Japonica Environment Farm was established in 2007 as an all-organic Japanese traditional fruit and vegetable farm. Their location is close to Vancouver in North Surrey, BC, close to the highway with a nice view where they grow an abundance of healthy produce like lettuce, burdock root, beets, elephant garlic, kabocha squash and more. They also cultivate raw honey within the farm and host u-pick events advertised on Facebook and Instagram.
Owner Hiro was raised in Tokyo. He ran an organic farm, studied farming, then immigrated to Canada in 1974. He initially lived in Toronto then moved to Vancouver in 1978, where he started a gardening business, then concentrated on landscaping until he retired in 2010. Hiro bought land for storing landscaping materials like trees and rocks, then started his farming business (now Japonica) growing Japanese pear (apple-pear).
The farm's mission is to introduce and educate the world about Japanese farming and how an organic lifestyle can positively impact our bodies and the surrounding community.
Japonica is engaged with its community members as they try to create opportunities for connection and give back to people a sense of place. Whether it be sourcing fresh food or seeing sustainable urban agriculture in action, Japonica gives the community exposure to concepts and skills for leading a healthier lifestyle. If they had to describe their farm in three words, it would be – vibrant, informed, and well-nourished.
They're all about hands-on farming and eating what you grow, two ideas firmly rooted in sustainable agriculture. While modelling best practices, they keenly focus on intensive vegetable production, taking influences from Japan's traditional agricultural practices.
You can get involved by volunteering or visiting their farm – find out more about what they do, plan a trip with friends or your entire family! Aside from offering various seasonal and organic fruits and vegetables, the farm provides a beautiful local riverbed for long meditative walks and sells handmade pottery and organic, raw honey.
Visit their website https://japonicaenvironmentfarm.com/ to schedule a visit and follow them on Facebook when you have a chance - https://www.facebook.com/Japonica-Environment-Farm-Ltd-302188073559948.
Here is a recipe using one of Hiro's most popular products, gobo or burdock root. This recipe is very well known and served in many Japanese restaurants:
1 gobo (burdock root)
1 TBSP oil
2 TSP sesame oil
1 TBSP toasted white sesame seeds
Ichimi togarashi (Japanese chilli pepper)
¾ cup dashi
2 TBSP sake
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP mirin
1 ½ TBSP soy sauce
Gather all the ingredients together.
Peel the skin off of the gobo, then slice thinly and diagonally, so each piece is about 2 inches in length. Then cut into thin matchsticks.
Soak the gobo in water or vinegar water (just one drop of vinegar is good). Change the water a couple of times until it becomes clean. Then leave the gobo in the water until you are ready to stir fry.
Cut carrot into matchsticks.
In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat and stir fry the gobo. Then add the carrots and cook for a few minutes.
Add the seasoning and cook until most of the liquid evaporates
When the liquid is almost gone, add the sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds and ichimi togarashi.
There you have it! A traditional Japanese dish you can try out with Japonica's famous burdock root!