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No longer at Eco Centro Soneva Fushi
No longer at Eco Centro Soneva Fushi
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Soneva Fushi , Baa Atoll, MV
Climate zone:
Wet/Dry Tropical

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Walking down the sandy path to sustainable food production

Project: No longer at Eco Centro Soneva Fushi

Posted by Mark Garrett almost 13 years ago

Six month update of the progress permaculture design has acheived physically and spiritually. for full article and pictures go to www.permaculturemaldives.com

It has now been nearly 6 months since starting work as the Permaculturist at Soneva Fushi.

  As discussed in previous blogs, Care for Earth, Growing soil and Organic Matter Matters the first step was to see what type of soil we were dealing with both visually and through testing for soil pH. Observation showed sandy soil with no animal life or organic matter with little moisture retention. The method of gardening was bare soil tillage using only imported cow dung from Sri Lanka. At the beginning of each planting bags of dung were dug into the beds seedlings planted and then left to grow with only water given twice a day. Weeds grew freely and were picked by hand when over growing the herbs and vegetables.

 The challenges were to introduce Permaculture systems to improvement the soil without the use of cow dung as the Company directive was that no more cow dung to be imported as there was no guarantee of being pesticide free plus the carbon footprint of the cow dung did not fit with the SLOW LIFE philosophy, Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wholesome….. Learning, Inspiring, Fun, Experience.  

 ALI, KOBIR, NAZRUL, SHAFIQUE the Vegetable Garden team saw it differently as Cow Dung was the magic medicine of the garden, it had sustained them in being able to provide a quality and quantity of produce for over 12 years and all of a sudden someone who they don’t know from a different culture is saying we can not order anymore once this lot has run out, 200 bags at a time were being ordered and up to 6 times a year.

 Soil tests showed  the pH graphically being high in alkalinity and after explaining how nutrients, plant food was not available to the plants because of this pH and trying to explain it did not matter how much cow dung was being used the plants would still not grow properly I finally had acceptance  by Ali the garden supervisor. Ali was aware something was not quiet right as he confessed to me that he was unhappy because his garden looked sad.

 ph Tests and observation has proven we are on the right track reintroducing organic matter through compost and mulching plus using tropical garden bed designs.

 This opportunity led us both to where we are today happier!!! The garden is smiling and creating smiles on all faces that come to see it and taste it. Guests, hosts and the gardeners included.

 I have introduced Permaculture based solutions to improve the soil, sourced quality seed from www.greenharvest.com.au . The true success in the garden is that Ali KOBIR, NAZRUL, SHAFIQUE and NIHAL have taken these suggestions and adapted and changed various systems to suit their unique environment and situation.

 Only today Ali has come up with suggestions to improve the mulching system by doing lanes of mulch instead of surrounding the seedling completely. Let’s try it and see if it works. Shafique is now planting beans in the cucumber patch and we have guilds of tomato, spring onion and Basil.

 Additional thanks have to go out to the team at Eco Centro who have been the engine house for the production of compost and mulch which none of the above could happen if not for them. There is also the Garden team that looks after the island who continually supply the Eco Centro with jungle cuttings, coconuts and other essential renewable materials that all end up somehow back into the earth.    

 We are a long way from finishing and having all the answers but we are truly a lot further down the path to sustainability than I could ever imagined nearly 6 months ago.

Thank you all in the Permaculture / Horticulture team and all the other teams that feed us the valuable waste we convert to wealth which can be enjoyed by all.   

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