Faculty of Agriculture, KKU, creates a new learning space of flowers and tourism, meeting the “Great Place to Live” policy with an aim to have flowers for visitors to see all year round

Faculty of Agriculture, Khon Kaen University has developed an area on campus at the Agricultural Technology Park to grow flowers such as cutters and margarets. The project creates a learning space, a practicum venue, and a real practicing place for the students. Moreover, the area is another tourism alternative. The students can expand their knowledge from experimenting and researching towards the community so that they can create another occupation and raise income during the time when social changes can take place. The project also answers the strategies and policies of Khon Kaen University in the aspects of People, Ecological and Spiritual and leads the university to be a Great Place to Live. Another objective is to creates a flora garden with flowers blooming all year round.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Darunee Chotitsayangkoon said that one third of KKU campus area is under the responsibility of the Faculty of Agriculture. The faculty therefore will make the area suitable for living. Planning has been made for the whole year to cultivate a circulation of seasonal plants that match the climate, which does not only create beauty of the place, but also enables the students to learn and earn incomes. This year is the first time of implementation, so there are things to improve and develop. The next year, the work can follow the plan and schedule. For example, in December there is the plantation with the turbine, in January, cutters and margarets of different colors will bloom. In the rainy season, there may be Patumma flowers. The faculty is trying hard to manage the environment and the space as a learning space and a tourism spot or a recreational zone.

One policy of Khon Kaen University is to improve the campus environment so that the learning atmosphere is created and the people of the university as well as visitors can enjoy this good place to live.

The Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture explained about the development of the area around the Agricultural Technology Park to meet the university’s policy. During the first start, they thought about the ecological adjustment on campus in order to create a Great Place to Live. This has been done along with course instruction. The activity is thus under the Education Transformation policy because the students learn to practice by themselves. This kind of instruction can be said to involve Experiential Learning and Research-Based Learning. The students learn to produce and research, where not only a body of knowledge is built, but the knowledge can be used to solve problems. Another important thing is that it enhances the students’ skills. It can be seen that this activity meets the issue of human development. The professors themselves can cooperate and help giving the students suggestions and facilitate the students’ learning. The big side effect is the improvement of Khon Kaen University’s ecological system to become a pleasant place to live. At the same time, this is also an open-house activity for the public to come to KKU. The university then becomes a recreational place. Many see that with the spread of diseases, people should be in an open area. People in Khon Kaen and KKU folks can use this area in the evening for a recreational purpose. The faculty is certain that the area is safe from the disease.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Darunee Chotitsayangkoon added about the value adding for community development, that besides the students’ learning, the development of the area and planting flowers for selling also meet the Ministry of Higher Education’s project of “One Tambon, One University”. One of the 4 activities under this project includes raising farm incomes, developing an OTOP product, health development, and ecological tourism. This area will become a potential model for the community, create learning among villagers and the community, and lead to development of various contexts. However, the main thing is that the ecological system of KKU campus will be improved. The students are able to learn, and the university will be a more pleasant place to live with more recreational zones and good environment.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Darunee Chotitsayangkoon said that since there was the landscape improvement around the Agricultural Technology Park, the faculty has planned that all year round the faculty will plant flowers to enhance the beauty of the place. Growing flowers will attract people. In addition, the faculty already improved the turbine plantation that opens for the public in December. The faculty has seen that after December there should be a flower plantation and so has made decision with undergraduate students majoring in agricultural innovation. The decision made was to grow cutters. There is a student whose family grow flowers in Udonthani and has become successful as a tourism spot. Therefore, the faculty decided to grow cutters and margarets. The white-color cutters were chosen because they sell at a good price. Primarily, this was seen as improving the place. But when it was the time for cutting and selling, COVID-19 returned for the second round. The price of cutters went down 50%. Discussion was then made on how to add more values. The students primarily worried if the place was used as a tourism spot, seeing that it might overlap with the turbine’s flower plantation place. However, with the difference of timing, the cutter plantation has been changed to a tourism place. Visitors will receive one bouquet of cutters after their visit.

The Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture added that the students benefit greatly from this activity, especially in the production process, which is the science the students have to learn. This includes marketing planning, locating a selling channel, and marketing survey in Khon Kaen including buyers. In fact, flowers can be grown and sold anywhere. However, the flowers at the Faculty of Agriculture have the advantage of being fresh. Cutting and trimming and dispatching can be done in one day so the flowers can stay fresh for a long time. This is one of the selling benefits. But when the price came down, the crisis was changed to opportunity by opening the place as a tourism venue. It may not be as big as the area at the turbine flower plantation, but it is an alternative for students, staff and the public to relax in the evening. It promotes the campus to be a pleasant place to study and work. At the same time, the students learn to manage and solve problems on their own, and can use the skill in their future life.

News/ Photos: Natthawut Jaruwong

[Thai]