A shift towards eco-tourism, an upward trend and awareness in local community and environment

Tourism is undeniably become a major source for economic growth which contributes around 10 percent of the world’s economy. While the “common” type of how people do their vacation - a visit for selfie, splurge in a notable hotel-chain - is still dominating the market, more and more people are actually seek for over mere experience.

As more people are aware of the environment and its impact caused by tourism, some locations are becoming more eco-friendly where blending into local culture is preferred over mass tourism. Hundreds of business from resorts to plumbing companies work together to make the site more eco-friendly, including the infrastructure, waste management, and many other things.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council outlines a list of criteria in order for a destination to be certified as sustainable; from supporting local businesses, taking part in conservation activity of natural resources, and encouraging visitors to participate in the community.

Projects based on global conservation are being promoted and marketed in several tourism destinations. As a result, people have started to respect the area and culture more. Sustainable tourism creates job opportunities for the locals, generates income to the communities as well as preserving the cultures.

In northern Sichuan, Walden Farm has adopting the eco-retreat concept where visitors can enjoy fresh air, the serenity of nature, and learn more about farming. The accommodations are constructed using sustainable materials such as wood, bamboo, and straw and built with respect to the laws of nature. Together with the local communities, Walden Farm strives to build a better natural environment for upcoming generations.

Some destinations are not aiming to attract large numbers of tourists, instead, a specific group of travelers with the objective of escaping threats to the ecosystem. Irresponsible travelers could bring negative impact, that’s why some major tourist destinations are struggling.

Activists and organizations are working on community-based tourist model that facilitates experiences, volunteer services, and projects that give directly back to locals. Not only focusing no nature conservation, but also human rights and sustainable development. Hopefully tourists and communities benefit each other in a long term.

The Tao of Bee'ing

At Walden Farm, chickens are free range in accordance with the ration of chicken count and grazing area, also partnering with neighboring farms to preserve bees. Volunteers are guided in a free-flowing manner to explore what they like to work on. I signed up as a volunteer for two weeks and after learning that I like Poetry, Lin the volunteer manager told me, “enjoy your stay and write your poems.”

I felt guilty to just write poems since they provided food and housing and other volunteers had done some really cool things like build houses and paint big paintings. Eventually, I eased into the experience and began to write, which is what I like anyway. 

Blog from Ryan with his perspective idea

Blog from Ryan with his perspective idea

             It’s my last day here in the idyllic Walden Farm. I was not able to stay as long as I would have liked, but one should count themselves fortunate to stay any amount of time in this nest of peacefulness. It is a small, on the grander scale of farming as a whole, beacon to farming in China to set the bar higher; an example of a farm, though not fully sustainable, trying to get there and unshackle themselves from the binds of modern farming that sees nature as only a resource to exploit, opposed to what it should be, a resource to be cared for even as it provides us with a return of its bounty to feed us- therefore, enabling it to care for generations to come as well, or better, than it did for current generations.

Swine & Wine in Sichuan

Swine & Wine in Sichuan

This China trip was mainly to reconnect with my roots and to experience life of Chinese ethnic minorities, who tend to have the closest relationship with Nature. Many of these 55 ethnic groups congregate around Yunnan & Guizhou, but finding a Workaway/HelpX host in these 2 poorest provinces has been challenging… Instead of staying at Xi’an before my Yunnan family trip, I gave Sichuan a try despite of my spicy-food intolerance. Afterall, China is a huge country with vast diversity to be experienced, and Walden farm turned out to be a very pleasant surprise!

Walden Farm A Day in the Life of a Volunteer

Walden Farm A Day in the Life of a Volunteer

Coming from the biggest concrete jungle in the world,New York City, I am grateful for the breath of fresh air that is Walden Farm. As a volunteer I have been able to get in contact withthe local Chinese culture and work with the village workers as we strive to  create a more harmonious ˜™and sustainable ˜ relationship with the environment. No one day on the farm is the same, each with its own challenge and excitements˜.

Jiuling town – volunteering at a farm

Jiuling town – volunteering at a farm

Our journey was about to head next to a farm in Jiuling town in Sichuan province. We got a volunteer position at the farm as us exchanging work for food and accommodation. This is a handy way of getting closer to the local culture and naturally stretching your own travel budget. We left the city of Chengdu and started heading towards Mianyang with the train and from there to Jiuling town with the local bus. We had agreed a pickup with the farm employee (our host Lin) from the Jiuling town bus stop.