Field trip to Wakayama on June 27-28, 2015 was a truly great experience, especially for me as international short-term exchange student. Not only experienced the process of ume harvesting, we also learned about how the ume farm of Fuyuki family is running through generations and still become one of the best in Japan.
We started learning about ume from the presentation and video by Nakamura sensei and Ochiai sensei. There we had basic understandings about ume farm. Most area of Tanabe City occupied as ume farm, therefore it becomes main income for local community. Ume from farm not only sold as fresh fruits, but also processed into other products such as umeboshi (pickled ume), umeshu (liquor), ume juice, and ume jam. As addition, ume processing is the main local secondary industry there.
One interesting point about the ume farm in Wakayama (especially Tanabe City) is that it only holds 31% of total ume farming area in Japan, yet it provides 61% of the total production. Therefore, some factors are very important in achieving the high productivity of ume farm in Tanabe City. Soil and climate condition of Wakayama is perfect for the ume growth, as the ume adapted very well and reach its optimum condition. Grafting method applied to new plants to produce ume trees with the best quality. Perfect management for ume is practiced throughout the year, from preparing the soil before spring season until the post-harvesting processes. Organic methods are practiced in the farm, and it is the best way to keep the best natural condition for ume. The fertilizer being used are produced by themselves using these materials : fish powder, leftover beans, rice bran, sugar and bacteria. Organic fertilizer not only good for ume trees but also environment-friendly. Organic way also applied by using beetle to produce germ-killer, and vinegar solution for pest spraying. To keep optimum yield, trees are maintained until age of 30-40 years before replaced with new plants through rejuvenation.
When arriving at the farm, I was surprised with many things. First, the vast area on the mountain which seemed like carpet of ume trees covering the surface (I was wondering how pretty the scenery on springs). Also, the using of blue net overlaid on the ground, such a simple yet effective way to collect the falling ume. The harvesting process itself was really fun, where we picked fruits as many as we can, surrounded with the nice fruity scent of ripe ume, walked through steep slopes while bowing low as possible to avoid the low branches of ume trees, carrying basket full of harvested fruits. It was hard work for sure, but we really enjoyed being a worker for half day, and can’t stop thinking about how hard the real farm workers should work all the time. All the back-pain and sweat are paid when we saw the full containers of ume with the pretty gradation of green, yellow and slightly red color. But the experience did not end yet. We also had the chance to see the processing of harvested ume, from the fruit separation to the salt soaking. It is also very important that all harvested fruits can be sold to the market in different products, so there is almost no waste. We talked with the Fuyuki family about the management of the farm (which has last for 17 generations! Amazing!). I can’t stop comparing the ume farm with farms in my country, Indonesia, and sure, without a doubt, that there are many things that Indonesian farmers can learn from Japanese farmers, especially Fuyuki family.
At last, I want to express my deep gratitude for this chance. Thank to Ochiai sensei, Nakamura sensei, Masuda sensei, and especially to Fuyuki family for the great experience. I hope the ume farm can last sustainable and give great income for the farmers. Tanoshikatta desu!
*males ngetik jadi copas dari report aja
**sebenernya ada part pendahuluannya tentang maen ke desa nelayan, pasar ikan sama aquarium
***tapi ntar aja dipost belakangan, hehe