Having served the poor in Peak Snaeng Chas Village in Siem Reap for a few years, the Catholic Church started to aim at having a farm to help the poor make their individual farms productive. The goal was to
- Show an example of efficient land use
- Propagate and distribute of seedlings for people to grow different kinds of vegetables and fruit trees for consumption and as a source of income for the family
- Train the local community on how to raise farm animals more productively
So in 2007, with the generous support of friends from many other countries, a large tract of land was acquired about 5 kilometers from our station in Piak Snaeng Chas. This new place is called “Chomka Preah Yesu” (Jesus Farm) by the locals in the village called Piak Snaeng Thmey.
In November 2007, with the able leadership of Mr. Reynaldo Diez, a filipino volunteer who has expertise in farming and farm management, the farm project built a reservoir-cum-fishpond for irrigation, developed greenhouse and nursery to grow different kinds of vegetables and fruit seedlings, built structures to accommodate staff and youth volunteers from other countries who would come for a few days’ exposure. Agriculture training workshops on vegetable growing, grafting, animal husbandry, and tree-planting were given to workers and villagers. There was also a cow bank that began with 7 cows and later grew into a bank of 49 cows that were distributed to villagers.
A total of 2,795 fruit trees have been planted on the farm, including mango, durian, jack fruit, papaya and rambutan.
The farm was doing well according to its goal to be productive and to help the villagers, until the year 2011 when Mr. Reynaldo, the farm manager and trainor who had worked for 4 years decided to leave to venture into another mission in another place. Since then, his departure left a void in effective and efficient leadership in the management of the farm. Projects slowed down and ultimately halted.
In 2016 when Fr. Totet, SJ took over as parish priest of Siem Reap and its satellite communities, he saw that small projects that continued like raising chicken and pigs ceased to make even a break-even income at all; the whole farm operation became a purely expense center. So, at this time that we are still waiting for a farm manager, he decided to temporarily stop farm projects. The three workers that remained focused on care of fruit trees and maintenance of the environment.