ASM May 2020 Issue
Updated: May 24, 2020
Welcome to the May 2020 issue of ASM Newsletter. We are grateful for all the support we have received in the last few weeks and decided to start our newsletter to stay in touch! In each issue we will be taking a look at how our rice field is progressing, updating you on our journey, educating about Sake and featuring our local partners. So stay tuned and subscribe to our Newsletter for plenty of interesting Sake facts to come.
In this very first issue, learn about our goals and challenges in rice production and our sake production, which is currently in standstill due to ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19, but we’ve got a few exciting news to share anyway.
2020 BC Rice production kicked off with field preparation on April 23rd and seedling production on 29th. A lot has happened since then. The earlier than normal arrival of summer weather with high temperatures caused seedlings to sustain heat damage. With the transplanting planned on May 23rd and 24th, We are trying to re-energize weakened plants to withstand the drastic environmental change from protective greenhouse to open field with no protection. Every year brings different challenges but this year’s problem is something we have never experienced before.
Our focus remains on the research and development of natural and sustainable agriculture. As Canada’s first boutique rice producer, our goal of expanding rice farming culture in Canada seems to be getting closer and closer, yet there are new challenges that confront us and teach us to become smarter and more resilient. Our journey continues with hopes and dreams that one day rice will be recognized as Canada’s new national crop that overcame climate change.
It's finally spring and normally we’d be planning ahead for the busiest time of the year, welcoming visitors from out of town and working on events, but for now everything has been put on hold. Like most businesses we are coping with the pandemic in our own way. We are so grateful to be one of the few businesses that has been able to keep our storefront open, and while mother nature marches forward full force into summer our production has come to a standstill.
Usually Sake production takes no breaks, and the reality of producing our small batch Junmai Sake is that there is always pressure to replenish and keep it fresh. Once a batch is underway we are immediately looking to start the next as soon as possible. So for us this pause is foreign and strange. Without sufficient customer traffic we find ourselves in an interesting situation and asking ourselves the hardest question of all, when do we start producing again? The answer is we are not sure and we can only stay positive, adapt and overcome as this situation unfolds.
Although the future is uncertain we’ve been anything but idle as we took a pause and refocused our efforts into reaching out to our community and reconnecting with our local customers who have supported us from the start. The feedback and response from customers has been rejuvenating and energizing.
What we’ve accomplished so far:
Our “Support Local” initiative. Check out our website for a list of amazing local restaurants where you can purchase our Sake with a take away meal. Restaurants are working hard to supply our community with delicious affordable fare, we know times are tough and money is tight, support local where and when you can.
Online ordering is better than ever as we gave our website a fresh new look.
Our Store Front is open every day from 11:30am-6pm to sell Bottles and take away snacks
Coming soon to a liquor store near you is our Sparkling Junmai Sake!! which will be featured for the first time in Government Liquor Stores so stay tuned for a release date.
Releasing our Newsletter. We’re looking to provide you with the education and service we had at our studio, so you can enjoy our Sake at home just as much during these trying times.
As cherry blossom season approaches its last bloom, Japan prepares for Kodomo no hi: Children’s day in Japan is a national holiday celebrated on May 5th to honour children’s individuality and strength as well as wishing them happiness and health. Many events have been canceled due to the pandemic this year, but we’ve gathered some fun facts.
Originally known as tango no sekku (端午の節句), May 5th was a celebration for boys, until the government officially changed its name to Children’s day in 1948. Since ancient times, the fifth day of the fifth month, that is, the double fifth is considered unlucky. To chase away the evil and malicious spirits on the double fifth day, iris and dried mugwort are commonly used. The word Iris and mugwort, in Japanese, is shoubu (菖蒲) and yomogi (蓬), both of which have a relation to the samurai culture, and hence, it turned into a celebration of boys.
So how does one celebrate this special day? There are few traditions and a little bit of variation among different regions in Japan, but we’ll take a look at carp flags, armour and a beetle, and specialty food; kashiwa mochi and chimaki.
First, households and public places will hoist carp flags in various colors and sizes called koinobori (鯉のぼり). Based on a Chinese folktale, carps are believed to be persistent and strong enough to swim upstream of rapids to become a dragon. It demonstrates the wish for children to be healthy and strong like the carps. Commonly, there are black, red, and blue carps symbolizing father, mother, and a child respectively.
Next, the armour (yoroi, 鎧) and the beetle (kabuto, 兜), together they form yoroi kabuto. They are common decorations for households celebrating children’s day. It symbolizes strength, courage, and protection. Talk about the relation between children’s day and samurai culture, recall the use of iris to ward off spirits. Iris (shoubu) is a homonym to the word battle (勝負) and martial spirit (尚武)!
Finally, a special event calls for a special treat. Kashiwamochi, a rice cake wrapped in oak leaf; and Chimaki, rice, rice cake, or rice dumplings wrapped in miscanthus, bamboo, or reed grass. Since oak leaves do not lose all of its leaves in winter, some consider it to be protected by God. Furthermore, it is deemed as a lucky charm for the prosperity of children.
Happy Children's Day!
The acorn has been our local partner since 2017. Their goal is to connect its customers to quality organic farm-direct ingredients, affordable nutritious heat and serve meals, and craft BC beverages–including ASM’s Junmai Nama Osake with a free delivery option in Vancouver.
Its online Market is updated every day with new and exciting fresh ingredients to get creative with at home, as well as pre-batched heat and serve favourites. Check out their sauces and dressings as they have become popular household staples for some Vancourites, as well as its fresh rolled cavatelli pasta, soups, and weekend hash browns.
Another thing to note is their “Pay It Forward” meals where customers, through their purchase, can give meals to individuals in need.
The Acorn’s commitment to offer plant-based dishes using local and sustainable ingredients is truly inspirational.