Khon Kaen planning to replicate urban garden project


KHON KAEN – The city of Khon Kaen is laying out plans for a pilot urban garden project near Bueng Kaen Nakhon Lake, where the city’s green market has been held every Friday for the last four years.

Josh Macknick, an American who has lived in the city for the past ten years, and Khon Kaen’s mayor Teerasak Teekhayuphan hope that the garden can open by January 2019. Mr. Macknick was one in a group spearheading the green market.

Urban gardens are not a new concept to Thailand. Among the country’s twenty some urban gardens are projects in Bangkok and Nonthaburi, and one in the Northeast’s Khorat Province.

In 2010, a Khon Kaen slum community started a community garden.

Urban farming projects are becoming a standard hallmark of progressive cities throughout the world.

A team of American students working with Mr. Macknick believe that the community garden can be a place where people from around the neighborhood can grow food, flowers, and herbs on a shared plot of land.

The plan would put the community garden behind the existing, weekly green market. Photo by Cora Walsh

The team, which developed a feasibility plan, argue that the benefits go beyond just being able to grow food however; gardens bring people together across the community to work with nature. They teach people about plants and can encourage them, especially youths, to get outside and be productive. Ultimately, community gardens are a space where people come together to create a beautiful space while learning about the environment and building relationships.

The team envisions a wide range of community activities that could be hosted at the garden, including gardening workshops, planting and harvesting events, and educational herbal medicine events hosted by farmers and NGOs.

The plan also includes repurposing five dilapidated, abandoned buildings in the area to dedicate towards education and supporting green businesses.

Mr. Macknick realizes the difficulty in setting up a sustainable community garden. He says that membership to the community garden will be open and hopes that schools and other organizations will adopt a plot.

“We would like to transform that whole lake real estate into a green point in the city,” Mr. Macknick says. “Having the green market, the community garden, and then eventually there are some abandoned buildings that we want to renovate into resources centers and educational meeting spaces.”

Macknick hopes that this community garden effort can link to the Friday green market, perhaps even having its own vendors selling their produce at the market.

But, as it stands now, the community garden is just a dream. There will have to be a broad community effort to succeed.

Want to learn more or share ideas? Contact Josh Macknick at joshmacknick@gmail.com.

This article was compiled by four students who studied about development issues in the Northeast last term. They are Connor Augustine, Edwin Morales, Lucy Morrison, and Cora Walsh.