VSA1303 Agriculture Camp - Songkhla

Our short term workcamp was split into two periods. We spent the first week in an organic farm near SongKhla owned by the friendly Kumnung. Besides experiencing the genuine local lifestyle, we learnt a lot about Thai farming technics. To do that, we visited several Kumnung friends’ farms who showed us the different varieties of vegetables, plants and fruits. An amazing memory was to pick some mangosteen up and eat them straight away; enjoying their sweet taste. Kumnung cultivates many eatable things but also rubber trees. These trees are very common in the region and provide a part of the farmer’s salary. That is why we help our host out by putting some fertilizer throughout the rubber plantation after digging appropriate holes. This task was physically hard but we organized our work efficiently which allows our great team to head the Samila beach earlier and rest a bit. And one day, due to the heat, Kumnung suggested to make our own natural soap and shampoo stemmed from his garden plants. We were all delighted to get a lovely soap wrapped in a banana leave and ready to be used or given as a present.

Even if our work camp was focused on agricultural aspects, we became mason for two days and built up two rice containers. This was a funny experience without saying that obviously everybody learnt

from each other. The weekend was really diverting and we all had great fun swimming in the Hat Yai waterfalls.

In addition, our thai volunteers showed us how to cook exquisite local food full of aromatic herbs and plants grown in the garden.

We ended up making an outstanding barbecue shared with Kumnung’s family. The great thing about this week spent near SongKhla is that we had many contacts with le local people. For example, we went to many small markets or visited temples and we even played volley ball with teenagers who admired the sportive skills of some of the European volunteers.

We moved into the Peace village for the second and last week. After making ourselves comfortable, the farming activities started again. Everything we had learnt from Kumnung was about to be applied here to develop the organic gardens. Firstly, we spotted every plant which was planted before in order to water them and decide what we should do next. As soil was dramatically dried we had to turn these dying garden beds into fertile lands. This task was a long and laborious work but it is worth it considering long term project and we were all aware of that. Seeing the eggplant seedlings and the clean garden was already a great reward.

Additionally, we decided to fix the dormitory’s floor where boards were missing. Another building item was the construction of a solid bridge leading to the organic garden, behind the bungalows. Therefore, it is now easier to take care of the vegetables planted there. At last, we thought it would be clever to take advantage of the land adjacent to the kitchen. The transformation of this no man’s land into a flourishing garden is unbelievable. We hope that the next volunteers will take good care of this place and enjoy the produces.

To conclude, the Peace Village is a wonderful place to live and to get the chance to meet people from other programs. Cleaning, making food and laughing together strengthened ties between the volunteers. This experience, brand new for most of us, taught us a lot, such as patience and tolerance. For all these reasons, we are all grateful to VSA and wish you the best in the future!

Agriculture Campers

4-16 February 2013