Saku City is located east of Nagano Prefecture. It is surrounded by Mt.Asama , an active volcano on the north side and Mt.Yatsugatake on the south. Both mountains are famous in Japan. The area is about 650-900m (2,130-2,950feet) above sea level. The average temperature is about 12ºC (54ºF) and the rain fall is around 900 mm (35in.) per year.
Chikuma orchards started to grow apples 89 years ago. Now it covers an area of 2.4 hectares (6 acres) while the size of average Japanese apple orchards are usually about 0.8 hectares. It has been producing Apples (11 varieties), Prunes (6 varieties) and Cherries (5 varieties).
- Agricultural chemicals
Since the 1960s, pollution and food additives have become an important social concern. Especially young parents with children have started raising their voices for safe foods: organic vegetables and additive free foods. This movement gradually led to the birth Consumers’ cooperative (Co-op). To meet the needs of consumers we have been trying to reduce the volume of fungicide and insecticide more than 40 years ago. We use 30% less compared to the chemicals used in the standard spraying program in Saku area.
- Sales system
Most of the Japanese agricultural products are sold through Agricultural Cooperative (JA), wholesale markets, and retailers. However, we sell products directly to the customers avoiding a middle man so that both sides are benefitted. By keeping personal contact, growers can get feedback directly from the customers, and the customers can get safe, fresh, tasty products at a reasonable price. This direct sales system is being appreciated among the growers.
Apples (11 varieties) August – November
Prunes (6 varieties) August – September