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.
All over Cambodia, soil quality has been depleted due to erosion by water, wind, and exposure to the sun. This erosion is further exacerbated by deforestation and rice monoculture.
To improve soil health and control the rate of erosion in our garden, we chose to amend our soil with a mixture of mulched wood, rice husk, rice straw, and cow manure. This blend creates fertile topsoil with structure that will absorb water, control erosion from the wind and rain, and provide the best environment for our crops to thrive.
Thankfully, all these things are easily available in Sen Sok. The mulch was all ready to go from a recent build of ours, and we only had to go across the road to source the few other things that we needed.
Our neighbor, Mr. Pui Mei, has rice fields and owns several cows, so we asked him if we could buy some of his materials to be able to help create the perfect amendment for our soil. He agreed and walked over with his rototiller and a cart full of supplies after the next day of rain.
With the earth freshly soaked, Mr. Pui Mei tilled the land. Our blend of mulch, rice byproduct, and manure was then mixed in with the help from the volunteer team from Engineering For Change and our staff. Everyone’s combined effort and hard work put back precious nutrients into the soil and helped lay the foundations for a healthy garden.
The next morning, we all rose with the sun to get an early start on digging rows and putting plants in the ground. Because of what is currently available in our area, we were able to plant rows of pineapple, cassava, and sugar cane. Soon we hope to find a good ground cover to plant that will help further protect and enhance our soil.
Just like the work that we do with aquaponics, by creating these gardens we hope to inspire sustainable practices and innovations to all who come to visit, learn, and volunteer with us at Community First. Thank you to all the people that make this possible!!