Since moving to Tokyo last year, I have missed growing vegetables, a hobby I used to love. Living on the 3rd floor in a small apartment means I can have a couple of pots of herbs on my balcony, but no space for a proper vegetable garden. That all changed earlier this year, when some friends invited me to join them in renting a plot in a community garden nearby.
I love gardening because it helps me to connect with nature, release stress and learn some practical skills. And I love the pleasure of eating freshly picked food. The veggies I grow are so much tastier and crisper compared to the ones that I buy in the supermarket.
As climate change continues to alter our world, there has been a resurgence of interest in urban gardening. It’s one way to be a little more self-sufficient, and to learn skills that previous generations took for granted. Community gardens, also known as allotments, are a great option for people who don’t have space to grow food at their own house.
How my community garden works
The community garden I’m involved in is located on a small, privately-owned farm in Kunitachi, western Tokyo. The farmer who owns it has divided the farm into about 40 separate lots.
My family shares a plot with two other families. Sharing a plot is great because we split up the workload, which means that I can take a few days off if I need to! Even more importantly, we share whatever we grow, which means that I don’t have to worry about what to cook with 16 eggplants when they all ripen in the same week.
During summer when the veggies ripen quickly, it’s necessary to visit at least two or three times a week to pick the quickly-ripening vegetables. But during the change of season, the workload drops significantly and we may only need to visit 2 or 3 times a month.
Right now we are harvesting beans, radishes, eggplants, onions, potatoes, lettuce, capsicum, and cucumber. We also have tomatoes and corn on the way. Despite sharing, the amount of vegetables we harvest each week is more than enough and it has replaced about half of the vegetables we used to buy.
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