As rural populations shrink and small farms struggle to survive, farmers in Japan are turning to a new a crop: cloud ear mushrooms, grown under the solar panels that are replacing farms throughout the country.
An estimated 10 percent of Japanese farmland is not in use, despite a great need for more agriculture; interestingly, the majority of food in Japan is imported from other countries. In the past, the government has discouraged companies from converting farmland to fields of solar panels, but a change in regulations in 2013 made it legal to do so, as long as the panels didn't replace farms. How can they possibly work? Easy: They can construct solar panels alongside farms. The challenge here, of course, is that farmers need to choose crops that require little light.
Enter the mushroom.