Our project is a partnership between two groups of diverse individuals, ten persons on each side, based in the Kansas River Valley, centered in Lawrence, Kansas (in the center of the US farm belt) and Saitama Prefecture (northwest of Tokyo, Japan) to explore ways to further interest in small-scale, organic farming and establish personal relationships between food producers and consumers in areas of our countries where rural communities once thrived but are now in decline. We aim to use cross-cultural dialogues between organic food industry professionals and other community members in our two agricultural heartlands to develop innovative pilot projects that will incorporate aspects of each other culture’s approaches to spread interest in organic, locally produced foods in our respective communities.
As our project develops, following exchange visits, we will be adding pages to this web site, both in English and in Japanese. Please let us know what you think on the comments sections of our blogs.
Our Kansas-based American Team
Our Kansas side team members include a scholar of Japanese art history and cultural studies, a Kansas State University professor of horticulture, who researches organic vegetable production, a staff member at the Douglas County, Kansas, agriculture extension office, the director of the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture, a University of Kansas history professor who researches agriculture history in Japan, the director of the Kansas Rural Center, a local organic farmer, another farmer who also works for the Kansas Organic Producers to market products, an activist/lobbyist for sustainable energy in Kansas, a manager and owner of a local organic restaurant, and an educator at the educational foundation of a local co-op natural foods grocery store.
Our Saitama-based Japanese Team
Our Japanese side team members include a translator and sustainability awareness activist who works with the NGO, Japan for Sustainability; a farmer and chair of IFOAM-Japan; another staff member of IFOAM-Japan; a retired Japanese government diplomat and United Nations staff member; a staff member of the Japan Organic and Natural Foods Association who oversees organic certification of farmers and rural development; a professor of rural development at Saitama University; an organic farmer, a director of a sustainability awareness NGO who also owns an organic foods store; an architect who also works with an NGO to preserve old farmhouses.
Projected Project Timeline
May-June 2009, reciprocal fact-finding visits between the Kansas and Japanese teams. These visits coincide with public programs that introduce our project and its goals to our communities.
Fall 2009, public forums to launch pilot projects with community groups that will continue into 2010 and beyond.