Assessing the impact of parental involvement on scaling agricultural technologies from school garden to home farm in Cambodia




Sustainable Intensification, School Gardens, Cambodia, Knowledge Transfer, Diffusion, Experiential Learning


Cambodia is a predominantly rural nation with a heavy dependence on agriculture, particularly smallholder rice farming systems. While several sustainable agricultural technologies have been suc­cessfully piloted on research stations or with small numbers of early adopters, questions remain on how to extend these technologies to large numbers of resource-poor smallholder farmers. The Scaling Suitable Sustainable Technologies Project (S3-Cambodia) seeks to examine pathways for scaling sustainable intensification (SI) technologies to smallholder farmers. One of the identified path­ways to scaling SI is through the education system. Cambodian youth serve as an entry point to extend target technologies to farm families through experi­ential learning opportunities in schools by estab­lishing “green labs” featuring school gardens.

This research study seeks to support the desired outcomes of the S3-Cambodia project by assessing Cambodian parental involvement in their children’s lives and school activities. While students can serve as agricultural education sources for their homes and communities, there is a need to deter­mine whether relationships between children, par­ents, and schools in Cambodia are strong enough to facilitate this knowledge transfer. Primary data was collected from 178 parents whose children attend three separate high schools in three districts of Cambodia through one-on-one orally conducted surveys. These were supplemented by key inform­ant interviews of selected parents, teachers, and principals at each high school. Results indicate that parents have a strong interest in school garden implementation and activities at their children’s school, with 84% of parents interested in visiting a school garden. Additionally, the majority believe that they can learn from their children (65%) and actively discuss with their children what they are learning at school (72%), indicating a potentially significant likelihood of knowledge transfer from a school garden. Yet, parents’ involvement in their children’s schools and lives varies between regions, with the rurality of the households influencing family social ties and homes’ proximity to the school.


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Author Biographies

Gracie Pekarcik, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Graduate Research Assistant, Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture. Pekarcik is now the study abroad coordinator for the Herbert College of Agriculture, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

David Ader, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Research Assistant Professor/Assistant Director, Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture

Tom Gill, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Associate Professor and Chair, Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture

Jennifer Richards, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication



How to Cite

Pekarcik, G., Ader, D., Gill, T., & Richards, J. (2023). Assessing the impact of parental involvement on scaling agricultural technologies from school garden to home farm in Cambodia. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 12(3), 177–192.