Nakupenda is a love story – it literally means “I love you” in Swahili. A love story between the Khmer and European cultures. A love story between mankind and nature.

We are a young project that mixes permaculture farming with community living. In our place, we grow together by sharing knowledge and experience with each other. We respect nature and all living beings, and are on our way to a self-sufficient lifestyle.

Our values

  • Respect
    This is the basis of everything for us. We deeply care about respecting other people, their points of view and beliefs, respecting nature and all form of life, and respecting ourselves. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. 
  • Love
    We consider sharing love around us as one of our primary missions. It is in every act we do, in the words we say and in the energy we put in the world. We love deeply, freely and joyfully!
  • Open-mindedness
    We always do our best to keep an open mind and open heart, as we believe that no one holds the truth and that there is always room for growth and improvement. We take every feedback and idea into consideration and like to try doing things differently.
  • Non judgement
    This one goes along with the previous point, as there cannot be true open-mindness without being non judgmental. Just because something is different doesn’t mean it’s better or worse, it just means ‘different’ and deserves all of our respect.
  • Team spirit
    There is something very beautiful happening when we all come and work together. Each member matters and brings value to the team, and teamwork awakes motivation and a sense of purpose in each member.
  • Trust
    We welcome people in our farm and our home trusting that they will have an appropriate behavior. We also trust our volunteers to do the required amount of work and believe that it empowers them to be self-responsible.
  • Freedom
    In Nakupenda, everyone is free – to express themselves, to share ideas, to leave, to build something new, to rest, to be. We will never force someone to do something that they’re not willing / comfortable doing.
  • Fun
    We love to have fun around the house! Dancing, singing, playing all kinds of games. “If you are too serious about everything, you will only know thoughts and emotions. You will not know life.” – Sadhguru

How it started

Originally, Nakupenda is the fruit of a friendship between two couples, Singyi-Denis and Virginie-Bruno, who used to live in Cambodia between 2007 and 2011. They shared the same desire to live differently, more aware of the importance of solidarity and respect for the Earth, and decided to create something together.

The project became true at the end of 2014, when a land with many cashew trees and surrounded by mountains was bought in the countryside of Kampot. Singyi’s father then started to live on the field and to plant the first trees.

In March 2016, Virginie and Bruno got involved in another adventure in Belgium and Singyi and Denis decided to keep developing a project on their own. They had been working for NGOs, where their illusions got crushed, and really wanted to offer an alternative. Cambodia was changing very quickly, trying to rebuild itself after the Pol Pot regime and many chaotic political situations, but was mainly focused on economical growth. Their intention was to focus on the strengths of Cambodia: its human and artistic resources.

Developing the vision

Singyi gave a big impulse to the project in July 2016 and the project took a social turn. The idea became to build a community of cambodian women who live together in an ecological project, while rebuilding themselves after violence and all kinds of abuse.

In September 2016, more members of Singyi’s family joined the project: her mother and her sister Sinya moved into the house and continued to develop the potential of the land by digging ponds and planting more trees (coconut, mango, avocado, …).

In the meantime, Singyi and Denis were travelling, meeting spiritual people, builders and artists, visiting communities, ashrams, ecological guesthouses and retreat centers. Everybody and everything inspired them. Until finally, in 2017, they decided to move back to Cambodia to develop the project directly from the field.

In January 2018, Marie and Benoît – two experienced gardeners that Singyi and Denis met during their stay in the Avioth community in France – came to help. Their presence and ideas confirmed the will to use permaculture techniques and principles in the garden and the vision of becoming some kind of ecovillage.

Growing community

A few months later, in March 2018, the first volunteers came: Aurélia and Hadrien. Soon followed by Pierre-Louis, the first long-term volunteer. He helped the family to manage the project for several months and subscribed it on social platforms – Facebook, Workaway and HelpX. Volunteers then started to join from all over the world and Nakupenda switched from a family project to an international community.

Thanks to them, many ideas were developed: beehives (Éric), cashew juice (Lena), natural building (Etienne), firepit (Alex and Julie), cob oven (Aurélien and Amandine), plant research / naturopathy (Martin), collective artwork (Etienne), cashew cheese (Nastasia), crowdfunding (Robin), sharing circle (Julie), ecobricks (Eva), chickens backyard (James), etc.

In April 2018, Julie joined as a normal volunteer but quickly decided to stay longer – she shared the same values, and was looking for a place like this to get involved in. Former IT expert, she created this website and improved the social media presence of the farm. She also brought more structure and was for 9 months our project coordinator, managing the farm activities in collaboration with Sinya and taking care of the volunteers and the animals.

Eager to learn about permaculture in tropical climate, Sinya and Singyi went to Thailand in September 2018 to follow a Permaculture Design Course (combined with a Natural Building Course) in an inspiring project called Rak Tamachat.

Inspiration

As you can read in the above section, a project like Nakupenda wasn’t created in one day. We were inspired – and continue to be – by many projects / people with similar values: