An organic farm in Hua Hin is not only becoming a hub for great produce but is helping to bring a new vision to members of the local community.
Over the last six years the management team of the Pran Por Piang Organic Lifestyle Farm have developed the site by following the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) of King Rama IX.
By using SEP, the team has been able to develop the farm into a social enterprise and show the local community how sustainable agriculture can help to improve their lives and boost their income.
“There has always been farming and agriculture in this area but it was different before we came here, said Khun Ong, who oversees the farm’s marketing and communications.
Khun Ong explained how previously many farmers in the community of Nong Pran Puk in Thap Thai would grow produce which they would then sell to an agent for a minimal amount, who in turn would take the fresh produce to sell at markets in neighbouring provinces, pocketing a significant markup in the process.
“We showed them how we could take out the middleman”, said Khun Ong.
“We taught people in the community how they didn’t need agents to go and sell their produce, they could sell it themselves and make more money.
“We taught them that rather than just being suppliers, they can become entrepreneurs
“But they were reluctant at first, they said they did not want to change from how they had always done things in the past”.
Aside from teaching others about sustainable farming, Khun Ong himself is also eager to learn more.
“I am always researching, learning and looking for ways to improve my own knowledge”, said Khun Ong, who recently took part in marketing training which he says will further help to improve the farm.
In fact, most of Khun Ong’s farming knowledge has been self taught, which is even more impressive given the success of the farm, which has won numerous awards for sustainability and agriculture. Khun Ong and the farm have also been recognised by DATSA – Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Public Organization).
Originally from Sisaket via Bangkok where he studied Mass Communication at Ramkhamhaeng University, Khun Ong previously worked as a pilot for Bangkok Airways.
Today, he has enabled members of the local community to grow produce which is then sold directly to customers who visit the farm and to local restaurants and hotels, as well as at a pop store at Market Village.
“Some households are just growing a small amount of vegetables, while others grow more, but everyone can grow something”, Khun Ong said.
The goal is to have all 500 households at Nong Pran Puk earning 500 baht per day from growing produce which is then sold at the farm.
“If we achieve the goal it could be the difference between someone sending their children to a better school or being able to afford better healthcare”, said Khun Ong.
At Pran Por Piang, which in Thai means “hunt for sufficiency”, the farm is totally self-sufficient.
As well as being used to grow fruit and vegetables, the farm is home to a variety of animals including sheep, goats, horses, chickens, ducks and pigs – all of which have their own important role in the running and upkeep of the farm.
The sheep and horses, for example, help to ‘cut the grass’, Khun Ong explained.
“A horse can quickly eat about 1 of rai grass”.
The Pran Por Piang farm also offers volunteering opportunities to foreign tourists.
“People come here to stay on the farm and learn about sustainable farming and in return we ask them to give small English lessons to kids in the local community”, said Khun Ong.
He has also introduced other smart measures that are of benefit to the local community, such as teaching the locals how leaves and plants can be turned into compost rather than being burned on the side of the road.
“Now they realise that they are literally burning money. Instead we taught them about compost which they now sell back to the farm which we use for helping to grow the vegetables.
“We told the local kids that if they collect plastic bottles rather than throwing them away we will give them free cookies from the cafe. It’s just a small thing but it helps and teaches the kids an important message”.
The farm is also home to the Sparrow’s Cafe, which sells a variety of homemade snacks and other tasty treats, locally sourced coffee served up in a variety of styles, and fresh organic eggs, which we tried and were an absolute delight. In fact, the eggs would be worth a trip to the farm alone.
Both the farm and Sparrow’s Cafe are well worth visiting for anyone living in Hua Hin or nearby, especially for families.
Visitors can sample the offerings at the Sparrow’s Cafe, as well as learn about the various aspects of sustainable farming that Khun Ong and the team are implementing at the farm.
The farm is located in Thap Thai, not far from the main immigration office, and is open seven days per week.
You can follow the Sparrow’s Cafe at: facebook.com/Sparrowscafeinthefarm
And Pran Por Piang at facebook.com/PranPorPiangOrganicLifestyleFarm