It’s a week of hands-on training and continuing farm development.
When the farm started a year ago, the Orang Asli had no farming nor team work experience. It was a steep learning curve from Day 1. To empower them towards being professional farmers, a series of workshops are planned to plug in their knowledge gaps.
The first in this series was a very interactive session led by Errol, our organic consultant, to help the farmers understand disease carriers, causes, prevention and cures, and the use of Effective Microbes (EM) on the farm. The OA were good students, both inside and outside the classroom!
It was a week of high notes!
- Most plants, finally being seeded, were transplanted as scheduled.
- The two greenhouses were installed with netting, drainage and doors.
- Brinjals are flowering, and the snow peas in the seeding trays (2-6 Jan blog) are all transplanted to the plots.
- Sweet potatoes (purple and orange varieties) have been planted, by popular demands!
- The fish emulsion fertiliser the OA farmers were making (19-24 Dec Blog) is almost ready! The fish emulsion needs to be stirred manually every two weeks and it is looking good.
- The OA just started on learning another new technical skill – using beneficial bacteria and effective microbes to combat diseases and as pest control.
The only dampener to the week is the ongoing irrigation problem. Manual watering is currently being used and a more permanent solution needs to be found.
The farm greets 2017 with a number of developments. We are now moving at a fast pace to make up for time lost during the holiday season!
Mulching of all the plots, using both temporary plastic and natural mulch, were completed. The store room and nursery were spring cleaned, and racks rebuilt to better store farm equipment, materials and plants.
The goal to fully plant all the plots this week was delayed; fungal diseases on some plants caused by the rainy season set back seed germination. Thankfully, we managed to tackle some of the problems.
An encouraging development is the positive progress with our sweet corns, snow peas, brinjals, and purple sweet potatoes!
Another development at the farm is the restructuring of farm duties. To reduce the physical workload of the older OA farmers i.e. Ibu Masenah, Ibu Alus and Ibu Beriah, aged 62, 61 and 60 respectively, they will handle seeding and transplanting once they have learned the skills from Nor.
To wrap up the week, the farmers installed the netting and surrounding drainage of the two greenhouses. Next week, the greenhouse doors and the farm main gate will be constructed.
After the Christmas break, we were back to the grind again!
We started the week by showering gifts on our six women farmers who have been working tirelessly to develop the farm to ensure regular vegetable supplies, and managing their household chores manually. They were thrilled – smiling, laughing and joking – as they unwrapped their presents.
There were a lot to do at the farm. The nursery was spruced up – colonies of ants were cleared out, and the top shade netting removed to allow more light in. The photographs captured the flurry of activities at the farm:
- MULCHING using plastic sheets as temporary bed covers for plants until the OA could catch up with making natural mulch. Mulching is necessary to reduce manual weeding.
Fertilization is a crucial part of farming. Knowing each type of fertiliser and its importance, and understanding application rates and dilution rates allow the OA farmers to be self-sustainable.
This week, our OA farmers learned how to make Fish Emulsion Fertiliser. Fish emulsion provides calcium, magnesium, sulphur and sodium which plants require in micro quantities. This process takes a month to complete, yielding concentrates that can be diluted before being used on the farm.