Planting Seeds of Hope in Cambodia

by Dan Decort

Home-grown food just tastes better. It’s sweet, rich, crisp, and smells like the earth. Growing your own vegetable garden or raising a coop of chickens for eggs gives you a sense of pride in providing food for yourself. But, what if you don’t have access to home-grown food? No grocery store down the street. No organic section to shop from. Imagine not knowing where your next meal will come from.

The USANA True Health Foundation last visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia in February of 2018 for a service trip. Members of the Foundation experienced a very different side of “the pearl of Asia.” One in need of reliable food sources. For years, this was reality for families in a village tucked away from the metropolitan buzz of Cambodia’s capital city. Since then, generous people, like you, have donated wholeheartedly to the Foundation, and your gifts are growing—literally. 

Gardens to Feed a Family

Over the last few months, 55 vegetable gardens have stretched their roots deep and flourished in Phnom Penh soil. Thanks to donations, partnership with the Foundation, and dedicated volunteers, our partner, FCOP International, has purchased new garden plots, soil, fertilizer, seeds, gardening tools, and fencing to keep the gardens growing and safe. With these tools and tilled soil, the gardens will be sustainable for the next several years.

Children eating from these gardens are flourishing. Healthy, home-grown nutrients from the garden-fresh vegetables are fueling their bodies as they learn how to plan and care for the crops. And the interest in agriculture is growing. As new gardens are planted, seeds are taking root in the families around them. People are developing an interest in farming, taking ownership and responsibility to care for their gardens. This success provided 55 homes at least two meals a day where they can eat fresh vegetables for the first time.

Animal Farm to Table

Livestock farms are also expanding across the town. A multitude of pigs, cattle, ducks, chickens, goats, and fish are in various locations throughout the city. Thanks to restocking existing fish ponds and digging new ones, prahoak (a beloved fermented fish dish) is served abundantly and even stored for later meals. Families are actively preparing food for the future.

Now, people in these villages not only have fresh vegetables to eat, but thanks to the successful animal farms, they also have a vital protein source at least once a day. Poultry, cattle, even frogs, are creating a whole new menu to provide essential energy for these families. Some families have been able to purchase both a male and female pig and are now caring for litters of piglets. As the animal farms continue to grow, additional livestock will be sold. This income will contribute to school uniforms, clothing, and other necessities for the children.

Sustainability to Last a Lifetime

Today, Phnom Penh thrives with a new sense of hope, new enterprises, and new means of sustainability. Gardening and animal farm projects are teaching FCOPI staff and children the importance of caring for something and planning for the future. Compassion is spreading, planting seeds of encouragement and growing sustainable lives for people who deserve a high quality of life. 

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