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Our Voices - International CSA Symposium 4

Food with the Farmer’s Face

February 24, 2010 | By Jim Sluyter

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Here’s a nice storyShinji and Kiko were among the first to practice community supported agriculture in Japan—now known as “teikei,” which means “food with the farmer’s face.” we heard during our tour of farms near Kobe, Japan: In that country, farms practicing Community Supported Agriculture are known as teikei farms-and teikei stands for “food with the farmer’s face.”

Even though not literally true (teikei actually implies cooperation and linking), the story has caught on worldwide and reflects well on how the CSA movement is viewed in Japan and so many other places.

Teikei has been around since 1971, when a group of women concerned about pesticides in food joined with agricultural researchers and farmers to form the Japanese Organic Agriculture Association (JOAA).

Shinji Hashimoto is one of five farmers in a co-op that started here, near Kobe, in 1975. That predates the first CSAs in the U.S by more than 10 years. It is exciting and moving to experience these “roots” of the CSA movement and see Shinji’s farm.


Shinji and his wife, Kiko, cultivate about two acres, where they raise 40 to 50 varieties of vegetables and keep a flock of 400 to 500 chickens. The co-op serves 400 households in Kobe all year (though in winter, only every other week).

We learned about the co-op and distribution, and wandered the fields that, even in winter (albeit far more mild than ours), hold crops of onions and cabbages. A hoophouse helps extend their season, too.

I doubt that I will think of CSA or teikei again without picturing Shinji’s face.

Jim Sluyter leads the Michigan Land Use Institute’s Get Farming! project. He is travelling in Japan to attend the URGENCI International Symposium on Community Supported Agriculture. Reach him at jimsluyter@mlui.org.

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