“The word pun in Thai has two meanings,” the founders of the Pun Pun Center for Self-Reliance explain. One is “a thousand.” The second is “varieties.” So, pun pun together means ‘A Thousand Varieties.’ We named the farm this to represent our quest for biodiversity in species as well as ideas, people, and experimentation.”
Located 50 km north of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Pun Pun is an organic farm, intentional community, and a center for seed-saving and sustainable living and learning. Members of the Pun Pun community also run two restaurants (one with a great review from the New York Times) in Chiang Mai City, where they serve local, organic, GMO-free food — much of it grown at the farm. The mission of both restaurants is to highlight the value of the diverse traditional seed varieties grown and saved at Pun Pun.
Pun Pun farm was founded in 2003 by Jo Jandai and Peggy Reents. Jo, from Yasathorn Province in Thailand, has been farming all of his life; Peggy is originally from Colorado, in the US, but has been living in Thailand since 2001. Before founding Pun Pun, Jo and Peggy shared a passion for sustainable farming, and both had considerable experience with earthen and natural building techniques.
They wanted to spread these ideas, and decided that the best way to do so was by creating an inspiring example for others to follow. The land Pun Pun sits on today was seriously degraded when they acquired it — it had been used for mono-cropping corn. Jo and Peggy figured that if they, with almost no money, could turn the land into a thriving self-sufficient farm, learning center, and home, then people coming there to learn would have to believe that anything was possible.
Today, the crops at Pun Pun are diverse and thriving. The land yields rice, many local perennial edibles, herbs, vegetables and varieties of fruit; they also have fish ponds and laying hens. The roughly fifteen people who live on the farm full-time include Jo and Peggy’s 12-year old son, Than – one of a number of children homeschooled on the farm. Hundreds of guests and workshop attendees also pass through every year.
Pun Pun’s workshops encompass organic gardening, natural building, and the use of appropriate technologies like solar heating and water pumping and filtration systems. Their core educational philosophy is: “We believe in learning by doing…. We don’t believe in experts, but in learning together by sharing our collective experience.” This philosophy of diversity in ideas (and seed varieties) has certainly led to the creation of a beautiful and vital project at Pun Pun!
Learn more at www.punpunthailand.org.
You can also listen to Jo Jendai’s TEDx Talk ‘Life is easy. Why do we make it so hard?’