An Organic Farm in Saudi Arabia – Part 2

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These were some of the flowers that were gifted to me before we left. It’s been over 4 months since our visit but the dried petals still have a really strong scent! This man is also one of the farm employees. I know I’ve said this many times, but when someone is truly happy, their eyes light up. And when they pass on this amazing energy to the food and animals, the food will be even more beneficial for you, compared to the faceless big agriculture produce.

This is the second part of our tour of an organic farm in Saudi Arabia. The first post focused on the crops, and this post focuses on animals that live on the farm. While some of these animals are required for field work, such as ploughing or bringing in the harvest, the farm also produces 100% organic meat.

I imagined it would be very tough to see animals being raised purely for consumption. However, I found the experience wasn’t as difficult as I thought. Firstly, the animals were not depressed, sad or ill. Their external living environment was clean and comfortable. The animals roam around, see the sun and are not separated from their babies. I think I would prefer to eat meat knowing the animal led a happy life, compared to an animal that’s fed only corn, has never seen or felt the sun and has led a depressing existence. Remember, you are what you eat!

Visiting these animals made me (slightly) conquer my fear of animals. While I love animals, I think they don’t have to be in the same space as humans. By “same space,” I mean that animals should be free to live in a natural state as possible, without human interference. But here I fell in love with a goat that’s native to Syria. The baby goat, called a kid, was so charming. When he saw us, he came straight up to us and wanted us to pet him. It felt like he was sweet talking us, it’s so hard to describe his cute actions. I really wanted to bring him back to Riyadh with me – that’s how much I loved him! Here’s a video of him below! He is soooo adorable!!

There are a lot of pictures below so I hope you enjoy this post. Farming, specially organic farming in Saudi Arabia, is rising in popularity. The perseverance of small scale organic farmers, and their loyal customers, has resulted in people shunning non-organic produce. There’s one more thing I want to add and it will be quite shocking.

The biggest supporters of organic farming and organic farmers are the ultra religious people and the muttawa. While I’ve read terrible posts about what the muttawa do or have done, I can only personally say that these people are pushing organic farming to the mainstream, and raising the ordinary person’s awareness about food. For now, this can only be considered a good thing. Sustainable, local, organic and whole foods…it’s strange but these are important and have been important to people in Saudi Arabia for a while. Another thing you may find surprising is the the muttawa tend to be against big agriculture. They believe in small local communities farming for their needs. When I heard this, I thought this was astonishing! We’re fed this image that the ultra religous group’s sole aim is to “suppress” people, but behind this exterior exits ideas that could be considered both empowering and enlightening.

Anyway, I hope that you will enjoy this post too. I think it’s really important to see where your food comes from and who is producing it. There are a total of 60 organic farms in Saudi Arabia (37 in Riyadh alone) and I’ve visited 12 of them (because of the work I do with them). Some are large, some are small, but what is very clear is the happiest workers have the farm with the best produce.

The next farm that I will visit will be the Watania Farms, and I think I will visit them in December 2013 or February 2014. The journey to the Al-Jouf farms will be very long, as it is 3 hours from the nearest airfield. Unless an airstrip is built before then, we will actually fly to Jordan and then drive down south. Watania is the biggest agribusiness in the Kingdom, and is owned by Sheikh Al-Rajhi. I am really looking forward to seeing what they’ve done over the last twenty years. Of course, my first question will be “Where does all your produce go?” Maybe it’s just me, but it took me months to find the location of the Watania showroom and then every time I went, it was empty. Until then, I still have five updates on our Riyadh farming project to update you on.

Enjoy your first Friday – Saturday weekend!

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This was a donkey that was used to bring in the alfalfa. Also, although this worker doesn’t look too happy in the picture, we later found out that when taking photographs, he prefers to look serious. We told him several jokes to make him laugh, but when the camera came out, the serious face came back. The worker is from Sudan, and he raised this donkey from when it was a foal. He considers this donkey like a family member, which I find so caring.

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One of the several varieties of cows on the farm.

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These were cows all the way from Australia! Cattle farms in Australia are quite common, and some of them have 100,000 of cows in them!

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These are buffalos from India.

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Notice the lighter coloured buffalos on the right? These are the buffalos that were born at the farm. They turned out to be a lighter colour than if they were born in India.

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As soon as we approached the goat enclosure, the goats rushed out to see us even though they were eating. So cute!

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Coming closer!

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Hello little one! I really miss him!

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Some of the older goats

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They’re all super cute!

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The little one coming back to greet us again on our way back out.

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So so cute!!!

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Deer all the way from Holland.

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The swans look so elegant with their long necks. After I took this photo, the swan jumped out and started to chasing me.

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Ducks in their stream, which runs right through the farm. Their main water source is actually a sustainable source and not like the non-renewable fossil water that is used to feed the 50,000 cows in Riyadh.

10 responses to “An Organic Farm in Saudi Arabia – Part 2

    • HI there,

      It’s great you want your daughter to see where food comes from. Unfortunately I can’t take extra visitors with me. However, I can provide you with the details so you can find out if they allow public visits. I am not sure they will, but you can give it a try.

      Best,
      Sarah

      • If you don’t mind me asking, how old is your daughter? I ask because the jouf farms are a terribly long journey away. Nonetheless, the Watania email to contact them is info@watania-agri.com.

        If you haven’t already done so, I would also suggest visiting the Diriyah Organic farm in Riyadh. The next visit with the Women Skills Bureau will be in February or March 2014.🙂

  1. Are those animals for sale? If so, kindly provide me with the farm details (name, location & contact numbers)

    • Hi Khalid,

      No, these animals are not for sale. If you want to buy animals, I suggest you head to the animal market of your local city, usually held on Fridays in most cities after Asr prayer.

      • Hi Sarah,
        Thanks for your reply. I have no idea where to find deer in Riyadh🙂

      • Hi Khalid,

        Lol, do you want to eat the deer or keep it as a pet? Either way, the best bet is to go to the Riyadh Animal market, located just off the southern ring road. It’s held every Friday, from Fajr to Zuhr and then Asr to maghrib.

        Watania might also have deer meat but it will be very seasonal.

  2. Greetings to you all..
    where is this farm in the article? the farm’s name at least and where can i find their products and in which markets?

    is there a list for the 37 farms in Riyadh that breed and plant organically???
    The best thing in Organic farming is that there is no Animal Abuse nor environmental abuse..

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