It has been busy the past two to three weeks. The children were playing, the Khmer staff were maintaining and upgrading the property, holiday spirit and festivities were in the air, fish were transferred to adjacent ponds, crops were sown, and the volunteers - including me - were conducting fun and enriching activities for the children.
I finally completed the environmental day at WOCC! I was able to get this thing off the back-burner thanks to a volunteer, now friend, Laura Kovac from Canada, for helping plan and execute. We decided to make it a teen leadership day as well, hence, the official title “WOCC’s Annual Environmental and Teen Leadership Day: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” The day was filled with education, a slide show (brief), and fun games and activities centered around the 3 R’s.
We met with 8 teens a day before to explain their roles and expectations as team leaders (i.e. the need for enthusiasm, communication, and controlling their team - age range of 2 to 18!). They did very well and we are so proud of them all :)
We played “How to Make a Khmer Sandwich … Blindfolded” to start as an ice-breaker, which presented two morals: 1) miscommunication and misunderstandings and 2) the freedom to choose a course of action, but that individuals actions will affect others/the community. Thank you Somnang/McPhan and Srey Leak/Srey Nou …
Other activities included the following:
The day was topped off with an awards and superlative ceremony after meditation. Every group won a reward or prize. Everyone got a snack for their efforts. Trophies (made from salvageable and recyclable material) and a snack was given for places 1 to 4. The rest of the other four groups received superlatives complete with a certificate (Most Athletic, Best Team Players, Loudest Team, Best Spirit) and a snack of course.
A special reward of 1,000 Riel was given to each of the team leaders for their efforts and contribution to the environmental day. FYI - They all shared their reward with their team members by immediately buying each treats from the WOCC Cafe!
It is the hope next year WOCC can extend this to the children and teens of the nearby community. I hope we can make this an annual or periodic event.
To accompany the lemongrass planted ~ 2 months ago … we transplanted the Tomato, Eggplant, and Bell Pepper seedlings in the bed. Second, we directly planted Carrot, Chives, Jicama, Cilantro, and a variety of flowers throughout (Calendula, African Marigold, Himalayan Marigold, Morning Glory trellising saucers) from seed. Then, we placed 22 cowpea seeds each in two Rice Sacks filled with a topsoil, compost and gravel core mix. This is also known as a Sack Garden, which takes advantage of vertical gardening with limited space. Finally, we placed a Cucumber Seedling, 2 Winter Melon Seedlings, and a Sponge Gourd Seedling in salvaged water jug containers. Everything seems to be growing well.
Pest still persists on the tomato or eggplant leaves, but since our garden is small we simply hand remove them.
One problem remains, groundwater is coming up through our water storage ditch. This is proving problematic, especially since the groundwater flows under the demonstration bed whether the ditch is water-filled with or without a liner. ~1/4 of the bed slightly sloughed. We have a couple of tweeks to do, but I feel confident we’ll get something solved … Cross your fingers.
We have just harvested the 8th pile, yielding a total of ~ 524 kg or ~1153 lbs since I arrived. We currently have five more currently going with about 2 more weeks before we harvest the next one.
Unfortunately, the second tower failed. We planted a coconut potato or what seems to be a type of yam which vines. How did it fail? I made the quasi-narcissistic mistake of thinking I knew something when I actually didn’t. I cut the vines thinking it would increase root production. Oh boy was I wrong! Later I was told by the Khmer that these types of potato’s are typically grown by trellising and the vines are allowed to fruit. Then, the fruit is picked. It dawned on me … pick the fruit, then, root production will increase! Nevertheless, one survived which was the one where no vine was cut :|
An interesting lesson worth sharing… something may have been lost in translation. Any tuber grown underground is referred to as a potato in Khmer: “Dum-long”. There is no distinction between a yam or potato. If I clearly knew this was a yam prior to planting; then, I would have likely said no when one of the teens asked me to plant this type. Nevertheless … MY BAD!!! :0