Howie Hayman

A story about an international couple raising and home educating three young boys on a small island in Japan, half living in buses, engaged in organic, self-sufficient farming in the middle of a mountain forest while dealing with climate, cultural, and personal challenges. These pages are about pretty much anything and everything all guided by our family motto, Taking Chances, Making Changes, Being Happy. Thank you very much for joining us on our ongoing crazy adventure.
Agroforest Farming

I began farming (gardening) as a child growing up in Kenmore, New York. Our home had a small space behind the garage where my parents let me go crazy growing whatever I wanted. I eventually moved to San Diego, California for college, purchased a home, and was back to gardening in a small space once again. Many years later I married Akiko and we moved, with our son, to a small house in Nara, which also had very limited gardening space. We moved again, this time to Tanegashima Island where we rented a home that included a couple of farms totaling probably about 400 square meters or 4,000 square feet. This is when our real farming began. After three years we moved back to California, bought a property up in the mountains (about 4,000 feet above sea level) and put in a lot of effort trying to grow anything. After only six months there, we returned to Tanegashima, bought a house, and began farming the 800 square meters around our home. Then in 2021, we purchased a 4.5 acre forested mountain, opened up a half acre area, and began farming there as well.

My wife Akiko and sons, Shai, Lael, and Ethan work together and are producing some incredibly tasty stuff. We are working towards total self sufficiency and already we are growing 100% of our beverage, snack, and veggie requirements. Our methods are certainly not conventional, to say the least, with most of our efforts on a trial and error basis. We do not use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides with only the occasional use of organic manure from either cows or chickens. We use very little mechanization or man made materials, although we did give in and bought a weed wacker and a couple of chain saws after my shoulders gave out.

The stuff we produce is not always the best looking, in fact often pretty ugly, but the taste is out of this world and chemical free.
What We Grow

We are now growing our food at home and at our mountain.

Our mountain has a dense forest of oak and cypress trees. Although the forest is in poor condition, the soil is fantastic with almost no rocks. We were already growing food in a farm and at our home but decided to open up a large area (approximately .25  acres) of the forest for food production.

Home - This is where we are growing most of food that requires frequent harvesting such as tomatoes, peppers, and various herbs.

Mountain - This is where our bulk carbohydrates are being grown which includes approximately 100 meters (about 2,000 sweet potatoes per year) of three kinds of sweet potatoes and about 60 banana trees consisting of 16 different varieties. This is also where a combination of bulk food including, turmeric, garlic, and fruit, along with annuals and perennial herbs including apple mint, lemongrass, stevia, and oregano are being grown. The forest faming is by far the most enjoyable and where we plan to expend most of our efforts.

The following table is a detailed list of the food we are growing at our home and at our mountain forest. This list is basically for us and will be changed occasionally as we figure out what works and what doesn't up in our mountain. I decided to put it online since some of you might find this information useful.
Warm Season
Food T S H M D B P C Date Notes
Ginger P O Y N ? N C N 3/20 half produced
Gajyutsu P O Y Y N N C N 4/8 grow at home along loquat trees
Turmeric - regular P O N Y N N C N 4/8 grew well at mountain
Turmeric - wild P O N Y N N C N 4/8 grew well at mountain
Garlic A O Y Y N N C N 10/15 2023 - sowing 2 types ~2500 cloves
Onion A N Y Y N N C N 10/15 pots at home then move to mountain
Negi P NO Y N N N P N 10/15 got seeds from mountain
Nilla P O Y N N N P N 10/15 grew well at home
Goya A O Y Y N N P N 3/20 4/16 mountain
Vine leaf A NO Y Y N N P N 3/20 4/16 mountain - new seeds
Gourd - sponge A O Y Y N N P N 3/20 4/16 mountain
Asparagus P N N Y ? ? P N 4/8 none produced
Basil - sweet A NO Y Y Y N P Y 3/20 4/16 mountain - new seeds
Basil - lemon A O Y Y N N P Y na grew wild at home and mountain
Basil - holy A O Y N N N P Y na grew wild at home
Basil - cinnamon A O Y N N N P Y 3/20 grew well at home
Lemongrass P O Y Y N N P N 3/20 grew well at home and mountain
Lemon balm P O Y N N N P N 3/20 limited production
Oregano P O Y Y N N P N 3/20 grew well at home and mountain
Thyme P O Y N N N P N 3/20 limited production
Stevia P O Y Y N N P N 3/20 grew well at home and mountain
Dill A O Y N N N P Y 10/15 limited production
Fennel A O N Y N N P Y 10/15 no longer growing
Parsley A N Y Y N N P N 10/15 grew well at mountain
Shiso - green A O Y Y N N P Y 4/8 4/16 mountains
Shiso -red A O Y Y N N P Y 4/8 grew well at home and wild at mountain
Soybean A N N Y ? ? C N 4/8 none produced
Edamame A N N Y ? Y C N 4/8 none produced
Kaboucha - USA A N N Y ? Y P N   none produced
Kaboucha - Japan A O Y Y ? Y P N 3/20 4/16 mountains - typhoon wiped out
Melon - oriental A N N Y ? Y P N 4/16 typhoon wiped out
Zucchini A N N Y ? Y P N 4/16 typhoon wiped out
Peanuts A O N Y ? N C N 4/8 none produced
Moroheya A O Y Y Y N P N 4/8 4/16 mountains - grew well
Bean - runner A N Y N ? N P N 3/20 limited production - typhoon
Swiss chard A N Y N ? N P N 10/15 limited production - typhoon
Okra A O Y Y Y Y P N 3/20 4/16 mountains - none produced
Gobo A N N Y ? ? C N 4/16  
Squash - butternut A O Y Y N N P N 3/20 4/16 mountains - limited production
Melon - otome A N N Y ? ? P N 4/16 typhoon wiped out
Tomato - sekaiichi A NO Y N ? Y P N 3/20 limited production
Tomato - principe A NO Y N ? Y P N 3/20 limited production
Tomato - wild cherry A N Y N ? Y P N 3/20 limited production
Nasu A N Y N ? N P N 4/8 limited production
Pepper - sweet A N Y N ? N P Y 4/8  
Pepper - fushima A N Y N ? N P Y 4/8  
Pepper - Korean A O Y N ? N P Y 4/8  
Pepper - Takano A                  
Lettuce - sunny A N Y N ? N P N 4/8  
Lettuce green A N Y N ? N P N 4/8