Hoi An -- The Community Farm
We were fortunate to encounter a friendly, interesting, and informative guy named Quoc Tran while we were in Hoi An. Quoc's day job is being a travel agent; we started chatting after he explained to us how to get to Nha Trang, our next destination.
Quoc offered to show us his village and its community farm, a proposal to which we readily agreed. It was about a mile from Hoi An -- he rode his motorbike, we followed on our bicycles.
Quoc's village was a group of houses roughly in a circle, in the center of which was a community farm of about 20 acres. He explained that every family got a certain amount of space here to grow food.
This is the opening to a large, underground cistern in the middle of the farm that stores rainwater to use for irrigation during dry spells. The water is pulled out and distributed to the crops by hand using these sprinkler buckets.
This was an old well on the farm, now no longer in use.
The farm was all-organic, using no pesticides or herbicides.
Quoc told us the names of all the different plants in the garden. Some were food, but a great many of them were herbs and medicinal plants. He reported that his village and its inhabitants were known throughout the region for their expertise in the use of these agents.
As an example, he pointed out which 7 herbs would be used to put inside a pillow so that when you slept on that pillow, you'd dream of the person you were going to marry and a good future.
This temple was in the garden. Quoc discussed with us some of the many meanings the temple had; it was oriented as it was for a reason, placed in that particular part of the garden for a reason, and each corner and area of the pagoda had artwork, statues, writing in Chinese characters and symbols that carried a spiritual significance for the villagers and their crops.
Quoc has an idea for a tour that he could offer to western tourists where he'd show them the village and the garden, show them how the Vietnamese garden and let the travelers actually do some gardening, teach them how to make some herb pillows, guide them in making a Vietnamese lunch out of foods they pick from the garden, and teach them the meaning of the temple. We told him we thought that was a great idea.
Quoc was a real highlight of the trip. Thanks, Quoc, for showing us your home!
© 2005 Lee Fike
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