Photographer Jane Alden Stevens traveled to the Tsugaru region of Aomori prefecture in Japan to document the work of apple farmers. The intensive labor starts in spring with blossom thinning, in order to insure a larger fruit. Farmers climb ladders to carefully pluck the four outer blooms, leaving only the center one behind. Stevens writes:
"What amazed me most about the process that the Japanese use to grow apples was how labor-intensive it is. From the time a blossom is set, an apple can be touched by human hands at least ten times before it is harvested. When I asked why many farmers are cutting down their orchards and abandoning this method of raising fruit, some held their hands up, wiggled their fingers, and replied, “Not enough hands!"
Seen here are tools for hand-pollination including wands, gloves, and a bottle containing the pollen. A magenta dye is added to the pollen so workers can see which blossoms have been touched. To see more apple farming images from Stevens, click here.
All photos courtesy Jane Alden Stevens