Mae Mut Garden is a project in self sustainability and community living, started in 2011 on a terraced rice field in Mae Win district, Chiang Mai. In February 2011 the site looked like this.
The ten acre plot is now mainly a food forest, with fruit trees, hardwood trees, perennial vegetables, edible roots, vines and medicinal herbs, using natural farming and permaculture principles. In the photo below, taken last year, Mae Mut Garden is the square(ish) mainly forested plot in the centre of the picture.
The first fruit tree seedlings were planted in the summer of 2011 and now Mae Mut Garden produces fresh fruit all year round, soursop and papaya, mulberry and jackfruit, limes, lemons and strawberries, pineapple and mango, avocado and rambutan, custard apple and jujube, guava and dates, coconut, bananas and much more.
Every year we grow a small crop of organic rice for our own consumption. We use a number of perennial vegetables that form part of our regular diet, as well as cold season annuals like lima and cranberry beans, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, onions and garlic, during the rainy season we eat various typical tropical vegetables, okra, long beans, corn etc.
Since we started, Mae Mut Garden has become much more than just our home, our small community includes permanent residents and close neighbours and the more transient presence of volunteers, friends, homestay guests and short term visitors. We like it much better like this. New people bring new ideas and fresh perspectives and very often new delicious recipes! We strongly believe that community living is the way forward, both from an environmental and a social perspective, it also happens to be more fun.
Since 2016 we have been running some small scale workshops about earthen building and this year we are also planning to host one or two courses on natural farming techniques and basic permaculture design, lead by Yappayong Chankhum, one of the foremost Thai educators on the subject. We are also loosely connected to some of the local homeschooling networks.
About 60km SW of Chiang Mai, the Mae Win district has many attractions, beautiful valleys and views, rivers and waterfalls, mountain villages and forest temples. All within easy reach, life cannot be just about work, we try and set aside time to enjoy the nature around us. Come join us for a short time or longer, at this stage of the project we really appreciate having some healthy and strong bodies around….This is an opportunity to experience natural farming techniques and strategies for sustainable living, spend some time in nature and live off the abundance that nature produces.
PS. We are not on any volunteering or work exchange platform, as we prefer to rely on word of mouth. if you have stumbled across this site and liked it, please SHARE it with anyone you think might be interested in this kind of thing. We also have a FB page called Mae Mut Garden. Here you can read about the experiences of some of the recent volunteers and also some reviews from our homestay guests.
Christian Shearer, Founder of the Panya Project Chiang Mai
It’s been 3 years since Marco completed a Permaculture Design Course with me and the transformation from run down rice paddies to what you see today is truly remarkable. The landscaping of edible plants is a cornucopia of what can be grown in northern Thailand with a rich diversity of species providing fruit all year round. Animal systems, agroforestry and rice production also combine to make this an excellent example of an emerging Food Forest and permaculture in action. It’s not only the physical landscape that is impressive, but also the social aspect of permaculture at play here. Marco and Nok settled into a small remote Thai village and employed local villagers in their development. So rather than ‘preaching’ permaculture to a culture well evolved in the art of self reliance, it was a soft approach in them learning new skills and ideas as they earned a livelihood. The result is their acceptance into the community and the potential for future conversations if times and circumstances change.
John Champagne – Permaculture teacher at Brogo Permaculture NSW Australia
In all my travels I have never encountered another place that so perfectly captures the essence of what it means to live a harmonious life on this earth. A concrete example of human potential, Mae Mut Garden has become a place of unique inspiration for me, a clear reminder that life can be simple, peaceful and restorative. Whether you seek an authentic experience of the Thai countryside, a vision of how simple life can be, or a look at how permaculture design can seamlessly be integrated with traditional practices, Mae Mut Garden is the place for you.
Theron Beaudreau – Permaculture teacher at Eco-Pioneers Austin Texas
This is a guy that has obviously given much thought on the design and did the research. He is candid to admit that he has made many mistakes but it is impressive given that it is his first time doing it. Food forests at different stages, impressive buildings built naturally, water storage, farm economics, and more. If ever I were to have my own farm, I would design it quite similar to Maemut Garden.
Thomas Lim – Edible Garden City Singapore
We are located in the district of Mae Wang, about 60 km southwest of Chiang Mai.
This map shows where we are.
Tel: Marco 0931848650 Nok 0933021161