Stephanie and Phil from Portland came to stay with us for six weeks in December and January, they were our first long stay volunteers and we feel very lucky to have met them and grateful for their work and their friendship. Here is what they have to say about their stay with us.
Mae Mut Garden was the first farm we stayed on our six-month WWOOF Thailand adventure. We felt then, and we certainly believe now, that we couldn’t have picked a better place to begin. When we rumbled onto the property, we looked at each other and thought, “This must be paradise!” There are flowers and trees and blooms and leaves; everywhere you look, something is growing. Little did we know, as we plunged headlong into our six-week stay in this organic food forest, how much we ourselves would grow from our involvement in it. As resourceful and responsible as the ecological setup of the garden is, though, truly the real inspiration for us was the people who live here and the daily household life into which they welcomed us. Marco, Nok, Pii Hom, the always educational Serena, the entire staff, and the menagerie of animals are up there with the kindest and most sincere beings we’ve met. There were plenty of constructive projects to fill the days: rotating the vegetable beds, clearing an acre of trees and mulching them with on-site lemongrass, covering fruit against insects (not spraying!), mapping out the intricacies of the irrigation system, photographing fruits and buildings for the blog… It’s so important just to see what you can accomplish with your own two hands, patience, and careful management of resources — and how your life’s example cannot help but influence the lives of the people who meet you. Marco and Nok taught us so much about how to live in a self-sufficient way — not just the details of how to dry seeds or char rice husks, but the attitude and philosophy of this way of life. For us, it was a compelling demonstration that a plentiful, comfortable, financially inexpensive, and ecologically sustainable daily life is within reach, if you’re willing to put in the time and think like nature. Pii Hom quizzed us on the Thai words for everything we grew on the farm, instilled in us an addiction for nam prik plah tu (and the means for making it!), made us laugh with her mischievous tricks (no, those little yellow berries are not arroy maak), and taught us that love transcends language barriers. Everyone was so patient with our blundering attempts at making adobe bricks (25 in four hours compared to their 100+ in eight…yikes!), and we will never forget the beloved dogs. It’s hard to convey what our time working and learning here did for us. Whether it was being entrusted with the Thai dishes for dinner, teaching everyone to braid challah, learning how to make adobe bricks, going on adventures in Mae Wang National Park or Doi Pha Ngaem in the pick-up truck on the weekends, attending a full moon ceremony at the local wat, or eating jumping prawns in a karaoke shack in true Thai style — these were experiences that we could have had nowhere else. We are excited to come back sometime in the future and see how the farm (and the baby!) have developed.
Steph and Phil write a blog on their SE Asian adventures, a very nice post about a weekend spent in a nearby Karen village can be found here.