Food guide

Permaculture Farming from a Vietnamese farmer’s perspective

As a health-conscious consumer, you may often wonder where your food comes from. I ask the same question myself. The best way to know is by asking the farmers directly. And by asking, I learned that there is a better way to farm without any pesticides in a holistic approach. It’s called Permaculture farming that works harmoniously with nature.

Permaculture farming from a farmer's perspective - an interview with Mr. Bui Anh Tuan
Permaculture farm in Vietnam called Bui Farm

I grew up in the city and didn’t know anything about farming. While living in Dalat for a few months, I visited the organic farmer’s market, and there I met Bùi Anh Tuấn. He is one of the co-founders of the organic market and a permaculture farmer too. He is passionate about permaculture and willing to share how permaculture works. That’s why I decided to visit his farm Bui Farm located just outside Dalat city. And it was such an eye-opener!

What is permaculture?

According to Bill Mollison, the father of Permaculture – “Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.”

A visit to Bùi Farm

Permaculture farmer in Vietnam
At Bui farm with Mr. Bùi Anh Tuấn

It was such a lovely day when I went with Tuấn to visit his family farm (2.7 hectares) in Da loan commune (Duc Trong District), which is 70 km away from Dalat.

When we arrived, he took me around his farm right away. It looks like a jungle without a proper pathway in some areas filled with edible plants, vegetables, fruits (such as durian, dragon fruit, pomegranate, banana, star apple, variety of berries, avocado, jack fruit, etc.), nuts, herbs, spices, coffee, and tea. While he was explaining the farming method, he also picked fresh fruits and nuts for me to try.

I felt like I’m in the Garden of Eden! It was heaven! They almost have all the resources they need to eat clean food.

Permaculture farm in Vietnam called Bui farm
Organic produce at Bui Farm

They also have cows, free-range chickens, ducks, dogs, and cats that eat whatever is grown in the farm. I remember seeing one of the dogs running away with an avocado in its mouth!

He also shared the importance of making a design and landscaping such as building a natural fence to protect the farm from harsh sunlight. They have a greenhouse for vegetables that requires more sunlight and less rain, as wells as three human-made ponds for compost rich in nitrogen and potassium.

We had lunch served fresh from the farm except for the fish and rice. We ate in silence while enjoying the tranquility of mother nature. It was such a peaceful place away from pollution and noise.

I admire his family’s way of life, simplicity, and contentment.

Permaculture farm in Vietnam
Simple life at Bui farm

Meet Bùi Anh Tuấn of Bùi farm

permaculture farmer in Vietnam
Bùi Anh Tuấn selling organic produce and Rin coffee at the organic farmer’s market

Meet Bùi Anh Tuấn, a Vietnamese who quit his corporate job as a Senior HR officer and become a full-time permaculture farmer. Because of that, he is now a coffee entrepreneur, known for his brand “Rin coffee” (100% organic coffee), and a mentor to many young aspirants who want to become a sustainable farmer.

He co-organized Dalat’s Organic Farmer’s Market that happens once a month. But his main job is operating his family farm in Duc Trong, Lam Dong.

Interview with Bùi Anh Tuấn

What made you become a permaculture farmer? Who inspires you?

Permaculture farming from a farmer's perspective - an interview with Mr. Bùi Anh Tuấn
Bùi Anh Tuấn, a permaculture farmer

Six years ago, when I was still an officer for a factory in Binh Duong province, there was no idea of becoming a permaculture farmer happening in my mind. But things changed, and I had realized that I didn’t belong to city life. So I decided to just go back to the countryside without the certainty of what will happen next.

For the first 3 years, I had been working as my parents did for decades. And I discovered that we earn nothing by conventional farming (coffee), middlemen took most of our income. The investment for every crop was high, and chemicals are destroying our land. I knew I must make a change.

By researching documents from the internet, I know the term “permaculture” It impressed me quickly from first sight. After a few months, friends gave me books of Bill Mollison, Masanobu Fukuoka, Akinori Kimura. They struggled with the same things I was facing at that time. And the future opens to my eyes.

The fathers of permaculture farming demonstrate that we can do farming in a harmonic way that respects natural elements and sustain human beings’ lives.

What’s the importance of permaculture farming?

Permaculture farming creates a sustainable farming system that cares for the earthcare for the people, and return of surplus. In this farming method, farmers use input resources from his farm.

What permaculture principle did you apply?

Permaculture farm in Vietnam
Permaculture farm

By observing the farm’s characteristics and by the experience of farming for decades – we know what plants to grow at a specific area, where we need to lay the vegetable garden on, where we need to make a pond to store water. Observation also helps farmers to choose the right time to grow their veggies and plants seasonally.

As permaculture providing a holistic solution, it contains many functions for our farmers to learn and apply. At Bui Farm, we have been building a system that each factor supports to the other ones. For example, we have cows that produce manure – we use those manure to make compost or feed red worms. With red worm beddings, we use the worms to feed chickens. In the meantime, we also use the vermicompost to grow vegetables.

By making the best use of each element, there is no waste on the farm. What we call wastes after any process of production will become potential inputs of other farming producing process.

What are vetiver grass and its role in permaculture farming?

Permaculture in Vietnam uses Vetiver grass in preventing soil erosion.
Vetiver grass in preventing soil erosion

In some countries, Vetiver grass is called “miracle grass” because of its multipurpose uses in agriculture and in limiting the damage of natural disasters. I can name here some of its benefits to be an important link to permaculture farming.

The root of this grass can reach to 4-meter height after a few years. That’s why it helps control soil erosion and keep water for main crops. The long roots can be effective in preventing slope area from land sliding.

Permaculture farm in Vietnam using vetiver grass
Before and after picture: vetiver grass on the slope

With the leaves, farmers can use them to cover the topsoil, making it as a shield to protect our land’s surface. By that, years after years, the land becomes more and more fertile. Cattles like cows, buffalo, goat fancy eating vetiver leaves; so, we don’t need to worry about looking for greens for animals in the dry season.

What insects and bugs are useful in farming?

Permaculture farming from a farmer's perspective - an interview with Mr. Bùi Anh Tuấn
Beneficial insects and animals at Bui farm

In nature, there is no insect or bug identified as bad or good. But in farming, we have two: one will try to eat our plants and fruits, the other one tries to limit the number of the bad ones – we call these warriors as beneficial insects. At Bui Farm, we often see ladybugs, red ants, spiders, many frogs, and birds. Sometimes we have a chance to say hello to snakes and scorpion.

How do you manage pest control without the use of herbicides or pesticides?

As I mentioned, harmful insects are not a high risk in permaculture as we grow things seasonally, we keep and nurture beneficial insects that they will help us control pests. We also use some bioinsecticides like ginger, chili peppers, garlic but not very common.

What’s the advantage of permaculture farming over conventional farming in your experience?

Permaculture farm in Vietnam
1 year without any fertilizers

Farmers can be independent by creating their input resources within the farm. It means there’s no need to buy synthetic fertilizers or chemicals to control insects or fungus from purchasers.

By following those regenerative applications for permaculture farming, harmful factors are not a problem because there are always beneficial alliances (insects) to control them. Let nature do its job!

Farmers can have food to sell throughout the year, as a permaculture farm grows and raises a lot of things from vegetables, fruits, chickens, eggs, nuts, mushrooms seasonally so we will have income all year round.

Farmers can work in a clean and safe environment by using organic matter only.

Permaculture farm in Vietnam
organic produce they sell such as macadamia, mushroom, eggs, dried fruits, coffee and vegetables.

What are the obstacles you face in permaculture farming?

As the land had been poisoned by synthetic fertilizer for many years, we need to work a lot to provide our soil as much as possible organic matter. And since I didn’t have experience in agriculture before becoming a farmer, I did some unreasonable moves and took some time to correct it. Now, I learned from those mistakes. For example, I removed all the grasses in the dry season that made our plants live in a hot soil surface, while some trees died.

Permaculture farmers in Vietnam
Helping local farmers transition to a more sustainable farming method

The number of permaculture farmers in my region is limited. It’s hard to build a community that can support each member.

Did you have a hard time growing certain crops? What are those?

Some years ago, when we grew corn and faced the Spodoptera frugiperda (a kind of caterpillars), and we couldn’t control them. The lesson is we need to grow corn a bit later (July) to avoid them.

Permaculture farming from a farmer's perspective. An interview with Bùi Anh Tuấn
Organic corn for humans and chickens

With robusta coffee, it needs a lot of water. In some years, we didn’t have enough water for more than 2000 coffee trees. The solution is to grow more big trees intercrop and make shade for the coffee.

How is the profit in permaculture farming? What’s your main source of income among all the products you sell?

We can decide the price of our produces depend on the investment. That means we sell organic produce at a reasonable price to the customers’ pockets.

Permaculture coffee in Vietnam - Rin coffee, 100% arabica and robusta coffee sold by Bui Anh Tuan
Rin Coffee – 100% organic arabica and robusta coffee

We roast our coffee and sell directly to customers that are approximately 50 percent of our income. Other sources of income come from eggs, cows, banana, avocado, and vegetables.

What are your future projects at Bui Farm?

Permaculture farm in Vietnam

⭐ We continue growing more trees (perennial trees) of different species. And use more biofuel such as coffee husk, wood chips, and tree branches to reduce fossil fuel in cooking and roasting coffee.

⭐ To add solar panels when we have enough money to invest.

⭐This November 2020, we will launch a permaculture course for beginners (details to be announced soon).

⭐ In 2021, we will open permaculture courses for volunteers and beginners interested in regenerative / permaculture farming.

What are the three principles of Permaculture farming?

The three principles of permaculture are:

  1. Care for the Earth: This principle emphasizes the need to understand and respect the Earth as a living system. It encourages us to take proactive measures to protect and regenerate the natural environment. By promoting sustainable practices, minimizing waste, and working in harmony with nature, we can ensure the health and vitality of the Earth for future generations.
  2. Care for People: This principle emphasizes the importance of creating systems and designs that prioritize the well-being and needs of people. It encourages community engagement, social justice, and fostering strong relationships within local communities. Permaculture aims to provide for people’s basic needs, such as food, water, shelter, and energy, while also promoting equity, cooperation, and self-reliance.
  3. Fair Share or “Return of Surplus”: This principle recognizes that in order to create sustainable systems, we need to share resources and surplus with others and the Earth. It encourages us to limit consumption, reduce waste, and distribute resources fairly. By practicing resource sharing, fair trade, and equitable distribution of surplus, we can create more balanced and resilient communities and contribute to a more just and sustainable world.

These principles serve as a guide for designing and implementing permaculture systems, which aim to mimic natural ecosystems and create regenerative and sustainable landscapes.

See more from Bùi Anh Tuấn

Did you get inspired and learned something from Bùi Anh Tuấn as I did? Permaculture farming seems like a new idea for many of us, but it isn’t. It is a holistic farming approach in harmony with nature, without the use of harmful chemicals. If farmers use this method, we can assure good health for the community and the environment.

That is why we have to support conscious farmers like Tuấn. Farmers like him not only provide us with clean, organic food but also cares for our environment.

Make sure to follow Tuấn on his social media accounts: Bui Farm and Rin Coffee on Facebook, and his Instagram, especially if you are interested in Permaculture farming!

Stay tuned for the upcoming Permaculture course from Tuấn this November! 

You can also visit the organic farmers market in Dalat this October and meet him in person!


Bui Farm
Address: Thôn 7, Đức Trọng District, Lâm Đồng 670000, Vietnam
Phone no.: +84333510279 (Mr. Bùi Anh Tuấn)

Do you have any questions related to Permaculture farming? Leave a comment below!

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Permaculture farming from a farmer's perspective in Vietnam
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Jonah Estanislao-Motati

Hey I’m Jonah, a nurse from the Philippines who has a unique passion for uncovering food origins while traveling. As a food enthusiast and eco-conscious traveler, I go deep into the culinary traditions of each destination, seeking out the stories behind the ingredients and dishes. Join me as I uncovers the rich tapestry of food origins, from local markets to sustainable farms, and share captivating discoveries. Be inspired to embark on a gastronomic adventure that connects you with the cultural heritage and sustainable practices of each place you visit.

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