November 10, 2012
Josh writes: This is sort of a trial post. First thing I would like to say, as a part of an organic network, is that I’m not happy with California not passing prop 37. On to more interesting things. Wakanaset is a place and a mentality, I am attaching an article written by Michael Commons (organizing partner here for MESA) that explains more about this and the history so I don’t have to (it is not long so read it if you are interested). Basically this place is a beautiful forest, which to some would not seem all that useful, but if you know what’s edible, and what you can make medicine with, and wait long enough to use some of the wood for building, you have much of your costs covered, a really high quality of life, and can sell extra stuff to actually make some profit. And a forest, once it is established, pretty much maintains itself: pure genius if you ask me.
Food for thought: what is a farm? What does a farmer look like? Or in the spirit of me–can we eat this? Agroforestry is really great at challenging common perceptions of pretty much all these types of questions. Myself, Thibault (a french intern for Greennet–Michael’s cooperative here), Banda (a friend of Michael’s from Sri Lanka who plans to buy some land for Agroforestry in his own country), and a host of other people living here or visiting, have been hanging out, learning to speak Thai and to make herbal products. A MESA alum, who we shall call Pookie (Thai people go by multiple names), has been particularly helpful in our Thai lessons, which I think is a great example of the power of exchange. I have not gotten around too much, but, if most of Thailand is like this, people pretty much eat like royalty. Among other things it shows in their health and beauty. To explain the picture, yesterday morning a flying-fox fruit bat fell and this man was feeding it some herbal medicine until it climbed up a tree: all the fun of living in a forest. So far I feel quite lucky to be the pilot participant in this program. More to come! Peace, Josh…
Greetings from Mae Tha! Here is a picture of Mesa alum Un and his Pops (members of my host family) showing me how a pro beats the grains out of rice plants: one of our final steps in harvesting. I guess I thought I was going to be able to blog more, but I clearly will not be able to keep up. The two weeks at Wanakaset were quite amazing, inspiring and the community there is really nice–I might blog again just on that if I get a chance. Village life will be a bit slower and more actual labor (though we break up the work so there is a lot of rest); my Thai should get better fairly quickly cause not many people here speak english other than Un, though many want to, so I guess we get some exchange in. Last night there was a party in town for a newly elected village leader and I checked it out briefly: there are not any foreigners around so I got a lot of attention, though I turned down several drinks and dances. I am told there will be something else on Sunday so I think that should be pretty hilarious, I think I will get my dance on at some point, just want to ease into things. Peace for now, Josh
It’s been far too long since my last post so I don’t even really know where to start. This week I got pretty sick so it’s been kind of a wash—aside from learning some good Thai vocab—got some drugs now though so I’m OK. Last weekend I got to go with a group of the Mae Tha Greennet folks to a little conference in Bangkok to discuss different CSA’s in Thailand. The meeting itself was pretty exhausting cause we drove all night to get there and on top of that, as good as I am at learning language, I still can’t exactly follow a meeting. The positive notes for me from the meeting: there was one foreigner there who lives in Thailand who told me a little about an attempt he had participated in to create alternative currencies; talking with farmers from the Sa Nam Chi Ket (sorry if my spelling’s no good) Farmer’s group we had met while at Wanakaset who have a Japanese girl staying with them while doing a program similar to this one. The Sa Nam Chi Ket Farmers are super cool and kept suggesting I come stay with them—I think they were serious so maybe I will do that at some point if I stick around Thailand. Talking to Yuri (the Japanese girl) was pretty fun because I don’t speak Japanese and she doesn’t speak English so we had to speak Thai—when I told her I’m from California she asked me if I’ve been to Disneyland. Being the nerdy-linguist-semi-romantic-goofy-dude (those describe me right?) that I am I think the idea of a love story involving foreigners from different places meeting and having to use a common language would be cool. The real magic of our trip, however, was going to a small village in Sup Pan Buri (might have that wrong too, I’m teaching myself to read Thai—it’s hard, but even if I had that down I guess it wouldn’t help you) to check out their gardens/farms. To get there we drove past fields of flowering sugarcane. It was a mountain-village with beautiful hillside gardens and even a variety of rice that doesn’t need to been grown in flooded fields (I’ve been reading Fukuoka and had just read something about rice like this so it was particularly cool to see). All the village children were climbing all over me—per usual I am not going to places frequented by foreigners and I am starting to jokes relating to this that people seem to enjoy. Food in a little Thai Farming village is better tasting and healthier than most food in America. I was trying to ask about their water system cause it seemed pretty brilliant but I don’t know exactly how to explain the little bit of info I did get. Check the picture out (attached, not highest quality, internet slowness…Help Mesa Staff Maybe?). Lastly here is a link to a draft of a promotional video for Wanakaset http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGNsq1Rk1Ho&feature=youtu.bePeace and love.