The Mitsui & Co. Environment Fund

Introduction to Grant Projects

Voluntary Architects Network (VAN)

Providing emotional development through hydroponic farming at a child welfare facility in Minamisoma, Fukushima, and partnering with local residents to manage the project

Activity grant

Project Description

This project will use a child welfare facility planned for Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, to provide children affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake with a hydroponic facility for growing vegetables. Growing, harvesting and cooking their own vegetables will provide these children with a learning experience and an opportunity for emotional development. Although managed by local NPOs, the facility will encourage local residents to get involved by helping to grow and harvest vegetables and teaching cooking classes, thereby creating a mechanism for its sustainable use.

Grant year
FY2013 Activity Grants
Grant term
3 years
October 2013 - September 2016
Grant amount
5,000,000 yen
Activity region
Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan
A model of the child welfare facility

Overview of the Organization

Shigeru Ban, Director
Shigeru Ban, Director
Establishment purpose
The network was established with the aim of providing continuous, quick and adequate support in creating a living environment for survivors of natural disasters, and building structures to provide mid-to long-term support once the initial danger has passed.
Main areas of activity
New Zealand, Sri Lanka, China, Philippines, USA, India, Turkey, Rwanda, and Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture and Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan
2 full-time staff members
WEB site
Recent activities
The network is active worldwide focusing on supporting the provision of living spaces following disasters. In the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, activities included using recycled paper partitions to create 1,800 cubicles in 50 locations to support the privacy needs of victims, and installing fixed-wall furniture into temporary accomodation located in a baseball ground in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture. An example of an operation connected to this is a community cafe that sprang up in Onagawa. Used containers and tents were donated to construct a market space in a temporary housing area and some of the containers were remodeled and used to operate a community cafe. The space brought together VAN, NPOs supporting employment for local people, and locals who wanted to operate the cafe with people looking to sell food products, creating close bonds, and over a year and a half later it continues to act as a gathering spot for residents. This new hydroponics project in Minamisoma is a chance to continue providing support to a disaster area, and there are plans for collaborative initiatives similar to those implemented in Onagawa, such as establishing a local network including regional NPOs, silver human resources centers, and residents.