Shimonta, located in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka prefecture of Japan, operates a poly greenhouse where they provide strawberry picking activities and a gelateria to local people and tourists.
It is said that originally strawberries arrived from the Netherlands to Japan in 1830s. Then between 1965 and 1970, agritourism became popular. There are some reasons why agritourism such as fruit picking activities are common in Japan. Tsuyoshi Tanabe, CEO of Shimonta, comments that the fruit picking activities make for the shortest value chain from farmers to consumers. In addition to that, some support from the government can be received economically through the Food, Agriculture and Rural Basic Law executed in 1999. As a result, some growers tend to do agritourism such as “strawberry picking activities”. In the Shizuoka prefecture alone, there are approximately 70 strawberry picking farms.
The Shimonta farm provides tasty strawberries in a sustainable and eco-friendly environment. According to the objective, systems like a double screen, a machine that generates CO2 from the exhaust of the boiler, and using ground water from 70 meter below, are implemented.
The strawberry picking farm also hosts a gelateria as a solution for food waste. Strawberries that, due to their shape, aren't suitable to be sold, can be reborn in fresh strawberry gelato. Also, since strawberry sales can be lower in summer, the gelato is a nice way to generate some extra income.
Another way in which the farm aims to be sustainable, is through the use of coco peat. Because rockwool isn't fully recycled in Japan, the costs are high and it's not entirely sustainable.
“Meanwhile, it’s difficult to the good quality of coco peat products here in Japan”, Tsuyoshi Tanabe says. In Japan, coco peat products made in Sri Lanka dominated the Japanese market for historical reasons, and because of the small size of Japanese importers. Some of the available products tend to be of low quality, Tsuyoshi notes.
He states that the coco peat they used previously was cheap, but it didn't provide good drainage, and root rot occurred. “It caused a lot of disease and I ended up changing the company. The previous one was cheap, but I needed to implement new coco peat products much earlier than I expected. Now I am content with the coco peat of cococaRa and happy about the good quality”.