Friday, September 22 2017

VietNamNews

Vegetables grown without chemicals become popular

Update: September, 10/2017 - 09:00
Picking veggies: Children enjoy selecting vegetables at Bfarm. Photo courtesy of Bfarm
Viet Nam News

More and more, people are wanting to eat food that has not been grown using chemicals and fertilisers.

When farmers leave these things out they are practising what is called organic farming.

There is an organic vegetable farm on the edge of the capital city where people not only buy food.

They also visit it to enjoy the peace and quiet of country life not far from the centre of Hà Nội.

By Song Hương

It’s a bright morning early on Saturday as five-year-old Daisy follows her mother to explore a farm 15km west of Hà Nội. They wander around, picking up aromatic herbs and inspecting fat, juicy vegetables.

Daisy enjoys picking the grass and catching worms. 

“Every weekend, I try to take her somewhere to enjoy sunlight and nature," her mother, Nguyễn Minh Trang, noted later on her Facebook account. “Our destination this weekend is Bfarm, an organic farm which is free from chemicals - and safe for children.”

Daisy and her mum are among dozens of Bfarm members who visit  the farm that supplies their daily vegetables whenever they feel like it.

The best season to explore is in winter when it’s not too hot and humid,” said Lê Gia Long, a founder of Bfarm. “Winter is also the season for vegetables such as carrot and kohlrabi as well as aubergine and loofah, all  of which the children love picking.”

The farm is one of the first in Hà Nội to raise vegetables, fruit and poultry in a 100 per cent organic way. The intention of the founders was to supply organic vegetable and a safe farm for families to relax at weekends.

The initial farm was soon enlarged from 1,000sq.m in Quốc Oai District on the western outskirts of Hà Nội. The two founders of the farm studied in the United Kingdom. Long’s major was human resources management, while Nguyễn Đức Trung studied banking, monetary systems and finance.

Then  they got together with Lê Gia Toàn and Trần Quang Đức, who studied business administration and business and finance in the UK.

“We chose to grow organic vegetables as we think that it is a trend for the future and will assist both the human race and the environment," Long said.

They now possess two farms with a total area of 3.7ha in Quốc Oai District and Thanh Trì District.

To ensure the highest organic standards, the farm uses no chemicals to assist growth or to kill insects and diseases. Grass is often removed by hand and the soil sterilised with lime powder. The soil is then enriched with organic fertilisers, including chicken manure compost, bio-fertiliser Sumagrow, fermented fish and soya bean.

Nets cover the crops to prevent insects and reduce heavy rain. Water for the farm is treated through a purifying system.

Vegetables harvested are transported to Thanh Xuân District before being distributed to customers throughout the city. The process is a complete circle from farm to household doors.

The complicated process requires more labour than normal planting processes and therefore ends up in more expensive vegetables, Long said.

“Our products are also more vulnerable to the weather. We have to often apologise if orders are not met due to the weather. Luckily our members understand and sympathise with us.”

The farm now has about 200 regular members, who order vegetables for daily use - a process that costs them from VNĐ600,000 to 1,800,000 (US$26-80) per month.

 “We are now striving to increase the number of members to 300 and then enhance our present services, such as offering organic agriculture tours,” Trung said.

“I think the organic vegetable market has great potential in Việt Nam where there has been so much pollution,” Long said.

The farms sometimes attract foreigners who volunteer to do farm work. 

“This farm is ideal for me,” said Đào Trọng Hy, a farmer from Hải Phòng, who has worked at Bfarm since the beginning in August, 2015. “Working here make me stronger as I can do my farming job in a safe way, while supplying safe vegetables to other people.”

"Organic vegetables grow more slowly than vegetable using chemical fertilisers and sometimes look less attractive," said Nguyễn Thị Ngân, a farmer from the northern province of Thái Bình. “For example, organic mustard green takes 30 days to grow, five to ten days longer than the normal process using chemicals.”

Hoàng My, a member of Bfarm said she completely trusted the owners and contented with service offered by Bfarm.

“All of our family members eat a lot of vegetables,” My said, “So Bfarm is our choice as we love organic products. We can get seasonal vegetables at affordable prices.”

Nguyễn Mai Phương, an employee at Maritime Bank, said she preferred Bfarm vegetables because they were more tasty.

Another customer, Vũ Thị Hồng Chuyên, said she was persuaded about the quality of Bfarm’s products after visiting the farm.

“All vegetables and fruit we pick can be eaten raw right at the farm,” she said. “I’ll continue to buy Bfarm’s product as the vegetables I raise at home in boxes are not enough for my family.”

Food for thought

Located in the Red River Delta, the Tuệ Viên Organic Farm has become a favourite destination for many families in Hà Nội during weekends. They go to enjoy nature and harvest fresh vegetables.

According to Đỗ Thanh Hường, a resident in Hoàng Mai District, weekend tours to the farm provide her two children with fun and educational benefits.

“My two sons have learned how to plant, nurture and differentiate various kinds of vegetables, which is practical experience that is impossible to gain in the city. They really enjoy getting involved in nature,” she said.

The farm is currently providing a variety of organic vegetables to many supermarkets in Hà Nội, including Vinmart or Fivimart.

Both local and foreign vegetables grow abundantly, from spinach, papaya and betel to Taiwan’s long mulberry and Japan’s sweet leaf.

Organic plants produced on the three-hectare farm use no chemical fertilisers, no pesticides, no stimulants, no herbicides and no genetically-modified seeds.

Nguyễn Thị Phương, manager of the farm, said business was not the main purpose of Tuệ Viên. Every staff member, from the farmers, volunteers to the director, wish to restore the type of farming practised by their ancestors, which means cultivating on soil free of chemicals, fertilising from organic ingredients and offering consumers really healthy vegetables.

“At the same time, we are changing the outlook on farming, which is often looked down on by society,” she said.

According to Phương, the number of visitors to the farm has been increasing over the years. It peaks at weekends when the farm welcomes about 20-30 guests, not to mention groups of students from many primary schools within Hà Nội.

Highlighted activities within the tours, besides planting and harvesting vegetables, include creating biological products from natural ingredients found at the farm.

For example, the visitors learn how to make mosquito repellent from marigolds and onion, or make organic fertiliser from rotten fruits.

It seems that nothing is wasted in Tuệ Viên farm. All the discarded items, from pieces of wood, bricks, broken glass and even plastic bottles find a second life there. A small library is one of the latest creations of the staff and volunteers there in an effort to recycle such discarded materials.

Constructed in over three months and constituted from 8,800 plastic bottles, the library has become a location for farm staff to take a break and visitors to read books in a tranquil atmosphere of a rural area. — VNS

GLOSSARY

It’s a bright morning early on Saturday as five-year-old Daisy follows her mother to explore a farm 15km west of Hà Nội. They wander around, picking up aromatic herbs and inspecting fat, juicy vegetables.

To explore is to travel adventurously to unknown and possibly dangerous places. 

Aromatic means pleasant smelling.

Inspecting means checking up on something to see that all is well.

“Our destination this weekend is Bfarm, an organic farm which is free from chemicals - and safe for children.”

A destination is a place you travel to.

The best season to explore is in winter when it’s not too hot and humid,” said Lê Gia Long, a founder of Bfarm. 

When it is humid it is hot and there is a lot of wetness in the air.

A founder of Bfarm is one of the people who started the place.

The farm is one of the first in Hà Nội to raise vegetables, fruit and poultry in a 100 per cent organic way. 

Chickens, ducks, geese and other birds that are kept and looked after on farms are poultry.

The intention of the founders was to supply organic vegetable and a safe farm for families to relax at weekends.

Someone’s intention is what they plan to do and make happen.

The initial farm was soon enlarged from 1,000sq.m in Quốc Oai District on the western outskirts of Hà Nội.

The initial farm is the first farm.

Enlarged means made bigger.

Outskirts means edge.

Long’s major was human resources management, while Nguyễn Đức Trung studied banking, monetary systems and finance.

When people study for degrees the main subjects they do all the way to their final years are their majors.

Monetary means to do with money.

“We chose to grow organic vegetables as we think that it is a trend for the future and will assist both the human race and the environment," Long said.

A trend is a way things go.

They now possess two farms with a total area of 3.7ha in Quốc Oai District and Thanh Trì District.

To possess means to own.

To ensure the highest organic standards, the farm uses no chemicals to assist growth or to kill insects and diseases.

Ensure means “make sure”.

Grass is often removed by hand and the soil sterilised with lime powder.

To sterilize soil means to clean it of bacteria and other very small living things.

The soil is then enriched with organic fertilisers, including chicken manure compost, bio-fertiliser Sumagrow, fermented fish and soya bean.

Enriched means made better.

Manure is waste. Compost is manure, often mixed with other things like old leaves, that have been broken down so that it is ready to mix with soil.

Fermented means left out to rot a bit.

Water for the farm is treated through a purifying system.

A purifying system is a system that water goes through to become clean.

The complicated process requires more labour than normal planting processes and therefore ends up in more expensive vegetables, Long said.

Complicated means involved and not easy to understand.

“Our products are also more vulnerable to the weather.”

If the products are vulnerable to the weather they could easily be harmed by the weather.

“Luckily our members understand and sympathise with us.”

To sympathise with someone means to understand them and feel sorry for them.

“We are now striving to increase the number of members to 300 and then enhance our present services, such as offering organic agriculture tours,” Trung said.

Striving means trying very hard to achieve something.

Enhance means improve.

“I think the organic vegetable market has great potential in Việt Nam where there has been so much pollution,” Long said.

Potential means possibility.

Hoàng My, a member of Bfarm said she completely trusted the owners and contented with service offered by Bfarm.

Contented means to be satisfied.

According to Đỗ Thanh Hường, a resident in Hoàng Mai District, weekend tours to the farm provide her two children with fun and educational benefits.

Benefits are things that are nice and usually make your life easier or richer.

“My two sons have learned how to plant, nurture and differentiate various kinds of vegetables, which is practical experience that is impossible to gain in the city.”

Nurture means to look after something as it grows.

To differentiate various kinds of vegetables means to be able to tell the different types of vegetables from one another.

Practical means hands-on and learned from practice rather than from a book or in a classroom.

The farm is currently providing a variety of organic vegetables to many supermarkets in Hà Nội, including Vinmart or Fivimart.

Currently means now.

A variety of organic vegetable means many different types of organic vegetables.

Both local and foreign vegetables grow abundantly, from spinach, papaya and betel to Taiwan’s long mulberry and Japan’s sweet leaf.

If vegetables grow abundantly, many of them grow.

Organic plants produced on the three-hectare farm use no chemical fertilisers, no pesticides, no stimulants, no herbicides and no genetically-modified seeds.

Stimulants are things that cause a quick burst of energy in a plant causing it to grow quickly.

Herbicides are chemicals that are sprayed on plants to stop them getting diseases.

Genetically-modified plants are plants that have been changed to produce more food by scientists’ changing things in their seeds and other reproductive parts.

Every staff member, from the farmers, volunteers to the director, wish to restore the type of farming practised by their ancestors, which means cultivating on soil free of chemicals, fertilising from organic ingredients and offering consumers really healthy vegetables.

To restore something means to change it to become how it once was.

Consumers are people who buy and use things rather than sell them on to others.

“At the same time, we are changing the outlook on farming, which is often looked down on by society,” she said.

An outlook is the way people look at things.

It peaks at weekends when the farm welcomes about 20-30 guests, not to mention groups of students from many primary schools within Hà Nội.

If visits peak at weekends, that is when there are the most visits.

Highlighted activities within the tours, besides planting and harvesting vegetables, include creating biological products from natural ingredients found at the farm.

A biological product is something made from natural, living things.

For example, the visitors learn how to make mosquito repellent from marigolds and onion, or make organic fertiliser from rotten fruits.

A repellent is something that chases things away.

All the discarded items, from pieces of wood, bricks, broken glass and even plastic bottles find a second life there.

Discarded items are things that have been thrown away.

A small library is one of the latest creations of the staff and volunteers there in an effort to recycle such discarded materials.

Creations are things someone makes.

To recycle means to give something that has been used a new use rather than throwing it away.

Constructed in over three months and constituted from 8,800 plastic bottles, the library has become a location for farm staff to take a break and visitors to read books in a tranquil atmosphere of a rural area.

A tranquil atmosphere is a peaceful mood.

 

WORKSHEET

State whether the following sentences are true, or false:

 

  1. Đào Trọng Hy has worked at Bfarm for a little more than two years.
  2. As a volunteer he would have been paid a lot of money.
  3. Lê Gia Toàn and Trần Quang Đức now own two farms with a total area of 7.3ha in Quốc Oai District and Thanh Trì District.
  4. To make sure the highest organic standards, the farm uses lots of chemicals to assist growth or to kill insects and diseases.
  5. Groups of students from many primary schools within Hà Nội often visit the farm.

 

 

ANSWERS:

© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. True; 2. False; 3. False; 4. False; 5. True.

 

 

 

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