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Goya gets mayor’s

Date Posted: 2009-05-07

An eco-campaign initiated by an elementary school in Tokyo has spread nationwide, and Okinawa joined the Green Curtain Forum this week in the capital, where Naha City’s mayor made a strong pitch for goya, a popular bitter melon.
Takeshi Onaga joined in the second Green Curtain Forum, making a presentation on Okinawa’s role in a ‘Green Curtain Life’ and extolling the virtues of the goya vegetable that’s a near staple in local households. He explained the bitter melon, also considered a cucumber, is at first considered bitter until people get used to the healthy vegetable.
The Green Curtain Forum was the brainchild of students at an elementary school in Tokyo Itabashi-ku area. It has spread across the nation since 2003, leading to the prominence of today. Teacher Ruriko Shimizu says “it’s so enjoyable to harvest the bitter cucumber vegetable with children, so children can learn about plants and at the same time enjoy the food.” She said children are learning a lot from the green curtain, and praised the Okinawa spawned goya, which is now being grown around Japan, as a terrific food.
Okinawans have long grown goya, both at home with the vines growing in yards an alongside houses. To make a green curtain, forum participants explained, hang a special gardening net onto a window or wall, then under the net put a planter of goya or normal cucumbers to get the vines started. As they grow, stretch the leafy vines onto the net, adding the benefit of fending off the sun’s heat rays.
School teachers and the mayor pointed out how people can adapt their homes and lives so they don’t need to rely on air conditioners in the summer. The vines, together with the fresh winds, help slow the effects of global warming and help people lead eco-friendly lives.

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