Friday, 25 May 2018

ORGANIC FARMING AND NATURAL SYSTEMS

This morning The Sand’s farm produced for the restaurant 60 mangoes, 500 grams of cherry tomatoes, 250 grams of yellow passion fruits, 2 bunches of rocket and a bunch of red basil. Lots more volume and variety on the way.
Cherry Tomatoes growing in old Mini-Bars from The Sands Hotel
In other news meet Spike the African Hedgehog, one of the farm inhabitants who is very good at removing pests like slugs, snails, centipedes and caterpillars.. no chemical toxins needed.

'Spike' the African Hedgehog. A welcome inhabitant of the farm.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

WASTE MANAGEMENT- FRUIT AND VEGETABLE WASTE

Yesterday morning a hundred one-month-old Kuroiler chicks arrived by bus from Nairobi after a thirteen hour overnight bus journey. Despite the bumpy ride and the cramped conditions in the 'third class' luggage compartment all of them arrived in good health though a little hungry and thirsty.




These chicks have now been moved to their new coop and chicken run on The Sands organic farm where their purpose is far more than just laying yellow yoked, free range eggs for the restaurant. In fact, them producing eggs is just a by product of one of their other main functions, to help us use and remove as much of our fruit and vegetable waste as possible so lowering our impact on our environment. 

Once these chicks have got used to their new surroundings we will begin to introduce them to scraps of vegetable 'waste'. This highly nutritious food will help to cut down on the cost of feeding them layers mash at the same time as help us to lower the amount of waste being produced by The Sands hotel and restaurant.. oh, and we get eggs.



Between these chickens laying eggs, the worms creating fertilizer and the compost making it is our hope that soon The Sands at Nomad will not be producing any Fruit and Vegetable waste. It will all be used.


FROM TRASH TO TREASURE- UPCYCLING II

Did you ever wonder what happens to old, broken freezers, fridges, mini-bars and the likes? Well most of them once they are really un-fixable will end up being thrown out into a trash heap or a landfill somewhere.. what a waste of things that are really not waste.

Fridges and freezers dumped- That is a lot of planting pots
As part of our waste reduction project moving towards sustainability The Sands at Nomad has tried to find ways of reusing items such as these so they don't end up being wasted and becoming a burden on our environment. 

Tomatoes growing in old mini-bars.
These Cherry Tomato and Tomato plants growing on The Sand's organic farm are all growing in old, broken mini-bars which have become defunct over the years. Rather than being thrown out these mini-bars were stored until something could be done with them. Something like using them to grow produce for the restaurant. Fridges and deep freezers can be used the same.

It is important to note that some older generation fridges and freezers used Freon as the chemical that causes the cooling. If you would like to try this at home check to see if your broken fridge uses Freon. If it did you will carefully need to seal the compressor pipes completely before removing the compressor and disposing of it as best you can. (Sadly even with up-cycling sometimes not all of the unit can be reused.. but try where you can)

An old, broken jacuzzi now full of worms
In case you or anyone you know has an old broken Jacuzzi, they make great fishponds (adding natural variety and pest control methods to an ecosystem), they also make good duck ponds or, in the case of The Sand's farm, a 'wormery' for helping to get rid of fruit and vegetable waste while at the same time producing highly nutritious organic fertilizer  (Vermi-tea) which can then go onto the vegetables, seedlings or even a lawn.




UPCYLING PLASTIC- OLD LIGHTERS

For over a year now The Sands at Nomad has been doing 'trash' clean-ups along south coast beaches (Diani, Kinondo and Gazi) Some of these areas were only able to be accessed during the neap tide and by boat. During these clean-ups the trash collected was separated into plastics, glass, rubber, metals and, the point of this post, cigarette lighters.



It is amazing just how many lighters from around the world have ended up floating in our oceans and washing up on the beaches.

So what can these be used for? Lots, hanging mobiles, table tops and in this case, christmas lights.

The lighter tops were removed, the casing was drilled and normal yellow or white light 'sting light' bulbs were pushed into the drilled holes.


UPCYCLING PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES- POST III

As some of you may already know, both plastic and glass bottles are used as building blocks in many places around the world. Glass bottles in a floor, wall or an in-house partition can look very beautiful if built in the right way with an idea of light direction and design in mind. (A post on up-cycling glass bottles is still to come- watch this space)

However in this post we are going to stick with plastic bottles and another one of their MANY uses.



This photo of a side/drinks table doesn't look like much but the structure is made from plastic water bottles. 


A little while ago we found a couple of slices of wood which had been made into what were supposed to be kitchen chopping boards. This wood had been sliced off a log that had once been a huge Combretum tree growing in the Nomad forest. Sadly some loggers manged to sneak into the forest at night and cut down the tree before they were disturbed. So the log was reclaimed. The plastic bottles were collected from restaurants and hotels all within fifteen minutes drive of The Sands.


Next the connection, it was very basic, 1/2 inch brass screws, drilled through the lids of the bottles into the wooden slice, once the bottle tops were all connected the bottles were screwed onto the lids and boom! There is a table which is lightweight, stack-able, it looks ok, one can put drinks on and even stand or sit on it.

Then, just to continue with a little of the 'reclaimed' part of the project an old, broken piece of traditional fishing trap was picked up off the beach, wrapped around the bottles and tied with sisal string.


Imagine that, even if one couldn't find slices of wood for the table top other things can be used. Like old plastic lids, or table tops from tables with broken legs, of the bottom of broken buckets.. 


Wednesday, 2 May 2018

THE SANDS AT NOMAD'S FARM- ORGANIC FARMING- NATURAL SYSTEMS I

Though in its is still very much in the start-up phase, it is the intention of the Sands at Nomad's farm to be as organic as it can be.

What is organic farming?  

'Organic agriculture can be defined as: an integrated farming system that strives for sustainability, the enhancement of soil fertility and biological diversity whilst, with rare exceptions, prohibiting synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, and growth hormones'. (Wiki)


Red leaf basil - munched


However sometimes trying to stay organic can be difficult, especially when one is watching your crops being eaten by a pest such as Slugs, Snails, Grasshoppers, White-fly, Aphids, Caterpillars.. the list goes on.

Rucola- munched
On the Sands farm we are having an issue with the recent boom in grasshoppers which have hatched with the arrival of the rains. Despite efforts with Neem leaf mixes sprayed on the veggies and the beds we are still seeing more damage than we are happy with. (even for organic produce)

A couple of the ways we are hoping to counter this current upsurge in grasshoppers is by cutting back the grass to remove their food source near the farm planting beds and also by using a naturally occurring predator, Frogs and Toads.

Adding an Aquatic system
Recently we finished work on the pond at the Sand's farm. By creating this pond we have brought a different habitat into the system which will then boost the diversity of species found on the farm so moving towards a 'sustainable, balanced system'.

Within days of the pond being ready frogs and toads had mated and laid their eggs. We were about to add some Tilapia fish to the pond to control the Tadpoles but then we had the Grasshopper hatching. Noting that frogs and toads are a natural control method for the grasshopper problem the addition of the fish was delayed to try to ensure the survival rate of the Tadpoles is higher so hopefully meaning we will have LOTS of frogs leaving the pond to find food.

A Tadpole explosion turning to Frogs
The way the beds are set up being made from recycled bottles creating raised beds leaves many refuge places for these frogs and toads during the day should they not want to return to the pond.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

UPCYCLING PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES- POST II

Below is a photo of the low cost fence that is being built on the Sand's organic farm. 

The point of the fence is to contain the livestock (still to come) in an affordable manner and it also acts as a pest barrier (especially for grass hoppers). In the long run we will plant along the bottom of the fence where the rain water caught in the bottles slowly drips.



Huge numbers of plastic bottles have been collected over the past year from a number of locations up and down the beach. The clear bottles are separated into piles of the same brand and shapes, the bottoms are removed (to be used later) and the bottles are then stacked along plastic string before being hung on a single strand of binding wire which is supported on rough Neem Tree poles.

Total cost? The roll of wire, the fuel for collection and the salaries of the sustainability team.


UPCYCLING PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES- Post I

Over the next few blogs we will show some of the ways in which plastic bottles collected from other locations down the beach have been turned into something useful or decorative by the Sand's sustainability team. 

This is part of an ongoing project to raise awareness to the fact that plastic bottles are actually NOT WASTE but rather quite a useful and valuable recyclable or up-cyclable material. 

 Above is a jellyfish made entirely from 'waste' items. The body and the tentacles have been made from plastic bottles, the frame for the body is an old standing fan cage, the pieces are all tied together using string made from plastic bottles.

Below is a turtle made the same way as the jellyfish though the structure is two crossing pieces of black conduit (electrical) piping found in a waste pile.


 Both these two recycled art pieces can be found hanging outside the Sand's marine center which is located next to the sustainability center.










WASTE MANAGEMENT AND RECYCLING - FRUIT AND VEGETABLE WASTE

A few months ago The Sands implemented a much needed waste separation system with labeled bins placed in all the waste production locations around the property.

Today, all waste is delivered to the collection house twice a day by the various departments. Once at the house the sustainability team check the separation, record the weight per separation and per department. It has been an eye opener to have the figures available making our goal towards zero waste seem clearer. We have a LONG way to go and many lessons to learn but we will do it.

Compost piles 7,8 and 9


So far we have started by trying to use as much of the Fruit and Vegetable waste as we can. Bins of this Fruit and Veg are taken to The Sand's organic farm daily, where it is used to build compost, feed a jakuzi full of worms (to make vermi tea- a natural fertilizer) and soon it will be feeding the 100 Kuroiler chickens which are on their way from Thika.

The chicken coop


The chicken house is now ready with nesting 'boxes' made out of plastic water bottles collected from other houses, restaurants and hotels down the beach. Wood shavings from The Sand's carpentry workshop are being used on the floor and in the laying boxes. The plywood walls are reused pieces taken from the building of the farm house, these, and much of the structural poles have been painted with old engine oil from the hotel generator.



Right next to the chicken run and coop is one of the two compost building zones of the farm, this was done so that the compost would attract and breed insects and larvae which would naturally overflow into the free range run. Also the wood shavings and chicken poo can easily be collected up and added to the composting next door.

After around three months of adding and turning the compost is ready to be used on the raised beds which grow produce for the hotel and restaurant.. and the cycle goes on.

Plans are now in the works to begin using and removing other parts of the waste.. watch this space. ;-)

The Sands Thinking Green.

THE SANDS AT NOMAD'S WASTE MANAGEMENT AND RECYCLING

 FROM TRASH TO TREASURE-
Twalib and Fadhili from the Sands sustainability team weighing and recording collected 'trash'
One of the jobs of The Sands Sustainability Team is full waste checks, separation and recording. 

Not only does The Sands manage and record it’s own waste but we also collect 'single-use' (not anymore) plastic packaging and bottles from other locations around Diani to use in recycling and up-cycling projects. 

Imagine what happens to the bulk plastic packaging from goods arriving at hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and even private homes. Most of it will end up in a landfill site just added to the countless amount of non-biodegradable trash just piled up out of sight and out of mind. Some of it will end up being burnt. (you have seen the black smoke given off by burning plastic)

Our team's recent haul after collecting bulk packaging from the two largest supermarkets in Diani removed 122kgs of plastic before it was burnt or reached the dump!

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