After serving the poor in Old Peak Sneng Village in Siem Reap, Cambodia for several years, the Catholic Church dreamed of having a farm to help the poor by providing:
- An example of efficient land use
- Seedlings to encourage people to grow different kinds of vegetables and fruit trees for their own consumption and as a source of income
- Training to the local community on how to raise farm animals more productively
The produce of the farm would eventually enable the Church to become self-sufficient as we continue to help the poor in the area. The farm would also serve as a quiet place for the youth of our different parishes to come for reflection and formation activities.
In 2007, through God’s providence and the generous help of many friends from all over the world, we bought a piece of land in what is now called New Peak Sneng. After 3 months of hard work by our dedicated staff and workers, we were finally able to sow the seeds of our dream.
Since starting work on the farm, the local villagers have called us “Chomka Preah Yesu” or the Farm of Jesus. We hope and pray that when people visit us on the farm, they will meet Jesus and fall in love with him.
On the farm, we have built a reservoir-cum-fishpond for irrigation, greenhouse and nursery to grow different kinds of vegetables and fruit seedlings, accommodation for our staff and workers, a wooden chapel, and a hall for community activities.
Today, we have Khmer and English literacy classes for the local children and simple agriculture training for our workers and villagers. We have also built a cow shed for the 7 cows that we bought with the generous sponsorship from friends of the Church.
In addition to vegetables such as long beans, eggplant, chillies, sweet basil and tomatoes, our nursery also contains seedlings from a wide variety of fruit trees. The difficulty in getting seeds for non-indigenous fruit trees in Cambodia was overcome by the use of grafting and other simple agricultural techniques. A total of 2,795 fruit trees have been planted on the farm, including mango, durian, jack fruit, papaya and rambutan.
Since the farm opened in 2007, youth groups from Australia, England, Korea, Singapore and USA have come to help out on the farm and even teach English to their peers in the local community.
Staff and Workers
Reynaldo Diez, a Lay Missionary volunteer from the Philippines, joined in November 2007 as our first full-time staff. His experience with agricultural practices has been invaluable to our farm project. After only 10 months, God blessed us with the following harvest:
- Vegetables, watermelons, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and maize
- More families clearing the land and living closer to the farm
- More people interested to learn about farm activities
With the farm now operational, we plan to start the following initiatives:
- A new water-tower and sprinkler system to improve irrigation
- Increase non-indigenous fruit and vegetable seedlings
- Materials and stems for grafting
- Agriculture and animal husbandry training
- Operating the Cow Bank to empower the poor
- Work with the youth and local poor to start the Seedling Bank
The objective of the Cow Bank is to empower the local poor to finally own livestock. A mother cow from the farm is assigned to a selected family who takes responsibility for the care and impregnation of the cow, either with one of the farm’s bulls or with other bulls in the village.
Here’s how the cow bank system works. The first live-born calf belongs to the church while the family keeps the second live-born calf. The third live-born calf also belongs to the church, but by this time, the family gets to keep the mother cow. This implies that the family can own livestock in 2 years’ time. In addition, the family can exchange cow manure (used as fertilizer in the farm) for either money or seedlings.
The farm recently celebrated the birth of its first 2 calves from the 4 cows and 2 bulls sponsored by friends of the Church. They also welcomed its first member of the Cow Bank in April this year. For as little as USD$400 (USD$600), you can participate as a sponsor of the Cow Bank.