Sydney's Thumb endorses and supports The Friendship Village Garden Project located near Hanoi in North Vietnam.

Friendship Village Organic Gardening Project

copy provided by John Berlow of Friendship Village

Almost exactly three years ago, with the help of many friends around the world, and in cooperation with Vietnam Friendship Village and scores of local volunteers, GreenVietnam succeeded in founding the Organic Gardening Project at Friendship Village. Since then, its activities have been supported by hundreds of individual and group volunteers as well as by small and large organizations. The garden also employs many disabled children from the village who are victims of Agent Orange.

The project has been recognized within Vietnam as a model of organic gardening. The vegetable gardens are flourishing, hundreds of fruit trees are growing, and over a thousand fish are growing in renovated fish ponds.

Members of the staff have been trained in permaculture techniques which are being practiced in the garden. Beautiful, hand-painted informational signs on organic gardening are placed along the garden paths. Educational posters and task cards have been created for use by garden staff and volunteers.

Last year, the vegetable gardens provided over 13,228 lbs. of completely chemical-free vegetables of many kinds to the residents and staff of Friendship Village. 320 fruit trees of at least 17 different kinds are growing and will provide at least 3,000 lbs of fruit a year. A harvest of over 2,000 lbs.of fish per year is now projected for this year onwards.

Meanwhile, soil is continually being enriched and better methods of mulching, composting, crop rotation and intercropping are being employed.

As time has gone by, the Project has been more and more integrated into the regular activities of Vietnam Friendship Village, administratively and financially. Besides the annual operating expenses for the project, this year GreenVietnam is trying to find funding to move the pig pens to a more hygienic place in the Village (where, in addition, manure can be easily used for compost) and also to contribute to the large and costly effort to develop an ecologically-sound wastewater treatment system for the Village.

Full-Range Environmental Project in Tuyen Quang Province

This year, we purchased a 5-acre piece of land for a model farm in Ham Yen District of Tuyen Quang Province, located approximately 140 miles from Hanoi (a 5-hour trip). Tuyen Quang is a beautiful hilly and mountainous province which has so far escaped many of the serious environmental problems of Vietnamís cities and its two floodplains. 48% of the Provinceís inhabitants are ethnic minorities. Although many of the Provinceís forests are still intact, agriculture-primarily rice and cassava-are steadily encroaching on forest land. Our small property includes both timber land and agricultural land. GreenVietnam is developing a comprehensive plan which includes:

∑ Reforestation
∑ Responsible agro-forestry
∑ Development of non-timber forest products
∑ Organic fruit orchards
∑ Organic vegetable gardens
∑ Humane, natural animal raising (fish, chickens, rabbits, milk goats)

Once the model is established, we will try to develop facilities for some low-impact eco-tourism. The aim is to make the model both environmentally and financially sustainable. Thus, it is tied to a start-up sister commercial fruit-raising and seedling-selling project, which plans to transition to fully-organic production as lessons from the model are incorporated.

Our goal is to find forms of rural development which are least harmful to the environment or which can actually improve the environment.

Purchase of the land has been made possible as a result of the gift of an anonymous donor. Please help us continue this work with your contribution.

Please visit our Friendship Village Photo Gallery.

To make a contribution please inquire by personal mail to jdc@seanet.com