Chasing Mirages

Tag: organic farming

Little Donkey Farm

by on Feb.28, 2012, under Posts

I’ve mentioned Beijing’s Little Donkey Farm a couple of times already.  I finally had the chance to visit.

Food safety has been a huge issue in China in recent years, and wealthy urban dwellers are starting to scramble for food that will not render them sterile or cancerous.  Little Donkey Farm capitalizes on this fear by giving Beijingers a few options for access to less-toxic food.  Insecure urbanites can subscribe to a weekly order of in-season vegetables, or they can rent a plot of land at the farm and either tend it themselves on the weekends or pay the farm to raise vegetables on it.

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Organic Goat Cheese – a bedtime story

by on Dec.15, 2011, under Posts

As you may recall, my two concrete goals for this Southeast Asian journey were 1) to meditate in Myanmar; and 2) to volunteer at the Vang Vieng Organic Farm.

The first goal I accomplished to my satisfaction back in July, and since then I had been eagerly anticipating my stint with Mr. T in Vang Vieng.

Years ago, a friend of mine volunteered here and had the time of his life, working with a bunch of village kids to build a community center out of mud bricks.  I am happy to report that the community center is in good shape and still a beloved activity area for local children.

I was hoping to spend some time in the quiet countryside and learn basic organic farming techniques.  Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed the first day I arrived.

In the last couple of years, locals have built a row of tubing bars along the river just downstream of the Organic Farm.  These bars blast deafening western pop music from about 11 AM to 5 PM everyday, sending tangible vibrations through all matter, living or not, within a several hundred meter radius.  It was impossible to concentrate, relax, or enjoy myself with the thumping bass and sickeningly catchy melodies constantly forcing themselves into my eardrums.  Even my trusty earplugs were no use.

The organic farming front wasn’t much better.  It was the end of rainy season and not much planting or harvesting was going on.  All I could do was help take care of the goats – which turned out to be even more fun than it sounds.

First thing every morning, we’d get up to sweep goat shit.  The goats live in a raised structure with cracks between the wooden boards, allowing their pellets to be swept onto the ground below.  Once the poop is on the ground, it is swept up and placed into earthworm composting tubs.  Every few months, the contents of the tubs are emptied and used for fertilizer.

And here, the story of our goat cheese begins.

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Organic Donkey, Part II

by on Sep.25, 2011, under Quickies

I mentioned Beijing’s Little Donkey Organic Farm in an earlier post, and it looks like an NPR blogger has visited recently.

I’ll be in Beijing next week, and it’s high time I dropped by the place,  especially after my somewhat disappointing visit to the Vang Vieng Organic Farm in Laos.

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Adventures in Farming – Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

by on May.12, 2011, under Posts

Finally, thanks to my gracious host in Penang, I was able to visit some farms in an area of Malaysia called the Cameron Highlands.  The Cameron Highlands are a unique area in peninsular Malaysia because temperatures there are 10 degrees Celsius cooler than everywhere else, with an average high temperature of 20 degrees and an average low of 13 degrees.  The Cameron Highlands’ temperate climate is mostly due to its high elevation, about 1,500 meters above sea level.

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