The farm was set up by members of the Seed Church in Cherng Talay, established five years ago by Thikhun “Pastor Yai” Phapsaneh, a former resort employee.
The main crops produced on the 5.5-rai farm are local vegetables such as betel leaves (phak mieng), melientha (phak wan) and fruit, including pineapples, jackfruit, bananas, coconuts and mangoes.
The 250 or so members of the church worked together to create the farm, initially as a way of communicating with local people in the Pa Khlok and Cherng Talay areas.
But members of the church find being at the farm very satisfying in itself. Panya Tantipongsakul says, “I am delighted to join my friends at the Seed Farm after working for six days at my job.
“We go to the Seed Farm every Sunday; I take my friends in my minibus. We leave the church at 3pm and come back again at 6pm.”
The leader of the Seed Farm is Santi “Deep” Paiboon. He says, “We don’t try to make money from it.” Produce is sold cheap to church members and to local people.
He adds, “The Seed Farm is an organic farm; we use only natural compost and fertiliser, so we are not worried about the effects of chemicals.”
While the men from the church look after the vegetables and fruit trees, the women prepare dinner – both Isarn and southern styles, then at 5pm the church members and local people – whatever their beliefs – sit down to eat together under a large tree.
Mr Santi says, “This is the great time to talk. When someone has something bad happening in their lives, we can offer advice or consolation, or pray together. People also tell each other about the good things that are happening in their lives.”