This blog entry was originally written by Teresa on April 27th, but due to our website migration appears to be from a different date and author.

Greenpeace Eco-farm to instill rice-pride amongst Thai youngsters

Thailand's first ecological rice farming camp for kids has been launched by Greenpeace in an organic rice farm in Ratchaburi as part of a project to demonstrate sustainable agriculture solutions and to educate and inspire the youth to value healthy food, land and community through experiences in ecological farming.

07/03/2009 A child gets ready to plant a rice seedling in a bid to create the first ever art on a rice field in Thailand. The 10-rai rice field in Ratchaburi province will grow into a beautiful art in the next 4 months to show an image of farmers wearing straw hats and using sickle to harvest rice.

The camp, called "Eco-farm for Kids" gives 8-12 year old children an opportunity to experience life in a small, organic, diversified rice farm. They will learn how a rice seed can sprout and grow into a nutritious and delicious meal, and when and how to plant it. The children will participate in rice farm chores such as preparing rice seedlings, planting, composting, weeding and harvesting, with Ratchaburi farmers as mentors who will share their knowledge about sustainable farming methods.

"'Eco-Farm for Kids' is not just an awareness raising initiative. We want to prod the public into looking at and experiencing food from an entirely different perspective. For example, when we eat we rarely think about how our rice was produced. Some of us probably even accept that rice loaded with industrial pesticides and fertilizers is the norm -- which in reality shouldn't be the case. Letting the youth experience how sustainable rice farming is possible, and showcasing this to the wider public is one way to jolt people into realizing that there are better ways of farming, and that each of us can be part of a movement to create that shift toward more sustainable methods," said Natwipha Ewasakul, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Sustainable Agriculture campaigner.

The live-in camp which lasts for three days will be conducted twice, from April 23 to 25 and from April 30 to May 2. The children will participate in hands-on rice farming activities and will be able to explore and experiment cooperatively and individually, developing a sense of community and responsibility towards the environment. The thirty participants for each of the pilot camps are Ratchaburi youth and children of Greenpeace supporters.

"Agriculture today is at a crossroads as more and more experts warn that the current model of food production based on industrial agriculture that relies on chemicals and genetically-engineered (GE) crops is no longer a viable option. Through 'Eco-Farm for kids,' particular attention is given to the youth who will need to be at the forefront of the shift to better solutions for food production," said Natwipha.

Greenpeace is campaigning for a global ecological farming system that ensures healthy farming and healthy food for today and tomorrow, by protecting soil, water and climate, promotes biodiversity, and does not contaminate the environment with chemical inputs or genetically modified organisms.

Picture credit: © Greenpeace / Vinai Dithajohn