Archived Articles

Radio Thailand Steps Outside!

On Sunday 24th March 2013, Radio Thailand held is regular “Helping Hand” show at the 3 Kings monument in the old part of town of Chiang Mai. Radio Thailand, part of the “Public Relations Department” of the Royal Thai Government, wanted to organise an event that could bring foreigners and Thai people together; aiming at promoting the ideas of H.M. the King about self-sustainability, and in particular about his theory of Sufficiency Economy. The evening, entitled “Following H.M. the King’s footprints”, introduced different speakers as well as artistic performances and was broadcasted live from 7.30-9.00pm (93.25 FM).

Ajaarn Pramot (Mae Jo University), Khun Pallop and Mr. Bob Wiggins (related to the Royal Project Foundation) and Laurent Chiarelli (Sangob Foundation) each gave a 15minutes presentation explaining the work they accomplish in term of reforestation. In between these presentations, we were entertained by Thai classical music. Children of a nearby school had also prepared a dance in honour of H.M. the King; Jennie McGuire expressed her feelings on canvas as Ralph Thomas played his flute delightfully. Finally, Ralph, Laurent and P’ Poh (Natasin, College of Dramatic arts) improvised for a while based on classical Thai patterns.

The evening ended with a 20minutes Q&A that was centered on possible future cooperation between the Royal Project and private NGO’s such as Sangob. Straightforward opinions were exchanged and concrete solutions explored. I think I can safely say that this will result in tangible actions from both sides; and I already hear words of a possible open-air event with Tree Planting actions as well as discussion tables with different members of environmental institutions.

Sangob wishes to thank the following presentators: Rita, June, Jane, Tom, Gloria, Jennie and Wouter for the incredible job they did organising the event. We also want to express our deep feelings of gratitude to Mrs Jiraporn Thongbor (director of Radio Thailand Chiang Mai Region 3) for inviting us to take part in these motivating talks as well as hosting a “Sangob booth”; which allowed us to spread more information about our projects.

"Harvesting Melodies" 2
Traditional & Ethnic Music Festival

 Sat. 9th February 2013 

                 10am - 10pm

                       @ Sangob Foundation

This second edition of "Harvesting Melodies"; which brought about 150people together, perfectly reflected the 3main intentions of the festival:
friendly, local and diverse!

Lanna classical music was performed by Ajaarn Manop (who runs a Lanna instrument shop in Santitham area) , his son and some of his students. It included different kind of flutes, drums, a hammered dulcimer, the chinese harp "Guu Chern", the lanna guitar "Sung", the Lanna violin "Slor" and other famous northern instruments.

The children from "the school of Hope" in Chiang Dao performing martial arts and various Shan dances, like the dear dance (second picture from top)

Hyper-lively Isaan band lead by P' Mate 
and the teachers from "Natasin College of Dramatic Arts"
(also 1st pic on top)

              "Global Harmonies"

A World music/Polyphony Choir based in Chiang Mai presenting Bulgarian, Georgian, Welsh, South-African... folk songs.

The local kids from our village were very proud to present some of the traditional dances they have been learning and practicing at school.

Alessio Monti (world-class guitarist/composer/teacher) came, this year again, and enchanted us with his Brazilian and Italian tunes on his very peculiar guitar.

P' Mate and his friends for a second set... This time round, a full-power Lanna folk ensemble.

Eventually, Ajaarn Pana (father of the well-known Karen musician/activist "Chi" Suwichai) graced us with an intimate presentation of some Karen instruments. Different flutes made out of dear or buffalo horns, the Tenaku harp and some songs in Karen language were used to tell the ancient stories of his people and their way of life. THE most perfect way to end the night!

This year, thanks to your incredible support, we were able to donate over 28,000Baht to all the musicians and dancers as well as raise another 11,000Baht that will help us finance our next Permaculture Impact Project. This next "PIP" will take place in the month of June, at the orphanage of Ajaarn TeTe in Baan Mai Pattana.

Once again, we sincerely wish to thank all of you who came all the way, trying somehow to find us, and did not give up... Without your dedication to our cause, this would NOT have been possible.

We also want to thank all the musicians and dancers for their participation, their incredible talent and their dedication to traditional Arts (not the easiest way of life).

Another special thanks to all of the Northern Thailand "Permies" such as: Jeff Rutherford from the Fair Earth farm in Mae Rim, Marco, Christian/Geoffroy/Nick/Brecht & The Panya Project crew, Lilly & the people from Perma Pai... Thank you for the great discussion/ideas we could exchange and for the networking solutions we are putting in place. 

Finally, a special thank you to "Anchan" vegetarian restaurant, to Khun Off and Khun U for the delicious and very much needed food :-) 

See you next year

Khun Mae Ruam School – Permaculture Impact Project, phase 2
Jan. 10th-16th 2013

The second phase of our first “PIP” really was an experiment in diversity: many “key people” met, great times shared around wonderful food and vital fires, tighter links within the communities around, open doors to 2 new projects and a lot of applied Permaculture
We left Chiang Mai on Thursday the 10th of January, using the local “yellow truck” from Chang Phuak station towards Wat Chan (approximately a 6hours drive) where we stayed overnight at Ajaarn Sawangchai, one of our most precious contacts within the Karen community. Using this way of transportation not only allowed us a serious cut in our expenses but also fits in better with our code of ethics, as it is a local and shared ride. Later that evening, we met with Ajaarn TeTe; an Indian women who moved to Baan Mai Pattana village about 30years ago and started her family; and who is now running an orphanage (home to about 40kids) as well as a Foundation that aims at promoting and preserving the Karen culture and way of life. After our initial conversation, we agreed that the orphanage would open its doors to Sangob Foundation; probably starting our second “Permaculture Impact Project” in the month of June 2013.

Early morning, on the next day, we headed towards the school, and about two hours later on a very dusty road, arrived just on time to start celebrating “Wan Dek” (children’s day). A day during which children partake in all kinds of activities, dances, games… and enjoy far too many treats as well as other useful presents such as clothes, blankets, notebooks, teddy bears and bicycles. 

The parents, teachers, some Ngo’s and some private individuals too, donate most of which. On Saturday, we were invited to another school, in Mae Kiad Heng village; also to celebrate their children’s day. It truly was a joyful and blessed moment that we got to share all together. What a great opportunity to connect deeper with both the teacher’s and the local community. We left Mae Kiad Heng the next day, with an invitation to start our 3rd “PIP” over there (Great News!) and spent our day-off riding the mountains up and down.

On Monday morning, we joined the head of Khun Mae Ruam village, some other villagers as well as the older kids and their teachers in a “community development” project organised by teacher “A” which purpose was to fix the dirt road at the end of the village (Khun Yuam – Mae Chaem intersection). 

All morning, we dug out and transported dirt from one side of the village to the other; filling in holes then stampeding vigorously. A fun and active 4hours project, benefitting the entire community and that is a runner-up for a “competition” organised by the Ministry of Education as a way to encourage rural development.

After lunch, we got to start the second phase of our own project. “Building Soil” is the focus of our second phase; therefore, improving the fertility was the main aspect. To do so, we created raised beds that we planted with different kinds of legumes

Raised beds are large mounds built with alternate layers of organic material (Carbon/Nitrogen) and dirt: we start by laying logs and big branches on the ground, we then cover it with dirt; afterwards we add a layer of fresh greens (all kind of green leaves that we cleaned off the area) then cover it again with dirt; the next layer is composed of a mix of pig manure and ashes, collected in the village; we finally cover it with a last layer of dirt. 


To make the process faster and enable more children to be active, we donated 11 hoes and 3 rakes so that everybody could get his/her turn. At the end of our first afternoon, we had already built 7 enormous beds. The next morning, we built another 3 and started off planting. 

We decided to solely plant legumes because these plants have the ability to capture Nitrogen in its Gas form and deliver it into the ground through its nodules, thus increasing fertility within and around the beds. We selected Butterfly Pea, Leucaena, Sun-Hemp and Cow Pea seeds. As we will come back for phase 3 (in the month of May, right before the rainy season), we will first save all these seeds for further projects, then chop the Nitro-fixing plants and drop them onto the beds, eventually covering them with compost. The beds will then be ready to be planted with the multiple medicinal herbs, fruit trees and vegetables we will bring along.

Once all the beds were planted, we mulched them with some rice straw that was generously offered by one of the local farmers then heavily watered them all. A last addition to this second phase was the creation of a small pond situated in the middle of the food forest and, that will later on host a pair of ducks.

By the end of Tuesday morning, we had completed the second phase with the enthusiast help of all the students involved. We will go back to the school the first week of March to help organise and partake in their English camp; then again in May 2013 for the 3rd and final phase of this “PIP”, which is about Planting the food forest. 

This second phase was such an incredible experience for us; we can’t wait to go back and share their enriching way of life, learn their language a bit more as well as enjoy their warm hospitality! Once again, we wish to sincerely thank all the people who are helping us making these projects concrete through their kind donations as well as Khun Peerayut Promphuk for all the candies & goodies he donated for Children’s day.

Khun Mae Ruam “Permaculture Impact” school project
 1st phase (12-14th November 2012)

Sangob’s team just came back from the very secluded village of Khun Mae Ruam, spending 3 days in the local school teaching the children about different ways of composting as part of the first phase of our “PIP”.
Khun Mae Ruam is a very peaceful Karen Hill-tribe village located deep in the mountains of Kalayaniwattana district. The last part of the journey was definitely the harshest: 28km of a hilly and slippery dirt road (which results in a total isolation during the rainy season) took us about 1hour and 45minutes, using a 4wheels drive… 

The school hosts 278 students and 46 of them stay in their boarding facilities, for they come from even more isolated villages. They teach the nursery, primary and secondary level up to the age of 14years old. After that, students have to leave their village and families if they wish to further their education. Electricity is provided through 30 solar panels installed on the school grounds, merely enough to support the whole village and that is only if the sun decides to shine upon their valley. Last rainy season, they stayed without electricity for 2 months, which rendered the task of the teachers even more difficult. The staff, mostly young motivated Thai teachers who chose to work within ethnic minority communities, must be supported by the help of some volunteers from the village for they are not enough. Despite these conditions, they achieve brilliant work on a constant basis and I reckon I was very surprised to witness them educating the children with such an effective approach and such pedagogical skills and it was truly helpful to have their support throughout the project.

On Monday12, in the morning, Bank Supannapop (our president) started by introducing ourselves, the foundation and its different projects and then detailed the project we were going to realise together through its different phases. He also explained the different layers of a food forest, asking the students to use concrete examples of local tress in order to fill these different layers in. The students attending our activities were aged between 10 and 14 years old. After the introduction, Dillon Hall (volunteer coordinator) explained the reasons why it is important to make compost instead of burning all these precious materials. He went on detailing the cycles of Water, Nitrogen and Carbon. After that, we started to work on the first phase, which is about composting. The first day was dedicated to making a large compost pile using layers of Carbon (dried leaves), Nitrogen (fresh greens), animal manure, ash and food scraps.

The children, grouped in different teams, were sent into the village to collect all the material needed and brought it back into our new “composting area”. After lunchtime, layers by layers, the students built a big compost pile following the morning’s instructions. Once the pile was completed, we headed back to the classroom in order to check their comprehension through a sum-up activity where students were supposed to re-create a compost pile on a big board, placing all the ingredients back in their correct place.

In the morning of the second day, we made another, larger pile to make sure we will have enough compost for our second phase. Indeed, we plan on using their own compost when we will come to plant the vegetable gardens and medicinal herbs in January 2013. In the afternoon, Laurent Chiarelli (project manager) talked about the dangers of using chemicals fertilizers and pesticides and their impact on the environment. As a solution, we decided to produce our own organic liquid fertilizer and insect/pest repellent solely using local ingredients. The liquid booster is made out of shredded banana tree mixed with water and molasses (sugar cane) while the repellent uses garlic, turmeric, ginger, galangal, chili, lemongrass, citronella, neem leaves and lime.

They are left in a bucket 3to4 weeks for fermentation, then are ready for use. To enhance their efficiency, we added different kind of micro-bacterial organisms that were generously donated to us by the “Land Development Department” under a government initiative to promote organic agriculture. We ended the day by another “check-up” activity to ensure the students could remember all recipes then went on to the conclusion, feedback and the inevitable group picture.
We feel extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to collaborate with the students and teachers of Khun Mae Ruam school and sincerely did not expect such interest, participation and positive impact. It also seems that other schools from the same area have expressed interest in our “PI” projects. This is truly motivating and encouraging! We lack words to express our gratitude towards all the people who helped us realizing this project through all their donations; without your support we would not have succeeded! The first phase now completed, we will go back to the school on 14th of January then in May 2013 for the second and last phase. Until then, enjoy our pictures…
Thank you for the children.

Sangob Team at the New Land Project

Last Friday, the 10th of August, the volunteers currently staying at Sangob headed to Pai to assist Khun Bank with some projects on the “New Land”. The New Land is Sandot’s (the owner of TacomePai organic farm) initiative, in collaboration with Sangob Foundation, to reforest about 72,000 sqm of a logged area near Pai using permaculture design techniques in order to demonstrate sustainable livelihood for the locals and people from all around the world. (See more details under OUR PROJECTS)

It was thus a good opportunity for us to pay our Lahu friends a quick visit in a nearby hill-tribe before going to stay at TacomePai for the first day where we helped out with some chores such as weeding the rice fields and saving seeds for the New Land; as well as toured the farm and enjoyed its simple lifestyle.

Saturday was Mother’s day. In Thailand, Mother’s day is on the same day as the Queen’s birthday and is traditionally celebrated by planting some trees at home or in the village. Early morning, we walked to the local temple in order to give the monks and villagers a hand in planting trees all over the monastery grounds. After that, we drove to the New Land, accompanied by some volunteers from TacomePai. Some of us started working at the bottom of the land and designed two paddy fields while the others were busy digging out the toilet tanks of the previous bathroom. By the end of the day, both rice fields were ready to be planted with the seedballs that Sandot and Bank had previously fashioned.

These seedballs are made out of clay and compost and 3 rice seeds are then inserted in the balls that are eventually left to dry before being simply thrown onto the fields when it is time to plant. This is a very efficient technique because it is both time and energy saving. Traditionally, seeds are first planted close to each other in one paddy field and left to germinate for a month. They then need to be transplanted in all other paddies. But seedballs are quick to fabricate, directly thrown in the field and prevent the farmer from heavy back pain. Once in contact with humidity, the seeds will germinate and rice will grow. At the end of the day, we went to collect food around the land and prepared a delicious dinner together. Stir-fried pumpkin and beans, bamboo soup, morning glory and sticky rice were devoured in a matter of minutes. We spent that night in the hut on the New Land. It wasn’t the most comfortable night still a very enjoyable one!
On Sunday was Dillon’s 25th birthday, one of our long-term volunteer. We decided to take a day off and all go relax by a hot spring in a nearby forest. In the evening, back at TacomePai, we enjoyed some great Chinese food followed by a birthday cake, of course!

The next morning, we first gathered some herbs, veggies and fruits on the farm to go plant on the New Land. Sweet potatoes, ginger, jathropa (a plant used for biodiesel), turmeric and coconut were easily found. We then went for a walk in the forest behind the land in order to collect some wild baby mangoes fallen in the river. Two hours later, we were back on the land with over 250 mango seedlings. After lunch, we spent the entire afternoon planting all these trees on the contours of the land. As it was our last day in Pai, we opted for spending the night in town, wandering around and enjoying some delicious street food.

Once again, we left Pai filled with inspiration; both from the nature around and the diverse, relevant activities we did as well as from Sandot’s creative perspective on farming and how to live a simple life. The day we spent creating these rice fields on the New Land particularly stimulated us. The idea to start the same “small-scale” paddies, here at Sangob, was given rise to. This coming week, we will be busy digging the upper part of our land (approx. 100sqm) then planting  organic soy beans in order to fix Nitrogen inside the field and naturally improve the soil. We will try to follow the “dry field” method and will grow 3 harvests of soybeans for 1 harvest of rice per year. We are positive that this will lead to many different kind of processing experimentations such as milk, tofu, animal feed, compost material… which promises to be a lot of learning and a lot of fun!

Plenty of Fish

The month of May is clearly our favourite one of the year; and this, for multiple reasons. By hundreds, fireflies illuminate our nights; the rain, a true blessing for the trees after a long and dry summer, starts to green the land again while the days remain utterly sundrenched. Rivers, lakes and waterfalls slowly begin to fill up too. This is also the season to prepare the rice fields for planting. This means the farmers have to empty their water reservoirs in order to flood their paddies before being able to pre-plant the seedlings, leading to the funniest game ever! The pond in front of our land is a little less big than 1Rai (approx. 1200sqm) and isn’t too deep; yet it took about two days and three nights to dry it up. Once emptied, the pond is left with dozens of various fish that are hiding in the mud. A great opportunity to jump in this mud bath, armed with nets and bamboo cages trying to uncover then catch the biggest fish. 
All the neighbours get together and organise the fish hunt in a very methodical yet hilarious approach. Some of them are digging the mud in order to send the fish into the direction of the other people who are patiently waiting to literally jump on these, trying to fill their bags with as many fish as they can. Some of the fish, as big and as fat as a human arm, require the assistance of several people to make sure they won’t escape. We spent hours in the pit until we were almost certain that no fish had been forgotten. This isn’t an easy task because the mud pit is quite often waist-deep, filled with branches, stones and other obstacles clearly slowing our progression down while the fish are fast to slip away. Some of them have dorsal fins as sharp as razor blades that are far from being painless, which makes it even harder. Eventually, everyone gathers around the lake and we start dividing the treasure.
Some of them will be sold to other villagers or at the local market, but most of them are kept for the families’ personal use. Steamed fish with lemon and herbs, grilled fish with garlic and black pepper, orange curry soup and the famous “three flavours” chilly paste will be for sure found on every table of our community in the coming days… But apart from fish, other animals can also be found at the bottom of the ditches: shrimps, mussels, snails and a myriad of shellfish gratify the villagers with an exhilarating fresh-water food plateau. This once in a year happening remains quite unknown from most urban people, and it is considered a blessing to be invited to the game then share the harvest around a glass (or two) of their famous local rice whiskey.

Learning the hard way
Sometimes everything is going smooth and fine but sometimes, without understanding why or without even any external signs, things can quickly get out of control. This is the way of nature and we have to accept it if we aim to design systems that function like the nature. As we are constantly learning by doing, we have to see mistakes as a positive learning value instead of regarding them as something negative; which is often the western view applied to errors.
End of 2011, we decided to acquire some goats, raise and breed them towards organic milk and cheese production. As we had never worked with dairy goats before, we had to research a lot of information to make sure we were ready to take care of them in the best way possible (see the previous article entitled “Thai Farm in Isaan”). We had to decide about their housing facilities and their feeding program; we had to learn about possible diseases and infections, about crossbreeding and so on. For the first three months, everything was going fine, they all looked very healthy and happy here, three of them gave birth to lovely babies and it seemed that we were on the right track.

Unfortunately, for the past three weeks, we started loosing some of them. The first one to go was our Nubian male, Rocco, who, without showing us any signs, died within a couple of hours. The vet could not see the reason so we decided to send him to the “Elephant Hospital” in Lampang for autopsy. We were very disappointed when receiving the results for they had not found anything wrong with him. No signs of diseases, no infections, no worms! About a week later, our second male, one of our new babies, also died within a couple of hours. Once again the Vet had no idea about the cause of death and seemed very perplex with this whole situation. Later that same day, our pregnant female Nubian died in less than an hour! We were of course all very upset and sad. We kept calling other vets specialized in goats, some University Departments and other reference people but no one could understand. Out of despair, our dear neighbour decided to help us understanding the problem, hoping to stop this massacre. There was only one way to do so: opening their stomach and go check inside ourselves. And so we did!

Immediately the answer came to us. Their stomach was absolutely full of food. So full, that the food could not go down the intestines anymore and was eventually going back up causing them to rapidly die from suffocation. The reason that the food got stuck is due to the nature of the food itself. Indeed, through our multiple readings and advices of the farmers we had bought the goats from, we had decided that their feeding program would mainly rely on Leucaena and Moringa. Both plants are legumes (nitro-fixing trees) and therefore content a high value of proteins. The excess of protein caused acid production inside the stomach, resulting in bloating then death. Once we understood this, the solution was quickly found.

First of all, we made each of them swallow about 30cc of cooking oil so that it would, on the one hand, act as a base (reducing the effect of acidity) and on the other hand, facilitate the defecation of the food still stuck in their stomach. Secondarily and most importantly, we had to adapt the feeding program to a more diverse one with less-nutrients plants like grass, tree leaves, fruits and banana leaves. Since then (about a week ago), no other goats have passed away but we keep a close eye on the herd, hoping it is not too late for some of them.

It has thus been a very hard time for us and we hope that the future will be brighter, but we have to admit that eventually we got to learn a lot from these accidents and that once again, as it is one of the most important concepts of Permaculture, DIVERSITY remains the key to success. On the other hand, we also got to learn how to dissect and examine a dead animal and where to look for problems, but also how to skin and prepare the animal for a dinner, that I have to admit, was absolutely delicious.

Thai Farm in Isaan

Once again Sangob took a journey to Isaan, a one-week trip visiting family and friends in Khon Kaen, Surin and Kap Choeng. During the trip, a visit to a farm called the Thai Farm, in Na Chuak (Maha Sarakham province), had also been planned with the purpose to increase our goat stock. We had found the farm on the Internet ( and were immediately convinced that this was the place we HAD TO stop and get as much information as we could but we truly did not expect to meet such warm, genuine and knowledgeable people as Andy and the family of his wonderful wife Sai. The first impression we got when we arrived was overwhelming for the farm is located by an immense spectacular lake (called the “Pattaya beach of Isaan”); a perfect set-up for the animals that are free ranging all around. The selection and variety of its livestock is impressive too: over 200 ducks, 200 chicken, 300 quails, turkeys and goats. 

Then we met Andy! Andy, a British fellow who has degrees in animal science and genetics, took us around the farm explaining the feeding and breeding process for each animal kind of his livestock. He also spent a long time talking about his marketing plans and about the future projects of the Thai-Farm, soon to become a learning center. Then we met Sai, who is taking care of the animals on a daily basis; her dad, who raises cows and looks after their rice fields; and her mum, who patiently makes sure that the traditional method of silk weaving is not disappearing (she plants the mulberry trees, collects the leaves, raises the worms, extracts the silk from the cocoons, ties the threads with natural colour then weaves traditional Isaan clothes). 
After this entire introduction to the farm and its people, we started to go over the goat stock with a fine-tooth comb. Andy imperturbably answered all of our questions for hours, and we finally decided to choose which goats were going to come back to Mae Taeng with us. 3 sisters Thai natives goats and a baby (2 of which are pregnant and the last one having given birth just about two weeks ago), a pregnant black Anglo-Nubian and a Nubian buck are now happily grazing the ground of Sangob. But before we could bring them all back up here, we built a bamboo structure at the back of the pick-up truck we had borrowed from our dear friends Mick and Michelle (who we, by the way, once again deeply thank) to make sure our new goats would feel safe and relaxed during this very long trip.

In the evening, Andy took us to a local cattle market where over 600 cows were being exposed. Discussing prices, comparing breeds and discovering the lifestyle of Isaan farmers really was an interesting and authentic experience for us. We ended that day getting to know each other even more (couples of beers always help) and exchanging our opinions on organic farming and permaculture in Thailand. The next day, after the kids were sent to school, we took all the goats to the local department of livestock development of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to have them checked, registered and ear-tagged. It was eventually time for us to leave our hosts/new friends and hit the road. Apart from having met incredible people and having made sincere new friends, we are very proud to announce that the Thai-Farm and Sangob are going to collaborate on diverse permaculture projects/workshops in the recent future. The first of which will be held in the end of March 2012, focusing on strawbale building (for the learning center to be able to accommodate the students), livestock management and traditional silk weaving preservation. We encourage all of you who might be interested in this project to check both websites for further information on schedule and program and to pass the word around the permaculture community. (Details will be posted very soon.)
Andy at the Thai Farm  cell 086/102 44 77
Bank at Sangob cell 081/142 85 75

Harvesting Melodies

We are extremely happy (although exhausted) to be able to call our first farming and music festival “Harvesting Melodies” a great success! We really did not expect so many people joining us for the first edition and hope everyone had as much fun as we did. Saturday 7th started by finishing preparing the site: Both stage and seats for the audience were built with strawbales; natural dustbins ready for recycling were fashioned out of teak leaves and branches; in addition, a “strawbar” serving healthy juices, teas and original cocktails, an eating/cooking area for the Cat House as well as a stand for Suan Lahu and its coffee were also made. In the afternoon, music started with Lindsay performing some of his folk/indie compositions. He was followed by Alessio Monti, an Italian creative guitarist who introduced us to his very particular guitar and all the changes he added to; playing classical tunes such as Heitor Villa-Lobos as well as some of his incredible compositions!
Afterwards, we relaxed on the downtempo/ electronica/lounge creations played live by “Derda miss you” from Minimal art gallery in Chiang Mai. The rest of the day was dedicated to traditional and tribal music: Suan Lahu brought, along with its coffee, 2 dancers and 1musician who introduced us to the Lahu tribal traditions. As the sun was setting down behind the mountains, Manop and his students played Lanna traditional music presenting local instruments such as Pin Phia, Guu Chern, Sung and Slor. Finally, Chi & Keeva, two Karen Hill-tribe villagers from Pai district, enchanted us with their angelic melodies and their unique instrument called Tena (a kind of little harp). We ended this first day in the rice field, setting up campfires around our tents to keep us warm all night long.

The next day, some people helped us cleaning and re-organising the site; others joined Sandot and his friends from TacomePai organic farm to build the roof structure of our future pig shack while the rest of us enjoyed making fresh bread and helped Jackie (Cat House) preparing her delicious food. Sunday afternoon was definitely more relax than the previous day: some people started the music by an improvised jamming session (Laura played some Thai songs on the Dulcimer, Loka played the Lanna Sung and Dave sang some folk and blues) before Keegan and his brother Owen joined us to play some traditional Turkish, Spanish and blues melodies. After that, Jonas came for a piano recital playing varied pieces from Ginastera, Chopin, Ravel and Debussy to some Jazz tunes. We ended this weekend with Sandot and TacomePai family playing incredible Yon hill-tribe music which was very hard to resist not to dance to. All in all, it was a very diverse selection of music as well as people that really made this first festival extraordinary!

Sangob would like to thank the volunteers who helped us preparing the site as well as cleaning afterwards; all the incredibly talented musicians without whom we would have never succeeded; the village temple for all equipment we borrowed; Jackie for her delicious food and Suan Lahu for their fantastic coffee; Sandot & TacomePai family for their endless support and of course, all of you who came to attend the festival.

For those who were unable to come, enjoy some pictures of the performances and of course… See you next year!!


It is with blistered fingers and overall muscle pain yet with smiley and happy faces we are writing this article. The original 10 days workshop finally extended itself to a 4 weeks period and we are very proud of all the work that has been accomplished thanks to all the participants. The purpose of this workshop was to build our new animal shack in order to raise pigs, goats, chickens and ducks.  80% of the project has now been completed; only fencing and getting the animals in remains to be done. But let’s start at the beginning…

The first part was dedicated to making over 200 Adobe bricks. Therefore, we dug between 2.5 to 3 tons of dirt out; patiently feet-mixing it with water, rice husk then straw. Rice husk and the fiber from the straw helps the mud stick together while the clay regulates the temperature within the buildings.  We designed a wooden frame to shape the bricks into the desired dimension (40cm long, 20 cm wide and 15cm high) and, once dried out for about a week, each brick ends up weighing between 12 to 15 kg. While drying, we prepared the building site: ground level, roof structure, water, electricity… then finally began building. The building process went quite quickly, using the same mixture from making the bricks as plaster. A final layer of a finer plaster (without straw) is finally added to finish up the walls smoothly.

Adobe construction aside, the workshop was also intended to offer a practical introduction to the different permaculture techniques we are developing; rendering a global overview of what daily life is like at Sangob. Compost was applied to all our fruit trees and new batches have been prepared, compost tea and insect repellent were also produced and seedballs (filled with cucumber, sweet pumpkin and long beans) fashioned from the leftover mud. Furthermore, the hole we dug out for bricks has also been prepared to be turned into our bio-gas production using the manure of our animals.

After work comes pleasure… Even though days were hard (some more than others), ends of afternoon and evenings were used to relax and getting to know each other.  We ended up a couple of times swimming (or was it cleaning??) at a lake nearby, we also went to some waterfalls, we played music some nights and enjoyed great food by the fireplace.  All in all, it has been a very productive, enriching and enjoyable period.

Moreover, rice harvest happened to take place simultaneously and luckily, we got the opportunity not only to witness the whole process but also to purchase 250 straw bales straight from the field.  This means we are going to start very soon a brand-new construction project using strawbale, mud-plaster and sanding.

A new project surely calls for a new workshop! Starting Mid-December 2011 to the end of February 2012, a hand-in-hand approach to a self-sustainable way of life. Feel free to join us anytime for only 100Baht per person/day, accommodation included (Max 8 people at the same time).

We wish to truly thank Mick & Michelle, Janjeera & Lindsey, Dave, Miko, Big & Eugene, Teun & Hester, Kristina & Rubén, Stephanie and Nick for their time, energy and support.

Paimaculture with Sandot
It was at the Yoga Mala festival that we first heard about the TacomePai farm, located just a couple of kilometers before Pai city. We immediately were very interested in the different ideas, projects and learning possibilities the farm had to offer; until we realized they were holding two workshops last September-October: the first one being about Permaculture and the second about earthen and bamboo buildings. We inevitably saw this as the perfect opportunity to drive through this hilly road once again and meet the people behind TacomePai.

The first impression was immediately positive. Everything felt right; the atmosphere, the location and scenery, the sense of a creative personality and everywhere, the visible benefits of more than twenty years of rigorous labour which have resulted in such a peaceful natural equilibrium.

TacomePai is one of these places you have a hard time leaving, not only for the way it is run but also by whom it is run. Sandot, owner and envisioner of the farm, truly is the heart of it. His knowledge, his strong will for transmitting traditions, his generosity, his creativity but above all, his humbleness, make of him a perfect living example to be followed as a way out of this chaotic and disconnected world- one we felt blessed to be learning from for 11 days.

Unfortunately, we were unable to attend the practical introduction to Permaculture workshop but the Adobe construction seemed as relevant and compelling to us.  Through assisting him in some of his daily chores; which involved fixing some accommodation, making adobe bricks, making seedballs, harvesting rice, carving plates, spoons, cups, weaving baskets… Sandot took us in and around his 40Rai forest. On the top of it, Na - another teacher - took us through the entire process of Mud-building and for days, on different locations, we practiced the different steps necessary to feel confident and experienced enough.

Everyday life at the farm is about simplicity and connection to Nature! From fetching wood and building the fire place, picking up vegetables and fruits in the food forest and cooking altogether, collecting rocks from the river, to helping Sandot and his family maintaining the farm and of course enjoying musical nights around the fire place, getting to know each other; in short, the absolute community life!

Following Sandot’s trail for most of the day equals constant learning. Most of the 40 Rai of his farm is dedicated to being a mature food forest filled with mango trees and many other fruits and vegetables. A small percent of the land (approx. 10%) is enough to feed rice to his family and guests all year round. Wandering around and we come across cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, dogs, and cats. Water harvesting is also a major part of the land; ponds, brooks, bridges, swales travel through the landscape and perfectly accomplish their task. Bamboo accommodations are scattered through the forest and each represent a specific building style (Tai, LisuYunnan…)

But anyone staying at TacomePai is assured to be learning and discovering much more than farming and self-sustainable techniques; Sandot is strongly motivated by cultural preservation and makes sure that any ceremony related to the local patrimony will be attended. During our stay, we took part of a Buddhist festival celebrating the end of the rain retreat; we rode through a street parade while Sandot was playing traditional instruments; we watched the local “Fon Leb” dance (women executing intricate movements with long golden fingers), and also the very special “Dear dance” (somewhat similar to the Chinese “Dragon dance”)…

While discussing various topics of similar interests with Sandot, we realized how strongly we all felt about Traditional and Tribal music. Sandot has been for the last 4years organizing a 2-3 days music festival, once a year, in which many artists from around Pai as well as different hill-tribes representing their unique music have come to perform. This year, in order to celebrate the rice harvest, TacomePai will open its doors to most of the organic farms of Chiang Mai area that will present some of their products, to many artists, musicians, poets… and to anyone willing to join. World music, traditional music, Jazz, Reggae, Fusion will resonate in Pai’s valley and amazing organic food will be prepared using the ingredients brought by the farms; a genuine mix of cultures, colours, odours and sounds!

The 5th PAIMACULTURE festival, co-organised by Sangob this year, will start on Friday the 9th of December 2011 and will last until Sunday the 11th.

More information, programs, schedule, list of participants, will soon be posted; so keep checking our blog if you are interested in and want to join the festival…
More info about Sandot's farm, pls visit

Two days ago, as we finally enjoyed half a dry day in this endless rainy season, we decided to build a little shack to host some ducks in order to, on the one hand, cultivate their eggs the normal way and on the other hand, produce the famous Northern style preserved eggs a.k.a the “100 years old eggs”. But ducks are not only useful for their eggs (or meat); they are also very friendly to rice fields. They improve the soil condition by oxygenating the soil through their ploughing, but they also get rid of the snails, crabs… and their feces is a strong fertilizer that can be put back into the fields or used for fruits and vegetables. After eating the eggs, we can re-use the eggshell by shredding it then feeding it back to the ducks. By the way, roses love to get fertilized with eggshell too. As we finished the shack, we decided to pay a visit to our close neighbour and friend Khun Supod. Supod started an organic farm many years ago with the humble aim to provide his own family with fresh and healthy products daily. It is currently very easy to find lots of fruits and vegetables in his garden but the main focus, I would say, is his unique way of farming chicken, ducks and pigs; and that is the reason why we went to him to get our new ducks. But as we asked him to get the ducks, he kindly refused. Instead, he invited us to a seminar he was holding the very next day to help the local farmers raising animals in a more efficient and organic way. It was really a great opportunity for Sangob to get direct input on how to take care of ducks from birth and feeding the babies a special diet, to improving their health and hatching the eggs. We had to wait an extra day before bringing our new ducks back home but we were very excited about the program of his workshop.

The two following critical issues were to be dealt with:

  1. How to make our own food for animals in order to cut our budget?
Indeed, due to capitalism and free trade, corporations have clearly taken the food and farming industry over. It is nowadays very expensive to buy food for chicken and/or ducks, especially for farmers who intend to raise animals as the main part of their enterprise. Not only is it expensive but also almost impossible to avoid growth hormones or other similar products hazardous for the animals’ health, thus ours too.

  1. How to prevent the frequent deaths in young animals by developing their health naturally?

To solve these matters, Supod spent the next day explaining and demonstrating his own techniques that are literally praised by many experts and institutions throughout Thailand. He started off with the vaccination process for young chicks against the New-Castle disease (and others). We all then practice making food ready for the animals to eat after only one day by mixing shredded banana trees (with optional leftover fruits/vegetables) with sugarcane and salt. By using the same mixture and adding water along with some peculiar kind of organic ball, we then made healthy drink for the animals that can also be used as a compost tea for yours trees and vegetable gardens if left to rest about 15days. Those balls are truly amazing! It is a technique that he learnt from Japan (very similar in appearance to Fukuoka’s seed balls) that uses the soil from areas where bamboo is growing, for it is supposed to be the most fertile soil of all. Rice husk and sugarcane is mixed to that soil until it forms a ball. Eventually, the balls are left to dry in a dry and dark place for about 7 days. 

But all these activities is just a very short list of all the tips, tricks and homemade recipes we got to learn and practice yesterday before getting back home with our new 6 ducks. 1 male for 5 females, we hope they will find happiness in their new environment and we are really looking forward to trying out their first eggs… Everyday brings us closer to self-sustainability.

Sangob and its Vetiver System
The Vetiver System (VS),whose main component is the use of the Vetiver plant, is a system of soil and water conservation that contributes to infrastructure stabilization, pollution control, waste water treatment, mitigation and rehabilitation, sediment control, prevention of storm damage, and to many other environmental protection applications. Similar to the Lemongrass plant, the Vetiver plant (Chrysopogon zizanioides) is usually used in the tropics or semi-tropics and is planted in hedgerows forming then a very dense vegetative barrier both above and under the ground. Indeed, its deep, strong, fast-growing and finely structured root system reaches 3 to 4 metres in the very first year!
But its main advantage (for Sangob’s food forest, at least) is its ability to restore and fix the Nitrogen in the soil. The Vetiver grass is very tolerant to PH levels varying from about pH 3 to pH 11; it also has a high tolerance to most heavy metals and is known to remove large quantities of excess nitrates, phosphates and farm chemicals from soils and waters.

We first heard about the VS and its numerous benefits at a workshop in one of our neighbouring organic farms (Mrs Pratum Suryia’s). Khun Pratum told us about the “Land Development Department” (LDD), which is a governmental branch created under the initiative of H.M. the King of Thailand that promotes agro-organic techniques in order to help Thai farmers being more sustainable. At our first visit to the LDD, we received organic booster and insect repellent, documentation on how to run your farm the Green way and finally, an official paper entitling us to 4000 Vetiver plants; all this for free! The next day, we ended up in Baan Mae Taman (Mae Taeng) to collect our plants and spent the next few days, with the help of some volunteers, re-planting them into our forest. We decided to create our VS around three different purposes: The first one to prevent soil erosion at the edge of our land and our lake; the second one to improve the general quality of our soil due to its original high level of Nitrogen; and the last one to circle our vegetable gardens ensuring them a greater success in the future. We hope that within 2 to 3 years, the entire surface under our food forest will be completely filled with the VS’s roots acting as a constant natural soil improver.

Three months have passed since we first planted our VS and some results can already be witnessed: combined with the generous rainy season we are having this year, all trees circled by Vetiver grass are showing new leaves, new branches and/or have grown significantly. The ground cover has also spread rapidly as the Vetiver helps turning the clay into good dirt. No maintenance is required except for once a year, before the rainy season, when we are supposed to cut the grass down to 15-25 cm long. When we cut the leaves for about 1metre, the roots cut themselves off for about the same length, which means that the roots “released” will fix the ground and bring organic matter deeper and deeper every year.

All we can hope is that our Vetiver System will bless Sangob and its food forest with a fertile future…

Sangob just came back from an extended weekend through Chiang Rai province, trying to discover and understand better both the coffee and tea growing processes as well as two outstanding ethnic groups: the Lahu and the Akha hill tribes.

We left Sangob towards the road 118 leading to Chiang Rai; our first destination was the “Suan Lahu” organic coffee farm, which is a 3years-old but fast-growing project run by Miss Carina, her husband and some of the Lahu people from “Doi Mod” village. We were welcome by JaKaTe and his brother Manop who took us first through the 80 Rai farm then gave us a detailed overview of the traditions and specificities of their people. Later in the afternoon, after a refreshing walk to the river, we learnt and practiced how to roast coffee. Depending on the desired taste, mild to strong roast, you just keep heating the beans longer until they eventually start popping-up. Once roasted, it is very important to cool the beans off as soon as possible to prevent them from losing their taste. What a smell! What a taste!

But “Suan Lahu” does much more than just growing delicious organic coffee. First of all, in the same way as Sangob, they are really involved in the community, trying to promote and preserve the local traditions and cultural events. Moreover, part of their benefits is directly put back into diverse projects, greatly contributing to the well being of the community. Also, one of their very interesting products is the “Civet coffee”. The civet is a nocturnal carnivore mammal with a barred and spotted coat and well-developed anal scent gland, a bit similar to a wild cat, which eats the red coffee beans as they are ripe. In fact, they will only eat the external fresh part but not the actual bean. So the bean will eventually be defecated. Picked up from the poo of the civet then cleaned, the bean gets an incredible taste granting Civet coffee the title of one of the best and most expensive coffee in the world. For the night, we decided to camp in their bamboo school. Yes, on top of it all, Jakate and his friends, or volunteers when visiting their homestay, also teach Lahu children for free every Sundays. About 40 kids come, on a weekly basis, to learn the Lahu language (which is exclusively a spoken language) or English, practice different agro-organic techniques, get free food, play games all together… It really stroke us how similar to our values “Suan Lahu” is envisioned and run thus we already discussed with Jakate about organising exchange programs, once in a while, with the students of “Suan Lahu” and Sangob’s.

Something we are really looking forward to! The next day, we woke up in this incredible scenery, enjoyed coffee then painfully got ready to leave for our next destination, “Doi Mae Salong”. From organic coffee grown by Lahu people, through one of those splendid and dramatic routes Thailand has to offer, we were to arrive in tea plantations grown by Akha and Chinese people in the highlands of the OTOP Royal Project village of Doi Mae Salong, 1800 metres above sea level. It felt like arriving in another country: Akha indigenous people and Chinese people; their respective languages, believes, traditions and architecture mixed together in the mists of such mystical landscape literally brought us into another dimension. We spent the night in a bamboo hut of an Akha family, witnessing the most incredible picture my eyes ever saw.

Early the next morning, in a blinding fog and heavy rain, up we went with the villagers picking up young tealeaves that will, later on, be dried, packed and sold down in the village. Back in the village, we attended a tea tasting: Jiagulan, Oolong, Puer, white tea, green tea, black tea, camomile, rose, jasmine… Most of them are now available at Sangob since we couldn’t resist buying their delicious products and stimulating Fair Trade at the same time.

Harsh conditions, sharp landscape, yet the warmest people. It won’t be long before we are back up there. Truly a “MUST SEE” in Thailand! On the way back to Sangob, we stopped at Thaton, Fang and Chiang Dao. Once again, a stunning loop that filled us with both traditional knowledge and an unforgettable cultural experience, which we are deeply thankful for.

The Forgotten Loop

Although not far in kilometres, those three villages located within our sub-district are quite difficult to reach due to the road condition. The mud-“road” leading to those villages is impractical for any engine heavier than a motorbike. It takes about an hour to reach Baan Eiak (10km), another 45 minutes to Baan Pa Den (6km) and finally another half an hour to Baan Pa Tek (3km). The lack of infrastructure and facilities is therefore blatant. With school buildings but no teachers, the children are obliged to use the one and only truck left (there used to be 2trucks but one got into an accident last month and is currently out of order) which will try bringing them down the mountain to the school in our village and then back up at the end of the day. But considering the extended rainy season we are having this year, it is very improbable for that truck to go further up than Baan Eiak; the kids from the two next villages being excluded from any education. And so it goes with access to health care, food and most services and resources.

In Baan Eiak, Sangob is already trying to set up “itinerant volunteer teachers’ programs” providing the villagers with free Thai, English, Music, Art, Sport, Massage lessons… on a weekly basis, but we are also trying to establish a food forest and promoting organic agriculture, trying to encourage the use of traditional medicine and so on.
Following the positive contacts and reactions we are currently having in Baan Eiak, we decided to go and explore the further villages in order to identify other communities in need.

The first part of our fieldtrip was set in and around Baan Eiak. Our campground was the schoolyard and was the starting point of a very fun and exciting natural activity. To celebrate the birthday of one of our community member, we decided to tube the river down using inflatable tyres as floating devices. We let the river guide us for about three hours before we reached an isolated flower farm then drove back up to the village to enjoy a very simple but delicious meal, followed by organic fresh passion fruits picked up straight from the trees to guarantee our entire pleasure. The next day, our first destination was Baan Pa Den, which is a Karen hill tribe village. The red mud-road between Baan Eiak and Pa Den is, without a doubt, the hardest portion of the loop but is equally stunning. Honestly, one of the loveliest roads I ever rode since my arrival in Thailand. The sensation of “paradise lost in time” was highly reinforced by the warm welcome of the Karen people who opened their unique and simple lives for us to share. The same feeling was to be experienced at our next stop over in Baan Pa Tek, another Karen village which also hosts a Royal Project that grows organic coffee. Karen people’s way of life is a great example of self-sustainability; probably depicting quite exactly how people used to live before Capitalism took over, for the only facility accessible to them is electricity! No schools, no hospitals, no shops, no running water, No phone lines… They only rely on what the forest has to offer them depending on the season. We immediately saw this as a future opportunity to get to know those villagers better, learn about their lifestyle and traditions as well as developing projects together aiming at a greater and easier comprehensive self-sustainability. We sincerely hope that we will be able to collaborate with those incredible people very soon because our hearts were filled with sadness when the moment came to drive back to Sangob, with a last stop at “Mok Fa” waterfall before completing this amazing loop back in time, in such a perfectly preserved environment which we hope will remain unstained as long as possible…

Sangob goes to Surin

Recently, just before the Rain Retreat which Buddhists call “Wan Wisakabucha”, Sangob took a break for a couple of days to the south of northeast Thailand. Our destination was the province that has been influenced the most by the Khmer kingdom and its rich culture. Surin has a specific character and atmosphere, blending the Thai population in ancient Khmer architecture and traditions such as temples, markets, handicrafts, silk fabric… and the famous elephants that can be seen everywhere around town, adding a unique touch to this cross-cultural patchwork.

Sangob and friends stayed at the house of their Thai family and were joined later by other family members. We arrived in the morning and took a tuk-tuk to a huge reservoir to relax for the entire afternoon after such a long trip on the bus. On the way back to town, we went to visit our friend who was just ordained as a monk at a forest temple out of town.

The next day, we decided to go visit “Baan ThaSwang,” OTOP Silk village where Khmer villagers gather everyday in order to preserve their special silk weaving techniques. One of the places that particularly attracted our attention was set in a lush garden where 4 women were working together with only one wooden weaving machine that attaches more than 700 threads of both silk and gold. They are only able to produce 5 centimetres each day, which means it takes them about 3months to complete a 2metres-long piece of cloth. On the road to the silk village, we were very lucky to witness a local event: not far towards town, next to rice fields, many people paraded and danced on the street with colourful costumes, flowers, fruits, big candles, a decorated Buddha statue on a truck, and live Khmer music on another truck. It was unexpected to see so many people dancing their feet-off with smiles on their faces celebrating that special day – it was a “Wan Wisakabucha” totally different from the ones I already attended in the Chiang Mai area. Truly unique!

Back to town in the afternoon, we sampled authentic Isaan food that was very delicious and so different from any of the restaurants in Bangkok, Chiang Mai or elsewhere.
Later that afternoon, we went to the “ISAAN/ASEAN fair trade 2011” where we tasted and discovered all kind of products from Southeast Asia. Organic farmers, healing practitioners, musicians, craftsmen and so on, from Cambodia, Laos, China, Vietnam and Thailand were representing their own goods and traditions. A real bliss for our eyes/ears/nose/tongue (not so much for our wallets though)!

After dinner (you can’t go wrong with an Isaan barbeque), we noticed some elephants wandering around with their mahouts. Everywhere we went we saw elephants in the middle of traffic being photographed or fed by elephant lovers and tourists alike. It is still hard for us to understand why they were looking for food in town instead of a big forest???

The next day, by the elephant monument, a major Buddhist event was held on the occasion of “Wan Wisakabucha”,  – monks were riding on painted elephants while lay people would come and offer food and flowers to bless them through their rain retreat journey; it would have been a nice experience to experience this aspect of Khmer culture, but we missed that event because we had to catch the bus back to Mae Taeng. Needless to say we are looking forward to seeing it during one of our next visits… 

“New Hope for Life”

Sangob is proud to introduce you to a group of amazing women from our village (Baan San Payang), they call themselves the “New Hope for Life Centre”. These women, who meet several times a month, are trying to enhance their general knowledge and bring joy into their lives, and, most importantly, into the many lives of those in need. On various topics events such as cooking gatherings, fruit carving, bamboo crafting, etc.… are regularly organised. Earlier this month, we had the chance to join them in a 10-day traditional massage course that was entirely free. From the 04th to the 14th of July, for 5hours a day, Kru Phin, a certified Teacher from Mae Taeng, held teaching and practice sessions on traditional Thai massage (“Jap Sen”), Oil massage and Foot massage. This program was held at the “New Hope for Life centre” but was actually organised and funded but the San Payang vocational school which is a government organisation from the village that tries to help people from villages deep in the mountains make a more decent living by sending mobile barbers, teachers, libraries, medical support, etc.… to the most remote areas in our district. Thanks to the school, about 20 Thai women and some of our community members are now learning massage techniques in a very “Sabai-Sabai” atmosphere, and will, by the end of the course, get an official certificate for the reasonable price of 35Baht. But the NHL Centre does much more than this to contribute to the well being of their community. For example, they are very active in helping HIV-infected people by providing them with mental and medical support; they also work on a campaign to promote breast-feeding; and organise regular Health Checks.
I couldn’t think of a better name for their initiative for they are truly bringing new hope to the community!

Needless to say, we feel honoured to be collaborating with such wonderfully genuine people on such critical issues. From now on, Sangob opens up its free English and Music lessons to those women who are so motivated by learning, and will in the future co-organise many projects with the NHL Centre. We have already discussed Lanna traditional music and dance workshops and the interest seemed to be unanimous… 

We will keep you posted on our blog about any event that might occur and already welcome any of you to join us when they take place.

A Food Forest - the permaculture way

"Sangob" is in the process of establishing a Food Forest on its land that, over time, will be fully permanent filled with fruits, vegetables and herbs and which will entirely take care of its own. Indeed, by respecting and reproducing the cycles of nature, very little human help is needed to maintain our forest. Another advantage of a forest is Diversity and its numerous benefits, opposed to Monocultures or "Cash cultures". We started with 90% of supportive trees and only 10% of productive trees. A year and a half later, we already reached a 70 – 30% quota. Within 8 to 10 years, we aim at reversing the original ratio to 10-90%. At the same time, we are using local organic techniques (some traditional, some revolutionary) to improve our soil, like the "Vetiver grass", to protect our trees from insects and diseases, or to boost or vegetables. But food is not the only aspect to take into account if we want to achieve comprehensive sustainability. Other needs such as medicine, education, spirituality, shelter, Art… must be met!

Envisioning The Sangob Food Forest by Antoine Garth
When I arrived at Sangob at the end of May, I was amazed at how abundantly everything was growing and how lush and beautiful the land was looking. Laurent and I spent a lot of time talking about the direction we wanted to take Sangob, especially in the area of sustainability and organic gardening.

Thailand is an agricultural nation, so most of the examples around us were organic farms, big and small. While we were greatly impressed by the methods we were observing by these farmers, it was clear to us that we were not farmers, and that we should be looking in another direction.

I stumbled across the concept of a food forest by accident. I definitely had a "Eureka" moment as I started gathering information, and remembered Laurent mentioning that, when he initially started designing and planting a year ago, he wanted to make it feel as much like a forest as possible.

We are now at the beginning stages of consciously establishing the Sangob Food Forest. To that end, we have been greatly influenced by Geoff Lawton, and his "Establishing a Food Forest the Permaculture Way". Geoff Lawton is an amazing teacher with a wealth of knowledge on all aspects of Permaculture and organic gardening. The video gives an exhaustive overview of the subject matter, and is highly engaging.

Here are some more resources on Food Forests: