Save “Yoshino Suzu Rose”, Fukagawa City promotion

“Yoshino Suzu Roses” that were harvested last autumn

In central Hokkaido’s Otoe Town in Fukagawa City, the producers of “Yoshino Suzu Rose” are facing a difficult situation. The town is the only main production area for that popular autumn flower branch item in Japan. The plant is valued as a high quality product at markets outside of Hokkaido. However, the number of farmers has reduced to one fourth since the population of farmers is aging. The producers are working hard to keep it from becoming a “fading specialty product,” and they are using tools like social media in a lone, uphill battle to advertise the amazingness of the product.
Yoshino Suzu Roses are known as “Rosa setigera,” a species of the rose family that is native to North America. They bloom in June. In September, the plants grow a two-centimeter red oval fruit, which are used for flower arrangement and decoration. In Fukagawa, around 1964 a townsperson named Yoshino (deceased) received a sapling from a friend and planted it outside the Yoshino household. It grew there, and this is how the plant got its start here.
From 1974 onward, mass shipping of seedlings started. Four years later, Yoshino and other farmers founded a specialty product rose union. Cultivation techniques were established, and a trademark was registered for an original brand name using the Yoshino name.
According to the “Kitasorachi Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives” (Fukagawa City), one box is traded at 9,000 yen to 20,000 yen. Because of its rarity value, it has a higher revenue than other breeds.
However, in addition to farmer aging, another problem is that the Yoshino Suzu Rose harvesting timing overlaps with rice crop harvesting, so the number of farms that grow the roses has been decreasing yearly. The number of farms dropped to eight this year from thirty one in 2000. And the long-lived group might be in danger of fading away as well.
The producers have been trying to heighten awareness of the amazingness of Suzu Roses from last autumn through the photo sharing application “Instagram.” They requested the services of a photographer in Sapporo and started posting photos of the Suzu Roses. With the belief, “We should not keep Suzu Roses only to Otoe Town,” they are considering teaching cultivation techniques to young farmers in Kitasorachi who are interested. Their stance is, “We want to be able to pass down this important specialty product to the future. We also want the government to influence the town people and work together as a whole town by doing things such as recruiting new farmers to grow Suzu Roses.”