Imagine catching up with friends talking about health, chatting with farmers, and going home with fresh from the farm goodness? Yes, that’s the organic farmer’s market in Dalat held at the Green Box Cafe! Thanks to the growing interest in organic food among locals and ex-pats! Started with just 5 farmers in 2019, now the organic market has over 20 participants selling chemical-free produce.
Table of Contents
Introduction to the organic farmer’s market in Dalat
In early 2019, a group of local farmers and ex-pats come together to start Dalat’s first organic farmer’s market. To support farmers who stand up for not using synthetic chemicals to their crops.
This is a special market where organic farmers, artisans, and small scale entrepreneurs sell chemical-free produce at a reasonable price.
This market aims to directly connect sustainable farmers with consumers by appreciating the values of sustainable cultivation, spread awareness of environmental protection, and reduce the use of single-use plastic products.
My Personal Experience
When we reach Dalat last January, I searched for a market that sells organic food. I learned from Expats in Dalat FB group, that there’s an organic farmer’s market held once a month. Yet we missed it as I saw the post after the event took place.
The event got canceled several times, due to COVID-19 pandemic. It resumed again this June. That’s when I first visited this market. I was too excited that I even arrived before 9 am. It was a breath of air, seeing like-minded people who give importance to their health, the environment, and farmers.
It’s interesting to see the creativity of the vendors displaying and packaging their items using eco-friendly materials. Koho and Oh Mi Koho farm vendors even wear their traditional costumes! Making it more appealing to consumers to buy their products!
It feels good inside knowing that the food I eat comes from the hands of the farmers that I met at the market. Knowing it’s pesticide-free, GMO-free and Plastic-free! Writing about is my way of supporting these small farmers to keep them motivated in what they are doing!
Reasons to support local and organically produced food
- Local organic food is often fresh and tastier, since it doesn’t contain chemicals. Grown without the use of chemical toxins, hormones, GMOs, and antibiotics.
- Growing vegetables organically helps eliminate water, air, and soil toxicity, and it promotes biodiversity. Unfortunately, after a few decades of conventional farming, soil and water source had been poisoned in many areas in Dalat – according to Tuan.
- The farther food has to travel, the greater the environmental burden. That’s why buying organic, local, and seasonal food helps minimize your food’s environmental impact.
- One of the best ways to find fresh, local food is to grow it yourself. If not, shop at a nearer farmer’s market like this!
- Knowing where your food is from connects you to the farmers who raise and grow it. There are significant benefits to psychological and social aspects!
- If you want to limit your pesticide exposure, begin by buying organic foods whenever possible.
- Buying organic foods helps provide our body with optimal nutrition. It decreases our risk of having hormonal imbalance and degenerative diseases.
- This encourages everyone to have a sustainable and holistic lifestyle
What’s available at the organic farmer’s market?
- Fresh organic goat’s milk
- Organic eggs
- Locally produced essential oils, herbal soaps, natural shampoo, and other natural skincare products in eco-friendly packaging
- Naturally dyed eco-bags, patches, and clothes
- Organic vegetables, beans, herbs, and seasonal fruits
- Organic coffee and locally-grown tea, and dried floral teas
- Hand made jewelry, handicrafts, artwork and painted bags
- Succulents and herbs in pots
- Wide range of organic rice
- Wild honey, beeswax, and Royal jelly
- Freshly made pasta and homemade craft beer
- Seed exchange
- Delicious Mediterranean snacks using local ingredients
- Locally made jams, pickles, and chutneys
The price of each item can range from 10,000 to 250,000 VND and the stalls are completely plastic-free!
Meet the participants
From the original 5 participants during their first event in 2019, now there are over 20 participants who registered as vendors at the organic farmer’s market. Here’s the list including their products:
- Gạo hữu cơ VietSuisse variety of rice
- Nông Trại Ong – Dalat Bee Farm honey, royal jelly, and beeswax
- The Story Coffee artwork, coffee, and herbal bath
- The Clover’s home Dalat freshly made pasta, herbs, and craft ginger beer
- One More Cafe Healthy snacks, jams, chutney, and pickles
- Happy Garden – Vườn hữu cơ Đà Lạt vegetables and herbs in pots
- Sạp Rau Organic Đà Lạt vegetables
- I Farm Vietnam vegetables, succulents, and seed exchange
- Tổ hợp tác rau hữu cơ IEM GÕH CHURU vegetables
- Vườn rau Hữu cơ THÚY HÙNG fruits and vegetables
- Ace’s Farm – Thiên Nhiên là Sự Sống coffee and seasonal fruits
- Koho Farm coffee
- Bui Farm coffee, vegetables, and seasonal fruits
- Oh Mi Koho Coffee coffee
- Herbalist DaLat skincare products
- The Seed Garden essential oils and skincare products
- Tùng-Hạ Farm locally made essential oils, skin care products, and dried floral tea
- Labata Handmade Shop handicrafts and handmade jewelry
- Gates of the Dawn Garden fresh goat’s milk
- Saigon Indigo Naturally dyed eco-bags, patches, and clothes
- Ngẫu Hứng Shop eco-bags, greeting cards, and essential oils
If you haven’t been to this organic market, don’t worry! Most organic farmers deliver. You can order organic produce directly from the farmer’s Facebook pages. It’s one way of helping small farmers who make ends meet. You can even visit their farms to learn more about organic farming!
Shopping tips at the organic farmer’s market
- Bring your reusable shopping bags.
- Carry your reusable containers for takeaways or leftovers.
- Shop early as some farmers sell out their products quickly.
- Don’t hesitate to ask farmers about their organic produce and farming methods. This helps you feel connected with the food you eat.
- Bring cash as the market is cash-only.
- Return containers or bottles to the farmers on your next visit for reuse. This is a movement to help fight against plastic pollution.
- Bring your reusable water bottle. Water refill is FREE at the cafe. (Optional)
How can you apply as a vendor?
For inquiries, you may contact the organizers directly to their FB page – Phiên chợ nông sản hữu cơ Đà Lạt – Organic Farmer’s Market Dalat.
Meet the Organizers
Leonie Hofsaess is one of the original co-founders of the market. Through her interest in bees and pollinators, she quickly got to know Tuan and together they philosophized about bees the first time on Tuan’s farm. Since then, she was always passionate about organic farms and couldn’t resist visiting farms, talk to farmers, and finally, make the first organic farmer’s market happen in 2019 together with her bee-loved teammates.
Eila Rain is one of the original co-founders and organizers of the Organic Farmer’s Market. As a Woman’s Health Coach and knew the importance of eating organic for hormone balance and fertility. Eila and her husband are from the U.S. but have lived in Dalat since 2017. They always dreamed of shopping at an organic market here in Vietnam, and now they do!
Bui Anh Tuấn is an Agriculturalist focusing on permaculture for almost 6 years. With 5-year working experience in Human Resource Management, he has an advantage in connecting people with various kinds of backgrounds. Now, he is taking part in some fields like co-organizing the Organic Farmer’s Market in Dalat, mentoring many young people who want to become sustainable farmers. His main job is operating his family farm in Duc Trong, Lam Dong.
Mateusz Buszko is one of the co-founders of the organic farmer’s market. He is beyond thrilled to watch this neat little idea grow into something that benefits producers, consumers, and the environment. Observing the waste generated by opening cans of store-bought coconut milk inspired him to try making the delicious product himself, and that launched him headfirst into an undying obsession with the coconuts. When he’s not spending time with his lovely wife, Eila, you can usually find him climbing trees or making coconut cheese.
Nguyen Ngoc Huyen is the latest member who has joined the organization team in June 2020. After taking care of the French Business community in Ho Chi Minh City for 3 years through communication and event management, she is now craving to go back to nature; ground a more responsible way of living to preserve the earth; contribute to healing our humanity and be more involved with a community of organic farmers and change-makers.
Q & A with the organizers
What are the challenges Dalat farmers face in transitioning from traditional to organic farming?
Tuấn: We work mostly with farmers who don’t have long-term backgrounds as farmers. Most of them are officers in the city who lack farming experiences and other skills like interacting with potential customers and financial management in agriculture.
On the other side, traditional farmers are more difficult to make a change. The habit of using chemicals on cultivation activities has left a bold footprint on their mindset. It will take time and effort to make these farmers understand the benefit of organic farming.
The second difficulty we are facing is after a few decades of conventional farming, the soil and water source have been poisoned in many areas in Dalat city. By that, the transitioning period could be longer to revise these essential resources.
We haven’t had any official organization in Dalat city to work and support farmers that want to have a transition.
What are the future plans for this project?
Eila: The organic farmer’s market aspires to be a part of every shopper’s weekly routine. We want to see the market operate weekly and become the regular place for families to get their weekly produce, rice, pasta, and coffee. We think families will be relieved to know they have a market they can rely on for safe food, and know what they are feeding themselves and their family is good for themselves and the environment.
Mateusz: Personally, I’d love to see us move into being able to provide more animal products. We are already fortunate enough to have a vendor selling goat milk from humanely raised goats, and we’ll typically have one or two vendors selling truly free-range eggs (and we’ve even sold cricket powder in the past!). But I’d like to see us offering organic meat from humanely, compassionately raised, and slaughtered animals.
Though the market started by mostly vegans, it never intended to be entirely free from animal products. And we have always believed we should strive to meet the needs of every type of shopper.
Tuấn: When the market happens more frequently, then it will attract the attention of Dalat (Lam Dong) authorities. We believe organic farming (permaculture farming/regenerative farming) is the way.
Leonie: Local reporters asked if the Organic Farmer’s Market could become the symbol of Dalat one day, similar to the Love Market for Ha Giang Province. We answered this question by saying that this is the way to go and could be even our highest ambition. Yet, we can’t go this road alone and possibly not without financial support from the vendors, other sponsors, and even the local authorities.
To have more funding and dedicated (and also paid) market managers, who can dedicate the right amount of time, mindset, and skillset that such an endeavor requires.
So far, we have been sponsored since June 2019 by Green Box Café, which sponsors the event facility free of charge, whom we are very grateful to. Also, we, as an organizer team “sponsored” this market in terms of a time investment since the first event in 2019.
Leonie: When consuming organic food, you support farmers who took a decision to go against the mainstream conventional farming that is very harmful to the environment. It has been proven scientifically that conventional large-scale monoculture farming is one major reason for the worldwide bee and insect decline.
This decline of such small animals puts the whole food chain at risk and also threatens the survival of many plant species which are pollinated by specific insects that face extinction.
In a way, if we consume organically grown food instead, we vote with our dollar against conventional farming and if we break it down in a very simple way, we can even halt the extinction process of our bees and insects.
When consuming organically grown food, we raise the demand for it and we give more and more farmers the chance to change their practices for the better and experiment new ways of progressively more and more sustainable food production.
Eila: From a Health Coach’s perspective, eating organic food is one of the best things you can do for your health, for fertility and hormone balance, and for cancer prevention. Studies have linked higher consumption of organic foods to lower urinary pesticide levels, improved fertility and birth outcomes, reduced incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and lower BMI.
Basically, what this means is that when we eat organic food, we ingest less harmful chemicals and are less likely to get sick. It seems like a no-brainer if you want to live a long, healthy life with balance and vitality.
Tuấn: As a permaculture farmer and also a consumer, regenerative farming will save the ecosystem, reducing CO2 emission; consuming organic food, of course, helps us have happy meals and lessen the risk of health problems.
Mateusz: I am attracted to this market because of the transparency. So, it’s not actually about the word ‘organic’ for me. It’s about shaking the hand of the man or woman who grew the veggies I’m about to buy. It’s about getting to look at him or her in the eye. I can get a lot of things at the supermarket, but I can’t get that.
What’s your message that will encourage other farmers to transition to organic farming?
Eila: We want to show farmers that there is a high demand for organic crops, that they have support to sell their harvest (and there’s already a market established just for organic), and that they can even earn more revenue per kilo for their organically grown fruits, vegetables, fungi, and coffee.
Tuấn: Firstly, grow your own food, try to be best at self-sufficient, learn farming step by step, enlarge the scale but slowly and see how the market reacts. Farming must be your lifestyle, not only for earning.
What other sustainable/ environmental projects are you all involved in?
Eila: Not so many since opening my private health coaching practice for women, but as a previous admin of the ĐÀ LẠT – SỐNG XANH MỖI NGÀY Facebook group that’s focused on encouraging the community to reduce their use of single-use plastic products. If we can eliminate the use of the top 5 plastic polluters, we will help the environment in a huge way. Remember to say “no” to PLASTIC:
- styrofoam boxes
- forks & spoons.
- If you want extra credit, shop at Dalat’s newest zero-waste bulk store called Litterless Refillery & Coffee
Tuấn: It is a brand new project. We create a group that has members who are willing to gather and work at a specific member’s farm/house and move on to another one. We don’t pay for money but exchange the labor forces. It is now held twice per month.
Leonie: She is also the founder of www.bees4life.org (Bees for life Facebook page) an NPO engaged in raising awareness for bee and insect extinction. The website offers informative content about the topic, explains the reasons, and also is exploring the solutions to the extinction problem, one of the solutions being closed-loop agriculture with greater biodiversity and free of synthetic chemicals.
On the other side, Bees4life runs workshops to reduce the use of plastic, teaches home-composting, natural gardening, and also created the Dalat Eco Map, a map that lists eco-friendly places in Dalat.
Organic Farmer's Market Dalat Address: Green box Coffee Phone no.: +84 033 351 0279 Opens: Sunday 9:00 am- 12:00 pm ***Check their Fanpage for schedule
The vibe is just amazing at the Organic Farmer’s Market! Full of positivity, love for clean organic food, and treating each other as one big family! Supporting this kind of event is worth every penny! It only shows how people give importance to the environment, health, and our beloved farmers.
Buying in supermarkets is convenient. I know! But let’s be mindful of our choices. If there is an opportunity to buy from an ethical and sustainable source, take time to shop there. You’ll enable local farmers to continue supporting their families. That’s a win-win!
I’m hoping to see Dalat leading the way to organic agricultural production in the future.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates, the father of medicine, 431 B.C.
Have you been to the organic farmer’s market in Dalat? If yes, how was your experience? Leave a comment below and share this post with your friends and loved ones!
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