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Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade. Mark 4:32

GRIFFITH GLEANINGS OCTOBER 2020   What are you growing? Is a question that Rob receives sometimes multiple times in the space of an hour, volunteering at the local Khmer public school.

The space that the vegetable garden occupies is undergoing an expansion at the request of the new school principal, who also wants the school to become more attractive than just a space of concrete, bricks and grass. To support her cause, she has brought flower bulbs and seeds from her home to create an attractive border around the fruit and vegetable space beside the school front gate.

At this time ‘what are you growing?’ does not have a straightforward answer. The wet season in Cambodia is soon coming to an end, but typically September and October are the wettest months.

The school garden for some of this year has resembled a tangled rainforest jungle when the wet season arrived during the school COVID-19 closure. With the help of a community of school children returning and team mate Luke, the garden has been transformed, but with the exception of vegetables. A few hardy lemongrass plants and a pineapple survived, but not enough dry days has allowed sowing seeds in the often-saturated raised beds.

‘What are you growing?’ is a fascinating conversation starter. Children and the rest of the school community offer their suggested favourite vegetables and the discussion generates a sense of mystery around what we might soon see growing.

What is growing in the muddy school soil isn’t really the purpose of a school garden anyway (even if some fresh long beans and corn may be more nutritious than the high sugar snacks and drinks that are sold outside the school). Much more important is the relationships that are formed throughout the surrounding village. Since returning to Cambodia we have seen more of the effects of alcoholism, family breakdown and financial hardship present. Seeing the fruit of wholeness, wellbeing and peace is at the heart of what motivates us to be ‘gardening’ here in this part of the province of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Sharing some hopes and plans of a fruitful school with the new school principal.
High in a tree in our home front yard sharing some laughs and a climb for ripe custard apples.
Luke with Rob in dryer days, midway in the extension and transformation of the school garden area.
For the invitation to expand the local school garden where Rob volunteers.
For some good rains to finish what has been a couple of dry years in Cambodia.
For reopening of many schools in Cambodia.
For standard Khmer public schools to expand the availability of schooling and reengagement of children.
For Deb’s successful renewal of her Cambodian midwifery registration sitting a Khmer written exam.
For the Cambodian Global Interaction team growth and discernment for the next stages of strategy development.