Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mountain Life ①

Tosa mountain energy feeds all kinds of life.

    Are you interested in having a vegetable garden? It seems more people are interested in growing their own vegetables because of the many troubles and incidents concerning food. We interviewed John Moore, a social entrepreneur who propagates the ideas of organic gardening. His philosophy is based on his childhood in his hometown, Ireland, where he was influenced greatly by his grandmother who grew organic vegetables. Currently, Mr. Moore is an instructor at Vegetable Sommelier Foundation: Home Eco Farmer Program and Kochi Plants Academy and runs workshops in farms around Tosa.

John taste checking Tosa soil for acidity.
By John Moore

   Mountains have always been in my life. I was born in them, walked in them with my grandfather and I’m still climbing them.

   I first saw Tosa mountains in late Spring 2010. The trees stood up out of the mountains like soldiers on parade. Strength. Pride. Health. I could touch the energy shooting out of the trees into the earth and air. It was exhilarating. They had already cut their first rice crop in the fields. 

   We brought 12 people to Kochi from Tokyo for an organic tour. We visited the wonderful Makino Botanical gardens, taught an organic workshop, and visited a few “almost organic” farms. We walked the majestic Tosa peaks and relaxed in energetic Kochi drinking spots including the drunken beach festival. We returned to Tokyo carrying Tosa back in our hearts.

John's mountain rice field.
   A few months later, an energetic Kochi lady spent her own money to visit me at our Farmers Market stall in front of the United Nations University, Aoyama in Tokyo. She wanted me to return to Tosa. Please look at the Tosa Kanran Center! It’s a shame! A beautiful building on top of a unique mountain stocked with unusual plants by Tesshin sensei. The building was to be pulled down for the lack of a good use. A dream was needed. A dream about humans being nature. Offering life to all life.

  The top of the Kanran Center mountain is a breathtaking 360 degree view surrounded by other mountains and an arch of sky that holds every star in the heavens at night. Full Moons are magical.

   It’s one of those places where human beings can go back into their real selves, nature. Humans moved away from being nature years ago. Instead we became scientists. Chemical farmers. Masters of the planet. Darth Vaders. Community producers.

   In Tosa, real nature is in front of you 24 hours a day. Real nature is written in the grandmother’s face next door. Nature is in her knees as she walks slowly to her vegetable garden to pick today’s dinner. She is a real mountain of Tosa. Nature is not something out there, over here, something to visit, photograph or plan. Nature is her smile, even though her knees hurt.

   OK, I said, let’s plan an Academy for this mountain. BUT only if we plan it together with the local community! We need to ask the advice of local people first before we do anything. Or it will not work. The Academy will not be REAL. It will not be natural. The Academy will be a Disneyland of nature study. Tosa is real, above all, these mountains are real. It would be false to simply use a few local people as teachers in the Academy. We need to sit and get the real people’s advice. The real mountains are in the hearts of Tosa people.

   Hearts filled with life like the family of four generations filling one household, all hands growing tasty strawberries. Or the pioneer of organic growing now dedicated to nurturing soya bean by hand and creating great handmade tofu. Most of which he gives away to friends. A rock and stone loving octogenarian grandfather who still cares for his centenarian mother.

   If this community does not want to keep the Academy in its heart, it cannot be a success.

   Businessmen want to keep their business growing, at all costs. Outsiders look at this nature from the outside. A local Tosa community looks at Tosa nature from the inside. If we cannot do it together, step by step with the community, then I will not do it. I said this repeatedly.

   The Tosayama community has been here dreaming its own future for hundreds of years. Tosa has done a good job. That’s why the Tosa trees and soil are energetic. That’s why the grandmother next door brings an armful of vegetables from her garden to our doorway every morning. She knows this land. She is this village. Her neighbors are the real mountains. It is her village after all. Everyone else is a visitor. She moves together with the mountains.
Tasty Tosa mountain soil.

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