Don’t you feel happy just looking at this bright red, shiny strawberry? In Japan, strawberries are in season right now (from winter to spring).
By the way, have you heard that in Kagawa many people passionate about growing strawberries? Although production does not outdo other prefectures famous for their strawberries, Kagawa has a history of continuous trial and error to grow the best quality strawberries possible.
This time we visited Strawberry Shop Sky Farm, which is located in the Iida town area of Kagawa prefecture. This is where they grow the Sachinoka and Sanukihime varieties. That’s right. Bearing the name of the Sanuki area, Sanukihime is a variety from Kagawa prefecture. It was developed in 2000 based on three key characteristics: superior flavor, large size, suitable for elevated hydroponic system farming.
Just as the key characteristics describe, the large Sanukihime has soft skin and is very sweet, making them loved by everyone.
However, due to their soft skin, the Sanukihime variety is very sensitive, and therefore cannot be shipped very far. That’s why they are mostly consumed in the region and are only available in Kagawa.
And what exactly does the 3rd characteristic “elevated hydroponic system farming” mean?
We asked Mr. Hiroyuki Kawanishi, the Sky Farm representative.
Apparently one method of strawberry production is elevated farming. With this method the soil is set around waist height so that sunlight can reach each strawberries equally, which adds to the sweetness of the fruit. As the fruit doesn’t touch the soil directly, it’s also more hygienic. These are just a few of the method’s merits. There are many elderly people among the farmers, so this method allows them to work without having to having to crouch for long periods of time, making it friendly both for the fruit and the people involved in production.
Apparently it’s also known as aerial culture. Well, now we understand the reason behind the name of Sky Farm.
Moving on, the strawberries at Sky Farm are pollinated by honeybees. They avoid using any agricultural chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, etc.), and instead use methods such as releasing insects into the greenhouse that are natural enemies of harmful insects, aiming to keep the farming as close as possible to a natural state.
The shop next to the greenhouse has a line-up featuring various sweets.
Filled with strawberries and homemade strawberry sauce, the fluffy crêpes are made with 100% local wheat flour, which goes well with the sweet and sour strawberries.
Soft serve ice cream, shaved ice, gelato and compote… Together with the lovely smiles of the strawberry field’s staff, the shop offers plenty of delicious sweets made with strawberries.
And then onto the very popular annual strawberry picking season. In 2016, it is planned to be held from January 3rd until mid-May.
Sanukihime have the sweet and sour flavor preferred by connoisseurs from January to February, and then from March to May they lose their acidity and are typically very sweet. To enjoy the difference in flavor according to season, it might be a nice idea to visit more than just once.
Either way, do come to Kagawa and try their superbly delicious Sanukihime strawberries!
Strawberry Shop Sky Farm
Location: 656-1 Iida-cho, Takamatsu city, Kagawa prefecture
http://www.skyfarm.jp/img/top/english.pdf (English brochure)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writers:
Text: Tomoko Kawai (Dream Network Activity)
Photographs: Takafumi Yanagizawa (Dream Network Activity)
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