to that achievement.
Serizawa: “Eating” is a very primitive action, and it’s truly crucial for humanity. However, there is no way to achieve our goal at a single jump, but we need to organize how to show and communicate what we have in mind. I think urban agriculture in Japan could accelerate if we continue to make efforts in researching and the most of the services provided by the 4 companies.
Saito: I’m sure there’ll be a loads of low-key efforts to make because it’s something primitive. No matter how much technology you depend on, there are certain things you can’t do. And we can’t perform things without a minimal set of primitives, and since all of these are an experimental attempts, we’re fumbling. But the only way to start a new movement is to start moving.
Serizawa: If the stylish world of new greenery be exhibited by our one and only Mr.Saito, I’m sure people would easily start reacting. However, there are social issues that need to be solved such as seeds, soil, water, etc., but PLANTIO has derived the solutions to meet the current requirements, which makes me think of a huge wave of demand coming its way. “TOKYO MIDORI LABO.” will be a place where you can truly combine what Mr. Saito and I have been doing and will be doing.
Landscape Architect and Green Director. Representative of DAISHIZEN, which runs SOLSO and SOLSO FARM, which design landscape and indoor green. Rich experience in collaborating with a number of popular commercial facilities and architects. He has celebrated his 20th anniversary in 2018 and started his new career as a landscape architect and farmer.