Portland, Japan has a crush on you. And why wouldn't it? You've given it Slappy Cakes and Blue Star Donuts, and the folks who inhabit the island are smitten with your beer, too.
And for the last three years, they've been inviting one of your own, The Side Yard Farm's Stacy Givens, to come teach them the ins and outs of urban farming. Givens says they love what she does so much that she just might open a Side Yard in Japan in 2017.
When the Chopped winner lands in Tokyo next week, she'll put on a 100-person farm-to-table dinner with the help of some friends she's bringing along, including Josh Grgas (The Commons Brewery), Corey Schuster (Jackalope Wine Cellars) and what she calls a whole bunch of Chrises—Brady (Extracto Coffee Roasters), Carriker (Bluehour, 23Hoyt) and Starkus (Urban Farmer, and Givens' fellow Chopped contestant).
But the real reason she says she's going is because the young people in Japan want to show their peers that urban farming is "cool."
"There is a huge Side Yard following in Japan due to the need for more urban farms," she says, and she'd know—Japanese tourists have been making pilgrimages to her farm for years. "Many of the young people are moving to the big cities, leaving the old people behind to farm, and they're trying to find a way to keep young people farming."
Stay tuned over the course of the next year to see if Givens and her micro-greens set up shop across the sea.