- Cafes that Serve Dishes with Okinawan Ingredients in Southern Okinawa
- Yasaiya Hajime – a vegetable shop bringing you produce with love from harusaa (farmers)
"Wagaya no Hal-Lab Shop" Bridges between Local Farm and People's Table
post : 2017.11.18 18:00
Among the local passengers from the Kerama-bound ferry, there are seen also tourists’ suntanned face at the Tomari port in Naha. Being located only a few minute walk from the Tomari port, which is a hub station between islands. “Wagaya no Hal-Lab Shop” serves as another hub between farms and households and offers local vegetables that are grown with no pesticides or chemical fertilizer.
“Hal” as in “Hal-Lab” derives from Okinawan language “Halu-sa” meaning a farmer. “Lab” is of an English word “laboratory” that conducts an experiment. Not only dealing the items that are delicious, safe and earth-friendly, Hal-Lab also offers a platform where farmers and consumers could try something new together, aiming to make Okinawan food culture even richer.
The first things that caught our eye were seasonable veggies grown by local farmers. In October, the veggies sold there were Okinawa-unique luffa gourd, locally produced pumpkins, purple yams, bananas, shikwasaa lime, local maru-okra and peanut. The farmer’s name were Nakamura from Itoman City, Shimabukuro from Yaese Town and Kataoka from Nakijin Village. There was also a farmers’ organization called “Solfa Community” from Kitanakagusuku Village. They were well-known producers among organic-oriented consumers. There were are other vegetables from different parts of the island such as Uruma City and Ogimi Village. One attraction lies in a selection sold there; you can feel the change of season through vegetables varying at each season.
Not only fresh veggies, also the processed food using local ingredients are available too. The tasty sausages from “Puka-Puka-Puuka” in Urasoe City, vegan cakes and pastries offered by “Shizen Inu” from Yomitan Village (service available on only Tuesdays), seasoning products offered by “Bin Food” and tasty breads made by “Yaedake Bakery”. All items that are from different parts of Okinawa are now easily available at “Wagaya no Hal-Lab Shop”.
The items range from Okinawa-produced pork to convenient products such as soup concentrate, retort vegan food for and instant food. There are other reliable products such as getto (shell-ginger) water and honey bee cream, bug repellent made with chrysanthemum flower. A wide array of stuff selected based on the concept “items for daily use” .
The owner, Takehito Akiba started “Wagaya no Hal-Lab Shop” in 2013. He and his family had found themselves feeling unwell after the earthquake and tsunami disaster that took place in 2011. They decided to move to Okinawa the next year. Takehito had worked so far at sales and planning at advertisement agency, and his wife Yoko was full-time homemaker with a keen interest in food related project. After relocation they experienced helping local farmers who were engaged in organic farming in Okinawa, and then they found themselves very much into the idea of local production for local consumption and food safety. They decided to run a shop which was the very first project for the couple.
“In Tokyo the distance between food producers and consumers is far but here in Okinawa we feel it to be very close.” Takehito said. Every morning he goes to his farm to take care of his lotus root which is new project of his and rare crop in Okinawa. In Okinawa, vegetables crops reduce dramatically during summer but we manage with local products only. What we suggest to our customers is that how to live on what we have at hands and hopefully enjoy them with gratitude. Having local crops in season is precious thing and also very healthy. For a while when we opened our shop most of the customers were new-comers to the island but now more and more local people are coming to our shop. Takehito said joyfully.
The Hal–Lab first started with the items they genuinely wanted to have for themselves and added a variety to it meeting customers’ request. For tourists, the Hal-Lab’s products are strongly recommended for those wishing for a truly content-rich trip.