ECOPLUS conducted workshops on weeding in our non-chemical rice paddy in the weekend of June 20 and 27-28 in Tochikubo village at Minamiuonuma, Niigata, Japan. In order to avoid the risks on COVID-19, the workshop, used to be conducted for two days staying in an inn in the village, was changed into one-day program. For the there days, in total 16 persons were gathered and enjoyed the work surrounded by the calls of Ruddy Kingfisher and Gray-faced buzzard.
In those rice paddies, farmers have not been using chemicals for over 15 years. So weeds are also very healthy. Specially “Inu-Bie” or Japanese millet, is so similar to rice that it was so difficult to identify which is which in the field.
Mr. FUEKI Akira, the chief of Tochikubo Panorama Farm taught us that rice has small fluffs surrounding the base of each leaf. So, we were concentrating our eyes very close to those plants before each weeding actions.
Some days before our works, farmers used special tool called “Taguruma,” which has metal rotating claws. So, weeds along the one side were already taken or less but another side was very congested with weeds.
Weeds are grown as same as rice, we need to use all fingers pushed deep into the mud then pull out the weeds with roots. Keeping the bottom very low in the paddy during the work for more than one hour was quite tough for all of us.
Many of participants from Tokyo area repeated that “I never imagined it needs such hard work to grow rice organiclally.” Some university students, once said “I was doing football fo long years so I am confident on my physical strangeness,” complained of back pain.
While weeding, we identified so many dragonflies were emerging on the leaves of young rice. Some are totally transparent like a glassworks. All of us recognized the richness of the nature in the organic environment.
ECOPLUS held organic rice farming workshop called “Tanbo no I-ro-ha” or “ABC in a rice paddy,” on 8-9 June, 2019 at Tochikubo village in Niigata, Japan, having 35 students from Waseda University in Tokyo.
Since we had very limited rain falls in May, some areas of rice paddies dried up and it helped weeds to grow seriously specially at our non-chemical, totally organic paddies. Students waled into the paddy with bare feet and used fully opened hands like as rakes to clear weeds.
Paddies were filled by water thanks to the rain since Friday evening but in most of the paddies the soil was so solid because of long dry condition that it was difficult to push fingers in the soil and we needed to pull out each weeds. Started the work at 9 am on Sunday, it took 4 hours and more to finish two rice paddies which size is over 1,000 square meters.
Beside weeding in rice paddies, villagers gave them lectures, and a specialist conducted nature tour. Through those students had a chance to feel the relationship between nature, life and community. They left comments like, “I strongly leant the true meaning of to live”, “I understood the hardship of farming”, “I should have more appreciation on food”.