Permaculture Master Plan – Section 4 – Eco Social Land-use Management

The farm is currently a broadscale commercial corn and rice farm on 75 acres. The local family has set aside a land area of 20 acres to be used for the community for the purpose of providing the following:

1. Housing – for the Educators, Volunteers, students and guest

2. Communal Sala – For the communal kitchen, living room, library, etc.

3. Orchard – To be maintained and upkeep you the community and the produce to be consumed or sold by the community

4. Garden Areas – To be maintained and upkeep you the community and the produce to be consumed or sold by the community

The local family is at the same time working with the guidence of the resident community to transition the corn and rice operations to a more sustainable Integrated Farming system utilizing Prermaculture Principles and Ethics and help to introduce Holistic Management practices and more traditional Animal Husbantry practices. This is a two way street with both sides learning from the others and working to find the best way forward while still maintaining a living for the local family.

Most of the decision-making, scheduling, crop choices, and intensity of farm activity will be guided by the articulated goals of the the master plan and the family’s review and acceptance of the master plan.

 

 

Family Role:  The family has the opportunity to be involved in the day to day activities of the community to whatever degree they like, and most likely the amount of involvement will ebb and wane over time.  This arrangement will just have to be a constant dialogue between the family and the Educator team.  The family benefits by having a thriving, engaging, community running around them, without the stress of day-to-day management.  Each family member can choose to have her own endeavors run in parallel with the activities of the community, or contribute to whatever degree works for their holistic goals.  Clear communication, respect for cultural traditions and open, honest dialogue will be key factors to this  outside management models success.

 

Broader Social Benefits: 

 

  • The farm would be run as an education center at the same time, offering a model of profitable farming enterprise that would lend itself to educational opportunities for local and international farmers and students.
  • Job creation on-farm: Jobs for some number of full time employees, including laborers, builders, specific task farmers, and contractors.
  • Job creation off-farm: opportunity for local hire, and positive economic benefit to supporting businesses, services and suppliers in local area.
  • Opportunity for expansion of organic practices in local area and beyond.  If this model is hugely successful, it allows the opportunity for the creation of a second, third and fourth project with similar intentions.

 

Strengths:  By having a Educator team that runs the Community, the management model creates a relatively straight-forward structure, with minimal stresses on the family.  It is designed to be flexible to allow for a changing level of involvement of the family.  As the years go by, children start to grow, everyone ages, and financial and health situations change, the level of involvement by the family will ebb and flow.  This system allows the greatest amount of flexibility within which the family can work, allowing them to choose what level of involvement is right for each of them at that time.

 

Weaknesses:

 

  • The educational center part of this model is susceptible to fluctuations in the cost of airfare and other geo-political factors, which relies heavily on international students, interns and visitors;
  • The success of the permaculture education center is dependent on the reputation and availability of a very small pool of possible help, i.e. the Panya Project, at least in the early years.  If something were to change with that organization, it leaves this project trying to fill a tough position;
  • There are potential social weak links in this model in terms of the role of the family.  The overall design and permaculture systems used in conjunction with an education center may be very different from what they are used to, leaving them feeling like they have no role, or that their methods were not valued / appreciated;
  • There may be difficulties with this model fittting with family harmony, specifically in relation to traditional Thai cultural beliefs.

 

Future Considerations:

 

  • As time goes by Rak Tamachat will need to gain its own reputation and positive standing in the local and international communities. The farm will work to develop its own brand, attract its own following and set a path that is dictated more by the passions of the family than by the styles of the Educator management team.
  • As much as possible it will be valuable to bring in people who can commit for long periods of time.  After assessing that a person is the right fit, we would ideally see people staying and taking on a role at the farm for many years, or even indefinitely.  This would be the ideal for a number of reasons.
  • Integrate more Thai people on the farm at all levels, not just for the language advantage, but also for the ability to connect and relate to the local people.  It could be thought of as the most ideal scenario to have a group of at least five Thai people that are not part of the family that lived and worked as part of the management team as permanent members of the project.  This would have possibly the greatest social benefits in terms of spreading what is learned at Rak Tamachat to the wider community as well as bringing stability and continuity to the community.  Attempting to make connections and form synergies with local universities and agricultural schools, would be a great step toward getting the local community involved in what happens at the farm.