Some of NEED’s on-going farm activities include:
1) Seed Saving (wet and dry seed saving, grafting and rooted cuttings): Students learn how to care for, harvest, clean, dry, test, store and share seeds from plants grown at MFI 1 and MFI 2. In 2012, NEED will construct a nursery to store seeds, grow and transplant trees.
2) Natural Mud-brick Building: NEED-Burma has pioneered an innovative way of constructing natural buildings by using local, renewable resources and low-cost inputs. Students learn the step-by-step process of how to make mud-bricks so they can teach their communities to make similar buildings to NEED’s own structures.
3) Banana Transplanting: Bananas serve many useful functions, not least of all its edible fruit and flowers. Banana trees also act as firebreaks, and help as a buffer between non-organic farms in the area around MFI 1 and MFI 2. Students transplant banana trees at various places around NEED’s farm, learning about their importance and multiple functions in an organic farm design.
4) Mushroom Growing: Students learn how to grow sawdust and straw mushrooms. For sawdust mushrooms, students learn mix various natural materials together in small plastic bags with mushroom spores, along with rice bran, rice husks and limestone powder. Mushroom-growing can be an effective income generation activity and increase food security for families.
5) Rice Planting and Cultivation: NEED grows its own rice, planting wild rice cultivars native to certain areas of Burma. NEED’s rice planting and harvest are annual community events, and students are able to share their knowledge with local villagers and civil societygroups.
6) Bio-gas digester: Using manure produced from NEED’s cattle, students construct and manage a bio-gas digester at the farm, learning how to produce energy for cooking and lighting.
7) 18-Day Compost Making: Also known as the Berkeley Method of compost-making, this quick, hot compost method can create healthy soil and increase nutrient availability in less than three weeks. Students collect and chop green, brown and black materials (e.g. grasses/weeds for green, dried banana leaves and rice husks for brown, and cow and pig manure for black materials) and learn the basics of quick, hot compost making. The compost pile created is approx. 1 m. wide and 1 - 1.5 m. high. After the compost is finished, students apply it to their organic garden beds at MFI 2.
8) Plant Documentation: NEED has over two hundred species of plants and trees at its farm. Students learn the importance of documenting traditional plants and herbs to preserve biodiversity and share knowledge with their local communities about each plant’s edible and medicinal uses.
9) Livestock Breeding: Animals at MFI 1 & 2 are an important component of its farm design. NEED raises pigs, chickens, ducks and cows, and also breeds frogs and fish to sell at local markets and restaurants in Chiang Mai. Students learn how to use multiple outputs from each animal to benefit the farm, increase soil fertility and maximize production.