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Quarterly Report – Young Smart Farmers

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May 23, 2021

Not a Typical Year

Lot of long beans

Thailand typically has 3 seasons: Winter (Nov – Feb), Summer (Mar – June), and Monsoon Rainy Season (July – Oct). 

Our summer has been very hot this year. 

Local weather conditions influenced by climate change brought early rains at the end of April and the beginning of May. 

This extra rain provided a boost to our gardens with an increase of produce. The children and staff have been harvesting bumper crops of long beans, lettuce, eggplants, tomatoes, and cucumbers. The children and staff have been enjoying some delicious salads.   

The early rain was a nice bonus, but they are predicting this is going to be the wettest Monsoon season in 30 years. We may be facing floods this year. 

Expanded Farming

Warm Heart has added chickens to the Young Smart Farmer’s project, and a few pigs.

The new chickens have adjusted to their environment. and they are laying delicious eggs.

Through a generous grant from the British Community in Thailand Fund for the Needy we were able to upgrade the pigpens and now have six black mountain pigs. 

We use a portion of our food scraps for our composting project, and feed the rest to the pigs. Their manure will help enrich our soils.

Learning Business Skills

The kids are learning the economics of raising chickens. They had to borrow to get the chickens, and they pay back the feed costs through sales of excess eggs to staff and neighbors. 

Excess produce is sold in the community, helping them learn how to run a business. They take orders from the neighbors, package and deliver the requested produce. The money from sales goes towards seeds and supplies.

Enjoying the Rewards

The children enjoy all the wonderful fresh food they have harvested. Besides the many delicious salads, they particularly like the chilis.   

Most of the recipes that the staff and children eat have a good portion of homegrown chilis to add the flavor of home. The chilis help cool everyone off as they sweat, and comment how “hot the food is” before taking another big bite. 

We are waiting for our mango trees to ripen. The mango trees are getting old and we’re discussing replacing them.

While we wait, our neighbor brings lichees for the children to enjoy.

Our children are benefiting in so many ways from the Smart Young Farmer’s program, and we hope to continue to expand. We appreciate your support of this very important project for the kids and for Warm Heart.

Hugs of appreciation,

Evelind, Michael, Dana, and the Smart Young Farmer’s team

Our pigs
Weeding a new garden

January 25, 2021

Great Harvest Is In. Time for Chickens

Many different beans to harvest

The rainy season ended in October and the children and staff reaped a diverse harvest with multiple types of beans, eggplants, squash, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, and lots of greens.  Eggplants, for example, come in green, white, and purples, as little round balls, long and thin or conventional, large.  Hot peppers are a mainstay, but a few sweet peppers make their way into the mix. Extra lemongrass can be sold to a local restaurant that likes our organic produce. The lime trees are steady producers now and save us buying them, which is good because they are used in many dishes.

Plans are in place to replace the farm animals. We delayed replacing the laying chickens when our supplier’s flocks became ill. The pigpens needed repairs. Now, the chicken coop has been cleaned out, the netting repaired and 30 healthy new hens arrived.  The pig pens have been stripped of decaying wood and are being repaired for new arrivals.

With the dry season, weekly planning sessions confirm agreements on the new plots to be prepared and the seeds to be purchased for seedlings.  The staff and children are out repairing fencing, re-laying irrigation hoses, and setting the seeds to sprout.

With the success of the recent harvest, the plans are to increase the number of beds and target a few crops for sale.

Farming is a never-ending set of tasks to prepare and maintain the fields, but the yield is nutritious, nourishing, and delicious!

Your ongoing commitment to the farm is increasing the yields, ensuring that the children are well fed.  With full stomachs, they are studying well and dreaming of full lives ahead. Thank you!

Planting and weeding
New laying hens have arrived

September 28, 2020

Back to School (Sort of) with the Rains

Trying out the cucumbers

School started six weeks late on July 1. Masks and gloves and daily temperature checks before being allowed into the school building. Half our kids went to school on any one day, as the school started a split schedule to reduce overcrowding in the classrooms. Once school had been underway for a couple of months with no new virus cases, they went back to all the kids in school at once. University students have a hybrid of online and in-person classes.

We had our first group of four vocational college students graduate in March, just as the lockdown started. With all the restaurants and hotels shut down, jobs were scarce. They have all come home at some point to get encouragement and job search coaching and then headed back to the city. They all found jobs that will keep them going until things open up again.

We started the new school year with close to forty children living at the Children’s Homes and another 45 off-campus (15 away at vocational high school and university and 30 at our partner hill tribe elementary school in Phrao).

It was the rainy season, so the gardens needed to be planted and the initial crops harvested. There were lots of peppers and cucumbers and some of the fruit trees were bearing rose apples, “custard apples”, longan and lemons and limes. The mangoes were eaten green before the children had climbed down the trees to pick them.

Thailand has had tight travel restrictions and has kept the COVID cases very low. But the rainy season brings more mosquitoes. Despite all our efforts to keep the grass cut and scout out any pools of water, we ended up with a case of Dengue Fever. Phrao Public Health descended with pesticide fogging machines and advised us to cut most of our bamboo stands near the living quarters. This work was done during the day when the children were away at school so that the fog could clear, but they came home to all the tree debris.

One canteen improvement, requested by the children, were five new outdoor sinks next to the kitchen to speed up hand and dishwashing.

Thanks for your enduring support! The children are getting nutritious food and studying well, and we can keep them washing the germs away to stay healthy!

Daily temperature check before school
Preparing the soil with biochar fertilizer
The vines are as high as …
Canteen improvement – New washing stations

June 2, 2020

School is out, Lockdown on the farm

Boys weeding and prepping the plots

Your investment in the farm and the children are visible in the new farm plots and the fresh vegetables we can put on the table.  We are seeing the output rising steadily and our soil is improving with use and added homemade biochar soil amendments and biofertilizers. 

The  COVID19 shutdowns started in March in Chiang Mai.  First, any child with a fever or cold was sent home and we had almost a full house because it was the weather transition for cool winters to hot spring and the child and staff were catching colds. 

Luckily they were just colds and we had everyone well by the time school year ended in mid-March.  Some children went up to the mountains to help in their villages during the hot, dry school break. 

We always have our core of children that stay year-round – no families to go home to; they are ours.  We were feeding about 20 people a day and then the shutdowns started at the hotels and universities. So we have leveled out at around 30 mouths to feed, 90 meals a day.  

We’ve quarantined anyone coming back from the cities and our neighbor is the village monitor for any visitors to the area, brandishing his thermal thermometer.  For all of April and May, everyone stayed in place and settled into a routine.

Every day the children have a schedule that includes working with their tutors to stay on top of their Thai language and math skills.  They study English with one of our volunteers and they help work on the farm. There are plenty of chores to go around with annual facility maintenance and preparing the farm for the rainy season coming in June.

The clothes drying sheds were re-built, along with repairs to the dorms and bathrooms.  The gutters on all the buildings were cleaned out, along with the fish pond.  We discovered the reason for low water flow- roots had taken hold in the water pipes!

In preparation for the planting season, we’ve made lots of compost with kitchen scraps, leaves, clippings, and added biochar to help he process along.  In the dry months we;ve had a crop of tomatoes and plenty of eggplant and chilies and garlic.  New small plots tucked around the dorms and kitchen yield lots of lettuce for salads.  We have enough to share with our elderly and disabled neighbors and trade with other farmers.

We’re all looking forward to the travel restrictions being loosened and the return of the children for the new school year due to start July 1.  

We hope you have been safe and well.  Many thanks from all the children and staff at Warm Heart for your enduring support!

Girls water the fields after school
Making bio fertilizer
Lettuce from one of the new plots
Fixing the dorm bunk beds
New crop started in the blue net
All hands needed to clean the gutters

February 3, 2020

Dry Season Is Here

The rainy season is over and the children and farm staff are preparing for several months of hot, dry weather.  They are covering the open beds to protect the soil and setting up kitchen gardens close to ponds and greywater from washing.

We had a good run of vegetables for the garden and the cooler has been put to good use.  We grew long green beans, lots of garlic and spring onions, eggplants in many varieties. The staff has been learning how to make tomato sauce from all our extra tomatoes. The children love spaghetti as a treat with the fresh tomatoes.

It has been a very rewarding experience watching the children learn how to grow their own food. This is a skill that will last them a lifetime. Sustainable farming practices help ensure food security for our children, and their future families as they grow.

The children are also learning about biochar, how important it is to make biochar with crop waste and return the biochar back to the soil. Keeping the soils healthy and alive leads to better crop production and higher quality foods.

“When we grow our own vegetables we know they have no chemicals and they taste good.”

“I learned to make biofertilizer and a natural weed killer in school and now we use them in our gardens.”

Nuey Age 15

November 7. 2019

Reaping the Rewards

One of the best outcomes of this project is the knowledge the children are gaining about organic gardening. This is a skill set that will last them a lifetime and provide them the tools they need to help feed themselves and their families for years to come.

Our Young Smart Farmers are reaping the rewards of their dedication and hard work! It is so exciting to see their proud faces as they harvest their crops.

We are constantly working on expanding the gardens and providing new ideas for improving our growing methods.

We had one donor fund a special project working with blue net. It creates a growing area that is free from flying pests. (We have learned it does not protect from ants, who came in and stole our first crop of peanuts!)

We are also exploring greenhouses and vertical gardening. We will keep you up to date on progress we make with these new expansions of our children’s organic gardens.

Thank you for your support, it means so much to all of our children, especially at dinner time when they are able to enjoy food that they grew themselves!

We are grateful for your past donations, and hope you will continue to help us expand our gardens!

Evelind and Michael

August 12, 2019

Time to chill!

Rains have finally come and the children are excited to plant their new crops in their gardens.

We look forward to a variety of fresh foods come harvest time!

Which means it is time to put the finishing touches on our cold room construction.

We are very excited about the prototype cool storage design we are testing.  Our Styrofoam bricks and cement provide so many benefits. Cheap, sustainable, environmentally friendly way to recycle Styrofoam through creation of multiple beneficial uses!

We are exploring other cheap, replicable, mobile “cool storage” containers. Keeping newly harvested foods fresh is a challenge for many farmers. With mobile cold storage availability, farmers would be able expand their market reach.

Our testing is showing very encouraging results. So good in fact we are considering the possibility of setting up a “Cool Storage Sustainable Social Enterprise”. This way many more people would be able to benefit. So keep an eye out for more updates on this exciting emerging project!

In the meantime, we have almost hit our funding goal for our Smart Young Farmers. Our choice is to end the project or increase the fundraising amount we need.

We are just getting started!

Our garden’s can continue to expand, offering a wealth of opportunity for organic gardening experience for the kids.

How far can they take it?

Will they get to a point where leadership emerges and excess harvest can be turned into a business for the children? 

Why would we stop now!

This also provides the opportunity to continue to develop the cold storage possibilities utilizing Styrofoam bricks and concrete.

August 12-16 GlobalGiving is sponsoring their Little by Little campaign. Now is the time to send us a message. Your small donation will go farther, and we will know we have your continued support to see this project through as far as it can go!

Thank you for your support,

Michael and Evelind

May 13, 2019

Waiting for the Rain

Our Young Smart Farmers are anxiously awaiting the rains so they can begin to plant the next crops. Each child has his/her own plot of land with their name on it. Every single child living at Warm Heart is involved and excited about their organic gardens.

How they work their plots is up to them. Some may work in teams and share the work of their combined plots, others will choose to work individually. 

When the time comes to reap their labor of love we will be ready for them!

Our new kitchen project is almost completed. The last stage is to finish the “cooler” rooms. They are both framed and ready for insulation. One will be used to store rice, the second room will be for storing fresh vegetables and other perishables.

We sincerely appreciate everyone’s help to make this dream a reality. We are very close to completely funding the project!

If the rains don’t come soon, we may have to organize a community wide rain dance!

February 28, 2019

Fruits of your generosity and their labor

We are still reeling from the generosity you all showed during out recent Smart Young Farmers campaign.

Giddy as we may be, however, we have been hard at work. The children’s gardens have spread like ivy. Virtually every open sunny space is now lined, rank upon rank, with beautiful heads of lettuce, elegant garlic tops, spreading squash leaves or emerging onion shoots. Every Saturday at dawn – before it gets too hot – the fields are full of kids, laughter and a lot of weed throwing and water spraying.

As for the new kitchen cold room, the money has arrived and the plans are in the hands of the contractor to confirm the design and budget.  The new cold room to store the gardens’ bounty is the talk of the staff. The design calls for a sub-floor, external walls and roof made of the Styrofoam cement we use to make bricks for construction. (The inside will be lined with hard foam insulation) The kids are all excited that construction is about to start since there will otherwise be a lot of lettuce to eat all at once.

It has been a terrific experience for the kids, they have learned so much about how to grow their own food, a valuable skill that will last them a lifetime. Both the boys and girls have participated in this project.

Our girls, however, have higher inspirations. They are working hard in school, hoping to continue on with higher education to pursue their individual dreams. When GlobalGiving announced their Girls Fund competition we knew we had to enter. We are always scrambling to cover the cost of higher education for these high achievers.

Our new campaign Empower Young Girls to Achieve a Successful Career  kicks off today and runs for two weeks. We are vying for one of the top spots to win funding for one year from GlobalGiving’s ongoing Girls Fund campaign. Each donation counts as a vote, whether it is a $10 donation, or a $1,000 donation. So we are going after the ”votes”, and asking all of our friends to make a $10 donation to our project to help us win. We would appreciate your “vote” as well.  

P.S. Thank you for your support, it means the world to us.

December 3, 2018

You Helped Fund Young Smart Farmers Project in Record Time!

You Are Simply Amazing! Thank you!

On November 27th, GivingTuesday, we launched our Giving Season campaign through GlobalGiving. We had 3 goals, and we reached all 3 in the first 24 hours!

Goal 1 – Raise $7,500 so we could finally do a much needed remodel on our kitchen. One of the motivations for moving this project to the top of our list was to support the burgeoning Young Smart Farmers project here at Warm Heart. With your help we will be able to extend our kitchen, add refrigeration and storage space. We will now be able safely store and use the wonderful bounty harvested from the Young Smart Farmers project. The kids are learning a great skill, and feel positive and excited about being able to contribute fresh food to our kitchen. Thank you!

Goal 2 – Win a GlobalGiving Bonus – Launch day of the Giving Season was also a GlobalGiving sponsored contest, with cash awards  We came in 4th and were awarded a $1,000 bonus!

Goal 3 – Qualify to become a permanent member of the Global Giving Community – we had until December 31 to have 40 donors raise a minimum of $5,000. In the first 24 hours we had 61 donors contribute $7,855.

Since we met our target so quickly, we are able to expand our original goal.

Our greatest need is always to cover the expense of our Children’s Homes. 

We cover a portion of costs through a Sponsorship Program, but not every child has a sponsor, and sponsorship does not cover all costs (i.e. medical emergencies and dental issues). So we appeal to people like you, who enjoy the warm glow feeling that comes from knowing you are actually making a difference in a child’s life. We do all the hard day to day work, but we could not do it without your help.

Thank you for helping with the success of Young Smart Farmers project. We are so grateful and excited to complete our project!

You can help even further by sharing on your social media our new campaign to raise additional funds for the children:
 Become a Beacon of Hope for One Child
 December 12 will be another Bonus Day at Global Giving, and we will again be asking your help to spread the word on that day to help boost our reach and earn more Bonus Money.

Thank you for all of your generous support. We are very grateful.

Michael and Evelind

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