Japanese growing techniques earn Havelock farm Peterborough Agricultural Innovation Award

Hello Farm of Havelock is the 2024 recipient of the Peterborough Agricultural Innovation Award. Global News Peterborough

A farm in Peterborough County, Ont., is being recognized for its success after implementing farming techniques brought from Japan.

On Thursday, Hello Farm was presented the second annual Peterborough Agricultural Innovation Award by the Peterborough Agricultural Roundtable, a group of agricultural organizations in the county, city, Curve Lake First Nation and Hiawatha First Nation.

The award recognized the efforts of Ava Richardson and Kiyotami (Zenryu) Owatari, who run an organically grown market in Havelock, east of Peterborough, which offers more than 100 varieties of vegetables, including many Asian-based ones.

The roundtable says while Richardson previously farmed in Peterborough County, she later moved to Japan, where she met Owatari and farmed there for eight years before moving to Ontario in 2021.

As a new Canadian, Owatari brought techniques used in his home country to their new market garden, including the use of a bicohar chimney from Japan to make bicochar, which is charcoal produced from plant matter.

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The biochar is applied to soil to help improve fertility and moisture retention and tilth.

Owatari has successfully substituted rice husks with spelt husks and also adds raw bacteria-rich wheat bran to the soil in place of rice bran. They work closely with Merrylynd Organics Farm in Lakefield for the substitutes.

“The locals (in Japan) have been using biochar literally for a thousand years in the soil,” said Richardson. “The big question for us was ‘how is it beneficial and how can we do it here?’ Because the food in Japan is delicious, robust and amazing.”

The roundtable says the techniques have helped Hello Farm increase its overall crop yields.

“We’re trying different things and seeing how far we can push this,” said Richardson. “We’ve seen a double increase in our yield and we’ve doubled our income in just over year of the application.”

The farm, located on Baker Road in Havelock-Belmont-Methuen Township, was presented with a $500 cheque and a presentation plaque.

“Congratulations to Ava and Zenryu for your visionary approach to improving soil fertility on your farm and for winning the prestigious Innovation Award,” Peterborough County Warden Bonnie Clark stated. “Your dedication to pushing the boundaries of agricultural excellence is deserving of recognition and celebration. Thank you for choosing to contribute and lead in the agricultural community of Peterborough County.”


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