Turning wasteland into organic produce in Thailand

Hansar's plentiful harvest

Hansar's on-site harvest

Hansar Samui, Thailand turns wasteland into organic source of herbs and fish

Two years ago Hansar Samui created an organic garden and aquaponic fish and vegetable farm on a former piece of wasteland adjacent to the hotel.  Produce from these facilities is used by the hotel to create fresh herbs, fruit and vegetables for guests and staff, as well as for donations in the local community. Last year the hotel held its first charity bazaar, selling produce from the harvest and sending consequent funds to the local school.  Future bazaars will continue to fund CSR projects for schools and temples in the area.

In 2014 Hansar added a solar power system to support the irrigation pump for the aquaponic farm as well as a third greenhouse.  The greenhouses are used to grow organic imported produce, aquaponic produce and the third one is now used to grow flowers for use in the hotel.

Since its inception the project has thrived and the hotel has harvested an extensive range of produce including: ginger, galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, rosemary, holy basil, thyme, tarragon, Italian basil, morning glory, chinese kale, several varieties of lettuce, green cabbage, bunching onions, green pai tsai, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, baby corn, pea eggplant, cucumber, round egg plant, seedless yellow water melon, seedless red watermelon, tomatoes, bell peppers, chilies and papaya.  Dried leaves and refuse are used for compost and harvested back into the ground.

The property is careful to check the sustainable credentials of its seedlings and hatchlings for the organic and aquaponic projects so they are sure nothing has been artificially modified.  Additionally, this enables them to reduce cost, ensure high quality (and therefore guest experience) and ensure there is not a negative environmental impact.

Intercropping is also being used in the hotel’s organic garden – where one plant creates natural enzymes that can kill any disease or bugs on another plant – for example; if lemongrass is grown together with chili or tomatoes, it will provide a natural remedy for the tomatoes or chill plants to be immune from white spots as the enzymes created by the lemongrass are beneficial to the neighbouring plant. This avoids the need for pesticides, which could pollute the surrounding land and sea.

The land being used has two large ponds that were being used for water tanks before the hotel converted them into fish farms.  Currently there are 3500 Tilapia fish being farmed and 1000 pieces of Fry which were hatched at the hotel.  The fish are harvested each quarter and provide nutritious protein in the hotel’s staff restaurant which serves four meals daily.

Hansar Samui’s management have the whole hotel team working on the project.  Each department has their own plot within the land and are provided with seeds to plant; whereby they enjoy a friendly competition to provide the best farming result.  Each year there will be four seasons for planting/harvesting and the team with the best result will receive a sustainable certificate award. Guests also get involved by picking their own produce for the onsite cooking lessons.

Indra Budiman, CEO of Hansar Samui comments on how CSR activities like the above have been integral to staff satisfaction, 'Staff are informed about CSR activities from day one and want to be actively involved. This makes staff motivation and retention higher.'

For more information go to Hansar Samui. This month we're focusing on green hotels in South East Asia, if you've got a story to share then please get in touch via Facebook or Twitter.


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