“This class reminds me of that farm. Remember? The one we went to in Harmony School.”
Hearing the word Harmony School, Satoru’s expression became shrewd.
“Sage Academy is like the farm? What are you talking about?”
“Just the overall feeling is the same.” There was an unpleasant feeling I couldn’t quite pin down.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Satoru also seemed to be in a bad mood all of a sudden, but our conversation ended there as class started.
Lotus Farms, where we had gone for a social science field trip, is in Gold village. As the graduation period got closer, we were suddenly taken on numerous field trips. It seemed like they wanted us to think about what sort of job we wanted in the future. The sight of the production sites amazed us and made us want to hurry and grow up. The products made at pottery and glass workshops that were part of the craft guild were extraordinary. When we saw them using their cantus to create incredibly strong ceramic pieces and glass as clear as air, we all declared that we wanted to apprentice there after graduating from Sage Academy.
But the thing that left the deepest impact on us was on our last field trip to Lotus Farms.
Lotus Farms is a series of experimental farms spread out over the villages and the biggest collective farm in the town. The first one we went to was a saltwater rice paddy in Whitesand. The rice we eat comes from the paddies in Gold, but here were fields of rice immersed in saltwater. Using something called reverse osmosis, they’re able to filter out the salt in the water. We sampled the rice, and to our surprise, found it completely edible, with only a hint of saltiness.
The next time, we went to a sericulture facility, where a lot of the silkworms spun rainbow cocoons. Not only did the fabric made from these silkworms not need dyeing, they also didn’t fade or lose color when washed.
In the neighboring building were foreign species used for reference in selective breeding. Silk worms from Indonesia were known for their golden silk, Tasar silk worms from India made threads ten times thicker than usual, hundreds of silk worms from Uganda spinning cocoons the size of rugby balls, and more.
The best were the Hitachi silkworms kept in an isolated, airtight room. The two meter long, three headed worms were feasting on copious amounts of mulberry leaves and simultaneously spitting out silk from one of its three mouths. It was as if they had forgotten that they were supposed to be making cocoons and were just spitting silk in all directions. The inside of the observation window had to be cleaned off often to stop the silk from covering it completely. The tour guide explained that since the insects were so big, they had trouble breathing, so oxygen was pumped into the enclosure. The concentration of oxygen was so high that if there were an open flame near, the whole thing would blow up, which is why the worms were kept in an air locked room.
Next to the sericulture farm were fields with potatoes, yams, onions, radishes, strawberries and other plants. This time it was the middle of winter and some of the fields were covered in snow-like bubbles. Potatoes and yams are susceptible to frost damage, so when the temperature dropped too much they used the bubbles produced by an insect called a seedbed froghopper to keep the plants warm. These bugs were originally a type of harmful pests known as froghoppers, but were mutated into a useful type with cantus.