While Bangkok’s outskirts will welcome 25 new malls this year, one of its most expensive downtown playgrounds is going back to the basics.
Amid the nightclubs, bars and restaurants of Thonglor, more than 500sqm of prime real estate has given way to pumpkins, gourds and kale growing in a community garden.
“Farming loves strong sunlight,” farm manager Warut “Tong” Boontarig said. “So we divided the areas for chickens, goats and a small mushroom cottage farm.”
Called Root Garden, it is located next to the Pridi Banomyong Institute on Soi 3 and run by the nonprofit group Land Reform in Thailand, which seeks to promote four land-use laws to create opportunities for poor and small-scale landowners and farmers in Thailand.
While they’re making progress on the larger issues, it’s the Root Garden which has grabbed attention in town.
A small shop in front of the farm offers fresh-brewed coffee, eggs hatched by on-site chickens, juices and organic vegetables (grown elsewhere). Visitors can sip coffee while watching children run around the farm and get a taste of agrarian life.
“This is my second time in a farm, my first one was Chokchai Farm. I like it here,” said Bonus, 10, with a nod of agreement from her friend Baitoey, 12.
Since it opened last month, the urban farm has been packed with visitors every day, mostly mid-Sukhumviters come to check it out. The peak time is late afternoon to evening on weekdays and all day on weekends. There’s always a shady area in the farm as it is surrounded by buildings.
“We wanted Bangkokians to be know about the usage of land that city people often overlook,” Tong said. “We found this piece of land last year which Angoon Malik’s Jayavana Foundation let us use for one year. This will raise people’s awareness of land-use issues and also farming. You can make the best out of your land, no matter how small it is.”
The project is funded by Oxfam, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation and the Jayavana Foundation with the support of private individuals and NGOs. The farm took about two months to build. A mini rice field will open next month.
Despite its small size, it’s a great space for urban dwellers, especially children, to experience planting trees and feeding animals. Anyone is welcome to plant something, place a name tag by it and come check on it later. The farm staff is available to help out free of charge.
A free workshop on urban gardening will be held Feb. 22.
Root Garden At Thong Lor
Thong Lor Soi 3
8am – 8pm (closed on Monday)