Farming + vacation = farmcation.
Would you be willing to commit a few hours a day breaking sweat through various farm tasks in exchange for home-cooked meals and a bed at an exotic destination? You might want to consider farmcation on your next travels.
The idea may not sound as alluring as relaxing by the beach in Nha Trang or visiting India’s pretty pink city Jaipur, but a growing number of millennials are hopping on this bandwagon that combines travelling, learning, and community building in one go.
Farm stays, which typically consist of cottage or hut rental at a local farm, have been around for a long time. In the last couple of decades, the increased awareness of sustainable living and healthy eating among the young generation has opened this new window in travel. By volunteering to work at local organic farms, travellers not only acquire valuable hands-on experience in permaculture, they also get to live like a local and participate in the community they’re living in.
In Southeast Asia, there are myriad options for volunteering on organic farms, as well as interacting with animals and people. Some establishments operate independently with a dedicated volunteering programme, and there are also smaller farms on help exchange websites like WWOOF (WorldWide Opportunities in Organic Farming) and helpx.net.
Reasons to consider farmcation for your next travel:
1. Learn the ropes of organic farming
There is no better way to learn farming than by living and working on a real farm with people who believe in sustainable living.
2. Live like a local
Spending your days in the local community is a great way to be more immersed in the local way of life, the camaraderie of rural living, the traditions, and authentic local food.
3. Make new friends
You’ll be surrounded by people with the same mindset in healthy living, making it easier to forge relationships not only with your host family, but also with other volunteers.
4. An authentic experience
In a space devoid of hundreds of tourists, you’ll have a chance to create meaningful experiences on your own accord.
5. Enjoy slow travel at a low cost
When accommodation and meals are not part of the budgetary concern, you get to save money and spend more on other things.
Where and how to go for farmcations in Asia:
1. Independently organic farm volunteer programmes
In Malaysia, travellers can head over to Pulau Bidan Permaculture for the island life, or go for Kebun Kaki Bukit on the outskirts of capital city Kuala Lumpur. If you want to go to Vang Vieng but want to stray away from the party scene, consider dropping by Organic Farm Vang Vieng which has been around for more than 15 years. Bali has a lot of options too, including Sawah Bali which lives by the Balinese mantra of Tri Hita Karana, meaning sustainability, health, and happiness.
This popular online help exchange portal lists both organic and non-organic farms, homestays, ranchers, and even sailing boats for volunteers to stay in exchange for food and lodging. Work ranges from typical farm labour to animal care and even teaching.
The WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms website has a vast listing all over the world. You have to sign up for membership for the particular country you wish to volunteer in, and pick the farm of your choice in the listing.
GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Bali from Kuala Lumpur. For low fares and flight info, visit airasia.com.