Wednesday, 26 February 2020

JOURNEY TOWARDS 'LOW' WASTE- PAPER AND CARDBOARD RECYCLING

In our last post about this subject we published some results from our waste production data from last year. We were proud of it but also recognised that we still have far to go. Ok, well as of today a little less far.

Weighing the paper produced. The recyclable bin bags will be reused 
This morning, after having been separating, weighing and recording our production of 'waste' paper, cardboard, magazines for the last couple of weeks (on top of our normal separation efforts) we sent two hundred and seven kilograms of paper products off to be recycled! This basically means that, since 18 days ago we have not burned or sent to the landfill 207 kilograms of 'waste'.

The best thing about this is that we are being paid by the collector per kilo. It's not much but it is something that comes back from 'waste'. It comes to about Ksh 1,600.. it's something.



The next step is to try to get the other hotels in Diani and Tiwi on board so that we can all fill a truck once a week.. they have to be separating their waste first though.

In case you as the reader are interested in joining this paper recycling initiative please note that paper should be separated per type and it cannot be oily, wet or have food stuffs on it.

If you are interested to hear more on how we can come together to lower our collective waste and impact contact Atti at sustainability@thesandskenya.com


Monday, 17 February 2020

ORGANIC FARMING- Why have raised beds?

Using raised beds is a choice one has to make for oneself. It depends on circumstances.


We use broken fridges, freezers, jaccuzis, tyres, drums, bottles, diving tanks and soon adding a boat.
This Photo was taken on the 29th of January 2020.
On the Nomad farm we use raised beds because there is little topsoil on the shallow corral, the earth there is is not very fertile and in some places it has a low PH thanks to the Neem trees shedding their leaves.

This Photo was taken 16 days after the one above. Kress, Basil and Lettuce mixed

  • Raising the beds allows the area within the bed to be treated well and looked after, creating a microclimate filled with the correct microorganisms that help with productivity. IE- It's easier to control soil biology.


  • The more the beds are off the ground the less pests there are.


  • The higher the bed the easier the management and harvesting of it. (Waist height is ideal- Not having to bend or crouch).


  • Some negative's would be that some raised beds can dry out faster than ground beds. However this can be remedied by what material is used in the raised bed.

Adding worms to a contained raised bed means the worm colony will form, aerate the soil, fertilise the bed with their castings and so hopefully create a growing space that will take little effort to keep it producing.. sustainable thinking.





Friday, 14 February 2020

ORGANIC FARMING- Challenges -'SIAFU' a risk to chicken farming

It is always good to write about some of the problems faced in organic farming, others might be able to learn without having to make the same mistakes and maybe our solutions might help others facing the same issues.. in this case SIAFU or Army Ants.


Trying to stop the main army lines coming 
A couple of weeks ago, at eleven at night a call came from the Nomad farm reporting 'Siafu' were in the hen house'. It turned out the invasion was far larger. They were everywhere, the ground around the chickens and compost piles and the growing beds was literally crawling in battle ready ants ranging from a few millimetres to 3 centimetres in size.

We arrived in time to save the hens by setting fire to cut, dry grass and scattering it around the hen house before working our ways down the main 'arteries' of ants pouring in. NB. We were fortunate that we had access to cut, dried grass as we had been preparing to use it for mulching once dried and seeds had dropped.

The hens are waiting for the bugs from the freshly turned compost piles. One of the reasons for the piles being located here. An easy design idea that makes a difference in the long run (more free range diet) but it comes with its challenges.

Invasions like this happen occasionally throughout sub-saharan Africa, usually around the time of the rains when there is plenty of creatures around for the army ants to subdue in a blanket of bites before eating.. they are fully carnivorous ants, no salad for them. On the positive side they can be considered an 'African Spring-clean'. They enter one's house on one side, clean it out of bugs, mice, snakes, rats, and off they go.

In retrospect- the Ants were aiming for the bugs and grubs in the compost piles and the hen house.. not for the hens, but because the sawdust inside had not been replaced in far too long it was full of chicken poop and all the bugs that love that stuff.. all perfect Siafu food.

The compost piles, which were located along the edge of the hen run to make tossing fruit and veg to the hens easy and also so that the compost would attract and breed lots of bugs, some of which would end up in the hen run.. to help their diets be as free range as possible.

The problem is that a colony of millions of Siafu is like a single organism that consumes all slow moving living things in their path.. and we had enticed them right into our hen house.

So solutions?...PREVENTION. 

1.  We will change the saw dust more often, especially during the rainy season.

2.  After using fire to keep them at bay at night when they were most active we then collected some used engine oil from the Generator at The Sands and 're-used' it on all the legs of the chicken house where they were climbing up. We also re-oiled the stand for the Jacuzzi 'wormary' as Siafu LOVE worms.

3.  Wood ash poured on the ground in lines around ant sensitive areas also works until the ash gets wet and then it needs reapplication.

The hen house after the night of the ants.
 The house is built out of recycled wood, the nest boxes are recycled PET  bottles.
*Interestingly, when the old oil arrived at the farm someone thought it was for pouring ONTO the lines of Siafu! NOT A GOOD PLAN as oil is toxic and farms and ground water is not where it's wanted, keep it on the posts and walls. Luckily not too much damage was done.

  • It is important to note that Siafu and their invasions are a natural phenomenon, they provide an essential service to an ecosystem balancing populations of species that can otherwise get out of hand. (Mice, Rats, Termites etc) Completely Killing the colony (as opposed to trying to prevent it's attack on certain areas) is not permaculture lifestyle and it will come back to haunt you in other ways.

UPCYCLING PLASTIC BOTTLES- PET

We have already made a couple of posts on this subject but here we are just going to add a couple more ways that we have found to re-use PE...