How MYFARM and PLANTIO crossed -The new beginning of the new agriculture-
MYFARM Inc. CEO Kazuma Nishitsuji and PLANTIO CEO Takayoshi Serizawa share views, philosophy, and perspectives in so many layers. Seeking the possibility of AI(Specifically tuned for Cultivation Patented)
and urban farming correlating closely to creating a new service compatible for future agriculture.
Sustina Park located in Ebisu Tokyo is a place to meet the fun and the potential of “self-production for self-consumption” (company slogan of MYFARM Inc) to feel how it is to actively involve yourself in your
life, firmly engaging with nature and committing to the place you plant your life upon through personal agriculture experience.
When the city kid meets farming
Serizawa：What was your initial motive to start MYFARM Inc.?
Nishitsuji：Might get long…(laugh)I grew up near the famous Tojinbo cliffs in Fukui prefecture. My parents weren’t local, both born and raised in the cities, an office worker. I was surrounded by kids physically
tough and strong who’re from a farming or a fishery household which made me then an obvious city kid.
But we did have a garden to grow our own vegetables. At that time this croft in my yard was the best friend for it gave me so much fun and joy. I guess that’s where it all started. I simply loved the vegetables, the plants. It naturally led me to the world of science and nature.
When I was in high school,I couldn’t help but realize there were many large fields left untouched. I learned it was the fallow lands. Which naturally came to my mind of starting my own farm. I had told my parents and the teacher of my becoming a farmer. They were all giving me their blessings for they knew how much I loved farming.
The days in the University started me up
Nishitsuji：Although I made it official to become a farmer, I wasn’t thinking it through what to produce. That came to my attention when my mother asked me that very question. I suddenly had to make it up since I didn’t
have an immediate answer. Surprisingly I told her that I’d be growing SENZU (You’ll know it if you’re a reader of Dragon Ball. That power regaining peas.). Of course, it meant to be a joke but instead of
laughing out loud, my mother told me it would be a Nobel Prize matter if I ever achieved it. Cleary that
piece of her comment made my way to the Department of Agriculture in Kyoto University where has been producing numbers of Nobel Prize Winners.
Despite my priority of growing SENZU, things didn’t exactly go the way as expected (laugh) at Kyoto University, I joined the study of soy isoflavone and saponin to achieve an in-depth understanding of the farm produce. I visited all over Japan from North to South, Mid-part(Hokkaido,Okinawa and Nagano), growing and studying soybeans but to acquire the study result usually requires a long period of time. My yearning for farming was growing faster and larger even during those waits. I took a job after graduation.
My first job out of the university was in a sales force at a food-related company. What I saw there was a harsh reality of food crops nearly being abused. Farmers had thought their profession was a career choice people shouldn’t consider seriously and people hardly paid respect to the produce. Something was wrong and something was to be fixed. The world needed a turnaround. People should proudly and happily add farmer to their career list and people should greatly enjoy the bliss from the farm. So that’s how MYFARM Inc. started 12 years ago, inviting people over to fallow land for a farming trial.
“My Farm”, your community where you experience the fun of farming
Nishitsuji：The very first wall we hit was the fact that no overly unique people would have us farm their property. We were almost freshly out of university, obviously lacking experience.Then we promoted and sold our products to famous Ponto-Cho in Kyoto to gain credit and experience enough to market ourselves to the landowners with a view to secure more locations.
In fact, the Agriculture start-ups in Kyoto sell their produce to Ponto-Cho to this day, keeping our little tradition.
Serizawa： And then perhaps things began to take off, being able to obtain farming places.
Nishitsuji：Once you got started at one location, users started gathering and landowner started offering us their properties. I guess the hard work paid off, we have over a hundred locations throughout the nation and
are able to operate as “Try Out MYFARM” providing fun vegetable farming experiences.
Planter was invented 70 years ago, What would it be like in the next 70 years
Nishitsuji：Plantio is proceeding towards AI controlled cultivation through adding the latest IoT technology to the planter your Grandfather invented 70 years ago. But you went beyond just being an AI planter designing but to also start the urban farming community. How that came along?
Serizawa：After the days in an IT startup, I’ve joined Selon Industry Co. Ltd which the company initially invented the planter. I was there for 5 years and started PLANTIO. It’s becoming very common in overseas to grow your own vegetables and it was a natural move for us to not only create an IoT planter but refreshing and sharing the culture of farming. That led us to kick off the urban farming community. It is very crucial to
understand how nature works. We ‘re very eager to build the community of urban farming for that will bring forth the world with a better and strong comprehension of our daily consumption. And through our
activity, we had the privilege to meet Nishitsuji-san.
MYFARM × PLANTIO = Culture of a New Farming
Nishitsuji：I’ve heard the presentation from Serizawa-san and I was just blown away by the fact that we really do share the vision. Together we should be achieving so many things.
Serizawa： I’ve known you long before we met, through media, getting the senses we had so many things incommon. I had a hunch we’ll do something together someday.
Nishitsuji： “Self-production for Self-consumption” is what we aim for through our company activities but it doesn’t work unless people recognize “the farming”. We started MYFARM as a portal for people to know and
begin farming. And just when we were thinking about making it more casual and fun to attract people we met PLANTIO’s urban farming community. It was very encouraging.
Serizawa： I saw urban farming in Netherland in 2012 and wondered why Japanese people purchase vegetables when there were rich agricultural backgrounds in Japan. Also reminded me that agriculture possesses
huge environmental loads. That was when I thought of updating my grandfather’s planter. To rearrange the planter that allows anyone to farm anywhere, even in the center of the metropolitan. It was about designing the new farming culture but I found something missing, like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle.
But turned out, Nishitsuji san had it all along. I’m so grateful to be able to do something together.
Nishitsuji：PLANTIO and Serizawa-san make full use of technology and tops it off as entertainment. Both of us were convinced that this could lead us somewhere by incorporating what Plantio has and our skill-set from My Farm.
To the rich future of agriculture
Serizawa：I’m visioning that the crossover of MYFARM rental gardening and our planter technology would create something very original. I’ve noticed you also foresee some expectation of our collaborative future.
Nishitsuji：Yes, I’m looking at a rich welfare reach to an amusement for adults. It is about acknowledging the agriculture as a part of human agency. Agriculture does have the word “culture” in itself, it is all about
feeling farming as a key element in our daily life to culture respects to nature and what that provide us with. We have very mixed feeling for the nature world, we admire, we awe, we might even love but not quite getting closer, although we might want to. But that should explain the reason why we plant vegetables in the concrete jungle, we might be longing for an organic contact. The more you connect, the better the world might get.
Serizawa： It is our proposal for future agriculture to free the farming space to people. We can create and refresh the farming culture by navigating people to going back and forth between suburban farms and urban farms, all to make these actions consecutive in order to enforce and empower the movement. We have that as our mission.