We woke up early, too early, to go to Ishizawa Farm and meet Mr. and Mrs. Ishizawa, members of the My Pace farming movement. Contrary to what has been standard practice in the wider industry, My Pace dairy farmers limit the intensity of their operations, with one cow per hectare of land. They also eschew the use of chemical fertilisers and imported grain feeds, common methods to allow a higher population density on other farms.
The Ishizawas produce what could be called organic milk and cheese on their farm, a family enterprise they run with their son. Because milk distribution is dominated by Japan Agriculture, the milk from Ishizawa Farm is mixed with milk produced on industrial farms and sold under the same brands. Mr. Ishizawa stated that he wishes this wasn’t the case, but it was not currently possible to rely on other methods of distribution.
Working in a natural environment with animals was a source of great satisfaction for both Mr. and Mrs. Ishizawa, even if vacations are rare!
Breakfast done, our next stop was a visit with the cow whisperer himself, Moriyuki Mitomo. A big voice in the My Pace movement, Mr. Mitomo established a more industrial style dairy farm when he first moved to Hokkaido before recognising that he was taking part in the destruction of the very natural landscapes that had drawn him here in the first place. He realised that his happiness relied on the happiness of his cows, which relied in turn on care for the land. Mr. Mitomo told us we should recognise what we have so that we can make good use of it, instead of always striving for more.
Some final words paraphrased from Mr. Tate of the Nijibetsu Kor-Kamuy Society: Don’t spend your energy trying to find someone to blame. If we have a problem, we need to work together to solve it.