Applying the Natural Farming Concept to Build a Sustainable Eco-Village
Returning to the Nature and Transforming Granary into an Eco Home
Located on the boundary of northern and southern Taiwan climates, the Haoyan Mountain in Miaoli County is featured with a distinctive climate, which has created an abundant ecological environment in local. Also because of the fertile soils brought by the alluvion of Da’an River, Yuanli is called the “Granary of Miaoli”.
After cement penetrated the land and roads are broadened, this beautiful landscape featured with a distinctive ecological environment is gradually fallen apart. Due to a deep feeling towards this land, the community people have spontaneously gathered together and established the “Miaoli County Haoyan Mountain Yuenli Alluvial Fan Plain Ecology Humanities Development Association” (hereinafter shortened as “the association”) in 2002. The association then spent three to five years to promote “natural faming”, which is a technique based on the concept of taking care of the nature as it will repay back to you. By dedicating itself to protect the environment and maintain the local ecology, the association has brought the vitality of this land into a fully play. It also created a pattern of teaching farmers the advantages of “duck field rice”, trying to have this farming technique reaccepted by the farmers.
Integrating the Self-Purification Eco System to Infuse a Sustainable Vitality
Following the economy and trade globalization, and Taiwan’s participation in the WTO, many local agricultural products were facing an even more competitive environment and could lose their competitiveness if they stick to the current trading strategy instead of developing new added values for their products. Under this circumstance, the association had joined Council of Labor Affairs’ “Multiple Employment Promotion Program (MEPP)” to, by increasing the multiplicity and added values of agricultural products, increase farmers’ income through this program. Apart from adopting the “duck field rice” farming technique and promoting organic agriculture, the association also has specialists to make industrial research and development, and successfully created by-products like brown rice tea and rice bran.
By digging its own ecological ponds, Duck Field Rice is the only location in Taiwan that has adopted ecological ponds as a purification system in paddy field. As the water is purified through the multi-layered purification system, people can see lush egeria densa in farm ditches swinging with the waves; shrimps like palaemon asperulus and fishes like rhodeus ocellatus, mosquitofish and monopterus all swim so freely among the water plants; in the crevices of cobbles and pebbles, there are also innumerable big and small field snails hidden inside. All of these have shown a restoration of the bio-diversity, which is the dream of ecological restoration farms.
The association assists local community in creating distinctive and competitive industrial advantages, promoting a sustainable operation and investment of the industry, building a characteristic industrial culture in the community with local people’s great participation, and establishing a financially autonomous and international sustainable eco-village. Besides, in terms of assisting employees in empowering their vocational capacities, the association has participated in the community rebuilding project to cultivate and promote professional farmers by offering various training courses, which helped to enhance farmers’ professionalism and industrial culture; it also promotes trainings to help the community people to acquire a second professional specialty and to enhance their real competitiveness.
Also, apart from assisting farmers in switching into organic farming, the association has done a great effort on maintaining environmental friendliness by purchasing contract farming rice with a guaranteed price; in this way, the association not only offers healthy products to consumers, but also helps the community to open more business opportunities in order to improve the phenomenon of an aging rural society caused by a declining industry, and to encourage young adults to join. Furthermore, the association has done some achievements in terms of the innovation feasibility. It has not only sought for public sector’s cooperation and helped the farmers to acquire organic certifications, but also opened marketing channels and business opportunities by offering package design, and returned the profit to manufacturers through a direct sales method; on the other hand, it has cooperated with food companies to diversify the use of rice bran, which was mainly used as a feeding stuff, by adding them in foodstuffs to make snacks like eggrolls and nougat; it also has a future plan to use them to make skincare products like whitening products or masks
Since the community people established it spontaneously, the association has held activities to help local people to understand their homeland and to gather community’s identity and cohering force as a symbiont in order to create a friendly, kind and clean ecological home without pollutions as its target. And, with efforts of the association, community people and Multiple Employment Promotion Program, the Duck Field Rice development program will bring a complementary might to head towards its dream of developing a sustainable eco-village.