Growing The Farm-To-Table Concept In Tokyo

Over the last few years, the number of farm-to-table restaurants in Tokyo — that is, those listing the farms and farmers they source their ingredients from — has been steadily increasing. Some contract directly with growers to obtain their produce and specific regional foods. Others, though, like Noz by T.Y. Farm and We Are The Farm, have taken a stricter and perhaps more idealistic stance on the concept — sourcing their produce from farms they own and operate. By doing this — and also using only organic methods and open-pollinated seeds — both restaurants aim to offer not only the freshest and best, but also to inspire a new generation of farmers.

© Photo by Joan Bailey

Farm-to-table gained popularity in the U.S. in the early 2000’s amid concerns about food safety, the distances food traveled and a declining population of farmers. While fresh, local and seasonal are concepts the Japanese menu has long embraced, farm-to-table is a somewhat new idea grounded in chisan-chisho (local production for local consumption). A term coined here in the mid-1980’s, the idea is similar to that in the U.S.: reduce the number of miles food travels, eat fresh and in season, and support local farmers.

Noz by T.Y. Farm

© Photo by Joan Bailey

T.Y. Farm’s three hectares are a creative new venture taking root in Ome, a far-western district in Tokyo. The arrival of the plum pox virus in 2009 destroyed the majority of the plum orchards, Ome’s famous regional product, leaving local farmers hopeless. “Growers were devastated,” says Futoshi Ota, president of T.Y. Farm. The agricultural industry there was left in tatters.

“Farmers kept selling their land for development, but people …continue reading