Siem Reap in Cambodia is the tourist gateway to the temples at Angkor Wat. When I flew there from Vietnam in March I headed two hours further north to Samrong and visited something completely different – school vegetable gardens! I travelled with a friend to visit three schools that are involved in the Green Shoots Foundation program for developing Agricultural Skills in Public Schools (ASPUS).
Green Shoots Foundation is a small charity based in London andthis visit was arranged by Muneezay Jaffrey the Operations Manager there. On arrival in Samrong we were met by Ratana Oeurn and the team at the Community-based Integrated Development Organisation (CIDO). CIDO is the local partner of the foundation and delivers the programs incorporating sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural skills within the school curriculum.
I am grateful to both Muneezay and Ratana for the time and care they took in arranging this visit and the willingness they had to answer my questions about the program. I would also like to thank the schools, teachers, and students who took the time to meet with us, talk with us and to show us and share with us the vocational vegetable gardens they have developed.
To date, in Odar Meanchey province, there are 43 schools with vegetable gardens, 48 teachers trained in sustainable gardening and 8,900 students trained in sustainable gardening.
The School Vegetable Gardens
The three schools we visited were a mix of primary and secondary level and in all three schools, you could see the vegetable garden as you came into the school. I loved the ‘impression’ that having such an instantly visible garden gave to the school grounds. It was immediately clear that each garden was a dedicated and well-tended space and was integral to the school.