Have you ever dreamed of living in a community of like-minded people, working in a beautiful garden, learning new things every day, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and trying to become as self-sufficient as possible? Do you feel like going back to the roots, to a more simple lifestyle, in cohesion with Nature? Join us as a volunteer and experience all of this!
We are a young project (March 2018) that aims to create a place where people can reconnect with themselves, others and Nature, far from the craziness of the city. Our main focus points of development are:
- Permaculture garden: It’s our main focus. To develop agriculture, respecting environment, without using chemical products.
- Cashew nuts: Our farm is based on a cashew orchard and that’s a product we want to value. Cashew juice, cashew nuts, cashew cheese…
- Other natural products: From our field (as moringa powder, soap, peanut butter, turmeric powder, mango products, coconut products, natural colors…)
- Mushrooms growing: We have experience in cultivating Oyster mushrooms and are interested in expanding to other varieties like Shiitake.
- Community + Khmer Family Life: Volunteers coming from all over the world and Khmer people, living as one big family.
- Sustainability: We do our best to live in a sustainable way, respecting nature and reusing available resources. Awareness of sustainability is promoted in our everyday activities.
- Natural building: We start with a few mud-houses, benches, oven, natural swimming pool…
- Solidarity project: Teaching English to the children of the village, used to be one of our main social activities. We are now developing a social project linked to our main focuses (promoting art, awareness about the environment…).
- Body care and mind awareness: Meditation and yoga are valued.
- Art is promoted everywhere in Nakupenda: Painting, singing, dancing, theatre, writing… We really want our place to be a center of arts. Writing poetry, songs, quotes – in the field.
- Research about plants: We want to improve our knowledge about plants, their use, their interests for our health.
The owners and creators of this place – Denis and Singyi, a Belgian-Khmer couple – went back to Belgium for several months to support the project financially. Therefore it is now Sinya (sister of Singyi) who is in charge of the place, with the help of her parents who also live on the land. But the ones who truly make this place alive are YOU – the volunteers! Ever since we started to host people the dynamic of the project has changed a lot, and we love to see the wonderful things we can achieve when people from all over the world come together. We like the idea that everybody can make the project its own somehow, so we care a lot about feedback and ideas from volunteers.
We grow organic vegetables, mushrooms, and fruits but we aren’t self-sufficient in food yet, so we want to develop our gardening skills to get there as soon as possible – we are however 100% self-sufficient in electricity (solar panels) and water (from rain and a bore well). During the first year of the project, we have built three earth houses, a cob oven, and a solar dehydrator. We also have composting toilets and an ecobrick station to reduce our waste. As for leisure time, we have a natural swimming pool, a fire pit, games (pétanque, table tennis, table football…), bikes, books and hammocks to nap in. Finally, we have a small shop at the entrance of the farm in which you will find the bare necessities as well as snacks and drinks.
Please read carefully our full description so we are clear about how we will evolve together.
What to expect
By staying with us, volunteers may experience the following activities:
Gardening, mushroom production, and natural building, our main activities:
- Gardening work (watering, planting, mulching, weeding, preparing compost, improving the quality of the soil)
- Natural building techniques (when we are building new bungalows, benches, place to stay, oven)
- Collecting cashew nuts (from February to May)
- Mushroom growing activities
Community life and Khmer life :
- Cooking activities (meals are prepared by volunteers),
- Yoga and meditation
- Research about plants
- Artistic activities (art is everywhere, in the garden, natural colors, in our paintings, in our music, poetry…)
- Awareness about our natural resources, about our solar energy, about our water system, about recycling (plastic trash into ecobricks, old clothes into sponges, etc.)
- Activities with Khmer family
Solidarity (with a special focus on our main activities: permaculture, mushroom, art, meditation…)
- With the people of our village
- With people without any economical resources
- With people who are facing family violence
- With people suffering around the world
Please consider that in volunteering with us you will be joining a community, which means that the ‘work’ won’t end on the field. Taking care of the household, the tools and the animals (we have 4 dogs, 4 cats, and a dozen chickens), respecting the timetable and helping each other all day long are essential for all of us to enjoy our time here and live happily together. Furthermore, we expect everyone to consume as mindfully as possible – whether it’s food, water or any kind of supplies. If you’re not willing to actively participate in this, there are plenty of projects you can join elsewhere. We want to make sure that we gather people who have the same mindset and ecological values.
We are progressively implementing the permaculture principles. We are also very influenced by the Buddhist philosophy and interested in developing a meditation / yoga practice in our project – if you have experience in either of these and are willing to guide the group during your stay, you are more than welcome to do so!
We expect volunteers to help 5 hours per day, 5.5 days a week. Saturday afternoon and Sunday are off for everybody, during these two days you can either go out to explore the local area or stay on the farm and participate in some extra activities.
SHORT TERM – We ask for a stay of 2 weeks, that can be extended longer after discussion depending on how you feel with us and how we feel with you. Please be honest with yourself about how much time you can commit, or consider applying another time.
LONG TERM – After 2 weeks at the farm, some volunteers, with solid experience or background want to develop their skills. They can apply to become mid/long term volunteers: we need volunteers in the following topics: gardening, natural products, mushrooms growing, natural building, beekeeping, art, organization/administration, and meditation/yoga. Minimum commitment of 2 months, extra advantages (visa extension fee offered, private room, team-leader position, pocket money…) – if you are interested and have any question, feel free to ask!
Accommodation / Daily life
Volunteers will sleep in a dormitory, inside our home (see the big house in the picture). We provide bed sheets, blankets, pillowcases and mosquito nets for everybody. Please consider that the mattresses we have are thin (Asian standard), so if you absolutely need a comfy and fluffy bed to sleep you might want to look elsewhere. Fans are available during daytime only as we turn off the electricity at night, from 9 pm to 7 am approximately.
Here’s an idea of the daily schedule:
- 6 am to 6:30 am: wake-up, prepare breakfast
- 6:30 am: Water the garden
- 7 – 8 am: breakfast (coffee/tea, peanuts, fruits from our farm)
- 8 am to 10:30 am: work activities
- 10:30 am to 12 pm: prepare lunch, or yoga and meditation
- 12 pm: lunch
- 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm: work activities.
- 6 pm – 7 pm yoga and meditation
- 7 pm: dinner
- 8 pm: daily meeting
- 8:30 pm: free time
- 10:30 pm: silent time, bedtime
We also organize the following weekly activities:
- Monday: collaborative meeting, tour of the farm for new volunteers
- Tuesday: Khmer cooking
- Thursday: tofu making
- Friday: feedback session, sharing circle around the fire
To make your stay more enjoyable, here are a few things that we suggest you to bring:
- natural mosquito repellent, soap, laundry detergent (liquid detergent or bar soap are better for the soil than washing powder), and eco-friendly toiletries
- clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty, stained or holed
- musical instruments
- card or board games
- external battery
- headlight / lamp
In exchange for the daily work, we offer free accommodation and 3 meals/day – usually vegan or vegetarian. If you have any food restriction or allergy, please let us know so we can find an arrangement.
We have Wi-Fi on the farm (only 1 or 2 hours/day, a good opportunity for you to do a digital detox!)
IMPORTANT – We want our farm to be a place where people can distance themselves from any kind of addiction and get a healthier lifestyle – showing our kids a better example at the same time – therefore drinking alcohol and using drugs are not allowed here. When selecting volunteers, we will give preference to non-smokers.
Cultural / learning experience
Volunteers will live and work with a Khmer woman (Sinya, the project director) and a group of volunteers from all around the world (maximum 10-15). They might also interact with Sinya’s parents, daughter, and nephew – even though they don’t speak English – as well as kids from the village. We have hosted a few Cambodian volunteers and want to have more in the future to develop interaction between locals and foreigners. We still do our best to share the Khmer culture and encourage volunteers to explore the area in their free time to get a feel of the local life.
Other than that, volunteers will have the opportunity to learn about gardening / permaculture, mushrooms cultivation, natural building, cooking (making tofu, Khmer recipes) and many other things depending on other people present at the same time – volunteers don’t only learn from us but also from each other.
We don’t ask any money from our volunteers because we want all kinds of travelers to be able to join us. But since our project doesn’t have any source of income yet, we have decided to put up a donation box so that people who want to help us further have an opportunity to do so. The money will be used to buy tools or supplies that we need for different activities.
We welcome new volunteers every Monday and ask our usual tuk-tuk driver to pick them up at the durian roundabout in Kampot at 2 pm – the price for the ride is 13 dollars, shared between the number of volunteers coming that day. If you travel by your own means, we will send you the exact location on Google Maps.
On the day off, we can arrange a tuk-tuk for the volunteers who want to go to Kampot, Kep, or the local sightseeing attractions (more information below). We also have an automatic motorbike (only for people with driving experience) and 2 bicycles available for rent.
Here are the main sightseeing attractions in our area:
- a small village – 3km away
- the not-so-secret Secret Lake – 9km away
- a temple cave – 12km away
- pepper farms – 13km and 15km away