Farming together: A farmer in Phetchaburi offers a farm-sharing experience to casual gardeners
Love growing plants, but don’t have enough time or sufficient space?
Fret not. Today, you can rent a piece of land, an 8-square-meter garden plot to be precise, and grow what you want to eat at home. The farmers will look after your garden – including watering and adding 2-4 inches of organic manure or organic fertilizer around your plants.
“You can visit your vegetable plot and harvest the vegetables by yourself. If you don’t have time, we will do it for you then send the package to your front door,” Buarawong De Groot, co-owner of U-Farm in Phetchaburi province, 168 kilometers south of Bangkok, tells Thai PBS World.
Buarawong, or Bua, rents out plots to casual and hobby gardeners. Her customers include doctors, male and female cooks, and food stylists, all of them health conscious.
Getting out of the city
Bua and her husband Lex bought a seven-rai (three-acre) plot of land in Ban Lat, Phetchaburi, after having two children, Luca and Chole. The aim was to cultivate chemical-free veggies for the family to eat.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought their plan to fruition far more quickly than they could have imagined and it wasn’t long before they were saying goodbye to the city.
“After the pandemic struck, I left my job as a corporate lawyer. We moved from our home in Bangkok to our farm in Phetchaburi,” Bua says.
Bua says she started out wanting to grow organic and chemical-free vegetables for supermarkets that sell chemical-free vegetables and other farm produce. But her offers were turned down since the supermarkets only deal with contract farmers.
So she turned to those like her – mums, dads, gardener wannabes, and teachers, none of whom trust the safety of vegetables available in the markets and who want to grow their own organic produce but cannot afford to do so.
Sixty 2 by 4 meter plots have been developed for a three-month (one harvesting season) lease at a very reasonable fee of Bt3,900. All the plots have been snapped up, and there is a waiting list.
“We can actually expand to a larger number of plots, but we have chosen not to as we might not be able to maintain the gardens and the delivery of quality farm products,” Bua explains.
What can people accomplish on eight square meters of land? An architect can design a small shack, while a mall developer might use it for parking. U-Farm offers three kinds of plants to its customers to grow on their 2 by 4 meters plots.
“Two by four meters is big enough to grow your favorite vegetables,” says Bua. “Within three months, you will have chemical-free vegetables delivered to your door.”
Some like only curly kale on their land while others are happy with morning glory and eggplant.
Greens such as red and green oak lettuce, rocket, and dill are popular choices, as are cabbage, cauliflower, and Chinese kale.
If seeding and growing go wrong, says Bua, U-Farm will replant the vegetables for the customer. And as has become the norm during the pandemic, U-Farm lets the casual gardeners keep track of their growing plants via CCTV.
“Customers want to know where their food comes from,” says Bua.
And just as importantly, these casual gardeners also enjoy a sense of control and pride as they watch their vegetables grow.
By Veena Thoopkrajae with additional report by Phoowadon Duangmee