The first crops of lettuce grown at a hydroponic farm set up in disaster-hit Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, are expected to be harvested by the end of July.
Eight white dome-shaped greenhouses, each with a diameter of 30 meters, were built in the city’s Hamadagawa district in June along a national highway. Cultivation started on June 20.
Inside each dome is a water tank with a diameter of about 20 meters that holds lettuce seedlings, each planted in a cylinder and placed concentrically.
As the water tank rotates, the heads of lettuce in the center of the tank gradually slide outward to wider areas. When the lettuce reaches the outermost circle, harvesting can begin, officials said.
“We want to produce high-quality lettuce and make it a prime product in the area so we can contribute to reconstruction,” Atsushi Yamada, the project manager, said.
Seven of the eight greenhouses are already in operation. Seedlings will be soon planted at the remaining one.
If all eight greenhouses are in full operation, 3,200 to 3,600 heads of lettuce are expected to be harvested each day, officials said.
The greenhouse farm was developed by Yokohama-based Granpa Co., which specializes in the development and marketing of dome-type greenhouses and vegetable sales. The facility is operated by an affiliated agricultural corporation.
Granpa hired 17 local residents, including victims of last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
Mitsuyoshi Iwabuchi, 53, who works as an assistant to the project manager, had been unemployed for about a year since the seafood processing company he used to work for was washed away in the tsunami.
“It is encouraging to be able to work with colleagues who were also stricken by tsunami and earthquake,” Iwabuchi said. “It makes me happy to see the lettuce grow day by day.”
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