Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Six Senses Laamu Building for the Future

Waste to Wealth

Work has commenced on the construction of the Eco Centro using all recycled available material possible.

The start of Eco Centro

To date support poles have been erected using galvanized scaffolding poles. The dimensions of the work area are now 4m + 3m +4m with compost and recycle bays a minimum of 2m x 2m.

Using recycled materials

Height to centre is 4.6 m with roofing over bays at 4 m.

The Vision 

The roof line has been changed from the original design allowing for ventilation there is now a raised ridge cap running north to south overlapping the pitched roof for hot air to escape and not allowing any rain to enter.

Hand made to size

Roof trusses are being fabricated on sight from recycled scaffolding poles.

Recycled roof sheets ... no waste 

Roofing iron is being recycled primed and painted. Once all truss fabrication is completed they will be erected.

Roof trusses in place

There are now two full time hosts working at Eco Centro, once construction is finished this will improve recycling out put greatly.

Compost bay trusses

Training for the new Eco Centro has included a “Waste to Wealth” presentation for the Eco Centro Hosts, Garden supervisor and the Social and Environmental  Manager. This was to show the waste products they will encounter in a fully functioning Eco Centro and to demonstrate what wastes can be turned into wealth for the resort.

Further composting and mulching workshops and demonstrations have also been done as all machinery and composting station will be housed in the new structure.

Wet compost pile fungi breaking it down

Centre of pile with microbial activity 

A valuable lesson was learnt in the need to control moisture content when making compost the “Berkeley Method” way. A moisture content of no more than 60% is desirable,if not  the process takes longer if not at all and creates unwelcome smells.

Too much moisture

As shown here the pile was made outside and without cover due to the tropical rains that persisted for the last month the pile had not decomposed though still maintaining central heat. There was also a strong odor that should not last if the pile is aerobic.

Compost used in Banana Circle 

                As in all good Permaculture systems trial and error are good teachers. 

            There is not only one Permaculture.... "Bill Mollison"


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ayurveda Spiral of Wellness

Soneva Fushi Resort Wellness Spa offers many types of treatments from Fusion Massage, Acupuncture to Reiki.

There is a permanent Ayurveda doctor (Dr Avinash) and from time to time a visiting practitioner Dr Vee Jay who has followers from all over the world who request him to treat them when visiting on holidays.

Prepared site

Ayurveda is considered to be the oldest healing science having a holistic approach to health for helping people live long, healthy, and well-balanced lives. The term Ayurveda is taken from the Sanskrit words ayus, meaning life or lifespan, and veda, meaning knowledge and has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years. Ayurveda is to prevent and treat illness by maintaining balance in the body, mind, and consciousness through proper drinking, diet, and lifestyle, as well as herbal remedies.

The herb spiral was built so the doctors have at hand the herbs they use to treat their guests. The herb spiral was chosen also as it represents a natural pattern of life and for ease of care and maximizing space available. 

Using natural resources

Many of the herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine have antioxidant effects, which may help protect against long-term illnesses such as heart disease and arthritis. A vegetarian diet is often recommended.

Pattern of nature

The goal of Ayurvedic medicine is to prevent diseases. Combining yoga with an Ayurvedic herbal remedy containing winter cherry (Withania somnifera), boswellia (Boswellia serrata), and turmeric (Curcuma longa) may reduce pain and disability in people with arthritis.

Building rubble for drainage

Gguggul (Commiphora mukul), a traditional Ayurvedic medication used to treat high cholesterol and is widely used in India appearing to block production of cholesterol in the liver, lowering cholesterol levels. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum) seeds can lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides (fats in the blood), and raise HDL “good” cholesterol levels. Its effects seem to come from its ability to lower the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine, and may be related to the high fiber content of the seed. The high fiber content of fenugreek seeds may also help control blood sugar if you have diabetes.

Sealed to retain soil prevent leaching

Other Ayurvedic herbs are being studied as treatments for Alzheimer's disease, anxiety, asthma, dementia, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), herpes, high blood pressure, Parkinson's disease, perimenopausal problems, and premenstrual syndrome, among many other conditions. Ayurvedic herbs combined with conventional medications may also be helpful for acne, chronic constipation, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, and uterine fibroids.

Compost, coconut powder mulch

working with nature

The list of herbs below has been selected by Dr Avinash which he wishes to grow to support Ayurveda treatments.
    Aconitum heterophyllum ,Tinospora cordifolia, Cocculus hirsutus  ,Berberis aristata,  Sida cordifolia, Sida rhombifolia,  Grewia hirsute,  Azadirachta indica, Terminalia chebula, Terminalia belerica, Terminalia arjuna, Centella asiatica,,Anethum sowa, Coriandrum sativum, Paederia foetida, Inula racemosa, Alstonia scholaris, Rauwolfia serpentine, Convolvulus pluricaulis, Withania somnifera, Datura metel, Bacopa monnieri, Vitex negundo, Clerodendrum serratum, Piper nigrum, Piper longum, Boerhaavia diffusa, Emblica officinalis, Allium sativum, Zinziber officinale, Asparagus racemosus, Curucuma longa, Aloe vera, Citrus Acida, Calotropis Procera, Zingibar officinale, Ocimum sanctum linn, Ricinus communis

                                     Permaculture Design supporting Wellness

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Six Senses Lammu Waste to Wealth

As discussed last blog Six Senses Resorts and Spa’s commitment to a sustainable future commenced at Eco Centro on the Flag Ship Resort Soneva Fushi.

Leaf Garden and Restaurant

As Soneva Fushi has grown and developed the “Waste to Wealth … Eco Centro” and progressed with sustainable systems to turn most waste into some form of wealth  as Composts, Bio Char, Charcoal, Mulches and soil conditioners (Coconut powder).Permaculture designed food production systems have shown that there is a solution to sustainable agriculture on low coral islands .

From Leaf Garden

The objective was to roll out replicable models that could be used on other sister resorts and within the local communities to reduce the impact of pollution on the environments tourists and travelers come to see world wide.   

As seen last Blog Soneva Gili has now begun construction of their own Eco Centro and Six Senses Laamu is now under way.

An area has been cleared and the initial design altered slightly to reduce the foot print to lessen the impact on the natural vegetation.

On my last visit there we concentrated again on improving soil health to improve food security.

Just add waste

More waste

The Gardens at Soneva Fushi produce up to 35% of vegetables and herbs and salads on 3500m2. Currently there is about half this area under cultivation at the Leaf Garden.

 During the visit we started clearing the next garden area that would link to the existing Leaf Garden and to the planned Eco centro.   

New Garden Area

First things first... again ...."Healthy soil healthy plants". No soil so let’s grow it!!!

As we have proved at Soneva Fushi Food waste incorporated with green manures and mulches and compost grow healthy soil and reduce the pH at the same time.

Vardi's make shift Eco Centro

Growing Soil 


Within the new garden we have looked at the Bio Mass coming out from the trimming. On first inspection everyone said lets take it to the shredder... Why ?

Why not arrange it as in a no dig garden system and let nature grow the soil for us ?

Bio Mass to be returned to make no dig gardens

“Lets work with Nature Not Against It” 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Soneva Gili Building A Sustainable Future

Soneva Gili Resort is now in the process of designing an Eco Centro “Waste to Wealth Center.

Waste to Wealth

The project started back in early 2011 when I was asked to go and assess the current herb and vegetable gardens. As with Soneva Fushi the soil Ph was high in alkalinity 8-10 and no soil life after 10 years of no organic matter returned to the impoverished soil which is really sand. Vegetables and herbs had been grown through the use of imported cow dung, coco peat and compost.

Soneva Gili does produce Bio Mass, food waste like any other resort and from the STP (Septic Treatment Plant) nutrient rich water. As shown at Soneva Fushi just by adding food waste in a deep pit combined with the existing poor soil and toped with mulch and planted with nitrogen fixing plants soil Ph and soil life can be restored in a short space of time, about 1 Ph point per month. 

Sustainable tropical soil rehabilitation "Growing Soil"

Compost and mulch is also required as in the tropics these need to be added at least 6 weekly and I would go sooner with a fertilizer programme of every 2 weeks alternating with organic matter (compost, mulch) and a liquid fertilizer.

Finished and growing sugar cane and lemon grass

As Six Senses Resorts philosophy is SLOW LIFE Sustainable.Local.Organic.Wellness    Learning Inspiring Fun Experiences Eco Centro’s are essential to handle all waste inputs and waste generated on the Resorts.

Sharaz with harvest

Soneva Gili is now building their Eco Centro.

Start of Eco Centro  Soneva Gili

As with all Permaculture design all principles have been employed during the design and construction. We have redesigned the mushroom growing areas to incorporate ease of use through necessary work stations linked together and minimizing the need for energy by designing in cross flow ventilation where needed and sealed doors where necessary in the air conditioned starting container which will be insulated and clad.
Polystyrene boxes will be used as insulation and 20 % crushed glass will be added to cement for the floor slabs.

Mushroom production area

The Eco Centro will become a Waste to Wealth Centre, Food production unit (Mushrooms) Educational center with the aim to be self supporting through revenues from recycling metals, compost production, food cross charged to the various kitchens.
There is also the carbon emissions saved due to the recycling, reduction in food miles, guest experience, marketing benefits leading to increase in guest stays due to the Intelligent Luxury, SLOW LIFE focus.

All in all a Permaculture principle success of at least 3 uses.

With out the completion of the Eco Centro the benefits are already been seen.

Delegates from ICUN, FOA, India , Pakistan 

I was invited to speak at a MMF Mangroves for the Future Conference held in the Maldives. The learning seminar was on Sustainable Tourism and Coastal Care.
MFF was established post 2004 Tsunami with Bill Clinton Ex US President as Patron.
MFF has 8 participating countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Seychelles, India, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Maldives.

The topic was on the Waste to Wealth management Six Senses employees and how it can be replicated as these countries need to address the same issue... Turning waste to Wealth and not polluting their coastal waters. 

Patrick T Evans FOA Sri Lanka  Maldives

The following day after the conference 30 attendees toured Soneva Gili Resort looking at all heart of house facilities and the vegetable garden and the under construction Eco Centro. Comments were very positive confirming they had not seen a resort as committed or transparent about their operations and environmental policy.

The roof goes on 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Adam-Retort : Bio Char the future

It does not stop growing 

Turning more waste to wealth
At Eco Centro we also receive at least 4m3 of bio mass per day and with construction and renovations of Villas and Host accommodation plus furniture making we gather more timber “Waste or Wealth?”

We are able to chip some of the bio mass for the Composting process we use here “The Berkeley Method” as covered in previous blogs and to make mulch as well. After doing this we still have extra as a tropical jungle never stops growing.

How else can we create Wealth – Charcoal and Bio Char?
On arriving at Eco Centro there was two pyrolysis ovens that converted wood waste into Charcoal which is used as a fuel for the BBQ’s 

Bio Char 10 % compost mix

When Charcoal is crushed to a powder it is then called Bio Char to improve soils for agriculture through sequestering carbon back into impoverished soils. We add 10 % of Bio Char into our compost mix. Bio char increases the surface area and also increases moisture retention allowing for greater microbial activity.

The CSIRO Australia describe Bio Char as
 “A stable form of charcoal produced from heating natural organic materials (crop and other waste, woodchips, manure) in a high temperature, low oxygen process known as pyrolysis. Due to its molecular structure, biochar is chemically and biologically in a more stable form than the original carbon form it comes from, making it more difficult to break down. This means that in some cases it can remain stable in soil for hundreds to thousands of years.”

Presidents Actors Business Men  talking Pyrolysis

We have recently bought the license to build an “Adams Retort” The license covers the build of 6 Retorts.

We have now made 4 batches of charcoal and are very happy with the Retort. The most recent batch results are as below:

Old Pyrolysis Ovens

Building New Adam Retort

Raja Ravi Mani ready to save the world

Charcoal production

15/10/11 burn 3

1000 kg of construction wood from villa repairs

Oven full

Burn time – 5am -8pm / total 15 hours

11.30 am chimney 1 shut down 210 c

O2 accelerator opened at 9am -11.30 am – 2.5 hours

Gasification lasted 8.5 hours

Total wood burnt – scrap construction ply 125 kg

Total Charcoal 390 kg

Stage 1 drying the wood

Methane gas "Gasification "  burning


Fuel and soil food 

I strongly advise looking into the process of making Bio Char as it could be the answer to Climate Change????

Another sustainable system to add into your PermacultureDesign

Below is information from the Retort Web site
Or contact Chris  ( )
Check the video about the "adam-retort" under:

Did You know:
CHARCOAL from RETORT SYSTEMS can often serve as a replacement for fossil fuels,
thereby having a neutral effect on CO
² exchanges.
This makes a significant positive contribution to the preservation of our environment!
Also using charcoal to improve soils for agriculture
(bio char) becomes more and more important
Advantages of the "adam-retort":
1) High economy and better efficiency of approx. 35% to 45% (Instead of about 18% efficiency compared to the traditional systems; calculated from dry weight).
2) Recycling and clean combustion of the pyrolysis gas during the 2nd phase of operation (retort-system) results in a low-emission of carbon monoxides during the charcoal production! The effective carbonization of the biomass takes only 10 hours.
A retort system reduces the emission of harmful volatiles into the
atmosphere to about up to 75%! (Compared to a traditional earth-mount kiln).
3) Low investment costs of about ~500Euroand a simple construction with locally available materials. (Costs were about 300 Euro in Kenya in 2004, but now with raising steel prices costs increased...) .
4) About 3m3 of biomass (corresponding to approx. 600kg to 900kg wood, coconut shells, compacted saw-dust briquettes, etc., dry weight, water not counted, or ~1-1,5 tons of wet wood) can be converted to up to 350kg of charcoal per batch. Per week about 3 batches of biomass can be carbonized which is corresponding to about ~1 ton of charcoal per week and unit.
5) An effective 30 hour total production cycle (known as batch) and a simple operation of the plant result in an increased income for its operators. The right system to be used at forest projects, sustainable energy-wood plantations and charcoal makers in rural areas or for semi-industrial production.
6) Only waste wood or residual biomass needs to be burnt (~50kg) in a separate fire box to dry and heat the wood and initiate the carbonization process during the 1st phase.
7) With an extended version the famous "white charcoal" should be possible to be produced? This is an adapted Japanese technology to produce high quality and strong charcoal.
Also the production of "wood vinegar" is possible during the 1st phase of operation.