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The Living Land Organic Farm

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At The Living Land Organic Farm, a community enterprise five kilometres from Luang Prabang town, travellers can learn how to grow rice and try their hand at every one of the 14 laborious steps to go from a single grain to the dinner table (including step #3, a romp through the muck with Susan to prepare the paddy). By the end of the half-day Rice Experience programme, you’ll be dirty, sweaty and have a profound appreciation for the work that goes into producing rice.

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When we try it, we can’t quite believe we’re knee deep in s*** with Susan and having a blast. Susan seems indifferent—not that you’d expect much emotion from a water buffalo. She’s been teaching visitors to Luang Prabang how to plow rice fields for three years and today is just another day at the office.

A lot of work goes into getting this onto your plate. Photo taken in or around The Living Land Organic Farm, Luang Prabang, Laos by Cindy Fan.

A lot of work goes into getting this onto your plate. Photo: Cindy Fan

“In Laos, rice is life,” Laut Lee, The Living Land’s director and guide says. He isn’t kidding. Sticky rice, also known as glutinous rice, is the staple of Laos and it’s eaten with every meal. More than 500 kinds of sticky rice are grown in this country and to this day cultivation is still done manually. No fancy machinery, just hard work and the same basic tools and techniques that have been used for centuries to plow, plant, water, scythe, harvest, thresh, fan, pack, husk and winnow. Exhausted yet?

Laut Lee isn’t. With a big smile on his face, he picks up the bundle of rice and shows us how to thresh, loosening each grain from its tough casing by beating the stalks against a wooden plank. His tireless enthusiasm for traditional Lao culture, organic farming and his hometown Luang Prabang is why he helped start this community enterprise in 2007 and introduced the experiential program for travellers three years ago.

Step 3 of 14: Susan and I preparing the paddy Photo taken in or around The Living Land Organic Farm, Luang Prabang, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Step 3 of 14: Susan and I preparing the paddy Photo: Cindy Fan

The Living Land is dedicated to organic methods, a response to the pesticides, chemical fertilisers and destructive slash and burn method typically used in Laos. Seven families run the farm, mainly growing sticky rice but also supplying Luang Prabang’s hotels and restaurants with fresh organic herbs and ... Travelfish members only (Around 300 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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The Living Land Organic Farm
Ban Phong Van village, on the road to Kuang Si Waterfalls, approximately a 15-minute tuk tuk ride from town.
T: (020) 551 99208
Admission: Booking required in advance. Cost depends on the size of the group, approximately 275,000 kip (US$35) per person

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