Samui Wining & Dining
A Garden of Happiness

Hansar Samui is to hold a charity bazaar in its organic garden on November 30th.

 

21Picture a garden. An organic vegetable garden. Can you see it? The neat rows of green, the empty ploughed rows of earth eagerly waiting for seeds to be planted. Rows with small seedlings that have just broken the surface and are enjoying the first warmth of the sun. You can smell the freshness; you can feel the work, the passion and the love that has gone into tending this garden. But there’s a garden in Bophut which is different. This garden doesn’t just provide lettuce, morning glory and lemongrass (and much more), it provides books, stationery, school bags, meals and a great deal of happiness.

      How? Well let’s tell you a story about love, respect and responsibility …

      CSR stands for ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’. Big words with big meaning, but it is something Hansar take very seriously, because it’s all about them being responsible in their community. Based at the western end of Fisherman’s Village, Hansar aren’t content to just provide their guests with great accommodation, fantastic food and the largest salt water swimming pool on the island. No, they want to give something back and not only to their guests, they want to give something back to the whole island and further beyond.

      It all started when when the CEO of Hansar Hotels & Resorts, Indra Budiman, decided to claim a huge plot of wasteland behind the hotel to start a vegetable garden. A few weeks of excavation with huge ground diggers were needed to free the plot from years of overgrown vegetation and dumped rubbish, but eventually, they were left with something they could plant in. Struggling with the quality of the soil (which is mainly sea sand), it’s taken years of hard work but it is now an established vegetable garden which has enjoyed over ten harvests already and has changed the life of so many people on this island.

       They even have an aquaponics (a portmanteau of the terms ‘aquaculture’ and ‘hydroponic’) system. Don’t know what aquaponics is? I didn’t either - here’s the Wikipedia definition to help you out: “In an aquaponic system, water from an aquaculture system is fed to a hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down by nitrogen-fixing bacteria into nitrates and nitrites, which are utilized by the plants as nutrients. The water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture system.” Hansar are clearly serious about using available resources to keep this garden going.

      Each department in the hotel has its own plot inside this garden and are responsible for its maintenance. There is no external gardener employed here - everything is done by the staff. The ploughing, the planting, the watering, the pruning and the harvesting. It is used for team building exercises and staff even involve their families on weekends and days off.

         They regularly hold a number of events throughout the year to help those less fortunate than themselves. The source of this always comes back to that special garden. Starting in 2012, using produce from the first harvest, they prepared a 5-star feast for the monks and orphans at Bophut Temple. They joined other hotels and the local community to prepare a lunch of fried chicken and sticky rice for 380 students at a school in Bophut. There were presents for the children, games and even a quiz. They’ve also visited Wat Rathbumrung School to donate supplies for the children from local villages. The children received a school bag containing books and stationery. They’ve provided school bags, lunch boxes and food for the special needs children at the Samui Learning Centre for Special Needs and visited a group of 180 orphans living in the Hua Thanon-Lamai area to donate more food and school bags. The money to buy all these gifts was raised from the sale of the produce from the hotel’s garden.

         Some of the harvested produce is used in the hotel but mostly it is sold to local markets. Any profits made go directly back into the garden to buy seed or compost (they do make their own compost, but they often need more because of the poor quality of the soil).

         So what is new and exciting about this garden and how can it make even more people happy? Well actually this time you have a chance to give something back to the island that is either your home or your favourite holiday destination, and you can have a whole load of fun in the process.

         Book a date in your diary - Saturday 30th November from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. A charity bazaar will be held in the garden which will give you a chance to see this special place for yourself. 15 booths will be set up selling the organically grown produce from the garden’s latest harvest, T-shirts, local fruits and other locally produced goods. You can browse the booths and sample various Thai delicacies on sale from local partners such as som tam, pastries, Thai desserts, pad Thai and even some fresh seafood.

         If that isn’t enough, there will be a fortune teller too and a stage setup with live music and a dance performance by local students during the day. If you spend more than 1,000 baht, you will be entered into a lucky draw to win one of ten wonderful prizes such as a spa treatment at the Hansar Spa or even a complimentary overnight stay. All proceeds from this event will be donated to nearby schools.

         So you now also have a chance to see for yourself how this incredible garden changes lives. You can be a part of this magical concept and give something back to this beautiful island and its inhabitants. It promises to be a fun day for everyone.

         Hope to see you there.

         

Colleen Setchell


 


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