Have you ever longed for a life of self-sufficiency and growing your own vegetables for a living?
That might be a lot harder than you imagine. If you still have to choose, what is the reason for that?
The joy of touching the soil, the conversations we have as we share with our neighbors, the sound of the birds, the coolness of the river, the change of nature. It's funny how things don't go the way you think they should. No, maybe it's not right to think that you can do whatever you want with the nature that is available in front of you. But first, we can start to live with the land and these are the stories of the international students who taught me this.
Given the amount of chemicals used in the agricultural sector, there is a project called the Beppu Global Garden, started by the international students from Beppu, Japan, with the aim of reducing chemical use and working towards sustainable agriculture.
“In fact, ever since I was a kid, environmental issues have always been my biggest concern.”
“If no one cares about it, what will happen to our future generation's life? So I joined the project.”
They speak with passion-filled eyes and enthusiasm.
Why is sustainable getting so much attention?
✔︎ Sustainability refers to systems and processes that can continue to function well into the future.
✔︎ There is also a growing trend in agriculture to remind society about industrialized agriculture (a method of producing large quantities of food in a short time), which has become mainstream as the world's population grows.
✔︎ In the face of natural disasters caused by a succession of extreme weather events, there is a growing movement to rethink industry, business, and the way we live in order to minimize the impact of natural disasters on the environment, rather than disposing of farmland and the ocean.
For our members, who come from diverse cultures and countries, there is no right answer to be sustainable. But we can see the goal we should be working towards. What are we going to do if we don't do it now?
The aim of the organization is to create a space where they can experiment with sustainable agriculture with local people and farmers, thereby spreading awareness of the current situation regarding the local environment and culture.
"Beppu Global Garden" is truly their experimentation lab.
They consulted with local farmers and conducted a series of workshop activities with a succession of community members and students. The "composting toilet" workshop was especially popular. Some of you may have heard of the name "composting toilet" before. In fact, it's not only good for the environment but also very useful in times of disaster.
What is a composting toilet?
✔︎ Toilets that process excrement through biological processes with the help of fungi and bacteria.
✔︎ Because it decomposes with the organic matter, it does not require electricity and water to flush out the waste.
✔︎ Easy to clean (just change the compost tray every month or two)
✔︎ This makes it useful not only for disasters, but also for camping in places where there are no toilets.
BGG invited an expert to lead a workshop on composting toilets.
“Let's try it this way.”
“You can spread compost in your yard.”
They enjoyed conversations with local people during the workshop. This made it as a fun experience to make compost, even though it might be complicated to do it individually.BGG members also found that the workshop gave them a chance to get to know the local people.
Is there any unpolluted nature left in your area for fireflies to live in?
“We all have a hometown or a memorable place in our lives.”
For BGG members, it is the country where they were born and raised, and it is also the land of Beppu.BGG organizes large-scale events, such as beach and river cleanups, once a month with the help of local people.
“We don't want to do this activity only by ourselves, But also together with the local people to preserve the beauty of nature.” By continuing to clean up the beaches and rivers, they are protecting the firefly habitat in Beppu.
"Beppu is a place where modernity and nature meet. Nature is still well maintained and I'm very grateful for the many local people who come to our events, especially to clean up the river," says Nhi from Vietnam.
As we continued these activities, the local people, who were shy at first, gradually began to open up to us, giving advice and helping us by saying things like, "You can use this" or "You should do this way”.
It might not have been difficult for them to set up a farm and run this experimental lab on their own. But in that way, they couldn’t have a chance to collaborate with the locals.
Their Japanese might not be perfect. But if you make a move on your own, the locals will accept them. They said they were very happy to be able to communicate with locals as a person who has the same passion for the environment not just as a “foreign student”.
They must have had their own concerns in the Covid-19 situation. In fact, in Beppu, there were students who had lost their part-time jobs and had no money to buy food. In such a situation, they donated the potatoes harvested from the farm to students in need. BGG regularly grows organic vegetables on land near their university that was provided by local people. They must have had a feeling of accomplishment that they were able to help someone.
“I hope that in the future, more people will participate in this activity and become interested in sustainable living. I want to spread it from Beppu to Japan," says Evita from Indonesia.
With a sincere smile, Nhi tells us, "Even if BGG is gone, it would be best if our generation chooses to live a non-disposable life in our community, as we take it for granted.”
Beppu Global Garden (BGG) is an organization that conducts many interesting activities that attract people to save the environment. Their products and the participatory engagement of local people were useful for the society and environment. One of the activities that interest me the most is when BGG donated potatoes for APU Hands. Even during difficult situations, they still have the intention to help other people. And of course, it was a really interesting, fun, and knowledgeable interview that was conducted with these two members.
They inspired me to join their activities soon after the Covid-19 ends. You can tell that members in BGG are having a good time during their activities, as they talk to me in such a friendly way and always smile in every photo. Saving the environment can be completed easier and faster if we do it together with other people. If you want to take some action, you may invite your family and friends to join Beppu Global Garden activities with the current member too as there is nothing to lose by inviting other people to do something that brings positivity.
Contact the members and get the latest update of BGG through the Facebook page (Beppu Global Garden) and Instagram (@beppuglobalgarden). Why not join and give it a try from now?
Microorganisms to Bring about a Change in Japanese Agriculture, Beginning with the soil |Food. (n.d.). RADIANT- Ritsumeikan University Research Report. Retrieved September 9, 2020, from https:// www.ritsumei.ac.jp/research/radiant/eng/gastronomy/story5.html/
What Is Sustainable Agriculture?-Definition, Benefits, and Issues- Video & Lesson Transcript| Study.com.(2019). Study.Com. Retrieved September 9, 2020, from
I am currently a member of Yossha-Koi (traditional dance circle) in my university and like to take photos, play musical instruments and travel around Japan.