Name of the Farm: Kuroiwa 黒岩 Permaculture Farm
Farm site: Niigata, Joetsu, Kakizaki.
We like life in the countryside, but since get married, we lived at big cities in Spain and Japan. Both worked on unpleasant jobs, and we felt that we needed a change in our way of life. Me (Emilio) had been studying Permaculture for 15 years studying in a self-taught way, and doing small practical with friends and family fields. After 3 years of living in Nagoya, one of the biggest and polluted cities in Japan, I applied my curriculum vitae to Joetsu City Regional Rural Cooperation for Depopulated Areas, and I got the job that consists of helping elders in the mountains with agricultural task.
My wife and I came Kuroiwa to realise the dream of raising cattle. We wanted to be self-sufficient, produce good quality healthy food while making farming practices with Permaculture and Regenerative Agriculture, and get my two children a good quality of life. We wanted to change our life and stop the degradation of the mountains.
I hope to create jobs thanks to the success of our animal breeding and attract young people who want to live in the mountains. We live in a 15 houses village (Kuroiwa), where the youngest person is 60 years old, and if nobody do nothing, the village will ends.
After 2 years on the site:
After 2 years of combining my job with the work I do on the homestead, we have reaped successes and failures. For example, in the first year we planted a rice field of the local variety Koshihikari, only with cow manure, planted and harvested by hand and drying in the traditional way. It was a resounding success. But the vegetables we planted in a field that somebody lent us didn’t go well. I did not have time to mulch everything, and the manure was not enough.
The second year we tried with the Fukuoka Masanonbu San variety, Happy Hill, and it was a tremendous failure. The weather where we are is colder than Ehime Prefecture (Happy Hill origin), and the plants didn’t grow, but the vegetables near the house grown with multi-manure from our homestead were a huge success.
During the two years we started a small herd of goats and a chicken pen. We learned a lot and applied all the knowledge acquired from books. We even innovated some ideas of our own while learning DIY.
Local resources for our farm:
Working with the community I have learned a lot. Local rice farmers throw away or burn the rice husk, we are now using it for mulching and as an ingredient in compost. We also experimented with multi-manure compost with chickens and we keep the stables with deep litter.
After my commitment with my job ends, we could potentially have access to land rental, or possibly buy some land and the house we are renting now.
We are also collecting collecting organic waster from restaurants and shops, and we plan to reach more agreements with local merchants.
The money problem/the money solution:
We want to be out of debt, that’s why subsidies or loans are not our option here in Japan.
We are saving very little, since we have not yet solved the issue of fuel in winter. We are looking to buy a fireplace and wood stove. But the house that we rent must be ours to do any major works. With the little money we have started to plan the growth of the silkies coop. We have measured the laying of eggs of our hens for two years. Now we are going to raise many chicks and plan to start selling eggs from the spring of 2019.
We are talking with Niigata chickens breeders and buyers. We plan to raise up to 300 Niigata chickens for meat, with mobile pens.
When we make the first step, we will think about the following ones: they can be pigs, more goats, Wagyu cows …
We have started with marketing and created a YouTube channel called Kuroiwa Permaculture Farm. Please subscribe!
What is our purpose:
We want to grow the farm little by little. With what we earn we want to invest in human capital, hire people and grow the farm.
What we want to produce:
We want to produce eggs, goat milk, cheese, milk, pork, veggies, fruits, berries. We have many plans.
The future of the farm:
An interconnected group of 5 houses, working together in the same farm. A sales and marketing person, an equipment operator, business development, a winter house operator, a machinery maintenance, a carpenter, a veterinarian.
A Permaculture Farm to serve as a demonstration site.
Create good and new soil in the mountain, with abundant organic matter. Create wildlife refuges at the edges and attract wildlife with our best practices. Grow good food. Offer good products to an area of 50 km.