Monday, 3 August 2020


It goes without saying the impact of this whole Corona thing has been seriously felt all over the world. Shut down travel, industries and services closed, jobs lost and this may still get worse as we see second and third waves hitting already 'over-it' places in the world. 

The hardest hit for sure are those who never had any savings, the hand to mouth survivors, as times past the number of desperate people will also rise.. expendable income is now hard to come by. It's time to think differently, lower your impact, lower your expenses.

In brave attempts keep the economy ticking and as many people as possible still employed, a few weeks ago the Kenyan Government allowed some restaurants to open under strict guidelines to try to prevent the spread and yet allow people to try to make ends meet.
Foot operated hand wash unit at The Nomad Beach Bar.
The soap is actually INSIDE the 20L bucket of water on top

One of these new regulations is that all establishments must have 'HYGIENIC' hand wash stations outside their entrances. It is interesting to note that the use of a normal hand operated hand wash bucket seems to have been accepted by the ministry of health. With proper, regular tap and soap plunger cleaning this system would work BUT its success at stopping the spread would be far less than a hand wash station that does not require to be touched by every customer.
Useful to paint first IF you are going to.

People might argue that this is not viable for most people and establishments on the grounds of affordability. Well, in case it helps here are a few photos and explanations on how to build a foot operated hand wash station at very low cost. 

We used PPR but cheaper plumbing parts are available.
These clamps are useful but the provided screws are too short.

Other than the plumbing parts these units are built out of reused nails and repurposed 'scrap' wood from building and maintenance jobs. (These are the offcuts spoken about in the previous post- 'Waste not Want not'). The spring is off an old broken trampoline but rubber inner tube would work ;0). The 'string' from the ball cock lever to the foot pedal can be a broken bicycle chain, or kite lines, wire, rope..


We have 6 of these units around The Sands at Nomad and the Nomad Beach Bar.

 The main gate 
The staff log-in point 
The staff Restaurant entry point
The Boutique Hotel entrance 
The Beach Bar access from the parking 
The Beach Bar access from the best beach

Come see for yourself, we are taking the safety of our staff and visitors and hotel guests seriously.

Thursday, 30 July 2020


When you are working on daily living or a building or maintenance project there is often times when you will find leftover bits of material, when the project is over much of this material is thrown away as part of the final clean up. How often would one stop to check what is left and might be useable?

It is good practice, (if you are able and have the space), to start thinking a bit like a squirrel, yup, you heard right, 'stacking and packing' the pieces that might be useful in the future.. so saving you having to go out and buy more material. Obviously this is very dependent on ones available space.

                        Candles made from recycled candle wax
Candles made from Recycled candle wax

At the Sands there are various locations where old, worn, removed but still useable in some ways materials are all stored, stacked or in some cases even piled. We have piles of old pipes, for use making into the foot operated hand wash basins we implemented at the opening of the restaurant in these Corona times. We have piles of wood and timber, all used, with holes, nails, breaks, splits.. but amongst all this are pieces of gold that we regularly scavenge from to fulfil material needs at no extra cost. Remember the Trash to Treasure blog post?

                                         Marble offcuts from the kitchen upgrade- Sushi platters

Recently we have been making the kitchen area at the Nomad Beach Bar and Restaurant even more clean and hygienic by replacing work surfaces with black granite. Granite is very cleanable, there are no pores or holes or permeation for food or germs so a bonus to an upgraded kitchen. After the job we found there to be some left over offcuts and edges of the granite, which, as you can imagine should and could not be wasted.. so we turned these offcuts into the soon-to-be-used Sushi and serving platters. Come see for yourself.

So in conclusion, the idea of  

Thursday, 23 July 2020


The light up gate made using 'waste' glass bottles
Here on Diani Beach, because we are an award winning holiday destination, it goes without saying that a LOT of empty wines and spirits bottles are produced by the hotels, bars and private homes.

What is interesting however is that it seems that not too many people understand the value of these empty bottles. Where do they all go? Most people may drop them at the recycling drop off points  in Ukunda or down the Diani Beach road or sell them for very low prices to recycle collectors from Mombasa. At least if you are one of the people responsible enough to be doing this you are far ahead of many who just dump it.

In this post we will explain the ways we at The Sands have found to utilise the glass bottles produced from Diani's busiest restaurant, and by doing so, lower expenses.
Glass bottle stockpiling for later use
Building blocks

Imagine that currently one can buy a grinder cut corral block for building at around 22 Kenya Shillings.. did you know that you can use around 6 glass wine or spirit bottles to fill the same space as a brick? So if you were building a wall that needed 1000 bricks that is 22,000 shillings plus cement and labor.  If you had collected or stockpiled 6000 glass bottles your only expense will be the cement and the labor. Recently The Sands at Nomad has donated three years worth of glass bottles to a new sustainability business starting up nearby. The business intended to use the bottles as building blocks as well as an artistic awareness piece as, due to the different coloured glass bottles, the walls can be beautiful as well as functional.

The sound proofing wall around the generator house at The Sands at Nomad
Up-cycled into drinking glasses

The Sands has, as part of the sustainability department, a room housing glass cutting and polishing machines. Any glass bottles with unique sizes, shapes or colours are stored and 'up-cycled' into all shapes and sizes of drinking glasses, flower vases and sauce pots for The Nomad beach bar, The Sands at Nomad and The Sands at Chale Island hotels.

You imagine how much it costs to replace broken drinking glasses in a hotel and restaurant each year? Costs like this are minimised through sustainable practice and 'circular economies'.

Cut glass bottles waiting to be polished
Borders for 'raised planting beds' on a farm

Some farms, especially around this coastal area, have very shallow topsoil sitting on corral rock. Due to this having a productive farm in these conditions can be challenging as there is little space for roots to grow. On the Sands at Nomad's farm we have used thousands of glass bottles to raise the level of the topsoil to allow for more root space.
Using glass bottles to make raised beds on shallow soil
Recycled art

Walking around The Sands boutique hotel one would notice some of the recycled or 'up-cycled' art pieces that have been made using glass bottles from the restaurant 'waste'. Glass art like this has huge potential in areas where there is a lot of this 'FREE recyclable raw material' available. Free material for creative people to use and maybe even make some money from selling.

Ballast for mixing into cement

Glass is actually made from quartz sand, the same kind of sand that is used in the mixing of cement.

If you have any broken glass, like many of these hotels and restaurants do naturally, know that you can take the broken glass, put it into a metal drum and SAFELY crush it into glass 'sand' (quartz sand) which can then be used to supplement and lower the cost of having to buy building sand.. and it safely removed broken glass from the system and landfills and children and animals feet.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020


It is now, at the end of the rains, as the sun shines and the farm has been growing well for months that the greatest fight with pests is. 
Assorted Veggies going to the restaurant this morning. 23 June 2020

On an Organic farm one cannot use pesticides as these toxic chemical killers are not organic and they poison produce with what has been proven to be 'cancer causing' toxins. As a result, if you are into natural 'organic farming' one has to accept a degree of losses. 
One of the views across the Sand's Farm
In our limited experience from these coastal, tropical conditions- Organic farming for successful commercial production might be more possible (with a higher yeild) inside a controlled environment like a green house. The question however is- Is there an alternative to the PLASTIC sheeting or shade net used? Please let us know if there is.

Our first red Radish
Right now we are fighting a battle on the Sand's farm. As many of you may know the produce as late off the farm has been incredible, we have been blessed so far.. and now we have challenges.
Pests hand-picked off the greens.. chicken food
Damage done

We have found the biggest 'current' pest issue is caused by Grasshoppers and Caterpillars which have recently been laid as eggs of the salads and spinaches by their 'sun-loving' parents. The two varieties we are finding the most have a habit of eating what they can of the fresh growing leaves before moving down the stem in the day time, hiding among the base of the leaf stems, destroying any chance of fresh leaves. One little Caterpillar can make one salad no longer produce new leaves.

This growth point is decimated

So what are we doing to try to stop them? Well we have been spraying on the natural Neem tree based 'deterrent' that we have been using to 'deter' the pests. It is hard to have an exact measure of the success of this deterrent but as the years go on we have added to it to try to improve the success.

How we make our pest deterrent- take a bunch of fresh Neem tree shoots which coppice off cut stumps, these are ground up with water to make a bitter liquid once the Neem leaves are sieved out.. to help the deterrent 'bind' to the leaf (last a little longer) add a 'little' soap. Recently we have started to add some Marigold to the Neem mix also.

Hand removal is labor intensive but over the last three days we have
managed to get a bit of control over the starving, vegetaran zombie
 In some bad pest cases try a little chilli, garlic, onion or even some tobacco leaf soaked into the 'potion'. Tobacco leaves are said by many 'old wives with tails' to be the best pest deterrent. Whether any of these methods or concoctions makes the leaf taste odd is really up to how strong the mix is, has it rained a lot, are the leaves washed properly before use.

P.S- Remember, leaves need to 'photosynthesise' and 'transpire'.. so too much of a oily or soapy layer on their leaves can slow their growth or damage them.

Monday, 8 June 2020


After much talk about all the ways to go about farming organically or trying to live sustainably it's only right that some photos of evidence that these techniques have worked for us are shared. Given we are at a time of abundance on The Sands at Nomad's farm.

Some of the old Jacuzzis we have now been growing from for two rain seasons. We put in some topsoil when we first started, added worms and compost over time. As they are off the ground there are fewer pests.

Caterpillar 'munch-marks' on leaves is a sign that no pesticides are sprayed onto the leaves. The same rule goes for fruit.. few 'naturally grown' tomatoes are perfect.

We are producing less Eggs as the hotel is closed (C19) so the demand is low. We are letting our hens SIT on their eggs so 'hopefully' giving us more 'layers' in the future.. and the result of this?
Despite the efforts of a very wily 'Slender Mongoose' we have 8 NEW CHICKS as of this morning.
Isa and Zaidi planting out seedling


The photograph above on the left is 'outside' the fence of the Sand's Organic Farm. Boundary fences have been planted with Passion Fruit with the intention of them producing enough for lucky by-passers to pick.

LHS- A photo of the farm during rain. In this Photo one could find Bananas, Papaya, Passion Fruit, Rucola, Egg plant, Okra, Lettuce, Spinach, Mchicha, Sage, Kress, Tomatoes, a worm farm, fish tanks and lots of various repurposed waste made useful.


Monday, 1 June 2020


WAS- A Drinks fridge at The Sands at Nomad Beach Bar
NOW- Fish breeding, Dragonfly and Frog breeding.
(Noisy 'Guttural Toads' can't get into this)

As we have mentioned before in this Blog Dragonflies are one of the useful insects to have on your farm (or around your house). They are predatory, they catch flying bugs out of the air using technologically advanced flight and huge compound eyes. They are said to have one of the highest known hunting success rates of any species.

Reeds and Lilies are nursery areas
 for Frogs, Toads, Spiders and Dragonflies 
Previous photo zoomed in on this
 recently metamorphasised Dragonfly
Some Insects that dragonflies help to control:

..and surely many more region dependent.

Not bad for an un-paid agile, aerial, Askari. 
(AKA-Security guard)

Dragonflies need standing water for them to lay their eggs and for the larvae to live for the first cycle of its life.. eating tadpoles and aquatic insects. Then once it is ready for the second cycle of life it climbs out of the water onto reeds or lilies where it metamorphasises or 'moults' into a Dragonfly.

Color the Life Cycle: Dragonfly | Worksheet |
Image Source-

All you need to do is make a pond, or fill a broken water tank, or an old fridge (see below example off the Sand's Farm) with water, put in some aquatic plants to clean it, a few fish and tadpoles to eat the algae and Mosquito larvae, and there you have a Dragonfly 'AND' Frog/Toad breeding program.
(The Anti-pest army)

It's useful to harvest fast growing aquatic plants before they cover the water surface. Lilies, like these above are rich in Ammonia and Nitrates. 

About ten kilograms (wet) is removed every two weeks or so to be added to our compost making.

(double or quadruple the use of a plant or space)

Saturday, 30 May 2020


Over the last two months the good rain has meant that we have been able to get a good success out of growing greens on the Sand's Organic farm. The fresh water makes a huge difference for us and the community around us as, as it was noted in our irrigation water tests, it is 'not fit for agricultural purposes'.. but we try anyway with some successes, miracles and failures. 

It is now, at the end of the rains as the sun-hours increase and the ground is wet that farms starts pushing almost visible growth.

With fresh rain water growing greens is far easier. Spot the 'Caterpillar' damage..  proof of no pesticides.
The subsistence farms around us all planted out their fields three to four weeks ago, now the maize is three feet high and healthy, interestingly protected from many pests by the technique of slashing back of the brush to make space from the farm from 'bush' (The same areas are cut back before the rains each season). The cut bushes and branches (mostly Lantana species... a natural pest deterrent!) is then used to build rough 'boma-like' fences to keep the goats and sheep out but also naturally acting as a pest barrier for grasshoppers and the likes. We will be taking and using this technique in the seasons to come. Here's to local, tried and tested methods of farming in this environment.

For those of you that are farming or living towards sustainability in life we have a couple more tips here for anyone who would like to try.


Since the onset of the rain we took the covers off our many compost piles to allow the rain water to get in and help feed the micro-organisms in the decomposition process. (Compost should be watered to keep it damp). It goes without saying that watering compost with our well water affects some of the more sensitive species of good bacteria, grubs and insects.
Passion and Papaya seedling by the hundred.
With the covers off we added a loads of 'waste' Papaya skins and seeds, passions skins and seeds from the daily fruit harvests off the farm. 

This is all given away, used by the hotel, or tuned into fruit puree's...and then retuned to the farm (cycle economy).. where the compost piles have become the most healthy fruit tree nurseries one can imagine.. all by natural systems with little energy expended. We also planted pumpkin and water melons around the compost piles. These have also gone wild.
Spot the compost nursaries
From natural nurseries like this, one can select seedlings of Papaya, Passion Fruit, and any other 'waste' seed that germinate (Mango, Avocado, Custard Apple) to plant out during the rains.. Think, avenues of Papaya's, fences covered in Passions. Which takes us to the next little tip.


Using the compost piles as nurseries also falls under this point.... the same 'space' used for 

1. Building compost.
2. Dealing with / UTILISING organic waste.
3. Producing seedlings for future seasons harvests.

An important aspect about 'space' is that many of us can miss 'farming in 3D' or as the Guru's of permaculture call it 'vertical stacking and packing'.... using the space to its best 'most sustainably abundant' use. (It's not just about planting in the ground or in pots on the ground) 

Examples of this is USING boundary walls, fences, trees, gates, house eves, rooftops, balconies and the likes to grow produce using these vertical spaces either supported from the ground up, or suspended grow spaces hanging. Using space that was previously unproductive and under-utilised.

Above is an example of this from a photo taken this morning at the Sand's farm:

1. The Compost piles were located in the space along the chicken run fence to attract lots of bugs and grubs to the proximity of the chickens to increase their natural free range diet. (2 uses)

2. Water Melons were planted on the edge of the compost piles so as to get some productivity out of the space while we wait for the compost process. (3 uses)

3. Passion fruits were planted between the compost piles to grow up the vertical space on the chicken fence. Turning an unproductive space into a productive one. (4 uses)

4. The Passion Fruit and Water Mellon creeper 'growth ends' that get too low down on the fence (reachable by the chickens) or grow through the fence add to the chicken's natural vegetable intake. 

5 USES.. and we can just ignore the Papaya tree which is going to produce for years from that same space!)

Less Eggs being collected recently as we are letting hens lay.
A useful tip. --- don't cut down all the trees on your farm. Plan which ones are useful and/or productive, where do you need light, which ones hold water in their root systems, which ones release nitrogen into the soil, which ones deter pests. We have kept many unproductive (no edible yield) trees on the Sand's farm... we use them (functionaly) as 'trellises' for growing Passion Fruits. 

(We used a natural vertical space that was unproductive, planted a seedling at the base of the tree and.. boom. We have lots of Passion Fruit vines currently producing close to two kilo's a day off trellises that cost nothing to make and they are alive so will not rot or need replacing.

The Jaccuzis are proving to be the best success. 

In this one above there is Tomato, spinaches, soft lettuces, Rucolas and Dhania. The worms added to the soil are doing their bit to add nutrients and it's away from some pests due to its height and overhanging edges.

The Neem tree in the background was removed to allow light to the third phase of the farm. The timber and firewood will be used.


It goes without saying the impact of this whole Corona thing has been seriously felt all over the world. Shut down travel, industries and se...