Plum Village has started two small, diversified, organic vegetable farms: one in the Upper Hamlet (with the monks and lay men) and one in the Lower Hamlet (with the nuns and lay women).
The Happy Farms actively promote mindfulness, community-building and sustainability. Those working on the farms (the “Happy Farmers”!) cultivate the land mindfully, and together with Plum Village monks, host retreats, guided tours, and workshops.
We are honoured to be fulfilling Thich Nhat Hanh’s dream of establish the farms, and turning the land into a beautiful sanctuary for farmers, retreatants and volunteers. The Happy Farms offers a nurturing environment in which to practice, heal and reconnect with Mother Earth through agriculture.
“You are a gardener, and you have in your hands the power to transform garbage into flowers, into fruit, into vegetables. You don’t throw anything away, because you are not afraid of garbage. Your hands are capable of transforming it into flowers, or lettuce, or cucumbers.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh in You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment
Discover more about Plum Village’s Happy Farms:
Cultivating the land, transforming the elements, harvesting the fruits of the season, and observing the rhythms of nature are all practices of understanding, love, and mindfulness. With mindfulness and concentration, we can come in touch with the earth, the sky, and the wonders of life. We feel our intimate connection with the planet as a living, breathing being and cultivate our gratitude and reverence for this miracle. From this process, we also touch healing and transformation within ourselves and gain a sense of our place on earth and our responsibility to the planet.
“There is no way to harvest;
harvest is the way.”
This is a teaching taught by Thầy to our first-year farmers during the 2013 TET New Year’s festival. Farming is not about the future, about plans and waiting for the fruits to arrive. Happiness is a fruit that we can harvest each day, each moment as we practice with the land. When we sow the seeds, cultivate the land or water the plants, we can be happy right in the present moment; and the quality of the harvest depends on our peace and happiness. The quality of our being, our peace and freedom is crucial to the practice of happy farming.
Because Happy Farm is in some respects like any other working farm — with similar management and scheduling demands — it has become a training ground for the integration of mindfulness in an everyday work environment. We hope that lessons learned on Happy Farm can be applied in many other settings.
Many people have expressed an interest in living in community and practicing organic farming. Happy Farm brings combines community life and organic farming under the umbrella of the mindfulness practice. Happy Farmers practice living together in harmony, building brotherhood and sisterhood while cultivating their own spiritual growth.
Happy farming is a collective effort. We practice to farm as a family, as a spiritual community, taking care of each other’s wellbeing and spiritual growth. We share the same living space and practice to observe the Five Mindfulness Trainings and the Six Harmonies while we farm with the community. Spiritual cultivation and mindfulness training are essential aspects of Happy Farmers.
At Happy Farm we believe that adopting a more appropriate (human-scaled) agricultural technology is an important step toward achieving greater sustainability. But technological change alone is not sufficient. Achieving a more sustainable way of life is also a spiritual challenge. By looking deeply inside ourselves and slowing down, we can indentify our true needs and adopt ways to curb the wasteful consumption so common in many societies today. Mindfulness practice can be a crucial step toward ending excessive consumption.
We think of Happy Farm as a training ground for holistic sustainability practice. We aspire to offer educational opportunities to explore living in close community, reconnecting with Mother Earth and applying loving kindness to the environmental, social and political challenges of our time.
In its first two seasons the first Happy Farm in Upper Hamlet delivered an estimated €41,750 (USD $45,000) in healthy organic vegetables to Plum Village kitchens located only minutes away.
Although we have a walk-behind tiller to prepare our planting beds, most of the work on Happy Farm is done by hand or using simple tools like rakes, hoes and spade forks.
The two Happy Farms in Upper Hamlet and Lower Hamlet always welcome visitors and volunteers and we often organize tours for people staying in Plum Village for retreats or visiting for the day. Please inquire about us when you arrive in Plum Village.
In June 2015, Plum Village monks and Happy Farmers held the first major Happy Farm Retreat for over 250 people, with the theme “Sustainability, Mindfulness and Community Living.” In Spring 2016 the Plum Village Happy Farm team led a retreat on similar themes at our European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Germany. In August 2016, working mindfully on the Happy Farm was central to the first “International Wake Up Earth Retreat” for over 500 young adults.
Each year we receive 5 to 7 Happy Farm volunteerss to participate in an intensive training program in the art of mindful farming. Volunteers complete a 12-month stay at Plum Village, beginning with the Winter Retreat and continuing on for the full farming season.
“My time working at the Happy Farm in Plum Village has been the most nourishing, insightful and joyous time of my life.”
Keith Smith, Happy Farm Volunteer in 2013, who went on to be Head Gardener at Binley Farm, Kingscote, U.K
Find out more about the Happy Farm Volunteer Programme for 2016-17:
Happy Farm depends entirely on donations from our community to grow the farm and its educational activities and retreats. This is a wonderful way to help put your energy into a sustainable future for Plum Village. We welcome all support, no matter how small. Please click here to make a donation to the Happy Farm.
Plum Village Happy Farm
Ley Pey, Thenac 24240