Berkeley resident Josh Caraco completed MESA’s first program in Thailand last year, having the time of his life crafting herbal tinctures and learning Thai language at the Wanakaset Forest Agriculture Center, as organized by the GreenNet Foundation, MESA’s global partner for Thailand. Josh also trained alongside MESA alumnus Aphisak “Un” Kamphen on his thriving CSA farm in Mae Tha. We recently asked Josh to interview Un about what influenced his decision to start a CSA in his home village. Here are some excerpts from Josh’s interview with his Thai “brother” Aphisak “Un” Kamphen:
Un and I exchange greetings as brothers (in Thai you actually always call someone of your own generation either older or younger brother/sister). We do some small talk: he asks me if I have a job yet; we talk about what we ate for our last meal and how each others’ parents are (pretty standard conversation); then we get down to business.
Q: Tell us about something you learned from your MESA host farm that you use on your farm?
A: At Drippings Springs Garden in Arkansas I learned about garden management but I also really learned about marketing to sell products at farmers markets—I learned to make bouquets and I learned the CSA system too. I also got to share culture and food with Thai, English and Spanish speakers present.
Q: How is your CSA in Thailand the same and/or different as your U.S. host farm's CSA?
A: Our CSA is almost the same as my host farm but we do it with a group of 5 new generation farmers for management and include about 84 members of our organic agriculture community. We have about 30 subscribers and are just beginning to search the possibilities of the CSA system in Chiangmai. The different thing about my CSA is that in my country people don't understand and don't know what a CSA is. We are always trying to communicate to the public anywhere we have the chance.
Q: When I was with you I remember helping write a letter to your customers. Did you get that idea from your host farm?
A: Yes, I brought that idea from my host farm.
Q: What was it like to have an American come learn from you and your family?
A: We very much appreciated having an American come to learn and share experience with our family.
Q: This is like free space, you don't have to answer this one if you don't want. Is there anything else you would like to say about farming in the world?
A: I want to say thank you for all farmers in the world because we are the producers of food that still keeps everyone alive!