Hungry to Learn: Staff from Thailand and Florida team up to train Laotian Pastors


When Sang* became a Christian, his neighbor cut down his corn field.  The police didn’t come to his aid because they didn’t support his faith either. It was the pastor of his church that looked out for his family and helped him try to replant his field. Pastors in Laos deal with persecution each day, and many have been jailed for a time. They are also bi-vocational which means they are farmers, as well as pastors, to provide for their families. 

In late October, ECHO Asia Farm Manager, Sombat, as well as four other staff,  trained 70 Laotian pastors for three days at the Village of Hope, Thailand. Topics included Soil Health, Plant Life, Deep Litter Pig System, Banana Stalk Silage, and Livestock. Interns Dani Hurlbutt and Elizabeth Casey shared techniques that they learned on the ECHO Global Farm in Florida with the pastors.  “They were hungry to learn,” shares Dani. “When Sombat was teaching grafting they were taking close-up pictures and crowding in to see.” 

Below: Laotian pastors gather closely to ECHO farm manager Sombat as he teaches a seminar on grafting. Above: Sombat demonstrates an improved cookstove.

Below: Laotian pastors gather closely to ECHO farm manager Sombat as he teaches a seminar on grafting. Above: Sombat demonstrates an improved cookstove.

During the session on banana stalk silage, the pastors learned how to finely chop banana stalks, mix with molasses and sugar and let the fermentation process produce a nutritious feed supplement for pigs. The pastors commented that they used to boil the banana stalks for 2-3 hours to be able to feed them to their livestock. This technique will now save them both water and firewood, and improve the health of their animals.  

ECHO staff and volunteers were honored to share the knowledge with the pastors, and were greatly encouraged to learn from them as well. Then, every afternoon they taught nearly 80 children from the children’s home! It was fun and rewarding as the Laotian pastors were extremely enthusiastic and were very involved and engaged. The children had loads of fun too, getting muddy and learning how to garden!

Our local partner is already excited about next year’s training... and so are we!

Don’t miss the deadline for our Appropriate Technology and Community Garden Internship positions

The following internships areas are open until the February 11 application deadline: Appropriate Technology, Community Garden, Semi-Arid, and Rainforest. Find out more information about two of our internships below:


Passionate about context-appropriate technology?

Appropriate Technology

Focusing on the key themes of food, water, and shelter, the Appropriate Technology intern will experience how technology intersects with the world of food production, harvest, and storage. The Appropriate Technology Intern works closely alongside ECHO's Appropriate Technology Manager allowing for a one-on-one mentoring experience. If you are a fan of engineering and mechanics, this is a great opportunity to dig into the world of technology that can apply across cultures. A successful Appropriate Technology intern will have a strong interest in engineering, construction, or mechanics.

Community Gardening

The community garden intern gets the best of both worlds. Not only does this intern get to train and work on ECHO's Global Farm, but they have a unique opportunity to engage in ECHO's own backyard: South West Florida's local community. In this internship, you will see your impact extend outside of ECHO's campus though community meetings, consultations, and school events. A successful Community Garden intern will have a strong interest in both community-driven gardening initiatives. 

Click here to read more about the 14 month ECHO Internship and to apply