Fruit farms offer rural life experience

Sitting on the banks of the Thu Bon River, Dai Binh Village used to be known for its bumper fruit harvests in the central province of Quang Nam, but now it has been transformed into a sustainable community-based farm tourism destination.

Fruit farms offer rural life experience

Pomelo are ready for harvest in Dai Binh Village in Quang Nam Province's mountainous Nong Son District. The village has been designed as a farm-based tourism site. 

Just 20km from the My Son Sanctuary, the village with a population of 1,200 earned a living for three centuries from growing fruits, but now it's day-trippers who are bringing in the cash.

The village was established in 1778 during the country’s southward border expansion journey under Lord Nguyen Hoang. The emigration settled the village on the banks of the Thu Bon River, and the first villagers began growing fruits to make a living.

Fruit zone

In 1920, local herbalist Huynh Chau brought seeds of fruit species from affluent farms in the south of Vietnam.

Nguyen Thanh Tuyen, director of the Dai Binh Co-operative, says around 100 tropical fruit species such as jackfruit, citrus, grapefruit and langsat were cultivated for centuries before various southern species such as durian, mangosteen, grapes, star apple, rambutan and sapodilla were added in the early 20th century.

“Fruit was the main produce and source of income for most villagers, but now we have developed farming-based tourism, and the first co-operative was formed to promote both gardening and tourism,” Tuyen says.

He says villagers offer visitors the chance to pick their own fruit for a fixed price of VND25,000 (US$1) per kilo.

He says 28ha of fruit farms (a quarter area of the village) produce more than 200 tonnes of fruit with revenue of US$2.3 million each year, and welcomed around 100,000 tourists in 2018.

Fruit farms offer rural life experience

Visitors at a fruit fair exhibition in Dai Binh Village, Quang Nam Province. The village offers a garden experience and fruit-picking for tourists. 


Heavenly gifts

Tran Kim Hung, 61, says the village is naturally fertilised by annual tides of alluvium, while the cool climate helps produce bumper harvests each year.

“The village is the only place in central Vietnam where fruit from north and south grow well due to the natural conditions,” Hung says.

His family welcomes 3,000 visitors each year, earning $4,300 from fruit sales.

He says the village has been building a brand for Đại Bình Pomelos product – an OCOP (One Commune-One Product) - to server farm-based tourism.

Huynh Thi Thu Ha, 58, who owns the Ông Năm farm, says fruits are available all year round.

“The harvest begins from lunar March to April with watermelons, while tropical fruits are mass harvested from June to late September. Tourists can relax in the gardens during the hot summer,” Ha says.

She says a vegetable farm for rural work experience has been built in the village as another choice for visitors.

Fruit farms offer rural life experience
Tourists visit Dai Binh Village on a boat tour. The village is looking to attract visitors with farm-based tourism. Photo courtesy of Dai Binh Co-operative


Tran Hung, 82, still lives in a 165 year-old house that has sheltered four generations of his family, and its 3,000sq.m garden.

Hung says villagers do not use chemical fertilisers because the gardens are very close to their living area.

 

“The village’s garden economy is based on natural conditions, including soil, rainfall, the cool climate and river tides,” he explains.

“Annual tides help pile up alluvium for farm productivity,” he says.

Hung, however, complains that climate change in recent decades has badly impacted fruit farms.

Fruit farms offer rural life experience
An view of Dai Binh Village on the banks of the Thu Bon River. The village is attracting tourists looking to experience a rural mountainous lifestyle in Quang Nam Province. Photo courtesy Dai Binh Co-operative


Limit traffic

Just 20 minutes from the My Son Sanctuary – a popular world heritage site – Dai Binh has yet to attract foreign tourists due to poor traffic infrastructure.

The Nong Son Bridge that connects the village with Trung Phuoc Town is not strong enough to allow light trucks and cars, while a plan for community-based and farming tour services has been slow to emerge.

Vice director of the provincial department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Le Ngoc Tuong says transport infrastructure lacks investment, while a tour linking Hoi An, My Son and the village is not on the map.

He says the village is building its OCOP for sustainable tourism.

Fruit farms offer rural life experience
A rural fruit market in Dai Binh Village. Farmers offer freshly harvested fruit to tourists visiting during summer. VNS Photo Ngoc Vinh


Bao Tri, a biker, says the village is an ideal site for escaping the crowds and a stressful urban life, but it needs more opportunities to explore rather than expensive accommodation.

Rural home-stays, farm tours, bike tracks and pedestrian paths will offer a traditional cultural experience for tourists.

Tri says a primary forest will be developed as a jungle trek or camp site for adventurers.

Nguyen Chi Tung, vice chairman of Nong Son's District Committee, says fruit farming and the rural lifestyle in the village has huge potential for eco-tour development, but needs convenient connections with the provincial capital, Tam Ky, Hoi An and Da Nang via public buses.

Currently, bus routes only link Da Nang and Tam Ky to Dai Loc Commune and Que Son District, about 40km away.

Tuyen, from the Dai Binh Co-operative, emphasises: “The village started off as a fruit farm, so of course farmers need training in hospitality skills to welcome tourists.”

“We are very open and friendly. The tranquil scenery, fruit picking and rural life experience will make our village a second home for everyone.” - VNS

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