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Bangkok Travelbug Mar 2021 Suan Sampran – back to nature
March 09, 2021
In the early 1960s, a man and his wife were taking a boat ride along the Tha Chin River in Nakhon Pathom. They passed an area called Sampran and saw a 100-year-old Pikul* tree that was about to fall into the river owing to erosion of the river banks.
This scene of nature's gradual destruction spurred them to buy the land and build a vacation home in an attempt to preserve nature. In 1962, they started a rose garden and welcomed visitors from Bangkok wishing to take a break from the hectic city.
That garden soon became known as the Rose Garden, a popular tour in an itinerary for visitors to Bangkok.
The project started by Dr Chamnan and his wife Khunying** Valee Yuvaboon has now grown in a huge enterprise within 50 acres (20.23 hectares) of land consisting of a resort, facilities dedicated to the preservation of Nature, organic farming, a market selling organic produce and a traditional Thai village to promote eco-friendly activities.
Traditional Thai house in Suan Sampran
The management of this family enterprise, Suan Sampran has now gone into the third generation of the family.
*Pikul – Mimusops elengi or Bulletwood tree an evergreen tree known for its timber, scented flowers and edible fruits with medicinal value.
**Khunying – an aristocratic title awarded by the King to women. There are two such titles in order of precedence; Thanpuying and Khunying.
The riverside resort consists of a hotel in a conventional concrete building, teak chalets in the form of traditional Thai houses and a Chinese pavilion for weddings and other functions on the banks of a huge lake.
The resort and its food and beverage outlets form an integral part of the organic and eco-friendly projects of Suan Sampran. Organic farm products for the kitchen are produced by the organic farm on site and the farmers engaged in an organic farming project started by Suan Sampran.
Rice mill in the organic farm
Waste from the resort is recycled into organic fertiliser, animal and worm feed. Used vegetable oil is recycled into biodiesel for use in the resort and its facilities. No foam or plastics are used in Suan Sampran.
The resort and its F & B outlets were closed during our visit owing to the pandemic.
Organic farming and food products
In 2014, Suan Sampran started the Sookjai Foundation to initiate the Sampran Model, a business model to foster organic farming. This model consists of 16 groups of 170 farmers who engage in organic farming.
Suan Sampran buys the organic produce from these farmers for use in the food and beverage outlets in the resort. This amounts to about 70% of their requirements. The rest are met from, the Patom Organic Farm their own 12 acre (4.84 hectares) organic farm within the grounds of Suan Sampran.
Rice fields in the organic farm
I almost mistook this for a real farmer
Buffalos are used to till the fields and their dung is used to produce fertiliser
Hay to feed the buffalos
The food and body care products made from this organic farm are marketed under the Patom Brand.
Co-located with the organic farm is the Patom Organic Village a traditional Thai village where there are workshops for visitors to learn the various aspects of organic farming. These workshops include clay pottery, garland making, banana leaf weaving.
Activities within this village will also help visitors understand the process in the production of these organic products. Unfortunately owing to the pandemic, these workshops were not conducted.
Traditional Thai house in the village
In the space under the traditional Thai house there is a traditional rice mill and rattan trays for winnowing, the traditional way of separating the chaff from the grain. There is also a very interesting snippet of information on nutrition.
Traditional rice mill in the background and winnowing tray in the foreground
In the traditional method of milling rice, the harvested rice is placed in the mill together with the husks. The wheel is turned to separate the rice grains from the husks. The process to separate the grains from the husks is called milling.
The grain and chaff are placed on flat rattan trays and tossed gently in the wind which will blow away the lighter husks and leave the rice grains behind, a process called winnowing. Slow and tedious but more nutritious than the modern methods of rice milling and processing. Why?
Curious, I checked with someone familiar with the modern methods of rice milling and processing. I was surprised to learn that there are five stages to this process and each stage uses a different machine.
But all the polishing and grinding have removed most of the nutrients from the rice as compared to the traditional way of doing it.
Organic food market
The Sookjai Market within the grounds of Suan Sampran was started in 2010 to provide a retail outlet for the organic farmers participating in the Sampran Model to sell their organic agricultural products. It was the first facility we encountered during our visit to Suan Sampran.
The market located in an acre of land consists of about 70 vendors selling rice, vegetables, fruits, freshly cooked food and processed food. Turnover amounts to about 3 million baht a month (about US$100,000). The market is managed by a committee elected from the vendors annually.
The fresh fruit section
The cooked food section and dining area – note the greenery facing the diners
After your meal, stroll across the garden path to the Pathom Organic Café for an organic brew and desserts.
Patom Organic Café
Recycling and waste management
This is a critical activity in the organic food production cycle. All food waste from the F & B outlets in Suan Sampran is made into organic fertiliser for the organic farm or used as animal feed and earthworm breeding.
Used vegetable oil from the resort's kitchen is converted to biodiesel for use within Suan Sampran.
Earthworm breeding is an interesting activity we came across in Suan Sampran. Earthworms are bred in soil mixed with organic food waste, cow manure, dead leaves and roots.
The waste from the worms and the decomposing bodies of dead worms add to the nutrients of the soil making very good fertilisers.
Furthermore because of the burrowing by the worms, the earth is very fine, porous and improves the drainage of the soil. The earth in which earthworms are bred is sold as fertiliser. There is also a liquid version of the fertiliser.
Fertiliser made from earth breeding earthworms
We bought a packet home and just a small amount did wonders to our plants in the garden.
All the facilities in Suan Sampran are set in a huge ground filled with lush greenery. Of the 50 acres (20.23 hectares) in Suan Sampran, this huge and beautiful garden takes up 35 acres (14.16 hectares). There are flowers, fruit trees, bamboo clumps and a host of different flora making it a pleasure walking through this greenery.
The current management of Suan Sampran have not only inherited their grandparents' love for nature, they have preserved the legacy of their grandparents as well.
Peaceful and scenic Suan Sampran
Map to Suan Sampran
If the map doesn’t appear, click on this link
32 km Phetkasem Road
Nakhon Pathom 73110
Tel: +66 34 322 588-93
Fax: +66 34 322 775
How to get to there
From Bangkok – cross the Taksin Bridge – Krung Thonburi Road – Ratchapruek Road – turn left to Petchkasem Road at Bang Wa – continue on Petchkasem Road till you get to Suan Sampran
Suan Sampran is open every day from 0900 – 1600 hours
I'm keeping the topic open to see what comes along. I'll think of something.
See you then.
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