We make things that we truly want to eat ourselves.
Ainan Mothers Co., Ltd.
- Mariko Sakai
The district of Mishonagatsuki lies in the mountainous part of Ainan Town. Blessed with rich natural abundance and a mild climate, it’s here that Mariko Sakai of Ainan Mothers farms citrus fruits. Before, Sakai-san used to be a health teacher at a junior high school. She decided to leave teaching and take up farming about 13 years ago, when her aging parents passed the family farm on to her eldest son. At the time, she knew nothing at all about farming. “I’d never imagined I was going to be a farmer,” says Sakai-san. “When I started out, I had no idea what I was doing, so I was really uneasy about everything. But our parents were a great help. They never criticized me or argued against what I was doing. They just watched over me, and that was the greatest support of all.”
After that, while she was tilling the fields her parents had left to the family, an idea sprouted in her mind – “Now that we have this land, why don’t we grow things that we really want to eat ourselves, things that are healthy?” She gradually switched about 8 hectares of farmland to low-chemical harvesting. Now, Sakai-san is making compost by herself, without chemical fertilizers. She believes that the way to grow more delicious citrus fruits is to start with improving the soil itself, making for healthier trees growing better fruit.
“In the old days, we didn’t know where the mikan oranges we grew would be sold. Now, we the produce we harvest reaches people while it’s still fresh, and we can get direct, honest feedback from the people who eat it. For us, that’s something to be really grateful for.” Sakai-san’s approach to farming may well be the secret behind the fabulous taste of her mikan oranges, grown carefully to be enjoyed one by one
- [ Ainan Mothers Co., Ltd. ]
- 1113 Mishonagatsuki, Minamiuwa-gun, Ainan-cho, Ehime Prefecture