The thoughts on “soil making” that a father began.
Gassan Pilot Farm was established in 1977. The economic growth that had lasted into the 1970’s was strongly affected by the oil shock. However, the industrial structure of mass production and mass consumption had already reached agriculture throughout the country, and of course the situation was the same in Shonai as well. Mr. Kazuhiro Soma, the father of Mr. Hajime Soma, looked back and said on the website of Gassan Pilot Farm that it had changed to an eerie world where rice only grew through the ‘efficacy’ of agricultural chemicals, such as pesticides and organic mercury compounds. The father Kazuhiro wondered about what had happened to the landscape of his hometown, where killifish, loaches, dragonfly larvae, pond snails, water beetles, the larval Funa carp and catfish, and even fresh water plants had disappeared. On the website we can find a statement that “the biological layer had become too simple, and the rich nature had been lost.” In exchange for the rationalization for the modernization of agriculture, the biodiversity had been lost. His son Hajime grew up watching his father embark on organic farming. “I was still an elementary student at the time, but I heard that there were two or three poisoning deaths by pesticides a year in the Shonai region alone. There should not have been such few farmers with doubts, but it was a time when no one was thinking about such things as starting organic farming. My father was treated as an eccentric guy.”
Neither agricultural chemicals nor artificial fertilizers were used. But, it is said that the land used for cultivation was rather “non-arable,” which is the exact opposite of fertile. “There were almost no nutrients. The soil was so hard that even tractor plow blades couldn’t even penetrate it, so it was not easy to become quality topsoil, which plants need to grow. So we only could plant large potatoes.” However, even when the harvest time finally arrived, the size was less than half of the distribution standard. Mr. Soma looked back with gratitude that cooperative wholesalers and consumers both got behind the growth of organic farming.
Large amounts of compost made from cow manure and years of time transformed the “hard ground” into farms. Starting with Atsumi-kabu (a local variety), Chinese cabbage, etc., I have tried growing them all… those which we consider typical vegetables. Although it was little by little, the soil changed and the growth of crops improved, Mr. Soma said.