Experiences from CITA Thailand

MESA’s long term global partners at Earth Net Foundation (ENF) have been busy with this winter’s three-month Certificate of International Training in Agroecology (CITA) program. The program began in early November with a two-week orientation and will continue through the end of January, closing with a 3-day debriefing session. Highlights thus-far include several workshops and successful Thai language immersion during the orientation at Wanakaset Learning Center, and new experiences in the rice harvest season at “Arom Dee” (Good Feeling) host farm in Mae Tha.

The Wanakaset Learning Center is famous for its dissemination of the Wanakaset (organic agro-forestry) principles and practices, which look not only at growing multilevel food and herb forests, but on how to use and transform one’s natural resources to meet all of the basic human needs, food, medicine, household goods, or to improve the soil’s fertility. CITA Steward Josh from Berkeley, CA and two beginning farmers from Sri Lanka and France learned the concepts and practices of using natural resources in an ecologically managed forest. The group participated in hands-on workshops learning to make soap, body balm, rice tea and several other traditional Thai food preparations.

Watch this video to meet the group of international farmers!

Leaders for the workshops included Earth Net coordinator Michael Commons along with 2010 MESA program alumnus Kapook “Pookie” who trained on farms both in Hawaii and Minnesota. As a conclusion to the orientation, the group joined a few locals for a forest walk. This was the beginning of a long walk by Wanakaset members to travel all the way around the Eastern forest to examine its ecological health and to connect with the many communities that live next to this forest. The group spent nights at monasteries in villages along this route also allowing for the opportunity to exchange and connect with these villagers. After this cultural and ecological immersion, CITA Stewards live and work in the field with some of the most recognized and respected new generation organic farmers, many of them MESA alumni, and their farming organizations. Click here to read Josh’s blogs from his host farm in Mae Tha.

At the end of January, the program will conclude with a 3-day exit seminar and debrief at Khao Kwan Foundation where CITA Stewards will have the opportunity to share stories and celebrate the completion of the program with fellow CITA participants.