The Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles held a conferment ceremony for Fall 2020 Decoration recipient Glenn Takeo Tanaka, former president of Orange Coast Optimist Club, on March 15.
Tanaka was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the ceremony was held at the Consul General’s Official Residence with a very small number of guests.
While Tanaka has been producing high-quality vegetables and fruits at his farm in Irvine for over 40 years, he has contributed to the community by organizing nutritional education for children as well as harvest tours at his farm. Tanaka has also donated to the victims at the affected farms as well as the students who study agriculture at the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Tanaka started “Walk the Farm,” a fund-raising event for Eastern Japan, including Fukushima Prefecture, with the Orange Coast Optimist Club’s “Helping Farms Feed Families,” which was established in 2011 when he was president of OCO. At the event, the participants have an opportunity to enjoy seasonal harvests at the farm, and at the same time deepen their understanding of the earthquake/tsunami disaster at the exhibition booth. The funds raised at the event have been donated to the earthquake victims.
Since its launching in 2011, the event has been supported by a total of over 5,000 volunteers, with more than 15,000 visitors participating. As a result, more than $800,000 has been donated to Japan. In 2020, the event was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic; however, Tanaka raised $20,000 for a donation.
So far, the donations have been distributed to 20 farmers in the affected areas as well as eight students of agriculture at Iwate University and Fukushima University.
When Tanaka was president of OCO, he was actively involved in youth education. In 2012, he set up the Youth Advisory Committee within the organization, which made it possible to provide coordinated support to youth activities and ensure the continuity of the activities.
That same year, Tanaka also launched an exchange program for Japanese secondary and high school students. Every year, the club invites 30 to 120 students to “Walk the Farm” to interact with students in California.
For the past four decades, Tanaka has been involved in the joint operation of the farm with his son. He is not only producing agricultural products, but also providing an opportunity to experience farming to a wide range of the community. In 1988, he launched a farm experience program for local children. In 1998, he opened his farm to the public with educational tours and agritourism. Currently, he provides agricultural experiences to 150,000 people, including 35,000 children from urban areas, every year and engages in agricultural education and training of his successors.
Tanaka has been organizing the New Year’s mochi pounding event at Tanaka Farms to preserve Japanese culture. He also co-presents many harvest events, such as strawberry and pumpkin, with the Japan Business Association of Southern California. The annual pumpkin harvest festival in October is the biggest event with more than 100,000 visitors.
Tanaka’s long-time contribution to the community was recognized by many organizations. For example, in 2017, he received the Green-White Achievement Award from the Agricultural Society of Japan.
For more information on programs at Tanaka Farms, visit www.tanakafarms.com.