“Don´t make it too neat!“
“Don't make it too neat!”
Not much space is needed to feel the energy of local plant seeds, as the Japanese participants of the miniature garden-workshop SEEDS OF LIFE experience.
All eyes are focussed on John when he talks humorously about his project SEEDS OF LIFE. And then the workshop starts! Seeds of tomatoes, basil, beans, wheats, flowers and even Spanish peppers were buried in soil. It´s a warm spring-day, the last Sunday in April, and we are at the experimental Agri-Dining restaurant Roppongi Nouen. Close to the Roppongi metro station right in the center of Tokyo, we are attending a LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) workshop, hosted by SOTOKOTO Magazine and supported as well as organized by orgabits, a project to further the cultivation of organic cotton. While enjoying a delicious lunch, we are talking about nature and our everyday consumption. Afterwards all participants create their own miniature flower bed.
Letter-sized flower beds and a city farm
The workshop host is John Moore. The Irish man lives in Tsubayama, a small mountain village in Kochi prefecture in the south of Japan. This is where he works on his project SEEDS OF LIFE, which deals with the protection of native seeds. Besides his work as a social entrepreneur, John frequently organizes workshops and gives lectures about seeds, soil and nature. His most famous project, which is also the main topic of the workshop, is to plant a miniature herb garden the size of a sheet of paper.
Before the actual workshop starts it is time for a small refreshment. And a breathtaking atmosphere, as the tent offers a view of the surrounding city. The tent belongs to a restaurant which in turn is part of the Roppongi Nouen farm. Orgabits uses the farm’s small field to plant ecological cotton, here, in the middle of the metropolis. In this special ambiance, the participants get to help themselves from a buffet consisting of seasonal vegetable dishes. After lunch everyone is excited to start the workshop. Among the participants are a number of SOTOKOTO readers. Some have even traveled to Tokyo from other prefectures.
The energy is in the seed
First of all, participants choose whether they want to work with an empty 2-liter plastic bottle or with a letter-sized plastic box. John explains: “Do you think that mountains are living creatures? I have been living in Kochi for three years, but just now I have figured out that even mountains can slowly change. It´s just that us humans no longer feel it in these fast-moving times. So what are `living creatures`? Mountains, stones and even seeds are living creatures. For a seed to grow, it needs soil, a bit of water and sun. Human interventions, such as fertilizer or pesticides, are hardly necessary. The necessary energy is already in the seed. The seeds communicate with each other and build a perfect environment for themselves. We can experience, learn and practice all of this in an area the size of a piece of paper.”
And then we plant! Every now and then you can hear John call: “Don´t make it too neat! Make sure you don´t squeeze the soil too much.” It´s important that there is not too much pressure on the ground so the soil can be loose and airy. “When raising flowers, you not only get to know the relationship of the different seeds to each other. You also learn about your own relationship with the seeds.” In a different pot, cotton seeds are prepared for planting. The participants can take them home along with their small garden beds.
What has happened with my own miniature herb garden? I followed John´s advice and sprayed it with a little water three to four times every day. After a single week already, small green seedlings were shooting up from the soil. I am sure that as I write this the other participants of the workshop are equally happy with their little green gardens.