Sustainability In Southeast Asia

Written By Audrey

After two rest days in Chiang Rai, we headed North and took a four-hour bus ride to the small town of Thung Chung in the Nan province of Thailand which is about a forty-minute drive from the Thailand-Laos border. The bus ride left the group feeling quite car sick but the gorgeous, lush, and green mountain views were breathtaking.
This past week we stayed at the Sahainan Organic farm where we met Sandot who runs the farm. He is such an amazing soul. The Sahainan farm is run off of the permaculture perspective which means permanent agriculture. Here’s an example to give you a better picture of what that looks like on the farm: when you use a sink the water drains to water plants. That water was taken directly from rainfall. There is no waste on the farm so what you do not eat for dinner is given to the chickens for food or even better; it gets put in the compost to make EM. EM means effective microorganisms that are in liquid form and are spread on crops that on the farm to help them grow faster and be healthier.

Sandot kept us on our toes with his great sense of humor and contagious laugh. When asked about his future goals for the farm, he humored us with his response of: “to build a bamboo plane and come visit us in America.” With his electrical engineering degree, maybe he was more serious than we thought. He is such a wise man, with such knowledge about sustainability, permaculture, and love for our planet, and we truly learned so much from him.
This past week we got to help Sandot a lot on the farm while learning about sustainability and permaculture. Kylie mastered how to take a 15ft machete and slice a bananna flower from a tree, while Bryley stood below to make a diving catch to get it in the basket. Paulina enjoyed learning how to use the gas-powered tiller to turn up the soil even though it nearly dragged her with it.

Joe was all hands on deck and was helpful wherever was needed. You could find him picking firewood, watering plants, or even lending a hand in the kitchen. I (Audrey) found my love for chopping rice from the rice fields as did Lucas and Kate, but our skin did not love it to say the least. Itchy itchy!
Everything we ate pretty much came from the farm, so we’d go out each day and pick what fruits and veggies we wanted to eat. Fun fact: there are quite a few flowers that you can cook up and eat as we learned this past week. Even the rice we ate came from Sandot’s farm! Such a special experience to be able to eat food that we knew exactly where it came from.

Harrison found his love for watering plants at sunrise on the farms unique water bottle watering system. Our favorite night on the farm was when we got to make homemade pizza for dinner thanks to Kate and her amazing dough making skills (and veggies from Sandot’s farm of course). Bryley and I enjoyed our time being on dinner duty that night and took personal pizza orders from the group. Sandot also loved the pizza, enjoyed us sharing one of our favorite meals with him.

Other tasks that we got to help with on the farm included harvesting rice, planting trees, watering plants, learning about how to make soap from a lufa plant. We also fed and sometimes caught chickens when they escaped, a task left to Claire G as I would refer to her as the chicken whisperer.
We ended our week on the on the farm by celebrating Paulina’s 19th Birthday with a bonfire in the rice field. We cooked coconut sticky rice over the fire, and Kate made a delicious banana cake with fig sauce from figs and bananas grown on the farm.

Claire C and Sami were so kind and made Paulina some coconut cookies as well. We ended the night singing karaoke from a computer in the rice field around the fire. Paulina, Madi, Claire G, and Bryley sang their hearts out to some hits from Mamma Mia, and Sammi, Kate, and I belted out some good ol’ backstreet boys. The rest of the group used their headlamps as stage lights.

We had such a wonderful week on the farm with Sandot, and we miss him already. We left the farm with a lot more knowledge about how to make less of a negative impact on the planet, create less waste, and live a more sustainable lifestyle.


Hooray for a successful rice season on the farm!
Audrey and Bryley with their homemade pizzas.
Bryley and Lucas bringing in the rice before the rain.
Kylie using the 15 foot machete-on-a-stick swipe the banana flower from the tree as Bryley is ready to catch it with her basket.
The other way to get a banana flower from the tree: get on 6’ tall Lucas’ shoulder’s of course. Sammi was just the right height to reach the flower!
Paulina with her cakes on her 19th birthday.
When Sandot says all 10 of us can fit in his truck.
Our final goodbye to Sandot with his trusty truck and rice.