Farmers on Inle Lake, Myanmar grow their crops on floating islands over the open water of the large fresh water lake. They produce enormous amounts of vegetables of all kinds, but they specialize in tomatoes. The floating islands are essentially neat rows of water hyacinth plants and mineral-rich silt from the bottom of the lake, which are held in place by tall bamboo poles.
The vegetables are grown on top of the makeshift islands and flourish with constant access to water and nutrients. The farmers produce about 50,000 tons of tomatoes annually on the hundreds of acres of floating “land”.
Farmers tend their crops row-by-row in small handmade wooden boats made in the villages nearby. They build temporary houses (on stilts of course) to be close to their gardens, and to avoid the long rowing trek back to their villages in the motor-less boats.
Like the fishermen on Inle Lake, farmers use a method of rowing that is not found in any other place on the planet. They effortlessly balance themselves upright on the precarious stern of their boats, and use one leg to do the rowing and navigating. I just don’t know how they do it.
When motored boats pass by in the larger channels around the farms, the islands bounce up and down like buoys on open water. It’s a little disorienting.
It was also fascinating.