27 Jun The right place in the world
Experience a lifetime on the farm
My grandfather loved cultivating his small piece of land, producing his fruits, his vegetables, always having fresh eggs from his hens. I remember that when I brought him a bunny to keep there in the countryside, he was so fond of it that he never had the courage to roast it.
Life on the farm flows in a way that is very easy to explain: it is simple, innate, it follows the rhythm of nature, which is why it is so easy to get used to it.
It’s been about three weeks since Marco and I have decided to participate in a volunteer project, we are in fact guests of a Thai family and we help them carry on their small farm: their permaculture project involves completely organic agriculture, the recycling of all packaging, composting of natural waste for the garden or as feed for the chickens. The cultivation of native plants, no use of pesticides or chemical agents, for the utmost joy of mosquitoes and all those insects that live happily here. On the other hand, this responds not only to their values of environmental sustainability but also to the precepts of Buddhism, their religion.
The long-term perspective is to arrive in a short time to have a vegetable garden and an orchard capable of completely supporting one’s family, making themselves independent of the food market and at the same time selling the surplus of the product to obtain a good profit.
When we read this project we were immediately intrigued, not only by the possibility of living a month with an authentic Thai family, but above all because we had been thinking about applying the same philosophy of life to our little house on Lake Maggiore for some time. Of course, we don’t have the same space, we don’t aim for such an ambitious project, we would be satisfied with producing enough fruit and vegetables to “get around the system”. By now everyone knows what km0 products are and many, more and more often, are looking for it as a synonym of quality. Here, we aim for the m0, directly produced and consumed in our home! Not to mention that, having overcome my phobia for chickens, we wouldn’t mind a couple of chickens to bypass the animal derivatives industry which, almost always, produces incredible damage to the environment to the detriment of animal rights and also of our health.
The experience we are living in Thailand is teaching us many things that will be useful to us when we start our organic garden at home, but it is above all the human and emotional aspect that involves us so much. Working in contact with nutura makes us feel good, much more relaxed, calm and accommodating. We eat with more pleasure, we sleep more soundly; we wake up early in the morning and almost always fall asleep in the evening without the risk of looking at the ceiling without falling asleep. The muscles are tired, but with that blissful exhaustion you feel in your bones when you know you’ve made an effort that will do you good: after all, there’s no time to be bored here, there are so many things to do and Kwan and her family I’m just getting started!
The rainy season is coming and Kwan explained that now is the best time to plant new trees, but at the same time there are jobs that can’t be put off: building a new enclosure for the chickens to protect them from the neighbors’ dogs , collect the already ripe fruits to sell them at retail, for now they are their only source of income. He has told us more than once that it was lucky that we were here just now to lend him a hand, but really let us feel lucky: Kwan, his wife Ant and little DinDin are a lovely family and now that we know them, Thailand already seems to us a much more familiar country.
When I told friends and relatives that I was going to have this experience, the first reactions were amazement, curiosity and a touch of apprehension. They often ask me if I’m tired, if the job isn’t too tiring; the reality is that we are all so used to working only closed in an office that everything that requires the use of legs and arms, and not just fingers on the keyboard and brain, seems like an impressive effort. Yet our body is made to move, I guarantee it: my back ached much more after a week at a desk than now under the strain of a pick and a scythe.
Last but not least, all the work I do now makes me feel incredibly alive, connected to everything around me: don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed my job in the office, I was surrounded by people I respected and everything my bosses they assigned me was really stimulating, but when I came out of a day’s work it felt like I had spent 8 hours locked in a bubble, I felt cut off from the world. A job in contact with nature gives you back all of this, it gives you back the right place in the world, the one we forgot we had. Obviously I’m not suggesting you abandon your job on the farm to become farmers, but I suggest you carve out that little place in the world at least once in a while, dedicate at least a small part of your time to it, there are so many ways to do it.
Choose a project like we have, to which you can dedicate an extended period of time, perhaps combining the experience of a trip abroad or the study of a new language. Or choose an activity to do every Sunday with friends or family, it’s a nice way to enjoy the beneficial effect of nature all together. Spend some time greening your home: houseplants can make big changes to our daily well-being and, have you ever heard of a vegetable garden on the balcony? It is now a very simple reality to make and which will give you great satisfaction, because now comes the most beautiful part: working materially, with your own hands, gives a satisfaction that fills your heart and soul. It makes us feel like the creators of our lives: seeing something grow, taking care of it and finally obtaining fruit from it fills us with pride and self-confidence.
I have the impression that getting your hands dirty is an activity that everyone should try from time to time, even if only for the desire to experiment; I would suggest to psychologists to propose it as a psychological therapy and to parents as an educational model. In fact, I will never forget when I was 6 years old and I was in elementary school, the teacher asked all of us children if we knew some fruits and where they grew: the apple? Up in the tree, we all answered in chorus. The pear? On the tree. The strawberry? On the tree…No! I intervened, in the ground! My classmates had never seen a strawberry that didn’t come from a supermarket package but I, who used to go to help my grandfather in the countryside, had seen him many times picking strawberries from those bushes in the ground and I enjoyed helping him. Such a simple gesture can change our ability to see the world and, why not, help improve it for ourselves and for the people we love.
Our Workaway Experience
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This platform has helped create a shared community of travelers who truly want to see the world by giving their human input to the places they are visiting.
If you liked the article, know that the experience we told you about was possible thanks to the Workaway community.
Take a look at the video below and get an idea of how it went for your own eyes!
Questa esperienza in natura ci ha davvero ispirato, ecco qui l’ultimo articolo che abbiamo pubblicato: “Alla ricerca della verità: la via della meditazione“, speriamo lo troverai altrettanto interessante!