Floating Nutritional Gardens – phase 1

Moat Khlar, Cambodia, December 2014.

Global Roots program manager Patrick, working with the Lake Clinic organization (TLC – www.lakeclinic.org)and KIDS (www.kidsdevelopmentsociety.org) , helped kick off the first vegetable garden in this small floating village of the beautiful Tonle Sap lake.

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In an interview, Savann, TLC’s project lead, comments “This a very important project for these villagers, we have to do this because we see an increase in population and child disease, in cost of leaving and supplemental income, and a need for food education, so if we don’t do it, children will continue to be weak and sick, miss school, can’t help their parents, or their families would continue to borrow money from loan sharks or send their vulnerable children to work in cities.

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Building a floating garden is rather simple, and the cost is only the purchase of 2 large bamboo sticks and seeds. Water hyacinths is very abundant here as they grow free, and their procurement is very simple. In a place where average daily salaries are under $3, such  garden can yield half of that in savings towards purchasing vegetables, and sales of surplus vegetables. The first crop targets morning glory, a nutritional vegetable easy to grow and cook.

This is the high-level process to build a garden:

  • We build a frame with the bamboo sticks, tying the ends on each side with ropes.
  • We fill it with water hyacinths until it’s 1 meter thick (around 8 to 10 layers)
  • We beat the hyacinths to compact the structure and allow it to rot faster.
  • We let the structure decompose for 3 weeks, while keeping it wet
  • Planting and harvesting then as we would plant on land: we simply let vegetables grow naturally and water them as needed

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As of December 17th 2014, the team completed the first stage and are planning for the planting and harvests. The team is engaged closely with the school master and the village chief to ensure there are no issues and learn from them as needed. The Lake Clinic team will then measure and adjust, to validate the value of the program. This project can then be replicated in the next village in need of nutrition and supplemental income.

Global Roots team is very excited to learn this proven technique. We can then apply it to other locations where unbalanced nutrition leads to health problems, where water and water hyacinths are abundant and farming insufficient, so we are glad we have this opportunity to participate in pioneering this solution with our friends at Lake Clinic and KIDS, and we’d like to thank the team for having invited us to work along  them to make history!

Please stay tuned for the planting and the harvest.

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