Neil | 2011 | Japan
Advancing Sustainable Communities via Ancient Japanese Farming Practices began as a project to assess the success of Japanese sustainable farming in the context of rapid industrialization. The aim was to understand what factors, especially the use of information and communication technologies (ICT), had allowed these small farms to prosper, despite the encroachment of cities and spread of industrial agriculture, with the aim of being able to apply these techniques to other locations, especially rapidly developing nations. Neil’s project uncovered a number of small and medium sized farms, whose owners had struggled to bring back the traditions of sustainability. While many of their methods are rooted in ancient practice, the most successful farms surveyed also employ modern ICT in order to manage a complex network of customers, distributors, and land holdings. The project involved travel to an array of locations with varying use of ICT. Neil visited farms in Ogawa-machi, Kazenoko, Ogawa and Fujinomiya, documenting their systems of inventory and harvest. He also explored marketing techniques, delivery, the origins of traditional farming methods, and social ties between organic farms.
Neil found that farms effectively employing ICT serve as a lesson to their peers in Japan and throughout the world, and all of the locations visited would benefit from expanded use of these technologies, such as an inventory management system and greater web presence.