Organic vegetables are becoming more readily available in Siem Reap and as a society we are becoming more conscious about what chemicals we put into our bodies. We took a look behind the scenes at Happy + Co Farm, to find out what goes on and why chemical-free produce is so much better than non-organically farmed food!
You have probably already been eating their produce at many of the hotels and cafes around town or seen it in the supermarket. The home delivery service is growing and is the perfect system for delivering plastic free produce to your door. And finally, they have recently opened a Happy + Co Store on Street 26, so you can go as you need to pick up fresh produce and other products that they stock (like Jiva probiotic drinks for good gut health!).
“We don’t want plastic and we just want to clean our country” said Sokha Khut, Happy + Co’s farm manager.
Why it is Better to Eat Organic Vegetables
On the farm only compost is used for fertilizer and natural airflow systems are used to moderate the temperature of the greenhouses.
It’s been a long journey to get the farm into the condition it’s in today, but then perfection is rarely achieved overnight. The goals at Happy + Co Farm are simple: good farming, no chemicals or pollutants (ie plastic) and taking care of their people; employees, their families and the wider community.
All of this dedication and hard work means wonderfully fresh, chemical free vegetables and fruit are available to businesses and households in Siem Reap.
It’s not just ourselves we should be concerned about; it is also for the farmers. As many as 90% of farmers have been poisoned by using chemical fertilizers on their farms.
Sokha Khut, Happy + Co’s farm manager, explained that it’s also bad for the soil. They had to back fill their land twice to improve the basic soil quality. They spent 2-3 years just to ensure that the quality of the soil was vastly improved by making organic compost and gradually bringing the soil up to standard.
For many farms, the soil is bad and when used with chemical fertilizers, after only a few years, the farmers cannot grow anything.
With organic farming; using compost and screened greenhouses to protect the crops from insects, the soil will continue to get better and better.
The range of produce is growing too! Currently there is a huge selection of lettuces, herbs, cucumber, pumpkin, green peppers, eggplants and mangoes, amongst others. Soon you will see yellow and red peppers too, bananas and tomatoes.
Sokha said “sometimes the food is ugly, but it’s much better for you!”. Because it’s all natural, it just is how it is, they can’t control the appearance.
They have no fences around the farm as they really want to invite the community to be part of the Happy + Co family. They will teach local farmers about organic and chemical-free farming, which is already gaining interest, as the results of the farm are clearly outstanding!
Many of the staff employed at Happy + Co Farm were previously migratory workers who would travel to and from Thailand for work for 3 months at a time. This was disruptive to their children’s education. By having stable jobs at the farm, their children have a chance for a better future by staying in school for the full year.
What will the Future Bring for Happy + Co?
Sokha has a humble attitude to this incredible farm and he is excited about the future, with ideas to introduce cows to help with their natural fertilizer, and even a forest to surround the farm! He’d like to have farm tours, a café and a restaurant as well.
Keep your eye out for these developments!
Happy + Co Farm shop is on Street 26, on the right hand side just past Treehouse Nursery.