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August 4, 2009

Toziba and Daizu Revolution
established in September 2009

2-12-20 Nishi Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 141-0033

In the old days, a tojiba was something like a retreat center located near hot springs. At these places, people could escape their everyday lives, meet others, exchange wisdom, skills, individuality, and grow together. Taking our inspiration from this, we named our nonprofit Toziba. Toziba’s goal is to form an “everyday tojiba” that maintains a close relationship with local communities. We believe in the Japanese concept of junkan-gata, which literally means “circulation model.” For example, we grow vegetables in the soil, eat them, then making compost to feed the next season’s vegetables. This is junkan-gata. In order to achieve this, we seek to rediscover the uniqueness and attractiveness of each area, and use our business to help solve social problems. As a social venture NPO, Toziba seeks to connect people and places.

Since we started Toziba, we have been organizing various events such as “food heart parties” to connect consumer and producer. In 2008, collaborating with NGO The Sloth Club and Cafe Slow, we organized and hosted serious of events on “Jidaizu”(heirloom soybeans) . We joined in Earth Day Market, Tokyo from April 2006. Currently our main program is “Daizu Revolution” which we started in 2003 on a very small farm in Chiba.

Soybeans, or daizu in Japanese, have been one of the most important plants for Japanese daily life, used for miso, soy sauce, tofu, soy milk, natto, and edamame. However, the self-sufficiency rate for soybeans in Japan is only 5 percent. Almost 10 percent of farmland in Japan is left fallow. Since 2004, Toziba has borrowed unused farmland from Tokyo area-farmers, where we grow organic soybeans, including sowing seeds, weeding, harvesting and processing. We call this movement a “Daizu Revolution.” The soybeans we grow are traditional varieties, developed all over Japan for centuries. We feel that local food culture that incorporates heirloom soybean seeds connects people, and connects the cities with rural areas. Why don’t you come with us on weekends and participate in an agricultural work experience, and “reset” your city fatigue?

Daizu Revolution

Daizu Revolution is a movement where city people that previously considered themselves just consumers and didn’t have any connection to agriculture can get together and grow soybeans. At the same time, they can support farmers by renting their land. By actually sowing seeds and harvesting them and making miso and eating it, there are so many things we can become aware of. When people gain this awareness, the possibilities are limitless. There is much talk in Japan these days of the challenges facing agriculture, the food crisis, environmental problems, international problems… but it is hard to understand just by listening. We believe that greater awareness comes from actually sowing soybean seeds. Let’s expand the circle of community that is connected by soybeans by collaborating with local communities, diverse groups, and people.

Daizu Revolution now has 23 partnership farms throughout Japan. Raising soybeans takes about 9 months. We start sowing seeds in June, around the summer solstice. Between July and September, we get together again for weeding. It is hard work but imagine the taste of beer after work! In October, we harvest young soy beans, edamame. Yum! December is the month of harvesting. We thank the sun, soil and farmers who lend us their farm and celebrate together. In January, we do thrashing and sorting. Once we finish sorting we finally know the share for owners. In February, we make miso together.

How to join:
People can join Daizu Revolution by becoming one of the owners of partnership farms. The size of lots and ownership fee are different in each farm. For example, one lot is divided into 50 sections. People pay ¥5,000 as “ownership fee” for one section. At the end of the season, the harvest is divided 50 ways and we all share.

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