Introducing our guests to the richness of nature
07:55am, Friday 1 June 2018
In today's technology-driven world nature is idealised and sanitised so it can be a shock for urban dwellers to discover its uncomfortable, dirty, and even scary side. Yet it is so much more worthwhile when we do experience it on such a deeper level.
At our farm we have three large cows with beautiful big horns. Since they are our pets they are very tame and as a treat we give them fruit which we often bring to them in our old red truck. Their favorite is bananas and when I take visitors to our farm the cows run up excitedly and the visitors feed them from the truck. They lose interest once the food is gone and go away. However, they are so boisterous it is scary and exciting for the visitors and one day, a little girl was afraid to get out of the truck. But a couple of days later she was still talking about the cows and wanted to go back to see them again!
Apart from being our pets the cows are also a supplier of what I call ″black gold″ - manure. We mix it with rice husks, leaves and shredded wood to make a rich compost and I often ask volunteers to help with this task. A few months ago, a young couple from England, who were taking time out from their jobs as a chef and cocktail mixologist, found themselves mixing up a different kind of brew at our farm. If literally shoveling shit wasn't bad enough they also got attacked by hornets and ran away screaming and tearing their clothes off in a panic. But later in a vlog they excitedly recounted these experiences as if they had had the most exciting adventure in their lives. Another couple working at our farm wrote a blog describing the horrors of nature including a snake spotting and being attacked by ants. Eight years later they are still nostalgic about their time with us and want to come back.
People do form very strong attachments to our place. Apart from the exotic Thai culture and our family atmosphere - I also think it is due to the power of nature.
At the resort we have 14 guest rooms, plus staff quarters, our own house, and a restaurant and spa which are spread out over about 3 and a half acres of land. Our gardens include many original and indigenous trees such as a magnificent Bodhi tree and the native monkey jack, an avenue of flame trees, teak trees, rare agarwood trees and many types of beautiful flowering and fragrant trees, as well as fruit trees, herbs, ornamental plants, fish ponds and fountains. The resort backs onto a forest-covered hill which goes down to the sea. While we follow other eco-friendly actions such as using solar power and recycling at the resort, we consider our most important activity to be nurturing the eco-system, preserving local plants, and providing shelter and food for wildlife. Already we have over 100 species of birds visiting us, three varieties of squirrels and wild chickens, together with numerous other small creatures such as frogs, lizards, bats and honey bees.
Our organic farm and nature reserve of around 15 acres is around the corner from the resort and there we have a small lake and ponds fed by natural springs, patches of bush, as well as the food crops we cultivate. Our main crop is the tropical fruit trees which grow so well in our region - rambutan, mangosteen, longkongs as well as durian, a famous delicacy very popular with Asians, but our trees aren't yet mature. We also have mangoes, rose apples, jackfruit, papayas, bananas, herbs, rice and seasonal vegetables, bamboo shoots and many wild foods that we gather.
We have been here 14 years and every year there are new things to discover and new trees coming into fruit. It is hard work, but we are very glad to be growing healthy, tasty food and to share it with others along with an appreciation of the richness and complexity of real live nature.