A Couple Giving up City life for Organic Farming in the Countryside



Duyen in her farm
Duyen in her farm

Ms. Nguyen Thi Duyen and her husband, Mr. Nguyen Duc Chinh, used to have stable jobs at the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, but they decided to leave the city for the countryside to make their dream of growing organic vegetables come true.

Duyen holds a Master's degree in agriculture from Australia, and Chinh earned a postgraduate degree in Australia before becoming a PhD candidate in biology in Japan. The couple decided to resign from their government jobs to devote themselves fully to the organic vegetable farming that they are so passionate about.

In 2019, they started looking for farmland, and in 2020 they found a hectare of deserted land in Hiep Thuan commune, Phuc Tho district, Hanoi. The farm was isolated, with no houses or shops in the area, and very weak internet connectivity. But it was where the couple made their dream come true.

Duyen realized that product quality and reputation would be key to their success in organic business. She also learned that large scale farming can yield organic vegetables as high as normal vegetables, while small scale farming is less productive and cost-effective.

At first, Duyen and her husband maintained their full-time jobs at the academy, while taking care of the farm. However, farm work turned out to be very busy, including hiring workers, buying machines and improving soil fertility, all of which had to be done to the right standard, on the right schedule. Duyen shared, “For others, this may not be a big investment, but it cost us a fortune to invest in this farm. My husband and I took turns to go down to the farm and work with the workers after our office hours. We started growing seasonal vegetables in April 2021”.

After many months of working as hard, the couple’s GenXanh project began to take shape. At first, maintaining their jobs in government meant they couldn’t focus on their farm and so lost out. The income from vegetables were not enough to pay for rent, and the couple became impatient and disappointed.

They also faced challenges; five months after they started to grow vegetables, COVID-19 hit and led to social distancing and labour shortages. Then during two months of rainy season, the couple couldn't grow anything. After two lockdowns the couple had to start all over again.

Duyen and Chinh shared a dream of organic vegetable farming
Duyen and Chinh shared a dream of organic vegetable farming.

Transfer of organic farming know-how

Leaving the city for the countryside is certainly a difficult choice for those who dream of farming, like Duyen and her husband. "There are many difficulties, but success is certainly not for lazy and impatient people. After many months of hard work, finally my husband and could get some good sleep in our own dream farm," Duyen shared.

There is a high market demand for Duyen and Chinh’s farm products. Each month, the farm supplies around 4-5 tons of vegetables of more than 100 varieties, including cabbage, kohlrabi, carrots, tubers, red amaranth, lettuce. And demand is growing faster than their capacity to supply.

Although the farm’s current income is just enough to cover the costs of operation costs and family living costs, Duyen and Chinh are happy they have been able to fulfil their desire to practice what they had learned and that their son can enjoy the fresh air of the countryside.

According to Duyen, the use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides in farming is quite popular. Although some farmers are passionate about organic farming, getting customers to trust and accept organic vegetables is not easy. Duyen and Chinh want to change this mindset through showcasing their own practice, opening their farm for customers to visit and learn about the origin of vegetables, to build their trust.

The organic farm of Duyen and Chinh not only generates a stable income for their family, but also provides many people with access to clean vegetables, and creates stable jobs for workers. GenXanh farm has become a ‘hub’ for exchange of organic agriculture know-how, through the agricultural network of Australian alumni in Vietnam, of which its owners are active members.

Source: Linh

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