pingdong, cjc44, nice to know other people are doing this. I'm renting a hectare of ... well, it ain't farmland, but I have high hopes for it. This is down in Miaoli. The project got off to a rather shaky start, since the agent lied to me about the exact size and extent (a trip to the land registry cleared that up) but I'm now starting to bring it under control and hope to start planting some winter crops this month. At the moment, it's covered in head-high undergrowth, trees, and bamboo, but it has a wonderful diversity of microclimates, terrain, and soil types. I've started clearing a more-accessible area of about 70m2:
What you can't see clearly here is that the land is roughly terraced (and also has an inordinate number of ancient PaoLyTa bottles scattered around) which makes me think this area was farmed a long time ago.
This is the kind of thing I'm up against:
I'm trying to do this with the minimum disruption to the existing ecosystem. One thing I've noticed in Taiwan is that 'traditional' agriculture (clearing the land and spraying it with chemicals) works even less well than it does in the west. The topsoil just gets washed/blown away and you're left with an infertile desert that you have to drench in chemicals to get any yield at all. Just look at the amount of biomass growing on uncleared land, and compare that with what you see in a field. So I'm trying some new methods which aim to replicate (or at least sit comfortably alongside) natural ecosystems.
Next time I go over, I expect to see most of the cut vegetation rotted down, and some new-growth weeds. I'll probably slash these down again and use the cardboard technique to suppress regrowth and dormant seeds, maybe plant some taprooted crops directly on top; I've also got a bunch of stuff like sesbania, clover (several varieties), spelt, oats, beans, that should grow nicely as a green manure crop during the winter months. If that works, I'll expand into other areas. Basically, I'm still learning how things work in a tropical climate - it's not even remotely like growing in temperate zones. Have to figure out everything from scratch. My day job is an electronics engineer, so I'm also planning some solar installations for irrigation, traction, and whatnot.
Ultimately I'm hoping to start up a fully-organic business supplying A-class vegetables and unusual (foreign) varieties to A-class restaurants - especially things that need to be very fresh to keep their flavour. Possibly also set up half-day visits/tours for the general public (a lot of people are getting more and more interested in growing stuff these days) with tasting and food-preparation classes on-site. Whether this goes according to plan depends on whether I can make my plot do what I think it's capable of ... but in any case, it's going to take a few years.
cjc444, +1 to the picture requests? Your place sounds great. My sister keeps chickens (hilarious ones with furry feet and heads) and I'd love to get some, just to let them run around, eat bugs, and poo. And it would be great to let the cats run around. Obviously that involves moving permanently to Miaoli, though, which I can't do just yet.