What is OmusuVia ?
The OmusuVia website connects "farmers engaged in natural farming methods in Toyama Prefecture" (*1) with consumers who demand food safety and security.
Toyama Prefecture, which is located in central Japan, is a prefecture which is surrounded by the Tateyama Mountains and rich in nature. The region’s climate is well suited to rice cultivation and the prefecture is therefore home to many rice farmers. The clean, pure meltwater which runs down from the encircling Tateyama Mountains is a distinctive feature of the prefecture. Due to the proximity of both sea and mountain the region is blessed throughout the year with an abundance of natural seasonal produce.
There is a concerted effort in Toyama to bring the “tasty, nutritious foodstuffs that can be eaten without any worry” which grow from its fertile soil and pure water to a wider audience. A wide range of efforts are also being undertaken to spread natural farming methods within the prefecture.
( about origin of the name )
OmusuVia is a portmanteau of the Japanese for connect/bind: Omusubi, with the Latin for route/way: Via. This name reflects the site's aim to provide an effective means by which producers and consumers can be brought together.
Since ancient times the Japanese have always set great store by relationships, and given thanks for encounters in their lives.
“Omusubi/connection” is therefore about building relationships and providing opportunities for encounters. Moreover, the oval or triangular rice balls which are a traditional way of eating the country's staple food also go by the name, “Omusubi”, and this is one more reason for the naming of the site, whose aim is to build relationships through food.
(*1) Natural farming methods There are a number of farming methods which fall under the natural farming category, such as no-till farming, Mokichi Okada Association (MOA) Nature Farming, and the carbon-cycle farming method. For OmusuVia natural farming means farming without pesticides, chemical fertilizers or fertilizers of animal origin.
OmusuVia’s main goals are the creation, maintenance and strengthening of the three connections listed below, as well as supporting the future of farming, the future of Toyama and the future of the world and its children.
( OmusuVia's 3 connections )
(*2) produce On the OmusuVia site the terms produce and farm produce are commonly used to refer to any or all of rice, fruit and vegetables.
Building relationships between ToyamaFarmers
On the OmusuVia site the portmanteau ToyamaFarmer is used as a means of referring to those farmers in Toyama Prefecture who strive to grow delicious farm produce using natural farming methods.
Farming which does not use pesticides and which relies on compost and humus for soil conditioning leads to an increase in the number of insects and microorganisms in a farmer’s fields and paddies. This in turn leads to an increase in the small animals that feed on them. Produce which is allowed to grow within increased bio-diversity of this kind is not only safer to eat it also retains its original flavour and fragrance. It is not only delicious it is also highly nutritious.
It is the heartfelt desire of everyone at OmusuVia to “give children the everyday opportunity to eat real farm produce that makes them healthy in mind and body”. That same desire extends to “protecting the environment” so OmusuVia is fully behind the ToyamaFarmers who are working towards making both happen.
By providing farm information and cultivation methods, an advertising and sales outlet for produce, as well as an online and real world space for ToyamaFarmers to connect and interact, OmusuVia bolsters cooperation between ToyamaFarmers and thereby promotes the production of safe, high quality produce and the spread of natural farming methods.
Bringing ToyamaFarmers and consumers together
When compared to current (pesticide and chemical fertilizer) high-volume farming methods, the extra labour involved in natural farming, the length of time until harvest and the smaller, less predictable yields mean that, despite farmers’ best efforts, crops are costlier and their supply less stable.
And yet, when natural farming methods are employed, it is found that, over time, depending on the methods used, the quality of seed and soil improves, and better tasting, higher yielding, more stable harvests can be achieved. The spread of the use of such methods will mean that, as overall crop yields rise an ever greater number of consumers can be reached.
OmusuVia has set its sights on natural farming methods becoming mainstream and the creation of a society where safe, delicious farm produce is the norm. As a first step to achieving this OmusuVia wants to give more people the chance to try ToyamaFarmer grown produce. It believes that once they have done so and experienced the taste and health benefits for themselves, there will be an increase in demand for naturally-grown farm produce of this kind.
Through a variety of methods, including online shopping, OmusuVia is working to make it easier for people to try ToyamaFarmer produce for themselves.
Building relations between ToyamaFarmers and new entrants to the farming fraternity
OmusuVia is always looking to add new members to the ToyamaFarmers’ ranks.
OmusuVia will be creating various opportunities for those who are new to the farming fraternity - or who are thinking of joining - to meet and interact with ToyamaFarmers, and share in their forerunners' knowledge.
Opening up new avenues and securing the future of farming is of the utmost importance if we are to build a bright future for our children. OmusuVia, through its role as "connector" engages in a variety of efforts which are designed to achieve this.