the 3rd avenue

The CAMPus

#TheCAMPus

世界を ” 農 ” でオモシロくする” The CAMPus” 代表の井本 喜久さんにインタビュー。

The CAMPusは、コンパクト農ライフを始める人のための オンラインスクール&メディア。


Cool Agriculture


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いまの仕事を維持しながら、クールな農家になる方法

「農は現代社会でもっともエキサイティングな生き方だ」。そうアツく語るのは、小規模農のプラットフォーム「The CAMPus」を主宰する井本喜久さん。「The CAMPus」では農メディアおよびスタートアップに特化した農スクール事業、地域コンサルティング事業を展開する。小規模農の魅力は?と問えば、「暮らしに紐づいた商いをデザインできるところ、自分なりの規模感で循環型社会を実現できるところ、そして食いっぱぐれないところ」と、井本さん。「農は自分が生きていく上で礎になるもの。掘って、掘って、掘り続けても、その奥にまだまだ知らない世界がある。終わりがなくて、だから面白い」

自身は広島県竹原市田万里の農村出身。祖父や父が農業に従事するさまを間近にしながら幼少期を過ごしたが、農業に興味を抱くことなく広告業界へ。26歳で独立、東京でブランディングを生業としてきた。そんな井本さんが農に傾倒したきっかけは、家族の健康問題だった。まず妻が病気になり、健康的で本質的な食のありかたを模索するようになる。食の基盤となる農業への探究心が芽生えるなかで、今度は父が亡くなり故郷の農地を継ぐことに。「田万里は棚田が点在する農村で、人口はおよそ360人。70代が若手と呼ばれる限界集落です。『継いだ』といっても日帰りで立ち寄って、必要な作業をするだけ。僕にとっては通り過ぎる場所に過ぎなかった」

その考えをあらためたのは、2018年に西日本豪雨で被災した地元農家を助けるために行ったボランティア活動だった。田万里の寺に寝起きして土地の人と触れ合った2週間。井本さんにとってはじめて地元と向き合う経験だった。

この経験は田万里へのイメージを大きく変えた。ただ通過するだけだった田舎町は、実は日本の田舎の原風景とも呼ぶべき、懐かしくてほっとする魅力的な農村だった。何もないように見えて、集落のあちこちに昔ながらの営みや、先人たちの生活の知恵ともいうべき創意工夫が溢れていた。

「要は、『農』という文化価値のフィルターをかけることで田舎の農村が魅力的に生まれ変わる。その可能性を見出したんです」まずはこの地域を活性化させよう。こうして耕作放棄地を借り上げて農地として再生する活動を本格的にスタートさせたのである。

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How to become a cool farmer while keeping your current job

“Farming is the most exciting way to live in modern society”, says Mr. Yoshihisa Imoto passionately. He is the president of The CAMPus, a small-scale agriculture media platform that also doubles as an agriculture school business and regional consulting service that specializes in start-ups. When asked what the appeal of small-scale farming is, he replies, “It’s a way to design a business that is connected to your life, realize a sustainable and circular society that is scalable to your needs, and never be short of a job”. “Agriculture is the cornerstone of my life. Even if I keep digging and digging, there is still so much that I have yet to uncover and learn. There’s no end in sight, and that’s why it is so interesting.”

Mr. Imoto is originally from a farming village called Tamari in Takehara City, Hiroshima. He spent his childhood watching his grandfather and father farming, but not garnering any interest in the field, he entered the advertising industry, became independent at the age of 26, and worked as a branding professional in Tokyo. Mr. Imoto’s commitment to farming was triggered by a health concern in his family. First, his wife became ill, and he began to search for a healthier and more substantive way to eat. As his curiosity about agriculture grew, his father passed away, leading him to decide to take over his family’s farmland in his hometown. “Tamari is a farming village dotted with terraced rice paddies and has a population of about 360 people. It is a depopulated village where those in their 70s are seen as the ‘young’ generation. Even though I ‘took over’ the family land, I would just drop by on a day trip to do what needed to be done. For me, it was just a place I passed through.”

It was volunteer work that changed his mind. In 2018, he helped local farmers affected by the extreme rainfall and floods in western Japan, and for two weeks, he spent his nights at a temple in Tamari, engaging and interacting with the locals. For Mr. Imoto, this was the first time that he truly came face-to-face with his hometown.

This experience greatly changed his image of Tamari. The rural town that he had only ever passed through was actually a charming agricultural community, offering a sense of nostalgia and relief, and whose landscape is the epitome of the Japanese countryside. While appearing empty, the village was full of traditional practices and its predecessors’ wisdom and ingenuity.“In short, by looking at rural farming villages through one of the pillars of culture, “agriculture”, I was able to see the potential in revitalizing these areas into more attractive places.”

“Let’s begin by revitalizing this area.” This is the story of how he took abandoned and uncultivated fields and began a full-scale operation of renting and revitalizing them into farmland.


Diving Into Farming


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農的暮らしと農的商いを両立させてみたら

2017年、「世界を農でオモシロくする」を掲げて「The CAMPus」をローンチ。立ち上げにあたり全国のクリエイティブでインディペンデントな農家の取材に出かけた。ピックアップしたのは、楽しそうで健康的で、きちんと儲かっていて、なによりもかっこいい農家。井本さんは尊敬の念をこめて彼らを「変態農家」と呼ぶ。この「変態農家」たちの営みが井本さんを大いにインスパイアした。自給自足しながら持続可能な暮らしを探求し、「農ライファー」を自認する淡路島の菜音(ザイオン)ファーム、マクロビの大家として知られる千葉のブラウンズフィールド……。各地で彼らと農作業を体験し、畑から収穫した食材で郷土料理を味わい、農に紐づく暮らしを楽しみながら、そのプロセスをどうビジネスに変換するか模索する。そうするうちに、100の農家に100通りの哲学があり、その哲学や価値観にはいわゆる“農業”とは全く別の軸があると思い至る。

「農というのはある種の文化価値。これには“暮らし”と“商い”という2つの側面があります。この“商い”の部分だけを切り取ったものが農業。けれども本来、“暮らし”と“商い”はセットであるべきで、“商い”だけに特化した農業はいまの時代に取り残されつつある。『変態農家』たちに学ぶなかで、畑や田んぼを媒介に“暮らし”と“商い”が密接に結びついているコンパクトな営みが、次世代に誇れる持続可能なライフスタイルだと思うようになりました」

自然の摂理に従って農的暮らしと農的商いを無理なく両立させるコンパクト農ライフなら、都会に暮らしながらの兼業だって可能だ。都市が新しいことにチャレンジする実験の場なら、農村は自然との調和を教えてくれる学びの場。いわば進化と継承であり、人間にはこの両輪が必要なのだ。

「だからこそ、都市生活者に農ライフを経験してほしい」

→ thecampus.jp

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Combining agricultural living and agricultural business

In 2017, under the mission of “Making the world interesting through agriculture”, Mr. Imoto launched The CAMPus. For the launch, he traveled across the country to interview creative and independent farmers. The farmers he selected all seemed happy, healthy, and profitable, and above all, “cool”. With respect, Mr. Imoto calls them “Eclectic (hentai) Farmers”, and their practices and operations inspired him greatly. A farmer from Zion Farm on Awaji Island who is a self-proclaimed “agri-lifer” in search of a self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle. A farmer from Brown’s Field Farm in Chiba known as the master expert of macrobiotics. Through experiencing agricultural work with these farmers, tasting local cuisine made from produce harvested from their fields, and enjoying and living a life connected to agriculture, Mr. Imoto searched for ways to translate such processes into a business. He then came to realize that one hundred farmers would each have their own varying philosophies and values, which are completely different to our conventional image of “agriculture”.

“Agriculture is a type of cultural value, and it has two aspects: ‘living’ and ‘business’. What we know as agriculture only takes in the ‘business’ aspect. However, I believe that at its heart, ‘living’ and ‘business’ go hand-in-hand, and agriculture that only focuses on ‘business’ is going to be left behind in today’s world. Through what I have learned from the ‘Eclectic (hentai ) Farmers’, I have come to believe that the compact dynamic where ‘life’ and ‘business’ are closely connected through the fields and rice paddies is a sustainable way of life that we can be proud to pass on to future generations.”

“Compact” and small-scale farming life that effortlessly balances agricultural living and agricultural business and obeys the laws of nature makes it possible to live in the city and have a multi-hyphenate career. If a city is a place for experimentation, then a farm village is a place for learning to live in harmony with nature. In other words, it is about evolution and succession, and humans need both.

“This is why I want city dwellers to experience agricultural life.”


Compact AGRI-LIFE


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都会のビジネスパーソンにとって、農村はチャンスの宝庫だ

自然の摂理に従って無理なく“暮らし”と“商い”を両立させる、コンパクト農ライフ。その実現のために都市生活者が行うことは?「まずは行きつけの農村を持ちましょう。そして現地に仲間を作りましょう。そこで農村の面白さを発見したり、暮らしてみたいと思ったり、農業の可能性を見出したら、週末だけのお試し農ライフを実践してみてください。だって農村はチャンスの宝庫、特にビジネスパーソンならこれにチャレンジしない手はない」

とはいえ、経験も知識もコネクションもないなかで、兼業とはいえ農家になれというのは無理な話。井本さんはブランディングプロデューサーとしての立場から、「まず、出口を設計せよ」という。「多くの人は農家になるというと農地をどうしよう、そこから考えると思う。でもブランディング視点で考えると、就農の前にやるべきことはブランドを作ること。どういうブランドにするのか、ターゲットは誰か、どう売るのか。出口を先に設計するんです」少量多品目のコンパクト農家なら顔の見える人にだけ販売するスタイルでも収益を出すことができる。知り合いの農家の作物を加工してブランド化し販売するサイドビジネスを始めておき、就農の基盤とするのもいいだろう。つまり出口さえ整えておけば事業はコントロールできるのだ。

都市暮らしを維持したままコンパクト農ライフを自ら実践して都市生活者に発信することで、都市と農村のつながりを促し、新規就農者を増やし、農村を活性化させる。井本さんがその先に見据えるのは、全国に点在する農村の再生と持続可能な社会の実現だ。「都市生活者に農村の本質的な魅力を知ってもらい、都市と農村をつなげる新しいライフスタイルをつくります。儲かる新規就農者を作り、農村を活性化し、耕作放棄地の再生を行います。田万里の事例を他の地域にもあてはめて、いずれは全国にある40万haもの耕作放棄地をゼロにしたい」

井本さんが目指すコンパクト農ライフは、これからの時代の生き方の、ひとつの指標になるはずだ。

tamari-ya.com

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For urban businesspeople, agricultural communities are a treasure trove of opportunities

“Compact” and small-sale agri-life that balances “life” and “business” and effortlessly abides by the laws of nature. How can urban dwellers achieve this ideal? “First of all, you should have a favorite farming village to frequent and befriend some locals. Then, if you become fascinated by the farming village, can picture yourself living there, or if you see the potential in agriculture, I propose trying out agri-life for a weekend. You see, agricultural communities are a treasure trove of opportunities, and if you are a businessperson, it would be a waste not to take on this challenge.”

However, without experience, knowledge, or connections, it is almost impossible to become a farmer, even as a side business. From his standpoint as a branding producer, Mr. Imoto recommends to “first, design your outcome”. “When most people think of becoming a farmer, they start thinking about what to do with the farmland. But if you think about it from a branding perspective, what you need to do before you start farming is to create a brand. What kind of brand will it be? Who will be the target audience? How will you sell your product? You have to design your outcome first.” ’Compact’ and small-scale farmers with a variety of low-volume products can make a profit even if they sell only to people they see face-to-face. You could also start a side business of processing, branding, and selling the crops of farmers you know, and using that as your foundation to take up farming. In other words, as long as you have an outcome in place, you can control how you do business.”

By practicing compact agri-life while maintaining an urban lifestyle and communicating this way of life to urban dwellers, he hopes to promote connections between urban and rural areas, increase the number of new farmers, and revitalize agricultural communities. Beyond that, Mr. Imoto’s vision is to breathe new life into farming villages scattered across the country and realize a sustainable society. “My goal is to create a lifestyle that connects urban and rural areas by making urban dwellers aware of the genuine appeal of agricultural communities. Through this, we will cultivate new and profitable farmers, revitalize farm villages, and regenerate abandoned farmland. By applying what we learned from our work in Tamari, I hope to one day reduce the 400,000 hectares of abandoned land in Japan to zero.”

Mr. Imoto’s vision of “compact” agri-life is a good indicator of how life should be for years to come.

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→ Learn more about “The CAMPus”

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