Growing Green Communities

We document the trend of organic living in the city

This month marks the first anniversary of Bangkok Farmers’ Market and they will celebrate by having a big market at K Village over the weekend. In the past year, the market has helped encourage people to embrace organic and healthy products while creating a community in which people can learn and share new things. To highlight the trend of green living in Bangkok, we talked to the market’s coordinator to see what Bangkok Farmers’ Market has in store as well as document other organic ventures in the city.

BANGKOK FARMERS’ MARKET

Market coordinator Han Phu tells us how Bangkok Farmers’ Market is not only about commodity but also community.

How did the idea of organising a farmers’ market in Bangkok come about?

The original idea came from our love of farmers’ markets back when we were living in North America. One of our founders helped start farmers’ markets there himself. We started Bangkok Farmers’ Market because we know there’s a void. While there are a lot of fresh markets and marketplaces, there wasn’t a community built around those places. People go there to buy vegetables and they pretty much go home. There wasn’t a sense of being able to take something more from [these places] than just commerce so we wanted to build a community around a market where people can learn, grow, share knowledge and have fun.

What’s the goal of Bangkok Farmers’ Market?

It is to create a community and a new way to live in which you don’t have to be rich to be healthy and achieve your goals. If you have an idea or a curiosity to learn something, we can help you realise that together as a community. Everyone can share their knowledge so we all have a better quality of life and work towards sustainability for the future generations.

How is Bangkok Farmers’ Market different from your average market?

At our market, people stay for hours. Kids come to play with the horses. We have a mother area so they can nurse their babies. We offer a lot of workshops from baking to mozzarella cheese-making. We have done classes on 3D printing and vegetarian food. We just started offering free yoga classes. We regularly do workshops on topics such as certification labels on food so consumers can make the right choice. We organise a wide variety of activities with the intention of connecting people together. We also serve as a bridge between farmers and consumers. Organic farmers sell their produce at our market so consumers can directly ask them questions, whereas they couldn’t at supermarkets. The farmers get fairer prices for their produce and at the same time we lower the cost for the consumers because they buy directly from the farmers. We also arrange farm tours so people can physically go out to the farms to see the farmers in action, plant something, and enjoy themselves.

What kind of changes do you hope to inspire in consumers?

We hope they become more aware that their money and what they consume can make a difference. They shouldn’t be giving all their money to big corporations but should give it to people who actually produce the products. Also when you eat chemical-free products, there’s less impact on your body and the environment.

What changes have you seen over the course of the market’s first year?

More and more people come to our market. We have created a lot of opportunities for people to give back. There are more than 90,000 likes on our Facebook now. When we ask for help with a nanny service or community garden, many people respond so we know they want to help and make a difference. With every day that goes by, we connect people together and encourage them to do more for themselves and others.

What kind of project(s) have you been working on?

We’re putting up a vertical herb garden for Plaza Athenee to be used at their restaurants. In return, they provide us space when we need to do a class or workshop. We also have a plot of donated land in Huai Kwang that we will turn into a space for a community garden. We’re starting a farmers’ market in Hua Hin. Basically we plan to bring what we have in Bangkok to other cities across Thailand and Southeast Asia.

HOW TO JOIN:

+ On Mar 29-30, Bangkok Farmers’ Market 1st Year Anniversary Event will take place at K Village (9am-5pm. Sukhumvit Soi 26). Enjoy organic produce, fruits, eggs, baked goods, sustainable seafood, pre-made foods, artisan products and more. Other highlights include Cheewajit workshop, baking class, ponies for kids, live music, mother area and more. The Bangkok Farmers’ Market takes place every month, with updates posted online (www.bkkfm.com, fb.com/bkkfm).

+ Besides the weekend market, you can also join them on Apr 6 (from 7am) on a mission to clear land in Huai Kwang for their upcoming community garden project. Email info@bkkfm.com to join.

+ Their yoga classes take place at K Village on Mon (6:30pm), Tue (5pm & 6:30pm), Wed (6:30pm), Thu (5pm & 6:30pm) and Sat (1pm). Donations are welcome. Call 088-507-8694 for info.


URBAN GREEN SCENE & BANGKOK GREENIE

Urban Green Scene (www.theurbangreenscene.com, fb.com/urbangreenscene, Twitter: @urbangreenscene) is an online community, offering a wealth of information for people who love all things regarding green living. Its prolific founder, Saloni Jirathaneswongse, has compiled businesses that advocate organic and eco-friendly practices (so you can get the greenest bang for your baht). After living abroad for more than 10 years, she was surprised to realise there was no sign of organic life when she came back to Thailand, which inspired her to start Urban Green Scene.

The green guide encompasses farmers’ markets, where to buy organic fruits and veggies, organic restaurants, flea markets, resorts that provide green accommodation, green tours and more.

Urban Green Scene makes it easy for you to enjoy life while causing less impact on the environment (some of which you may not even be aware of). For example, a mother can find where to buy organic and eco-friendly products for her baby. You can also find out where to buy sustainable furniture.

Its sister website Bangkok Greenie (www.bkkgreenie.com, fb.com/bkkgreenie), also run by Saloni, is where she offers her opinions on green businesses to weed out those that can do more from those that are truly green.

HOW TO JOIN:

+ Send a green lead to urbangreenbkk@gmail.com if you know of eco-friendly places. By supporting these eco businesses, you are already helping to make the world a greener place.


VEGGIE PRINCE

If you want to join a community of city farmers, contact urban farming learning centre Veggie Prince or Ban Jaochai Phak (9/711, Satriwittaya 2 Soi 3, Lat Prao 71, 081-867-2042, fb.com/prince.cityfarm). Nakorn “Prince” Limpacuptathavon, aka Veggie Prince, wants to inspire city dwellers to take up shovels and garden forks to grow their own chemical-free vegetables.

Prince has been fascinated with farming since he was a uni student and first turned a piece of land next to his own house into a growing ground for various greens according to his household’s needs. Six years of farming in the city later, he has become the poster boy of Bangkok’s urban farming and wants to share what he has learned with others.

You’ll have to get down and a bit dirty in the name of fair farming as Prince teaches you things from growing techniques to making natural fertiliser and pesticide. Besides treating your body with healthy chemical-free food, he also wants you to take joy in growing your own food.

HOW TO JOIN:

+ Prince holds classes once a month on Saturday. Contact him directly to set the date and time if you’re interested in learning.


RAITONG ORGANICS FARM

South African Bryan Hugill and Thai Lalana Srikram co-founded Raitong Organics Farm (1940-1942 Sukhumvit Road, near BTS Bang Chak, 082-859-7764 for Thai, 089-217-0606 for English, raitongorganicsfarm.com), a business with a lot of consciousness for the environment and society. They act as a bridge between city consumers and organic growers by selling organic produce bought directly from farmers and organising farm trips. They also arrange monthly green workshops in the city.

HOW TO JOIN:

+ Subscribe to their CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) Munching Box programme (fb.com/CSAMunchingBox) for fresh organic fruits and vegetables and other healthy goodies delivered right to your door. This supports Thai farmers who have adopted organic practices and helps ensure they will have a stable income. In return, you’ll get to eat healthy stuff that has a positive impact on your body and the environment.

+ Sign up for their upcoming food//hack#013 workshop, which is all about coffee this time (Apr 19-20, 9am-noon. tinyurl.com/p9m2rkj). It covers everything about coffee from its journey from the farm to your cup, coffee-making at home, and the industrial and economic sides of it. Included is coffee of various origins for cupping, breakfast pastries from RootsBKK bakery, and a 250g bag of coffee to take home. It’s open to 15 people only. They also organise occasional Urban Farming 101 workshops which range from mushroom growing to strawbale gardening. Go to their FB page for more details (fb.com/RaitongOrganicsFarm). G

About the author

columnist
Writer: Pornchai Sereemongkonpol
Position: Guru Reporter