My wife owns a small farm in the northern Isaan region of Thailand, not too far from Udon Thani and Laos. It used to be part of her family’s large rice field. Now it is a rustic botanical garden filled with edible and ornamental plants, fish and frog ponds, egg-laying geese, ducks, and chickens, and a few rescued cats and dogs.
My wife bought the land from her grandmother in the late 1990s. She had owned a very successful restaurant in Bangkok until the Asian financial crisis forced her to close. She decided she needed a break form the long hours of running a restaurant, anyway, so she brought her hard-earned money back to Isaan and bought part of the land she grew up on.
She immediately fenced the entire property and dug large ponds around the perimeter. The soil was piled in the middle of the property and leveled. Now, it is an oasis with a territorial view of rice fields as far as you can see.
Since she first bought the farm, nearly every time she returned from her travels around Thailand, she brought trees, plants, flowers, and orchids in pots, cuttings, and seeds that she had bought or collected. On a very small budget, she has created a beautiful green space out of a field.
Our goal for the farm is to create a beautiful piece of property to retire and live mostly self-sufficiently on. It is a long, slow process, but little by little, it is happening. Right now, the farm is beautiful, and is bringing in a trickle of income (which is immediately spent on water buffalo manure for fertilizer, etc.). Over time, we hope to get it to break even, and some day, with a little luck and a lot of hard work, maybe it will bring in a little extra to help us with our retirement.
Most of the vegetables and fruit we eat here are ones we have grown. We never buy eggs or frogs, and rarely buy fish. For variety, we do buy beef, pork, and chicken to make the wonderful local Isaan dishes that require those.
The flavor of all of our farm-grown food can’t be compared to anything we can buy outside the farm. Even other locally grown food sold in the local markets is never quite as fresh as what we can pick here and eat immediately. The food here is amazing.
I feel very fortunate to have met my wife and to have been brought into this incredible environment. We are both passionate about sustainable living, growing organic food, eggs, fish, frogs, flowers, and orchids, and living simply in the country.
If you are interested in life here on our farm in Isaan, please check back for future posts about what we are doing here.
Do you have any thoughts or questions about farming in Isaan or rural Thailand? Please leave a comment below.
Until next time.
Related post: Returning to the Farm