Cultivating vegetables, cultivating hope
One of CWS’s partners in Japan, Peace Boat, has been helping people in Ishinomaki cultivate vegetable gardens as a way of regenerating both the land and the local communities in the tsunami-ravaged city.
Peace Boat began to restore vegetable fields and gardens, which had been washed away by the tsunami, in November 2011 as one of the means to support the residents of temporary housing.
The owner of a vegetable plot smiles as she regards the growth of her vegetables. The people’s facial expressions are appearing brighter, Peace Boat volunteers note. Photo: Peace Boat.
These efforts have been met with many positive comments, such as, “I can forget all the negative things while gardening.” And, “I can live life feeling the joy of growing vegetables.”
As at the end of June 2012, Peace Boat had helped cultivate 121 plots – vegetable fields and gardens – in more than 20 districts in Honcho (Old Ishinomaki city), Kitagami-ogatsu and the Ojika Peninsula.
Now, the owners of these plots of land include people living in their own homes, as well as residents of temporary shelters.
Retired or elderly people do not usually have much incentive to go outside, especially those living in temporary housing. However, gardening is giving them new motivation to be outside, engaged in activities such as nurturing plants, growing vegetables and making new friends with these shared interests.
Below is a slideshow of photos taken by Peace Boat staff member and photographer Suzuki Shoichi, which shows the process of making these vegetable fields and gardens: