Our Farm in Isaan, Thailand

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. Peaceful farm pond in Isaan, Thailand

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.

Joe

Related post: Returning to the Farm

, , , , ,

11 Responses to Our Farm in Isaan, Thailand

  1. Gary Parsons 30 August 2015 at 00:26 #

    Hello Joe, i will be visiting Isaan in October and am very interested in doing the same as yourself. I was wondering if you could give me an update on how it is going for you. Maybe if you are in the position of taking in guests as yet then would very much like to stay.
    Hope everything is working in your favour, and await an update
    Many thanks Gary

  2. pete davies 17 December 2014 at 21:05 #

    Hi,

    really liked the description of your farm, its what I have dreams about. ours is getting there but its been a long haul. We have chickens, ducks and pigs. and of course rice and are south of Khon Kaen near Phon. I am looking to get some geese but so far the family have been unable to locate a source. Any ideas please?

    best regards

    Pete & Lek.

  3. Daniel 28 October 2014 at 16:53 #

    Hello Joe,

    good on you and great to have found your blog.
    My wife n me are doing the same (just started) near Sisaket.

    Would love to see some coordination budding here as the future is less then certain and opportunities and challenges are things best shared.

    Best regards

    Daniel

  4. john brook 17 September 2014 at 17:43 #

    sounds like you have good sound plans for your future in issan we live in the uk but visit familey in issan 1 hour outside udon thani every year for the summer we have a house in the city and farm in the village its a good place to stay and chill longest so far 1 year
    but i wish you good luck with your venture and i will put you on my list of places to visit further down the line
    best wishes john noi jamie

  5. Trish 24 April 2014 at 13:34 #

    Hi Joe,

    Any chance I can visit your farm this weekend? Living in Thailand and interested in finding out more about agriculture here.

    Trish

    • Joe Nattress 24 April 2014 at 23:20 #

      Hi Trish,

      Thanks for your interest in our farm. Our plans for inviting homestay visitors have been delayed. We are not currently accepting for guests. Please check back, again. We will post our plans here on this site.

      Good luck, and I hope you find a good place to go for this weekend!
      Joe

  6. Clarke Nattress 7 May 2012 at 17:13 #

    Hey Bro,
    I agree with some of the comments above – post more pics and maybe embed some video of the farm. Interview Bua and get her input, I bet she’s got a lot to say about the farm, and about her grandmother. I’ll be looking for more to come soon…!
    Clarke

  7. Jackie 27 March 2012 at 21:24 #

    Hello Joe

    Looking forward to hearing more about the farm.
    Can you post up some more photographs.

    Love the idea you are growing your own food, and living off the land.

    Hopefully as both our sites grow, I can feature you as a homestay for tourists if you would like that of course…lol

    The best of luck to you, you are doing a great thing…

    Jackie

    • Joe Nattress 29 March 2012 at 22:22 #

      Hi Jackie,

      Thanks for your comments. I’m glad you like my blog.

      I will continue to post more about the farm, and more pictures will be coming, too. Home grown food is the best, and watching it grow is very exciting and satisfying.

      That would be great if you’d like to feature us as a homestay, once we are set up. It’s still a little early in the process, but we hope to have the place set up before too long. We’d appreciate the exposure. Thanks for the offer. We’ll let you know when you are ready.

      Joe

  8. Barry Johnson 21 March 2012 at 05:01 #

    Hi Joe…you have my imagination bubbling…do you do a B&B (sorry Bed and Breakfast – in other words take guests)

    Nice post

    • Joe Nattress 23 March 2012 at 01:30 #

      Hi Barry,

      We plan to take homestay guests in the future, but we’re not quite ready, yet.

      It’s still very rustic and the facilities are very limited. There is only a very small, and very old, farmhouse there where our caretakers live. Even when I go there, I sleep on a mat on the flood of the covered deck under a mosquito net. We don’t have any real guest accommodations there, yet, though we are planning them.

      In a year or two, we will start opening it up for camping. The long range plan is to slowly finish the new house and then be able to offer guesthouse lodging.

      Stay tuned!

      Joe

Leave a Reply