Learning by doing

On the Tigerland Rice Farm in Thailand, tourists are put to work to learn where their food comes from.

Marianne Lamers | July/August Issue 2012 Issue
A new form of ecotourism has developed on the Watasittikul family’s land in Thailand: The family receives tourists who work up a sweat on their rice farm. And it’s catching on. Chua Mei Lan, a tourist from Singapore who spent the ­previous summer on the Tigerland Rice Farm with her husband, says she found the family’s “love for nature” the most inspring aspect of the experience. “They showed us their way of life, brought us out to the forest,” she says, where they learned how to plant rice. “And we got to experience that and go through the various rice-planting steps ourselves. Now we know how the rice on our plates came about”
That’s the experience Alvin Yong, the project’s initiator, wanted to give ­visitors to the rice farm. Yong “discovered” the Watasittikul family in 2007 during a two-day hike through the northern hills of Chiang Rai. The Yong family decided to return the following year. They brought their then ­eight-year-old daughter to let her experience the life of the farmers. By letting their daughter plant and harvest, they hoped to impart life lessons.
“You reap what you sow,” Yong says. “The success of the harvest depends on an investment in quality, difficulty and love. Patience and perseverance are very important.” Yong’s daughter learned her own life lessons from her stay with the Thai family. “After a couple of days, she said to me that we shouldn’t waste one grain of rice, since so much life sits in every grain,” Yong says. That got him thinking. “Every grain holds the sun, the rain, the earth and the many months of the farmers’ work and loving care.” Yong thought that more people should have this experience. After consulting with the Watasittikul family, he organized the first six-day eco-vacation. Tourists are enthusiastic: Last year, 20 people participated. “We want to keep it as small and authentic as possible,” Yong says. On Tigerland Rice Farm’s Facebook page, Rick Leung, a tourist from Singapore, writes, “We learned so much about rice and nature and the Karen culture from the Watasittikul family. Our kids will grow up with a healthy respect for farmers and especially rice. Thanks for a most enriching experience.”

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Learning by doing

On the Tigerland Rice Farm in Thailand, tourists are put to work to learn where their food comes from.

Marianne Lamers | July/August Issue 2012 Issue
A new form of ecotourism has developed on the Watasittikul family’s land in Thailand: The family receives tourists who work up a sweat on their rice farm. And it’s catching on. Chua Mei Lan, a tourist from Singapore who spent the ­previous summer on the Tigerland Rice Farm with her husband, says she found the family’s “love for nature” the most inspring aspect of the experience. “They showed us their way of life, brought us out to the forest,” she says, where they learned how to plant rice. “And we got to experience that and go through the various rice-planting steps ourselves. Now we know how the rice on our plates came about”
That’s the experience Alvin Yong, the project’s initiator, wanted to give ­visitors to the rice farm. Yong “discovered” the Watasittikul family in 2007 during a two-day hike through the northern hills of Chiang Rai. The Yong family decided to return the following year. They brought their then ­eight-year-old daughter to let her experience the life of the farmers. By letting their daughter plant and harvest, they hoped to impart life lessons.
“You reap what you sow,” Yong says. “The success of the harvest depends on an investment in quality, difficulty and love. Patience and perseverance are very important.” Yong’s daughter learned her own life lessons from her stay with the Thai family. “After a couple of days, she said to me that we shouldn’t waste one grain of rice, since so much life sits in every grain,” Yong says. That got him thinking. “Every grain holds the sun, the rain, the earth and the many months of the farmers’ work and loving care.” Yong thought that more people should have this experience. After consulting with the Watasittikul family, he organized the first six-day eco-vacation. Tourists are enthusiastic: Last year, 20 people participated. “We want to keep it as small and authentic as possible,” Yong says. On Tigerland Rice Farm’s Facebook page, Rick Leung, a tourist from Singapore, writes, “We learned so much about rice and nature and the Karen culture from the Watasittikul family. Our kids will grow up with a healthy respect for farmers and especially rice. Thanks for a most enriching experience.”

Solution News Source

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