my day as a rice farmer

I’ve always wanted to be a farmer. Hard work, yes – but tangible, real work that may leave you physically drained, but mentally fulfilled. I’ve imagined my farm: somewhere I can grow alllll the vegetables, maybe supply some eggs to my neighbors…and, maybe more importantly, the person I am on that farm. Tanned skin stretched over strong, lean muscles from daily labor. A clear mind from spending my days outdoors, instead of under fluorescent lightbulbs and air conditioning. Deep smile lines not only from the elements, but from the joy that comes with providing for oneself and others. Plus, have you seen a baby duck?

When I heard about an organic rice farming trip here in Thailand, I immediately joined in. The trip was being put on by an organization called Hive, and my friend Oz introduced me to one of the founders, Mint. Upon meeting Mint, I knew two things immediately. 1) I wanted to be friends with this girl, and 2) she and her sister Achi had started Hive on their own (hi, inspiring!) and I knew I needed to get involved. Basically, they organize trips all over Thailand that promote both a more sustainable way of living and traveling, and connecting with the local people – all while experiencing something authentic and unique.

We left in the early morning for Nakhon Pathom, a little more than an hour outside of Bangkok. Green Living Camp operates an organic rice farm and utilizes a special technique for planting rice, called parachuting. They use natural fertilizers and a flock of ducks to keep their crops free of both pests and chemicals. We began the day by leading the ducks out to the rice paddies – kind of hilarious watching the ‘duck wrangler’ run through muddy paddies to snatch rogue ducks up by their necks.

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Yung and Yuth, brother and sister team that owns Green Living Camp. Their highly nutritious, organic rice is certified by many international organizations, and their goal is to help spread their methods throughout Thailand and educate other farmers on more sustainable practices. IMG_8281 IMG_8283 IMG_8284

Their flock of ducks is released into the rice paddies daily. They eat invasive grasses and pests, without disturbing the growing rice.
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Duck wrangling.IMG_8301 IMG_8302 IMG_8303 IMG_8306 IMG_8310 IMG_8311 IMG_8312 IMG_8313 IMG_8314 IMG_8317 IMG_8325 IMG_8326 IMG_8330 IMG_8332 IMG_8334 IMG_8336

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Our first job was to flatten out one of the empty rice paddies in preparation for new seedlings. Steering that thing through thick mud is no simple task. IMG_8342 IMG_8343 IMG_8347IMG_8358

Hi. It’s me. I realize I need some more vitamin D in my life.mefeet IMG_8348 IMG_8349 IMG_8364IMG_8370paddy IMG_8375 IMG_8378 IMG_8381 IMG_8385 IMG_8394 IMG_8399

Learning how they make their own natural fertilizers.red IMG_8408 IMG_8410 thailife IMG_8418 IMG_8419eggfertilizer IMG_8425 IMG_8429 IMG_8433thaifood

Before we could eat, we had to make our own bowls from banana leaves. ^ Mine was pretty rough, but it held together long enough for me to get seconds.IMG_8440 IMG_8441organicfarm IMG_8446 IMG_8460

Instead of planting the rice seeds directly on the field, they sprout them in a nursery in specialized trays. We then break the individual plants apart and sort them to be parachuted!
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Before planting, they pray to Mae Phosop (the Rice Goddess) to protect the fields throughout the season.
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I really got into this part, so no photographs – but check Hive’s Facebook page for more action shots!
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A cool treat after a day of hard work. Fresh coconut ice cream!IMG_8531yuth IMG_8537 IMG_8541

As expected, I left the farm feeling exhausted, accomplished, inspired. And not just inspired to go get myself a baby duck.

If you are looking to do some authentic Thai activities while in Thailand, I could not suggest Hive more strongly. They are always adding new activities – whale watching is up next! Check out their website or their Facebook page…and dare to step off the tourist track!

 

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