Sep 4, 2008

Global Partners for Local Organic Foods --- A US-Japan Exchange Project in Kansas & Saitama

I am delighted to announce that a grant I conceived and wrote for the Kansas Rural Center of Whiting, Kansas was approved in September 2008. The grant will help increase consumption of locally-produced organic foods in Douglas County, Kansas, and in Saitama Prefecture, Japan, through ideas generated during dialogues between farmers, NGOs, and policy makers in both places. We will hold public programs during reciprocal fact-finding visits. A web site will publicize our events and track projects we develop.



Lawrence, Kansas The Kansas Rural Center is pleased to announce a funding award from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (JFCGP) of New York and Tokyo for a project entitled NURTURING COMMUNITIES THROUGH LOCAL FOODS NETWORKS.

The project seeks to develop innovative responses to problems in modern food systems through cross-cultural dialogues between farmers, NGOs, and policy makers in two agricultural heartlands: the Kansas River Valley, centered in Douglas County, Kansas, and Saitama Prefecture in Japan (northwest of Tokyo). Facilitating the project in Japan is IFOAM Japan (Association of International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements members in Japan).

The twenty-member team, half Japanese, half American, brings together a diverse group of men and women at various stages in their careers and involved in various capacities in promoting organic food systems. On each side, a number of NGOs, government agencies, and universities are participating in the project. In Kansas cooperating institutions include: Kansas State University; the University of Kansas; Kansas Organic Producers; The Community Mercantile Education Foundation; The Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture; Van Go Mobile Arts and Jobs in the Art Make Sense (JAMS), and Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance.

The project begins in late spring 2009 with reciprocal fact-finding visits between the team members, during which time public programs in Lawrence, KS and Saitama, Japan, will introduce our project and its goals to local residents. Following the visits each team will gather to strategize and develop pilot projects to spread interest in organic, locally produced foods in their respective communities. An interactive web site publicizes events and tracks the progress of the projects developed in informational pages, blogs and pictures.

The project emerges from our desire to act on scholarly studies about both Kansas and Japan by economists and social scientists, who have been pondering the possibility of agriculture disappearing in these places, evidenced by the decline of rural communities, the low rate of food self sufficiency, and other dire statistics. The goal of the project is to shed light on common problems, but more importantly suggest solutions applicable not only to these areas but others in the developed world. In particular, the group explores ways to further interest in smaller-scale, organic farming and the establishment of personal relationships between food producers and consumers. The grant will allow the two groups to strategize together, share successful ideas, and think in a global context about local issues.

The project co-directors are Patricia Graham, Research Associate, Center for East Asian Studies, University of Kansas ( and Dan Nagengast, director of the Kansas Rural Center ( for the American side. Japan side coordinators are Satoko Miyoshi, of IFOAM Japan, Chizuko Sato, a volunteer with JFS (Japan for Sustainability), and Takao Shibata, the former Consul-General of Japan for Kansas City.

The Kansas Rural Center (KRC) is an NGO whose mission is the promotion of sustainable agriculture and a strong, viable rural culture. It supports organic growers in Kansas and others pursuing sustainable farming practices, such as grass-fed beef.
For more information on the KRC , see:
or contact Dan Nagengast, Executive Director tel/fax: 785-748-0959

For further information on this project, contact Patricia Graham at 785-841-1477 or email her at

Lecture in Naples, FL on Obaku Monks and their Artistic Legacy

Florida Gulf Coast University, Renaissance Academy, Chinese Art and Culture Study Group, 10 AM to Noon

Chinese Chan Monks in Edo Period Japan: The Ôbaku Zen Sect and Its Artistic Legacy.

Lecture for the Chinese Study Group at the Renaissance Academy Florida Gulf Coast University.

Lecture description: The Ôbaku Zen sect in Japan, founded by emigrant Chinese Chan monks in the mid-seventeenth century, had a remarkably broad appeal. Its dignified, charismatic, and learned monks converted large numbers of followers of diverse social status and deeply impacted Japanese religious and artistic traditions. The dramatic images of Buddhist saints, created by Chinese Buddhist sculptors who emigrated to Japan with the monks, enabled Ôbaku monks to spread devotion to those heroic personages from the Buddhist pantheon to followers of other sects. The Chinese appearance of their temple buildings were a novelty in Japan that helped their temples attract numerous visitors. But beyond that and the persuasiveness of their religious doctrine, Japanese flocked to Ôbaku temples because they functioned as repositories of knowledge concerning broader aspects of Chinese intellectual culture at a time when overseas travel by Japanese citizens was forbidden. Ôbaku monks were well-educated intelligentsia, literati, and as such were authorities on classical Chinese literature, philosophy, painting, and calligraphy traditions, that they transmitted to Japanese followers. The monks' participation in literati activities became a conduit for introducing Japanese admirers to literati lifestyles, which revolved around the drinking of steeped tea. This custom spread throughout Japan as the sencha (steeped tea) ceremony, which for a time surpassed the traditional chanoyu tea ceremony in popularity.