Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Healthy Organic Market for Urban Kids - "Connecting Communities"

Weekly Organic farmer's market
by ISAC Women Farmer's Group
which is held at Puttisopon Primary School a local government school which is located opposite Wat Chedi Luang one the city's most famed and most striking Buddhist Temples.

The weekly market is promoted by HEUSP (Holistic Environment Urban School Program)  a community grassroots pilot project to bring a healthier quality of life to students and teachers within the old city of Chiang Mai along with Kru Nongluck, the schools' dedicated social studies teacher giving urban children, parents and teachers access to affordable highly nutritious local varieties of rice such as "Khao Nin" a black 'nutty' flavoured rice that is delicious which my children love to eat mixed with other steamed varieties of jasmine rice. Vegetables for example "Ch-om" a tasty veggie that kids love eaten in an omelette that has 8 times the amount of vitamin A of an imported carrot! and snacks like "Khao-Lum" which is delicious, fresh sweet coconut milk mixed with sticky rice and red beans all B.B.Q'd inside sections of a fresh bamboo.

The 'Aunties' are up well before dawn every Friday morning, rain (we are talking serious monsoon country) or shine soaking and griding soya beans to make soya milk, out gathering fresh bundles of young leafed vegetables from their kitchen gardens, netting fish from their fish pond cum water reservoir, collecting bamboo and other seasonal forest products such as honey from the community forest, Harvesting seasonal age old medicinal Thai herbs, dried and sold as herbal teas plus making sweet sticky rice cakes, fried and steamed, plucking fresh free range chicken, cooking up local curries and chilli pastes. All packaged and presented in banana leaves, tied with bamboo string and picks which they will bring into town. Their journey takes about an hour, all sharing a truck, sharing costs and reducing vehicle emmisions something us urban folk should take note of!

PhotoCredit: Caroline Marsh

Auntie Jamlong who is the head organiser of this farmer's group from Mae Taeng district produces her own brand of organic fermented sauces and flavouring and has promoted her products collectively with other farmer's groups at large national 'green living' trade fairs in Bangkok. After returning from one such very tiring trip we sat and chatted the very next day at the school market. Auntie had sold all her stock of sauces where demand had out stripped her supply and I asked if she had taken alot more orders whilst she was there...but her answer was that she had plenty enough and didn't wish to make more money as it would change the balance of all the other chores and activities she needed to do on her self sufficiency farm!

The women's group are from one of the more than 400 local rural farmer's in more than 12 Chiang Mai districts of farming communities that ISAC (Institute of Sustainable Agriculture) and NOSA (northern organic standard association) have patiently worked with for over a decade with their hard work now coming to fruition. Promoting sustainable farming practises of permiculture and self sufficiency giving back the farmer's their pride, healthy land and a healthy sustainable future, not dependent on large regional and international agro industry corporations that corrupt governments, manipulate people and poison the land for future generations. See this trailer for Food Inc. an eye opening film on global multi corporations http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqQVll-MP3I you can pick up a DVD at local rentals inThai/English.

"Connecting Communities" Farmer's Market
Every Friday 3-5pm during term time
Healthy fresh vegetables, local varieties of organic rice, northern food, snacks and soya milk for sale. Come early!
Bring your cloth bag, reuse your old plastic bags and say no to foam!

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