The Agriculture Experience in Niigata
Agri-Park is a facility for agricultural education located in the south of Niigata, in the north of Japan’s main island Honshu. As a learning center, it promotes local agriculture towards the younger generations and visitors looking for a lifestyle closer to the nature. This pleasant farm life experience allows the discovery of organic farming and cultivation.
While having a business-oriented downtown, Niigata City still belongs to the agricultural realm, and probably has one of the densest farm activities throughout Japan. As for Agri-Park, it can be considered a farming school. It was founded in 2005 and opened to the public in 2014. It is an education facility for anyone wanting to know more about the local vegetation and animals, and how to make the most of them.
Agri-Park’s large farming land welcomes about a dozen of buildings, including a direct-sale shop and a restaurant, as well as several small houses used as classrooms and accommodation for adult learners. Each of them is named from a flower and reminds of the layout of a kindergarten. The municipality indeed is focusing on children, the future of Japan so to speak and the ones who will live in a world they will have to protect. In order to reach such achievement, there is nothing better than, for example, teaching them how to cook in "workshops" where they prepare the sweet potatoes they grew, or in making them live in the animals’ company.
Agri-Park promotes the local agriculture and its production, and, thanks to a collaboration with farmers and the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives, acts as a training grounds for the country’s next generation of farmers. Here the children learn the significance of life, experiment while playing, have fun and make new friends. With the help of the children’s parents, the establishment offers a healthy, alternative and pleasant education. However it is not a school per se and children still go to an ordinary school. To this extend, Agri-Park is closer to an extra-curricular activity.
It seems that medias in Europe and the United States turned their attention toward organic agriculture only since the COP 21, but Japan has long been involved in organic agriculture. There are many "organic" establishments throughout the archipelago. Local konbini have been selling home-made onigiri 🍙 with local products for a long time, and there is a growing number of Natural Lawson shops for example. Consequently, the use of locally sourced food improves local economy and helps reduce polluting transport. Agri-park is a beautiful lesson of ecology put into action.