Interview Vol.2 小田々智徳 | Tomonori Odata

_SGO7722.jpg

有機野菜には、神様がつくったような栄養のモトがある
Organic vegetables have nutrition that can be sourced to the Gods

「有機野菜には、神様がつくったような栄養のモトがあるんじゃなかろか、と思いますね。人智を超えたチカラがはたらいているような…」

高知県の北東部にある香美市香北町で有機農業を営んでいる「大地と自然の恵み」代表の小田々智徳さん。有機農業の魅力について伺ったところ、先ほどのような答えが返ってきました。近年、安全性だけでなく、野菜に含まれるビタミンやミネラルが昔に比べて低下しているという指摘があります。その点、有機野菜は、通常の野菜に比べてビタミンCなどの栄養価が高いという結果もあります。ただ、どうもそういう機能性だけのことではなさそうです。

“Sometimes I can't stop thinking that organic vegetables have the marvelous nutritional base that can be sourced to the Gods, just as if they have a miraculous power beyond the boundaries of human understanding...”

Tomonori Odata just answered this way when I asked him what his source of enjoyment in organic agriculture is. He is the owner of an organic agriculture farm called “Daichi to Shizen no Megumi”, meaning, “Benefits from the earth and nature”, which is in Kahoku Town in Kami City, a small town in northeastern Kochi Prefecture.

In recent years, not only safety, but also vitamins and minerals contained in vegetables are said to have been decreasing compared to the past, and the data also says that organic vegetables have a higher nutritional value in nutrients such as vitamin C than ordinary vegetables. It seems that we need to know more about organic produce aside from what we can learn from doing the functionality assessment.

どうして美味しくなるのか、栄養価が高いのか、わからないそれが「有機」の魅力

Seeking the reason why organically-grown vegetables become delicious and nutritious. It's just the enjoyment of organic cultivation!

そもそも野菜の栄養価が下がったのは、安定して大量生産するために取り入れられた化学肥料が要因のひとつといわれています。化学肥料は植物の成長に必要な栄養素を化学的に合成している「無機物」です。これだと植物はどんどん成長しますが、土の中にいる微生物が育つために必要な有機物が含まれていません。土壌の微生物が生きられない環境が続く結果、やせた土になっていくのです。一方、有機農業では、有機物をしっかりと発酵させた完熟の有機肥料を使います。

「うちの肥料は魚や昆布を使っとるんです。土の中で出汁をとってるようなもんですね。けれど、何千年も前からある土の中で、微生物がどう働いて、肥料がどのタイミングで分解されて、野菜がその土の栄養をいつ、どれだけ吸収してうまみになっとるんかはわからん。それが有機の良さやと思うんですよ」

In the first place, one of the reasons why the nutritional value of vegetables has declined is thought to be the use of chemical fertilizers to stably produce vegetables in large volumes. Chemical fertilizers are inorganic substances synthesized with the nutrients scientifically necessary for plants to grow. They make plants grow fast, but don’t contain organic substances in them, and these are necessary for soil microbes to grow. As a result of continuing such a situation in which soil microbes cannot become inhabited, the soil becomes poor. Fully ripened organic fertilizers, which are sufficiently fermented the organic matter, are used in organic agriculture. “I use fertilizer made from fish and kelp as the main raw materials. It's something the ‘dashi’ (Japanese soup stock) I make, and I use this in the soil. I'm not sure how the microbes have worked their way into the soil from time immemorial. I'm wondering when they decompose the fertilizer, and when and in what amount nutrients in the soil are absorbed by vegetables and become deliciously rich in flavor. I feel that inscrutable mysteries like this are a great feature of organic agriculture.”

有機農業を天職と決め、「大地と自然の恵み」を設立
Having decided that organic farming is his ideal job, he started a company, “Daichi to Shizen no Megumi”

この町の農家に生まれた小田々さん。ご実家は、当たり前のように農薬散布を行う慣行農業をされていたそうです。

「私は農薬にかぶれる体質で、散布前に塗り薬をつけて作業を行っていました。二人目の子どもが生まれる頃から、このまま嫌いな農薬散布を行いながら農業を続けていくのは嫌だと思ったんです」

30年ほど前の当時は有機農業というと異端児扱いをされていたそうですが、有機農業を天職と決め、10年、20年、30年先の目標を立てて1996年に「有限会社 大地と自然の恵み」を設立。現在はしょうが、ニラ、青ネギ、ゆずといった高知特産の有機作物をメインに生産されています。

He was brought up in a farmer's family in this town. He says that his family took the use of pesticides on the farmland for granted.

“The pesticides poisoned my skin, and I always had to apply an ointment before spraying the agricultural chemicals. Around the time our second baby was going to be born, I began to think that I didn’t want to continue farming with the pesticide spray, as I really didn’t like using it.”

Around 30 years ago, he was treated as a maverick for that time when he talked about organic farming. He decided, however, that this was the way he had to go. Having set goals for 10 years, 20 years and 30 years, he organized a company in 1996, “Daichi to Shizen no Megumi Co., Ltd.” and produces mainly organic vegetables that are the local specialties in Kochi Prefecture, such as ginger, long green onions and “yuzu” (aromatic citron) now.

有機農業に携わるすべての人に恵みが得られるように
Trying to bring benefits to all the people engaged in organic agriculture

『豊かな大地と自然を次世代に引き継ぐことが出来る総合的な環境作りを行い、生産、流通、消費と有機農業に携わる全ての人に恵みが得られる様に努力していきます』

これは「大地と自然の恵み」の基本理念のひとつです。昔から農家は長男が土地や農業を守って行くという考え方がありました。ですが、小田々さんはそれで次世代へ引き継いでいけるか?と考え、会社組織として農業に取り組んでいくと決めたのです。「大地と自然の恵み」では現在、10名の社員のみなさんが働いています。もちろん新しく入ってくる人は本格的に農業をやったことのない人ばかり。収穫量の安定と、それぞれの技術を少しでも早く高めてもらうため、小田々さんがこれまで培ってきたノウハウをマニュアル化。畑には番号をつけたり、作物の状態を記録する「作業ノート」をルール化するなど、作業の効率化も図っています。

「現場で覚えていくことももちろん大事ですが、今の若い人たちには、マニュアルがあると理解してもらいやすいかなと思います。農業に興味のある人が少しでも働きやすい環境をつくっていくことも会社の役割ですから」

“We will try to create a comprehensive environment for passing the fertile soil and nature along to future generations, and make it so that all the people related to production, distribution and consumption of organic farming will receive the benefits.” This is one of the basic principles of his company.

In Japan, it is customary that the eldest son of a farmer should protect the land and traditional farming methods though generations, but he thought that it was doubtful whether such a tradition could really be passed to the next generation. He finally decided to organize his company, and has 10 employees at present.

The newcomers are, of course, inexperienced at farming. He made a manual about agricultural know-how based on knowledge he has cultivated for a long time, with the goal of achieving stable harvesting and improving his staff's skills a little ahead of the curve. He has improved the operating efficiency by numbering the farm, and making a rule to record the crops' growth conditions in notebooks.

“Of course, learning the skills and knowledge in reality are important, but I think that it's easier for young people to understand if they have some manual to follow. Making a comfortable work environment for those who are interested in farming is what the company should play a role in achieving.”

「考え方はグローバルに、行動はローカルに」
Think globally, act locally

大地と自然の恵みには、海外から有機農業を学びにくる実習生たちもいます。その国のひとつにベトナムがあります。小田々さんは現在、ベトナムと高知で有機農業の循環ができるようにと現地へ赴き、出資をして準備を進めています。

「ここで覚えた技術を自国に帰ってからも活かしてもらいたい、とずっと思っていたんです。そうしたら同じように考えた人がベトナムで有機農業センターを作っていたんです。そこのスタッフに5年前にうちで働いていた人がいるんです。そのセンターがうまくいけば、いまここにいるベトナム人スタッフがベトナムに帰っても有機農業ができるし、日本人がベトナムへ行って農業をやることもできる。こういう関係を作って行くことは、長い目で見れば日本のためにもなると思うんです」

アメリカや欧州で政治が大きく変化し、日本では人口が減り続けていく。そうした変化のなか、どう有機農業を次世代へ引き継いでいくかということを考えなければいけないといいます。とてつもなく大きな課題に取り組んでいる小田々さん。そのバイタリティはどこから来ているのでしょう?

「20代の頃、“考え方はグローバルに、行動はローカルに”という言葉に出合って、なるほどな、と影響を受けたんです。考え方を地球的規模にすると、地道に地域でやるべきことも変わってきますから」

There are some people from overseas working as interns to learn the organic farming techniques here. Vietnam is one of those counties. Odata often goes there now, and has financed a project to create a virtuous relationship between Kochi and Vietnam.

“I've wanted to create a situation where they can take advantage of the experiences they had here. One day, I heard that someone created an agricultural research center in Vietnam; he thought and felt the same way I did. I found that there was a staff there who worked at my company five years ago. If the management situation of that center there gets on the right track, the Vietnamese staff here can get into organic agriculture when they go back to their country. In addition to this, Japanese people can also do this activity in Vietnam. Building such a close relationship should be good for Japan as well in the long run.”

The political institution in America and Europe has been drastically changing, and the population in Japan has been decreasing. He says that we need to think of how to pass farming along to the next generation in this situation. He is undertaking this “mammoth task”! I wonder where his tenacious vitality comes from.

“'Think globally, act locally.' I found this term in my 20's, and it had multiple effects on me. Having a global mindset changes the way we feel we should act within the local community.”

オンリーワンの野菜を
後世にまで安定して供給していきたい
Hope to provide the future generation with the consistent and stable production of “one-of-a-kind vegetables”

お話の中で、特に印象的だった言葉があります。それは「自分たちにしか作れないものを作っていきたい。オンリーワンの野菜を」という小田々さんの思いです。有機農業は「化学的に合成された農薬や肥料を使わない」という安心、安全を提供するものです。そのうえで、小田々さんがつくる野菜はこの高知の土壌(微生物)、ここに流れる物部川の水、小田々さんたちがつくる肥料、そして小田々さんたちの手作業、太陽…この土地のすべてがあってこそ育つ唯一無二の野菜なのだということを改めて思い知ることができました。

そして小田々さんは言います。

「たとえ俺が死んでも、このオンリーワンの野菜を食べてもらっている人たちにずっと安定的に食べ続けてもらいたい。そのために会社という形で有機農業をやっているんです」

He said some very impressive words during the interview. “I'd like to provide vegetables that only we can raise, which means, 'one-of-a-kind vegetables'.”

I recognize that organic agriculture provides us with safe and secure vegetables: “No agricultural chemicals. No fertilizer.” They are, of course, all cultivated organically. Despite that, I needed to realize again that the vegetables they make are “one-of-a-kind” with the microbes in the land, the water from Monobe River, the fertilizer made by themselves, their hardworking hands, the sun and everything that belongs to the land.

“I'd like the people who eat our vegetables to be able to keep having them all the time, even after I die,” he says.

 左から小田々仁徳さん、小田々さん、本間さん、徳弘さん

左から小田々仁徳さん、小田々さん、本間さん、徳弘さん

とにかく楽しい!有機農業
Organic farming is fun, anyway!

大地と自然の恵みで働く社員のみなさんにもお話を伺いました。みなさんが口を揃えるのは有機農業の「楽しさ」です。

「種を植えて芽が出て、水をやったり世話をしたりするのが楽しいです。出来上がった野菜が店頭に並ぶと、“うちのが一番美味しそう”って思うし、実際に食べると美味しい。それが嬉しくて」(本間康さん)

「社員にはいろんな人がいるし、作物を育てていても、草が生えてきたなあとか、虫がいるなあとか、楽しみがそこらじゅうに転がっているんです。毎日、いろんな発見がありますね」(徳弘隆伸さん)

「有機って、全然思い通りにならないんですよ。これならうまく育つかな?と思っても、期待を裏切られる(笑)。原因を考えていかないといけないし、手がかかる。それがまた面白いんですよね」

と話してくださったのは、息子の小田々仁徳さん。

一方、小田々さんは

「畑の計画を立てるときに、出来上がりのイメージをするんです。トマトなら花がいっぱい咲いて、実が赤くなって。そのためにどうすればいいかを自分たちで考えて、独自の方法で育てていきます。結果、そういうイメージ通りにきれいに野菜ができたら嬉しいですね。気持ちいいし、してやったり!と思います」

息子さんと楽しさの視点の違いが興味深いですね(笑)。

I also interviewed the staff members there. They said in chorus that they really enjoyed organic agriculture.
“I enjoy taking care of the plants, planting seeds, seeing them start to sprout and watering them. The moment I see the vegetables on the store shelves, I find myself thinking that our vegetables are the best! They are actually very good, though. I' m so happy at that moment when I see them available for people to buy and eat,” Kou Honma says.
“There are many different people here, and I can find something everywhere I can really enjoy every day, such as finding weeds growing and worms or insects on the farm. I can make new discoveries,” Takanobu Tokuhiro says. Odata’s son, Masanori Odata says, “Organic cultivation never works out as I expected. No matter how much I tried to put a lot of thought into improving farming techniques, my hopes are often disappointed! We need to search for the cause of the problems and pay enough careful attention to them, but it's really fun to do that.”
On the other hand, his father and also the owner, Odata says, “I usually imagine the completed field when I create my plan for the farm. For example, many tomato flowers bloom and they turn red and ripen there. We think about what we have to do to realize our vision, and strive hard to realize it, and grow the vegetables in our own way. We are very happy if we are able to raise the vegetables to have the beautiful appearance we imagined at the beginning. I feel great and it makes me feel like crying inside: 'We did it!'”
The different points of view between father and son is interesting.

 ミニトマトのつるを支えるために小田々さんが考えたつる止め。成長に合わせて簡単に場所を移動できる。 It's a handy gadget Odata made to support the vine of cherry tomatoes. It can be moved easily, adjusting as the tomatoes grow.

ミニトマトのつるを支えるために小田々さんが考えたつる止め。成長に合わせて簡単に場所を移動できる。
It's a handy gadget Odata made to support the vine of cherry tomatoes.
It can be moved easily, adjusting as the tomatoes grow.

取材・文/魚見幸代 写真/竹田俊吾 翻訳/宮本和加子
Writer Yukiyo Uomi, Photo Shungo Takeda, Translated by Wakako Miyamoto