Monday, 7 December 2009

A brief consideration of the concept of ‘Market’

Tsuku-Ichi つくいち photo by Yama-san

The first Sunday of each month, a small market called ‘Tsuku-Ichi’ is held at the Central Park, outside Tsukuba Station. To assist the Tsukushi farm manager and their colleague, I sell vegetables grown on the farm. The notable feature of ‘Tsuku-Ichi’ is its vision – producers sell to customers in person and provide safe, trustworthy and locally produced products. The homely, humble and relaxed atmosphere attracts around 250 people. No music, no advertising and no external funding involved. The market is filled with cheerful greetings, conversations and smiles between shops and customers.

The other day, I had the opportunity to help another Tsukushi farm member sell naturally farmed vegetables at a larger scale market called ‘Marche Japon Tsukuba’. This market was held for only two days in Tsukuba as part of Marche Japon Caravan, and was organised by assigned project staff and local volunteers. The Marche project was a great success, with key involvement of the biggest shopping complex in Tsukuba, attracting over two thousand people each day. There were many restaurants and cafes selling snacks and sweets at an spacious entrance plaza, along with vegetable and other fresh produce stands. All day long, you could hear a local school band playing music, broadcasted live talk sessions, a noodle shop’s special performances and much more. An endless lively atmosphere added special colour to the shopping centre for the weekend.

Both styles of market have their pros and cons. Tsuku-ichi’s customers are almost all regulars and have a clear standard for the selection of shops and products. Yet the size of the market is small, so if you are looking for an exciting place to spend Sundays, Tusku-ichi may appear too quiet. Marche Japon has more activities, and the large crowd of people creates a bustling atmosphere. People who may not yet be acquainted with organic produce are able to find out about these local products in a relaxed fashion. The down side to this is the required government funding and the extensive scale of preparation.

The natural farming method of Shizennou is as yet little known but one of the most important of its philosophies is energy efficiency and sustainability within a local community. It is regrettable that the funds for Marche Japon were massively cut back in the recently implemented Government revision process, however, I take this as an opportunity to reconsider the core concept of the food market.

Marche Japon Tsukuba
 マルシェジャポン つくば photo by Yama-san




先日、別の自然農園の野菜を売るお手伝いをする機会があり、「マルシェ ジャポン つくば」に行ってまいりました。

マルシェ ジャポン キャラバンの1企画で、つくばでは2日間のみの開催。多くのスタッフと地元のボランティアの方々が運営に携わりました。つくばで随一の大型ショッピングセンターで開かれた今回のつくばプロジェクトは、無事成功に終わった模様で、一日総勢2000人以上の来客数を動員したということです。中央の入り口付近のプラザでは、多くのレストランやカフェが食事やスナックを提供し、周囲には野菜やその他の生鮮品が売られました。一日中流れる、地元の学校のバンドや、実況中継を兼ねたライブトーク、お蕎麦屋さんの豪快な実演販売が繰り広げられ、その週末はショッピングセンターに溌剌とした色どりが添えられました。



No comments: