by Công Thành
A working day in Lành Village in Hòa Ninh Commune of Đà Nẵng. People living in urban areas have found rural life an attractive option to escape the hustle and bustle. Photo courtesy of Kim Huệ
Leaving the urban sprawl for rural life has become a hot trend among successful business owners, retired people and farm-based firms as they seek a relaxing escape from pollution, a chance to unwind or a return to a childhood idyll.
A group of five agricultural families have started building the first-ever nature-based, rural community model – living in harmony with nature. They aim to be self-sufficient, healthy and sustainable rather than earning money from farming in the suburban areas of Đà Nẵng.
The ‘Lành (Peace and Happy) Village’ began the agro-forestry practice by reclaiming 3 hectares of land in Hòa Ninh Commune in the valley of Bà Nà Mountains, 30km northwest of Đà Nẵng. They turned the area into a rural shelter and sustainable farming zone for five families.
Đỗ Thị Kim Huệ, 39, a co-founder of the community, said: “We do not build a profitable farm business, but a life choice in rural areas. All families will work together, cooking and eating together each day. Bamboo houses will be the accommodation for each family after a working day.
“'Lành Village’ is a typical example of chemical-free agriculture, minimal cost of living, self-sufficiency and a shared organic agriculture practice,” she said.
Huệ said air conditioners and plastic would not be allowed on the farm.
“Each member will do their own tasks before cooking together in a shared kitchen for the community dining hall,” she explained.
Families working together on the farm. Kids are taught valuable life skills. Photo courtesy Hà Trần Hiếu Tiến
The farm produces vegetables, meat, organic detergent and compost, while surplus crops will be sold to regain the costs of production,” she added.
She said children were taught housework and homeschooled, while enjoying sports, folk games, painting and gardening, without the use of any electronic devices.
She said kids would have more time playing together and exploring nature, compared to parents who spent their childhoods studying hard at school to get good grades.
Love of nature
“Kids need time to learn life skills. They will explore plenty of interesting things from nature, the garden and the livestock on the farm. It’s a positive lifestyle rather than keeping their eyes on electronic devices or overloaded education programmes.
A member of Lành Village making a bamboo roof. The villagers focus on living in harmony with nature. Photo courtesy of Đoàn Văn Thịnh
“It’s the reason I brought my kids to live on the farm. They will create their future from natural and more practical skills.”
Đoàn Văn Thịnh, 38, a member of the Lành Village, said "children are very active and they have energy to play each day, but rapid urbanisation means there aren't and ‘safe and interesting’ spaces for them".
“TV screens, electronic games and smart phones are the entertainment of choice for kids in the city, while here they have a full day discovering the amazing world of nature in fresh air and tranquil scenery,” Thịnh said.
“My two children – the oldest is 10 years old – will live the rural life with me on the farm. They are eager to help with housework and gardening as well as resting or reading books under bamboo canopies,” he added.
Thịnh said he had success with a tourism business in Đà Nẵng, but decided to leave the city to live on the farm.
He said his children would gain experience from the wonders of nature.
“All I need is that my children know about the world and nature by experiencing fun activities. They are given skills from nature that they can't get in the city. Survival skills help kids to stand on their own feet,” he said.
Hà Trần Hiếu Tiến, 21, who quit as a manager of an English teaching centre to spend time on the farm, said the experience helped with depression from the rat race.
“It’s like returning to childhood. Kids will grow up with skills from nature to overcome and challenges in life. They should try to overcome it, not run away from difficulties,” Tiến said.
“Kids will find a nature-based starting point for their behaviour and an understanding of the environment, family and the value of work. That will help them build hard working personalities in the future,” he said.
Tiến added that kids were taught how to keep the environment clean and safe as well as collecting waste for recycling and treatment on the farm.
Nguyễn Văn Hùng, 49, a farmer in Hòa Ninh, said the nature-based village model would be an example for local farmers who develop organic agriculture and build supply chains for farm produce.
He said the commune was good for growing fruit trees, but farmers were hesitant to invest due to a lack of supply chains, market links and funds.
“Our farm produce often gets dumped when we harvest a lot, while the cost of materials is quite high.
“The commune has been building the organic fruit and green farm zone brand in Bà Nà valley and organic fertiliser has been adopted by 500 farmers," Hùng said.
Hùng said the Lành Village would help local farmers approach organic agriculture, waste recycling, cost saving and turning available resources into energy and products.
Kids enjoy folk games and painting at a farm near Đà Nẵng. Children in urban areas rarely have the opportunity to explore the wonders of nature. Photo courtesy of Lành Village
The farm uses smokeless stoves that are fuelled with straw, coffee husks and sawdust.
A bag of rice husks, which costs VNĐ6,000 ($0.2), can be used for three days, while creating ash for farming and compost.
“We produce enough for the farm first, while taking surplus crops or handmade products to the market,” Huệ said.
She said "our farm lives with respect for nature, and follows an energy efficient, healthy, and non-waste lifestyle".
“The farm is not only a place to live in harmony with nature, but an educational site for all people to learn healthy life skills, organic agro-forestry and environmental protection,” she said.
Fresh cereal-milk, fruit and artisanal cakes are the most popular products for members of Lành village -- a community living with nature and a healthy lifestyle. Photo courtesy of Kim Huệ
“We will host guests for farm stay to improve their awareness of nature, but it is not a destination for relaxation at the weekend. However, the farm will open workshops for school students and other farming communities.”
The village also offers yoga, meditation, crafts and garden produce for partners and visitors. VNS