Help expand "Young Smart Farmers" organic gardens

by Warm Heart Worldwide, Inc
Help expand "Young Smart Farmers" organic gardens
Help expand "Young Smart Farmers" organic gardens
Help expand "Young Smart Farmers" organic gardens
Help expand "Young Smart Farmers" organic gardens
Help expand "Young Smart Farmers" organic gardens
Help expand "Young Smart Farmers" organic gardens
Trying out the cucumbers
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
Daily temperature check before school
Preparing the soil with biochar fertilizer
Preparing the soil with biochar fertilizer
The vines are as high as ...
The vines are as high as ...
Canteen improvement - New washing stations
Canteen improvement - New washing stations
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Boys weeding and prepping the plots
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
Girls water the fields after school
Making bio fertilizer
Making bio fertilizer
Lettuce from one of the new plots
Lettuce from one of the new plots
Fixing the dorm bunk beds
Fixing the dorm bunk beds
New crop started in the blue net
New crop started in the blue net
All hands needed to clean the gutters
All hands needed to clean the gutters
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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

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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

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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

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Organization Information

Warm Heart Worldwide, Inc

Location: Phrao, Chiang Mai - Thailand
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @WarmHeartOrg
Project Leader:
Carol De Leo
Phrao, Chiang Mai Thailand
$20,583 raised of $45,000 goal
205 donations
$24,417 to go
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