Name of village:
What is the significance of Organic farming? Well, I don’t know. Do we all really think that it is all just about health issues, having a delicious bowl or organic vegetables and thinking about why is it so expensive and in the end not having organic products ever again? Do you think organic products are expensive because of its benefits? Yes, we all do right? Do you have any idea how difficult it was when there were no machines to aid the farmers during farming? This gave farmers serious injuries from their jobs using pesticides.
Also with the increasing amount of agricultural farming which is harming the earth to a whole level with the use of pesticides and chemicals to reduce damaged products. All these requires hard work which contributes to the price of organic products.
From the start of the whole signing up and going for this LeX trip was just because I didn’t want to spend an extra 12 weeks to complete SIP in year 2. I wanted extra time and seeing that this trip reduces a semester long module to just 2 weeks attracted my sight and attention and the thought of signing up appeared in my head. Honestly, I was hoping the I can be assign to malang where we get the chance to visit Mount Bromo and also I wanted to be assign with my friends to the same trip. However, things were not as smooth as they seem and I gotten this LeX trip which was headed for an organic farm in Thailand Bangkok.
Never ever been in Thailand also gave me many fears as I will be there for 14 days and that is pretty long for me. “Will I be safe? Are there ISIS people? Will my grades be affected?” My head was feel with these fears that robbed me from my sleeps. However, when I look back now, I am actually very happy and thankful that I am assign to this trip, to have met new friends and to have serve the community with the correct attitude as I couldn’t ask for a better team to ever work with.
At first I was quite shocked with my team when we were having the pre-trip crash course on Design thinking (DT) tools, we were rather relaxed and not really focussed on the goal of the workshop, the course was rather rush and unclear. Honestly, it was a course that didn’t really help to understand the DT tools at all. However, the facilitator for our group, Dr Noel was an awesome facilitator that drops hints here and there which will make us think and solve the problem ourselves rather than just providing the answers for us. Ultimately, we solve many problems faced such as blur king, sleepy kings etc. and we did great as a team.
I really had an awesome experience with my group when we were there for the 14 days to serve the community and facing the ups and downs together.
It’s farming time! We went with this project statement in mind which was: to help promote the method of organic farming. During the 4 days of home-stay, my eyes were opened to how all natural, eco-friendly way of planting is like and this was also the most meaningful part of the whole 2 weeks trip. We stayed in the lovely home of our targeted farmer (FUNG KA JUNG) which we were helping.
Figure 1- house of the farmer that we are helping (first floor eating area, DT brain storming area).
We were introduced to the ways of how the farmer works within her own farm. She has a lake where she gets her water supply which is used to plant her organic products, she has another plot of dry land where she also plant products.
Within the lake, metal boats are used as transportation to allow the farmers to harvest and plant their products. At first I thought that the boats will be motor powered but they are not and the boat are manoeuvre skilfully by the farmers.
Picture 2 – Unpowered metal boats maneuverer by the famers
When I thought that the boat will be made out of aluminium and it would be light, which is a total misconception. The boat is really heavy and it is was not easy to manoeuvre at all.
Picture 3- Trying to manoeuvre the metal boat by ourselves. …….Not that easy.
We were brought to other farms within the same community to understand the needs and worries of these farmers but ultimately we are still focusing on the FUNG KA JUNG farm.
Picture 4- Large brown sign which says “Mushroom farm”, small green sign which says “tour within the farm”.
Picture 5- Mango farm where we tried how to harvest mango with a special tool. (That tool is very heavy….)
With every visit to different farms, we were given the privilege to interview the farmers and to collate data points from the interview. So we interviewed, the fung ka jung farmers which consist of mostly their own family members, mango farm farmer, mushroom farm farmers etc…
Picture 6 – Consolidated farmer’s data points.
Also, for our this project we are to also interview the buyers and get a better understanding from how they feel about organic farming and how much they know about organic farming.
We had to wake up early in the morning so that we were able to catch the buying crowd that visits the market. Since the market is located in a hospital which takes about an hour’s journey by car from the farmer’s house, we had to set off early.
Picture 7 – Green market @ hospital, farmer’s shop.
Similarly, we also clustered data points that we have gotten from the interviews of the buyers.
Picture 8 – Data points for the buyers.
With the data points, we created need statements which narrowed down the scope to a few categories that satisfies the need of the farmers and also the buyers. These scope include “continuation of organic farming”, “how to promote organic farming” etc…
Further interaction with the female owner of the boss increased our awareness and strengthen our search for our need statement. She said that she wanted her children or at least somebody to continue her legacy for organic farming as she does not want organic farming to die off and be forgotten. She is so persistent to a point where she will give up organic farming if nobody takes over.
Aside from DT work, we had our fair share of fun by cooking for the famers. We served them with the famous nasi lemak with egg, ikan billis (fried small fish) and balacan chilli.
Picture 9 – Nasi Lemak cooked by us
Besides cooking nasi lemak, we were also taught how to make their traditional item for the closing ceremony on the last day. It was made out of banana leafs, and it has many component to it. We were taught on how to create and make pointed cone looking shape that were made out of panda leaf which were secured with stapler bullets. It was really difficult at first as we could not get the technique right and the cone shape was always lose at the tip. Most of us either create too large or too small a cone shape which were rejected. However, we did not give up, we perservered and the end results was worth it. We made the small individual component while the farmer assembled the small component into wonderful looking objects.
Picture 10 – See those green cones with white tips, yeah we made them while the famers made this spectacular object.
We were staying in the hostel of RMUTT, which is about an hour’s drive away from the farm village. Upon arrival back to the RMUTT, we started on ideation which made us think of many ideas. Throughout the whole day of ideation, everything was smooth and eventually many of our ideas were heading towards the direction of promoting and keeping organic farming known to the citizens.
Picture 11- See the orange post-its, those were our ideas created.
In all we came out with marketing strategies to help promote and also make organic farming and its method known to the citizens. We created a logo, a new and improved banner for the farmer to place at her stall, we also created an excursion/ trip where people can attend to get to know more about organic farming and to know the organic farming methods (with the aid of a model replica of the excursion), lastly we also created a Facebook/Instagram page for them to be able to have contact with the busy city.
Picture 12- Model replica of how the excursion/trip will be and how will the flow be like.
Picture 13- Package excursion/trips with detailed itinerary and flow of programs.
Picture 14- Logo made for the farmers to brand their products,
Picture 15 – Banner made for the farmers to put up onto their stall.
Building the prototype was smooth overall. Thankfully we had our Ajangs (teacher in thai, we call them this we we see them) to help us with many things such as getting printers, printing of banners, last minutes question we need to ask the farmers etc… Deep down we are very grateful. Through the building/creating of the prototype, we went through thick and thin, ups and downs together as a team, we faced problems such as translation that was really burdensome as there were so many things needed to be translated. The worst of all was if something went wrong and everything has to be re-do all over again. We faced situation whereby there were not enough materials, computer error etc….
At the beginning, I was rather worried that we will not able to complete so many things before the deadline but as time went by, I was reassured by the Ajangs, SP facilitator and my peers that we will complete it and we did.
Picture 16 – model replica work in progress.
Picture 17 - Excursion/trips itinerary in progress.
Eventually so and amazingly, our idea was adored by the farmer and she wanted us to help her continue with our idea if it was approved by the government.
Most importantly was how our ideas were able to help the need statement of the farmers which is to promote organic farming and its method. With the creation of banners/ excursion and trip, we tend to create awareness to the public to allow them to know about organic farming and how it done, ultimately getting younger generations to be interested in organic farming and continue organic farming.
My teams and my proudest moment when we were having our gallery walk and our presentation where we were congratulated by the farmer herself and when she said that she is very satisfied with idea and will use it for her farm. She brought back out model replica to have a further look at the itinerary created by us.
It was very hilarious when Dr Noel told us that the greatest satisfaction is when your targeted audience loves your idea and wants to adopt it and it was really the case as the feeling was indescribable. I know that in my heart, there was immense pleasure and satisfaction that all my hard work has not gone to waste and my initial motive of coming to was achieved which was to help the people over here and not just come to get my grades and get things over and done with.
I am very proud of my team when we were faced with difficulties and obstacles, we did not back away from them. We stand strong and faced them and eventually we defeated the difficulties. We were also very persistent in completing the DT process through the help of our facilitator and our hard work has really paid off when we saw the smiles on the faces of the farmers and our model being brought back.
2 weeks has passed and I dearly yearn to return to the farm where memories, relationships were built. Nothing on earth will ever replace these memories, they will always be there in my heart and mind. To see those always smiling faces, always caring for us and always cooking great food for us brighten my day and brightens my heavy heart even till now when I am in Singapore where life is very fast paced. The time spend there, the natural and environmental feel I had there, the values I have learned are things that I will never learn in Singapore, those 2 weeks was where I learnt the most and this made the LeX journey an unforgettable experience. Fung Ka Jong is where I left a significant piece of my heart.