Yonamine digs up heart-shaped potato

Yonamine digs up heart-shaped potato

The heart-shaped potato.

February 8, 2012 Yukiyo Zaha of the Ryukyu Shimpo

On January 26, a heart-shaped potato was dug up in Yoshio Yonamine’s organic farm in Kochi, Nishihara. The palm-sized potato is seven centimeters by 9.5 centimeters, and weighs 150 grams. It was great timing just before Valentine’s Day. Yonamine smiled as he said, “We might be able to get it displayed beside the chocolate gift counter.”

The variety of potato is called Ryukyu beni-jaga or Ryukyuan red potato, which has red skin, a yellow-colored inside and a naturally sweet taste. Ginoza Village is now striving to produce this potato.

Yoshio Yonamine holding his heart-shaped potato. On January 31 at Kochi, Nishihara.

Yonamine planted 10 kilograms last year and reaped a rich harvest of 153 kilograms. He happened to find the heart-shaped potato when he was digging, and while he was surprised at the find, he felt that this might be an indication that something good is going to happen this year.

Yonamine is also an organic grower who avoids using pesticides and fertilizers, and advocates for such practices on the town council. He said, “I would like to build a production base for farm producers and consumers that is safe for everyone.” Since last July, he has set up a produce stand.

He also offers a place for children to play in a natural environment. Children of the Tabaru Children’s Club came from Naha to paint the stand, and a group called the Play Park Tsuchinoko, which is organized by college students and teachers of an after-school care-program, took children to let them enjoy themselves playing in the mud. Yonamine said, “I think I’ll show this potato to the children.”

(English translation by T&CT, Shinako Oyakawa and Mark Ealey)

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