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 the 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. The Happy Farm 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 thesame 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.
Advancing Sustainability through Local Food Production and Education
At the Happy Farm we believe that adopting 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 identify 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 the 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 combined the 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 occasionally use a few small machines such as a rototiller and lawnmower, the most of the work on the Happy Farm is done or using only simple tools like rakes, hoes and spades and broadforks—and the vast majority of it just with our own two hands!