On Jomp’s farm

The rainy season is a very busy period on Jomp’s farm. Our staff and the kids have put in an enormous shift in order to get everything done and ready on time. A large part of this season involves waiting for rain, worrying about rain and praying for more rain. Without the rain, the rice can’t be planted and without enough, the rice won’t grow. Thankfully it has rained - albeit belatedly - and the rice is growing well and beginning to bend from the weight of the heavy kernels. It’s a beautiful sight, particularly late in the evening, as the setting sun lends a warm glow to the fields of rich green rice stalks. The ploughing and planting took place in late July and early August, with all available hands on deck. Almost every member of staff was out there, ankle deep in muddy water, bent over for hours on end, separating the rice stalks in their hands and planting them into the wet earth. For three weeks, the backs were bent as rows and rows were laid in almost military fashion. The teenagers helped at the weekends, bringing a gaiety and clamour to the fields. In between the work, they teased and gossiped, the silence of the hard work broken by chatter and peals of laughter. Nobody complained, everybody got on with it and by mid August, the fields were finally full. The clouds weren’t so full however and the patchy rain had everybody worried. It came, promising more and then nothing for days. Finally by the start of September, the heavens opened and the rain thundered down, filling the rice paddies and cooling the farmers’ nerves. The rice will be harvested by mid-November and we hope to have enough to at least feed all the children here at Sarnelli House. 


The heavy rain filled the fish ponds too, but not before they were cleared out of weeds and other vegetation. The staff and kids waded in, chest high and ripped anything and everything out of the banks. Any fish found were fed to the kids. Dirty work but again, little to no complaining. Freshly cleared, the ponds were re-stocked with tiny fish. These will be allowed to grow to adult size and then caught and fed to the children. The farm boys were busy again with a more literal form of dirty work, collecting cow dung and missing it with rice husks and other organic waste to create our own home made fertiliser, which will be spread on freshly ploughed fields in our new vegetable and fruit gardens. We aim to develop fruitful gardens supplying garlic, chilli, onion, cabbage, beans, pumpkin and herbs to our kitchens. There will be banana trees as well as we strive to make ourselves more self-sufficient. It is also important for the children of Sarnelli House to appreciate the value of their food and the hard work that has gone into growing it. Some of them love helping out on Jomp’s Farm, and there are now seven Sarnelli boys working on the farm full time. School wasn’t the best place for some of them and others might struggle in regular Thai society and now they are guaranteed an income and the dignity of work, while learning the skills and traditions of Isaan farming.