When customers enter through the wooden door, the many tarts and pies dazzle their eyes, sweet smell comes to their nose, the bell signaling just done baked tarts rings in their ears. In this store, time moves very slowly and filled with happiness and good atmosphere. The owner, Ms. Hikaru Nomura, and workers welcome customers warmly. Once a tomato farmer, she and her daughter now run this store they have created on their own.
“I’m a little bit stressed these days, but happier,” says Ms. Taeko Nomura , owner of YASAI GA TART said. “This is a step to open new doors.”
In Kochi, the number of farmers has been declining from 29,169 households in 2010 to 25,345 households in 2015. Also the number of abandoned farms is increasing year by year. In 2010, it was 15,320 households. However, in 2015, the number of its declines to 13,689 households. Especially in rural areas, farming is harder and harder because of declining the number of agricultural workers, overproduction, and many other problems. Farmers are facing serious obstacles to continue. Local farmers are having to get creative.
In Nomura’s case, tomato farming was going smoothly until her husband passed away about ten years ago.
“Before opening this store, my husband and I worked hard to grow tomatoes,” she said. “Now however, I’m working hard without him.”
With her husband’s passing, she suddenly found herself faced with many difficult decisions.
“At that time, I had no idea what I was going to do next,” she said with a little bit loneliness.
One day, she and her daughter traveled America and Tokyo. “I saw very beautiful tart shop along the street, smelled sweet and made us hungry.” Also she thought, “oh, that’s it.”
“My colleagues and family supported me, so I’m here now.”
At the opening of the store, reporters from each of three local TV stations in Kochi interviewed her and the store grew in popularity among local people.
“I’m proud of the tomato taste and the crust. It’s all handmade.” The crust is very crunchy and tomato is like fruit taste. She added, “Using our own tomatoes we can solve mass production.”
“Now, I’m a farmer and owner of this shop. When I was only a farmer, there two months in dry season with no incoem. However, thanks to this shop, management goes more easily and the range of business has expanded. Farming supports this shop, this shop also supports farming.”
It’s been one and half year since the store opened. “Thanks to this store, revenue stabilized more than only being a tomato farmer.”
“This is a kind of challenge, a new life,” she said confidently. “A dream of husband’s and mine just came true.”