It’s an incredibly productive summer at the Community First farm school in Sen Sok. As with the past five years, we had the pleasure of hosting a volunteer team from the University of Edinburgh, Engineering. Thanks to our donors and supporters, we were able to build three additional family systems in the village of Angkaol and people are excited to get started growing vegetables and raising fish year-round!
Families are farming Chinese cabbage and morning glory for their own consumption, and the Tap family has started making some money from their cucumber farming. Thanks to our drought-resistant systems, they’re able to sell their crop for $2.50 per kilogram at the local market! The Rath family, on the other hand, has been able to feed their family which includes seven children by focusing on the aforementioned fast-growing crops.
Whether a family seeks to be economically empowered or the ability to feed themselves year-round in a country where 40% of children have their growth stunted because of malnutrition, our aquaponic systems get the job done!
In addition to expanding our outreach program, we were able to expand the farm school’s main aquaponic system. Thanks to the support of the Rotary Club of San Marino, we were able to build concrete fish tanks that will bring our overall capacity from 2,700 liters to 20,000 liters!
Volume aside, the fact that these brand new tanks are compartmentalized also means that we will be able to diversify the fish farming side of our aquaponic activities. We’re eager to experiment with new species like prawns and crayfish to change things up a bit. These aquatic animals being bottom feeders will also play a role in keeping our water clean. The rosenbergii variety of freshwater prawn is actually found throughout the Mekong river and is considered a delicacy here in Cambodia.
If you want to get involved, you can help by becoming a sustaining donor. $30 a month helps us fund our introductory training program for a family while $50 per month will us lift families out of subsistence and into abundance with advanced training. $75 per month helps us coach farmers like the Tap family to turn their aquaponic activity in a small business. Consider becoming a donor today and become a patron of social innovation and climate change adaptation!
If you’d like to learn more and are based in the greater Pasadena area, consider visiting our demonstration system at the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino. Our team is there every week at the Ranch’s open house on Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM (learn more).
The Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA has offered space in its experimental and permaculture site known as “The Ranch Garden” for Community First to house an aquaponics unit so that visitors can learn about this innovative agricultural method. Members of the Community First team will be joining the weekly open houses in the Ranch Garden, held every Saturday from 10 AM to 1 PM on the grounds of the Huntington, so come and see us!
Over the past ten years, the Pasadena-based international nonprofit Community First has been hard at work bringing social innovation to the forgotten rural communities of Cambodia. In that time, in great part thanks to the support of Rotary International, Community First has been able to provide clean drinking water to over 10,000 people as well as renewable energy and new farming techniques to the villages around Angkor Wat in Northern Cambodia.
In this part of the world where 40% of children are stunted because of malnutrition (UNICEF), Community First recognized subsistence farmers could not grow the food they needed and introduced them to aquaponics. It allows them to raise fish and grow vegetables in a closed ecosystem located on the farm. Such a system ensures a balanced, protein-rich diet even during the dry season.
This has helped families to better provide for themselves and had a dramatic impact on single mother families. Thanks to Community First’s ongoing training in the villages, families are able to farm high value-added crops for themselves, but also for sale. Every year, over a million tourists, visit the Angkor Wat temples, but few eat locally farmed produce as most hotels and restaurant rely on food imports. Local aquaponics farming offers an opportunity to re-establish local produce supply.
The combined impact of aquaponics on health and nutrition and the economic opportunity it offers has generated great interest in the world of international development. As a result, Rotary International’s District 5300 Governor selected this project as their international initiative of choice for the year. As part of this partnership, individual clubs in the greater Pasadena, High Desert and Las Vegas areas plan to partner in bringing aquaponics where it is most needed, starting July 1, 2019.
Rotarians will be volunteering their time to travel and provide financial support for the cover the material and training necessary for families to start their aquaponic businesses. In addition, Community First and Rotary will be bringing aquaponics to the local youth and the community at large here in Southern California in order to spread awareness and the opportunity to touch the lives of others around the world.
Download the full press release here:
Join us Saturday May 11, 2019 from 3:30PM to 5:30PM in San Marino, CA for the unveiling of our family aquaponic system. These systems are used to help mothers feed their families in drought-stricken Cambodia, and you can see them in action this weekend!
Are you interested in aquaponics, but never got around to see a real system that you could use at home? Did you ever consider growing some of your own food, or are you just interested in the science of how fish fertilizes plants that you can eat? Have you ever wondered how much of an impact this can have in people's lives around the world? Come and join us on Saturday, May 11 and you will learn about all of the above!
We’re delighted to invite you to the unveiling of Community First’s first-ever family aquaponics system outside of Cambodia, right here in the greater Pasadena Area!
This aquaponic system will premiere at the Rotary District 5300 Assembly & Conference in Anaheim this weekend but will be for you to see up-close Saturday, May 11th from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM at the home of the Hung Family by the Old Mill in San Marino (1057 Old Mill Rd San Marino, CA 91108).
Our systems bring together the best of fish farming and vegetable gardening in a part of the world where mothers struggle so much to feed their children, 40% of them have their growth stunted because of malnutrition.
Aquaponics provides not only a better, more secure source of nutrition but also a significant economic engine for families who farm only rice once a year. So, on Mother's Day weekend, come and see this well-engineered food system that empowers mothers in Cambodia around a glass of wine
The event is free but you must RSVP to attend! We look forward to seeing you there!
If you cannot attend but want to support our work,
please consider making a donation!
Want to see our aquaponic systems in action in the communities of rural Cambodia and learn more about its impact in the lives of the people there? Check our latest videos and come and see us May 11th to meet in person!
A Day In the Life: Community First Aquaponics in Sen Sok, Cambodia
In Depth: The Impact of Aquaponics in Sen Sok
SATURDAY, MAY 11 2019 - 3:30PM to 5:30PM
1057 Old Mill Rd, San Marino, CA 91108, USA
Thanks to the support of our donors, we have been able to continue to bring sustainable farming to another family in the countryside. By implementing these aquaponic systems, we have been able to help empower local farmers free themselves from subsistence and provide them with a way to improve their family’s nutrition all year round.
It’s the rainy season, and it’s the perfect time to break ground for the gardens in the front of the campus! As the monsoon rains flood the land, the sandy-clay soil softens and allows us to continue turning the Community First Campus into a space for sustainable agriculture.
It’s the first day of Spring, and Community First is celebrating the season with our first crop of aquaponic strawberries!
Our team has been hard at work in the Cambodian countryside setting up the farm school and aquaponic systems at the campus. That work has paid off, and now we have over 100 strawberry plants thriving in the campus system.
One of our students even had the chance to taste his first strawberry!!
There are so many things to celebrate with us this year, as together we make it possible for people with limited water to provide more nutritious food for themselves and their families with the help of aquaponics!
Since 2009, Community First’s projects have brought a better quality of life for the villages in Sen Sok by drilling water wells, setting up biodigestors, teaching sewing skills, and providing agricultural training. Now with our aquaponic program fully underway, we plan to continue providing the best practices of agricultural development by moving into our building in Smach village.
Freshly pressed, red and sandy soil is finally laid into place after this year’s monsoon washed out a portion of the road. Driving down the bumpy surface, you can feel the tires further compact the soil beneath them. Stilted houses start to appear from behind rows of sugar palms as a herd of cows are guided past you. Lush fields of rice, ready for harvest, stretch all the way to the horizon as you travel the three kilometers from the main road to Smach village.
Meet the Sim family! The first of five families to benefit from our off-grid aquaponics program.
Fish play a key role aquaponics. They are the first essential living element introduced when starting a new system. Aquaponics, just like any other ecosystem, depends on the nitrogen cycle to convert nitrogen into available nutrients. Ammonia, a bi-product of the respiratory and digestive processes of fish, is the catalyst that starts the “cycling” of our system. As the fish breathe through their gills and excrete waste from their digestive tracts, the ammonia will build up in our aquaponic system. In high concentrations ammonia will kill fish. Thankfully, the presence of ammonia attracts the nitrifying bacteria that we need to cohabit our aquaponics system. The first of which are called nitrosomonas. The nitrosomonas will convert the ammonia in the water into nitrites, which is still toxic to fish. No need to worry though. Good news is that these nitrites will then attract another nitrifying bacteria called nitrospira. The nitrospira is the bacteria we are really after because they are the ones to turn nitrites into nitrates! And plants love nitrates! Nitrates are quickly absorbed by plants, making the excretions from our fish the perfect fertilizer.