Slow Life Japan blog is up and running again after a two year absence. A new manager, David, started in January and the project has some momentum again. This post is to update you on the major progress since mid January 2019.

With the assistance of our volunteers from all over the world, we have built a grapevine pergola and planted ten vines, which are now starting to grow nicely. We have finished building the polytunnel and got the cover on. At the moment we have some tomatoes, melon, cucumber and aubergines growing. The blueberries are doing well after a little pruning and we should get a good crop this year. We also have some false strawberries growing wild around, not as tasty as strawberries but you can’t complain about free food. A couple of weeks ago we dug up the bamboo roots that were growing wild and ate them which were quite delicious with a floral taste. It’s a popular thing to do this time of year in Japan when they are popping up everywhere. The top field is being prepared to plant an Australian and Mexican garden around June time. Lot’s of tree cutting work going on there to clear the area. We may use some of the tree roots as features in the garden. We are making raised beds from bamboo in the vegetable garden and are about halfway at the moment. We go into the nearby forest and cut down the bamboo and carry it back, which is good fun for the volunteers. We did have potatoes growing in the veg garden but as the existing fence is old and weak the wild boar breached the defences and helped themselves but we did manage to save a few kilo for ourselves though. So now a new fence is needed. The veg garden is not too productive this year as most of our effort is on the construction side. We do have some lettuce, sweetcorn, asparagus, spinach and beans growing at the moment. Our two tea fields are doing okay after some TLC, not as well as they should be though, but hopefully they can do well in the future. Some of the orange trees in the tea field field did not make it, we lost about a quarter of them. We recently setup a water system for the veg garden and polytunnel which collects the rain water from the roof of the house. We collected half a ton of water in two days which is pretty good. Its also linked to the house water in case there is not enough rain. We are preparing the wooden house for airbnb by fixing the balcony and getting the property registered, so that should be up and running soon in case you want to come and stay without working. At the moment unwanted plants are growing so fast in this climate and it’s a big job keeping everything at bay. Lot’s of strimming and weeding. It’s starting to get quite hot here now so being so close to the beach is nice as we can cool off in the sea. It’s also handy to be able to get a load of free seaweed which contains many nutrients for the garden.

Fruit Field

Group Photo 5

Group Photo 6

We have started to work with Phil from Momenta Kids and every couple of weeks we have a group of around 20-30 Japanese kids visit for the day to learn English in a fun outdoor activity based environment. The volunteers get involved too. So far we have done two of the events and there will be more in the future. The kids really enjoy it.

In the next few weeks we will be continuing to build the raised beds, build a new fence for the veg garden, plant the Australian and Mexican garden, get the wooden house ready for airbnb, wood cutting and generally keeping the place weeded, cleared and tidy. 

All for now, i'll post again when there are some major updates.

Laura Canada; Kim Germany; Celine France; Tom UK; Matt, supervisor Poland; Elaine USA; Tanya South Africa; Andrea Germany; Kevin USA

Kevin, from the US, but with Chinese parents, and Laura from Canada arrived on the first day, and stayed to the end, ten weeks later. In between they were joined by 15 females and 6 males, from four continents and ranging in age from seventeen to sixty. These were the Workaway volunteers who exchanged 5 hours of hard work a day for free food and lodging. When we stuck the advert in, in the summer, we had no idea what to expect, but what we got was easy-going, hard-working, cheerful and friendly travellers, none of whom left early and several of whom stayed longer than they expected to. At one time we had eleven in a house which can comfortably sleep seven, but the word was, 'the more the merrier'. And what they achieved was remarkable. An overgrown jungle was cleared and made ready for planting. Acres of bamboo were removed. Under the leadership of Matt, who came from England to take charge, the garden is now ready for the second phase, which will be planting and construction, under a new leader, Chris.

Laura Canada; Kim Germany; Celine France; Tom UK; Elaine USA; Tanya South Africa; Andrea Germany; Kevin USAIzzie USA; Sasha USA; Whitney USA; Aswin Holland; Matt Supervisor, Poland; Julie USA; Nora USA; Joana UK; Chris UK; Kevin USA; Laura Canada.

The truly heroic transformation achieved by our volunteers can be seen in these 'before' and 'after' photos. It's a little ironic that the 'after' photos will be the 'before' photos for the next stage.

A before and after photo of the pathway

A before and after of the house

A before and after of the garden

The Japanese have a national holiday, Labor Thanksgiving Day, where many stores have sales, sometimes as much as half off; however, they don’t have Thanksgiving Day dinner.  Most countries don’t, it being a strictly American and Canadian affair, and in fact, Labor Thanksgiving Day wasn’t named such until when Americans occupied Japan after World War II.  For foreigners in Japan, you’ll hear that the Japanese don’t even like turkey, or the more honest truth: that most Japanese have never tried turkey and never plan to.  But even without a turkey and coming from so many different cultures and backgrounds, we all managed to come together last Thursday for a special dinner.

Slow Life blog from the Lake District

Slow Life UK

Vist our Slow Life blog from the Lake District.

Yewbarrow House Gardens

Yewbarrow House Gardens

Vist our Yewbarrow House Gardens website.