For most people living in crammed cities like Tokyo, the idea of growing your own food, in your own garden, inside your own house, seems like a distant dream.
Thanks to companies like Ouchi-Saien Inc. (Ouchi-Saien), however, this dream—called tabletop biotope gardening or “kitchen gardens”—is becoming a reality. Based in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, the company’s products are also bringing joy and healthy living to users.
As Ouchi-Saien founder Kengo Hamada explained, “I really believe in the potential of the kitchen garden. It really is simple to use. And it creates a positive feeling in people who use it.”
The art of tabletop biotope gardening
Tabletop biotope gardens are based on a system of planting called “aquaponics”: a combination of aquaculture—or farming aquatic animals, like fish, in a tank—and hydroponics, which means growing plants in water, without soil.
With a small garden placed on top of an aquarium, the system allows waste produced by fish to be recycled as food for the plants above them. The plants, in turn, clean the water in which the fish swim. It’s a win-win ecological system for both fish and plants, and for the gardener as well.
Easy farming, healthy food
And because aquaponics systems can be portable, easy-to-use, and low maintenance, they can sit easily in the kitchen, living room, or balcony—especially those of high-density cities. Indeed, the system is not only bringing people in cities closer to the food that they eat; it can also produce food that is perfectly organic.
Established in 2014, Ouchi-Saien is doing its best to make the dream of a kitchen garden a reality for city folk.
As part of its aquaponics range of products, the company has an easy-to-use “Aroma Garden,” which is a plant growing set that beginners and enthusiasts alike can use to grow herbs at home. According to Mr. Hamada, growers will be able to select and grow from 70 kinds of herbs—via the Ouchi-Saien website from March 2015.
On Nature and smiling
Mr. Hamada, who worked as a new business developer in the cosmetics industry in Europe and Asia, has another reason for starting the company—he has always wanted to work closer to Nature.
And, he said, when a seedling sprouts anew, it makes his young daughter smile. As of 2015, aquaponics seemed set to bring a lot more healthy living—and smiles—to people in metropolises around the world.