From Homebody to Urban Farmer: "Prince Veggie" on Thailand's Sustainable Future

Having started an organic garden in his backyard six years ago, Nakorn “Prince” Limpakuptathavorn, 31, is now best-known for teaching city folk how to go green through the online community Suan Pak Khon Mueang (Thaicityfarm.com). BK chats with the man known as “Prince Veggie” about his journey from homebody to organic farmer, and the ever-hot topic of sustainability.

By Monruedee Jansuttipan | Feb 10, 2014

Share this article

  • From Homebody to Urban Farmer: "Prince Veggie" on Thailand's Sustainable Future
  • From Homebody to Urban Farmer: "Prince Veggie" on Thailand's Sustainable Future
  • From Homebody to Urban Farmer: "Prince Veggie" on Thailand's Sustainable Future
  • From Homebody to Urban Farmer: "Prince Veggie" on Thailand's Sustainable Future
  • From Homebody to Urban Farmer: "Prince Veggie" on Thailand's Sustainable Future
  • From Homebody to Urban Farmer: "Prince Veggie" on Thailand's Sustainable Future
I loved science but wasn’t interested in agriculture. Accidentally choosing to study agricultural technology brought me into the green world.
 
University life liberated me from being a homebody. I was never allowed to leave Bangkok when I was young. But my studies required that I undertook lots of outdoor activities, which let me explore the world. It was the life that I’d been seeking.
 
I had doubts about subsistence agriculture. Instructors would teach us contradictory methods. In practical courses we were told to use chemical fertilizers to grow vegetables, while in theory we were taught the organic way. But the latter proved to give much better produce.
 
I was amazed by the organic farming systems in Europe. I had this idea that developed European countries didn’t care much about farming, but it turned out that they are really serious about it.
 
Organic agriculture is the base for a good society. When I did an internship in Austria, I saw how they seriously support organic farming. They really appreciate farmers who create good food for their country. If you have good food, good weather and good people, you have a good country. This inspired me to chase this dream in Thailand, too.
 
Living the organic way doesn’t mean you have to give up living in the city and move to the country. I chose to farm in the city because it suits me best. It’s a choice to live self-sufficiently. I started sharing my knowledge on Thaicityfarm.com, I’ve offered training about city farming for six years now.
 
People farm for happiness. Previously, people were only interested in organic food because they or their loved ones were sick. But now many urban farmers do it for love. They find happiness in growing fresh and healthy vegetables. They also take pride in sharing their stories. This spreads a message of healthy living and helps foster a good society.
 
City people desire more freedom. Urbanites used to live their lives fast. They were always in a hurry and didn’t have time to appreciate and do what they love. But now many of them decide to take control of their lives, like those who choose to be freelancers.
 
There will be fewer differences between urban and rural areas in the future. Even now, the cost of living is nearly the same because of all the food price hikes, as we all rely on the same food system.
 
The future will be bleak if we don’t learn to rely on ourselves. The big floods in 2011 show this. Food distribution simply wasn’t good enough. As the weather gets more and more extreme, if you don’t adapt to be self-reliant, you will be screwed.
 
Know suffering and learn to live with it happily. I learned this from the revered monk Phraprom Kunaporn (Prayut Payutto). Suffering drives you to seek happiness of your own making. For me, simply growing vegetables along with others creates a good energy to be around.
 
People today are careless about their health. We let others take care of each part of our lives, namely our lifestyle, health and food. We just let others manage our food without thought for the processes. It’s pretty reckless.
 
You might think it’s not a big deal because your life is short. But it’s really wrong. We need to think of the future generations. You can create good things for society simply by starting with yourself.
 
Don’t try to control nature. Remember that nothing is certain. 
 
Life is like a drop of water. It can go in any direction.
 
Consuming your own food or products from your neighborhood saves the world. Food doesn’t need to be transported from far away and you support the local farmers by buying from them directly.
 
It’s amazing that people in different parts of the world can think of the same thing at the exact same time. Like when I started pushing subsistence agriculture, Michelle Obama was introducing homegrown vegetables to Americans during the economic crisis. It’s like Mother Earth is calling out for help. 
 
People now aim to retire in their 40s. It’s the new trend. Some might call it early retirement, but I don’t think so. People are just choosing to do the things they love most. Many of them opt for subsistence agriculture to feed their small family.
 
Thailand is at the crossroads. We’re trying to be a developed country, but which model is best for us? Japan is so developed but they can’t even feed their people. They have a shortage of farmers and their local produce only provides for 30-40% of demand. They end up buying food from other countries. Is this the future we want?
 
What do we want most in the future, food or money? We must ponder this question carefully because there is no way back if we take the wrong turn. 

Share this article

News

Six leading brands roll out new aromatic candles and diffusers to zen out at home.

Support the new generation of Thai film-makers.

One of Bangkok’s biggest culinary events of the year, the World Gourmet Food Festival at Four Seasons Bangkok, kicks off on Monday, Sep 1.