Great Effort of the Young Aces Who Will Lead the Next Generation of Hirata Farm
Address: 1740-3 Uedamachi, Miyoshi, Hiroshima 728-0624
Hirata Farm is a pioneer of agritourism that grows many fruits. The idea of fruits gathering was a great hit and has brought in a lot of customers. In recent years their facility where customers can enjoy many programs and a cafe that serves pretty dishes has attracted a lot of attention. We interviewed young employees who work hard everyday.
Hirata Farm is one of the most popular farms in Hiroshima that offers agritourism programs. They have a 15 acre site where they grow 14 kinds of trees and another 150 kinds of crops.
On consecutive holidays in fall, the harvesting season of apples and grapes, people form a kilometer long line by car seeking the taste of the fruits. Hirata Farm is becoming especially popular for their special programs that use the fruits customers gather, such as making pizza, parfait, daifuku (a soft rice cake filled with sweet bean jam) and lately canning fruits is popular because it also has an experimental aspect. These programs are held at a facility called “Ichikoto” run by Tanabe Junji, who is in charge of marketing of the fruits and vegetables. Growing strawberries at ordinary times, he is a fruit professional. Tanabe majored in agricultural economics at Hiroshima University in Shobara city and interned at Hirata Farm. After graduating he worked at a chain restaurant in the Kantou area. Later on he was transferred to the agricultural division and grew vegetables being deeply involved with the food and the agriculture. When he married a woman he had met when he was in college, he moved to Shobara city which is next to Miyoshi and started working for Hirata Farm for the second time.
where customers can enjoy being at the farm during the off season as well. Right now I’m both growing strawberries and trying to make programs hoping one day I can be like him.” says Tanabe. His belief is, “Value a single victory and ten defeats above zero victories and zero defeats” which is a phrase the chairman, Hirata Katsuaki Always says. “As this phrase goes, we always give a shot. Even though you keep failing, if you succeed once then it’s okay. The veterans are also willing to hear what we newer employees think, so it’s very easy to speak up.” On the farm there are trivia corners and photo spots everywhere to entertain customers. “Some smaller ideas were proposed by newer employees and adopted. Being able to contribute to the management of the farm by speaking up helps build confidence and makes you want to work harder. In the future we’d like to make this farm like the Disneyland of fruits,” says Tanabe with eyes sparkling.
The cafe “Noqoo” is becoming almost as popular as the programs of Hirata Farm for their many dishes that look very pretty. It was built by relocating and reconstructing a house that was built over 120 years ago, because it has a historic atmosphere. The cafe has become a popular place since it’s opening especially for their curry made with fruits. It used to be just a rest spot to visit after fruit gathering, but over the past year the number of people who come by just to enjoy their pretty dishes has been sharply increasing. The manager, Kawasaki Airi, who has a charming smile made it come true. She used to be a childcare worker and is a person who likes cafe-hopping. She likes trying out different sweets and checking new sweets on social media. One day she heard that a cafe owned by Hirata Farm, which is in her hometown, was looking for new employees so she took the plunge and changed her job. “I was familiar with the farm and the fact that I could develop dishes made with fresh fruits was really attractive.”
The first dish she developed was one she would want to eat herself that made use of her knowledge. What she came up with was a sweet that has a catchy name and strong impact, called “Momojiri Parfait.” (peach-hips parfait)
The peach looking like lifted hips is harvested at the farm. It became popular pretty quickly because of the luxury of having a whole peach and a pretty look. A famous instagram influencer even visited and asked about posting it on Instagram. Kawasaki is also in charge of publicity work on social media and sharing positive messages about the cafe and their dishes. Sometimes people comment and tell them what kind of dishes they want the cafe to serve, and Kawasaki has developed new sweets based on those ideas. “’Grape soda” is a drink that is stuffed with a lot of Shine Muscat (a wine grape), and was based on an idea from a customer. “Grape parfait” which is made with a lot of grapes and “Grape shaved ice” that has plenty of espuma were also developed responding to the demands of customers who wanted to eat sweets with a lot of fruits,” Kawasaki says.
Hirata Farm was originally a small apple orchard. Once they had a suitable land for growing fruits they had to choose something to grow and they chose apples simply because Seracho, the town next to them, was famous for its pears. Later on they started growing grapes and began developing agritourism. At that time it was a period of high economic growth in Japan and the gap between the urban and rural areas kept widening, so they aimed to tell children “good things are in rural areas” and “how fun agriculture is.” At Hirata Farm customers could enjoy seeing and touching fruits and they became pretty popular, but one year a huge typhoon destroyed all of their apples and grapes. “Let’s grow many fruits so that we can harvest throughout the year.” This idea led Hirata Farm to their current state. Since fruit trees take about 15 years to be able to harvest fruits they require care for a long period of time.
”Growing fruits all starts with fertilizing the soil,” they use fully ripened compost and take great care to make sure the fruits root firmly into the soil. They use a cultivation method called “green mulch” where they let grass grow without weeding so that the trees will grow healthily. Harvesting these fruits when they are fully ripe makes it possible to eat them when they are most delicious. Hirata Farm started the “choudo gari” program so that people can enjoy all the fruits they want. In the program customers can gather many fruits in exchange for tickets, and can even choose whether to eat them there or bring them back home. Customers can enjoy the atmosphere of the farm by harvesting and walking around. Another program they have is called “Dutch Oven no Mori,” which customers cut firewood, make a fire and cook all by themselves. It’s popular with people who want to leave their busy daily life and relax in nature. For the firewood, branches of pruned trees are used. Such activities contributing to circular agriculture have won agriculture awards and the Emperor’s trophy.
63 years since its foundation and with the help of its youthful employees Hirata Farm has become one of the most brilliant farms in Japan.
|所在地||1740-3 Uedamachi, Miyoshi, Hiroshima 728-0624|
|営業時間||March ~ November: 10 am - 5 pm December ~ February: 10 am - 3 pm Closed: Thursdays Cafe "noquu": 11 am - LO 3 pm Saturdays, Sundays and holidays: 11 am - LO 3:30 pm. Closed: Tuesdays|