Meet the Gynura Farm
If you want to taste food like it was grown back when people's hands were connected with the earth, we welcome you to Thai Nguyen, the province of Northern Vietnam. This is also where the finest green tea is grown and produced. Life is simple here, and people are honest. It's the kind of community where neighbors would look after each other like family.
Meet Duong, he is the third generation of farmer in his family who takes pride in practicing old world methods of growing food. They value hard work, growing pure foods, and being sustainable.
Their farm is surrounded by rows upon rows of lush vegetables growing all around with streams meandering through the fields. Upon the horizon there are tea plantations growing on the highlands and the valleys.
Duong's farm has a rich variety of crops that are grown and rotated throughout the seasons. Gynura, Gotu kola, Gymnema sylvestre, Asian corn, amaranth, taro, sweet potatoes, Pandan and other fragrant Vietnamese herbs -- growing along the muddy, rugged paths as you make your way through. When the wind blows, herbs sway, and the fragrant can be smelled across from the field.
As continuing your walk, you'll discover weeds growing under and between most of the plants. Since they do not use chemicals to maintain the fields like conventional farms do, weeds are removed at the time of harvest. They are then composted and put back into the earth to feed new crops.
The taro field is filled with beautiful, tall, heart shaped leaves with succulent stems -- just like a fairy land. It's hard not to smile when you are part of this beauty. If you were somehow trapped on this land, the abundance and amazing selection of foods will keep you healthy, probably more than you've ever been, for a very long time!
Duong is among one of the few young farmers who chose to stay in the village to help his family while many had given up on these labor intensive jobs to chase after a prosperous life in the city.
"Working on the field when it's 98F with 90% humidity is very hard work for the amount it pays so it's understandable why many left. When you are a small farmer, you are not looking to prosper like other businesses, instead you are doing it to make a difference in the world. We want to educate our community and the future generations, like my daughter and son who is soon to be born, the value of hard work, and being close to our roots. We also want to raise them in a healthy environment."
It is always refreshing to see a young man with such a deep connection with the land, and a genuine passion for farming. Duong hires helpers from his community, and allows them to earn a fair wage. This generous farmer hopes to reshape the society's perception on growing food the natural way, and allow small farmers to gain respect and improve their quality of life.