Living in Japan, a popular thing to do is fruit picking. I was mostly aware of strawberry picking and have heard of apples but I had no idea tangerine picking was a thing here. In Japan, tangerines are called Mikan (みかん) and literally translates to orange. But we from the islands know better than to call these oranges.
About a week ago, we went with another family to the hills of Kanto to a town called Shibukawa in Gunma. What always interests me about these fruit picking activities besides the eats is the business model behind it.
The Business Model
On entry, each person is given a basket, a pair of scissors and a small plastic bag. You can eat as much as you want as you stroll the hilly terrain, for as long as you want. But each person can only leave with the small plastic bag full of tangerine and no more.
This type of business model works well in an orderly society as everyone will stick to the rules. Talking to my mom about this place and if the model would work in Jamaica, we both had a good laugh saying how one family would strip the entire farm. 😆. Not entirely true but in general that is what one would have to prepare for if doing a venture like this in the islands.
Interestingly I told a friend about the tangerine picking and he said he knew someone that was in the business. I was told that these farms make an insane amount of money from the tangerine picking gig, maybe even more than they do selling wholesale to supermarkets. A decent size farm can bring in 10,000,000 yen ( roughly $90,000) a year easily. For 3 months of the year, from November - January, it is none stop work with no days off while the mikan are in season. After that, it is a cool down period until next season and minimal care is needed for the tangerine plants compared to more delicate crops such as strawberries.
On the hill where we went picking, there were a number of different farms presumably owned by different people and they were all packed with people going in and out. The car parks were filled. And to better their system they even made the hill a one way in, one way out to ease the flow of traffic.
As you can see this is an activity one can enjoy with the entire family. You can also see that one tangerine tree has a lot of fruit. Based on the hilly terrain and the countryside location, I presume the land isn't expensive either.
When one thinks of business, a tangerine picking farm is probably the last thing on most peoples' mind. It certainly was for me. It is a more natural kind of business that has no processing of raw materials. On the other hand, it takes a lot of land and physical labour but the lifestyle seems so IRIE. Are there any farms like this on your corner of the world?
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