Farming garden visit 2024
I am excited to share my recent farm visit to Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta. A good 4 hours drive from HCMC and I am on a scooter, riding on the backroads to the backroads between the farms or should I call them gardens, as they are truly more like large beautiful gardens in the homes of hardworking and dedicated farmers.
Each time I go, it is a reminder of why I do what we do. It is a remarkable experience learning more about the organic farming practices and meeting the dedicated farmers who are extremely passionate about agriculture.
I was met by 4 gentlemen from the local People Committee, this is after I had said: “please don’t make anything special out of my visit, I would love to meet the farmers and see the farms – nothing more”. But I was thankful for the honor of their presence.
Their farming gardens are simply breathtaking and I am glad we are out of the era where photos were developed, I almost ran out of battery taking photos of each and every plant and butterfly that crossed my path. I was met with an abundance of flora and fauna that truly showcases the beauty of this region. It is inspiring to see how these farmers have incorporated eco-friendly methods into their farming, preserving the environment while producing high-quality produce.
I have to mention Ms. Bé I kept asking our co-op representative for her age. She seemed on the older side, but was extremely energetic and constantly on the move, so it was difficult for me to gauge her age. She kept telling me 73, which I thought might just be on the higher side of life as we know it. She is 73, slightly older than my mother, but despite my mother being very active, I could not picture her doing hard manual farming work all day. Ms Bé – was out harvesting the most delicious cauliflowers into a crate and carrying them all back to the main house – repeat. I of course offered her to carry the crate, but instead she took off her traditional Vietnamese hat and told me to put it on to shield my skin from the sun (I did not accept her kind offer). All this hard work with plenty of smiles to spare.
Her garden is beautifully kept, neat rows of beautiful fresh produce. Flowers to guard off pests and others to attract pollinators. A few dogs running around the main house along with the little chicks.
The other gardens were amazing and I did discover that in one of the gardens some plants were dead and others had been invaded by pests and the leaves had been eating. As devastating as it is for the individual farmer I was thankful that other parts of the garden was still very much in bloom. The ones that were dead seemed to be so because of lack of water. That is part of the way they farm during the dry season, obviously the wet season has the opposite challenges.
These farmers work together and sell via a co-op, this co-op also houses the learning center. It is obvious to many of these farmers that farming without the use of pesticides is not only beneficial to their own health but also that of the consumer and the soil. Many have been farming with the use of pesticides, but have turned to the knowledge support from the co-op and have gone through a strict process allowing them to, years later, farm organically.
I am already excited about my next trip – to be enriched with all their stories and way of life!