The School Lunch Farm
PDA has created dozens of “school lunch farms” around rural Thailand,
including in the Tsunami-affected communities of Krabi and Phang Nga provinces.
The school lunch farm program builds small crop plots within the rural
schools to be used in school lunches and as an additional source of income.
School lunch farms are a sustainable answer to food shortages at school
and at home.
The entire community takes ownership of the project: village members
volunteer their labor to set up farm infrastructure, students cultivate
the crops and raise the animals, and parents and teachers provide guidance
and training. Each school also has subcommittees composed of parents,
teachers, and students who oversee different kinds of farm activities.
Farming is even integrated into the educational curriculum so that students
are graded on their care of the farms, and they learn important lessons
about responsibility. Some of the food, which includes vegetables, herbs,
mushrooms, fish, and poultry, is used for school lunches and the surplus
is sold to buy more expensive items such as rice or to invest in the next
cycle of crops and animals. The farms are incredibly environmentally-friendly,
utilizing organic fertilizer and bicycle-powered or rainwater-based irrigation
systems. School communities reap tangible benefits from the farms in terms
of income and food, but they also feel a heightened sense of self-sufficiency
and empowerment upon seeing their own hard work transform into reality.