After months of looking for land in Yangon we finally found an place to start farming in North Dagon in September 2017. From October we started transforming the sandy, rubbish filled space into a farm.
We used a no-dig approach where we layered the ground with cardboard and rice husk charcoal first. We then marked out beds and raised them 6" high with a mixture of compost rich soil.
In early December we delivered vegetable boxes to our first customers across Yangon.
We felt so proud when we harvested and sold these very first vegetables. Included in the boxes were salad mix, radish, eggplants and okra.
The farm was full of vegetables and we were supplying 40 CSA members with a weekly box of vegetables from our farm.
We hosted our first workshops on organic farming, permaculture and home gardening.
We started our first monsoon and quickly learnt that we would need some tricks to keep going through it.
We experimented with our first simple hoop houses which became essential to growing year-round in Yangon.
We finished our farm structure and started hosting dinners at the farm.
We were offered another piece of land to farm. We used the same no-dig method to build the farm and welcomed two more to the team.
We kept ourselves busy growing our CSA Members to 60 homes a month and hosted events at both of our farms, including farm-to-brewery tours, engagement parties and afternoon teas.
We also learnt that we would need to leave both of our farms by the end of the year.
Some of the team were able to visit Bali for a Biointensive Gardening Workshop at Kul Kul Farm with Jodi Roebuck.
We brought back new ideas and skills that immediately made a difference to the productivity of our farm.
Meanwhile the search for suitable land to move our farms to was proving difficult and we were running out of time.
Finally, we found our dream site but it needed a lot of work. We took time to draw up a master plan for a future Kokkoya where we could expand our market garden, host more events and grow for even more CSA farm members.
We planned the move for December and started to pack up our precious soil from the two sites in preparation for the move.
We launched a crowdfunding campaign to help us cover the costs of moving and preparing the new site.
We raised 26,000USD! Thank you to everyone!
After fixing the roof, fences and removing some concrete we moved completely on site the day before Christmas.
Watch our crowdfunding video below.
We kept busy developing our site. We worked on our cafe and a packing space.
We also unpacked and re-mixed our precious soil from the previous two farms and started growing lots of kale and other vegetables.
As COVID-19 started to make itself felt in Myanmar. We found ourselves essential workers and concentrated on getting fresh vegetables and a growing grocery inventory to homes as safely as possible.
We had opened our farm cafe but closed it just two weeks later when the stay-at-home order started.
We knew that our new site would most likely have flooding in monsoon but we did not have time to prepare. In the last week of May, we watched our farm become a lake almost overnight. As the monsoon continued, we watched the water come in and out over the site like a tide.
We started growing in plastic crates and enjoyed our first team holiday to Mon State in July.
COVID's second wave brought panic to Yangon but we stepped up and broke all our records as we scrambled to keep up with demand.
We welcomed two new team members and our days were spent packing, packing and more packing.
Busy months due to COVID resulted in our best sales yet and enough income to hire a digger to make sure we were prepared for the next monsoon.
We made the drains deeper but we also dug two great holes so that we could raise the garden area an extra 3 feet.
We joked about one hole becoming a natural swimming pool and eventually it became such a good idea, it was no longer a joke.
Yet again, we unpacked and re-mixed soil. We covered the newly raised area with rice husk charcoal, marked out our bed areas, filled them with soil and planted our crops.
This was our fourth time turning an empty space into a farm. We were very good at it and excited for the year ahead.
The situation on the roads became dangerous and uncertain for our team to deliver. So we paused our deliveries, opened a cafe and grocery store on site and then invited our customers to come to us when they were able.
The farm continued growing but we said goodbye to the majority of our customers, many of whom had become great friends.
We continued deliveries and our cafe remained open until the third wave of COVID hit Yangon with speed and devastation.
July was spent in a fatigue filled fog as the team recovered from COVID and the city was filled with the sirens of ambulances.
Thankfully we all made it through and felt lucky for our green refuge to recover in.
To be continued.