Sunday, June 26, 2011

Six Senses Con Dao Resort Vietnam Permaculture Site Visit 05/11

Six Senses Con Dao

I was invited to Six Senses Con Dao Vietnam to assess the potential for food producing gardens, the establishment of an Eco Centro and to advise on the general landscaping of the resort in particular looking at the health of the transplanted coconut trees.

Observation of the site showed a prevailing wind from the South which at times can reach gale force and continue for long periods of time. Evidence of this is the wind shear present on new plantings and existing mature trees. Not only on the site but all along the coastal strip of the island.

Wind and salt burnt Coconut palms
 Soil on the site is sand with little organic matter and hydrophobic (unable to absorb water). pH tests at several sites indicated an alkaline soil with a pH 8-9 unsuitable for fruit, vegetable and herb production.
To grow herbs and vegetables it is suggested to use raised beds or planter boxes that are movable to lessen the impact of the wind and accompanying sand and salt spray.

Soil test Alkaline and hydrophobic

 There was a site seen as the most suitable area for the production of fruit, vegetables and herbs that was previously a flood plain with topsoil and protection from the wind and salt. The Area would also be an ideal guest experience for organic lunches and gardening workshops once established.

An extensive agriculture base is established within the near by community and currently used by the resort. Developing further the relationship could secure supply by helping the producers to improve standards of production and the quality and quantity of produce available through education of Permaculture design and principles.

Local market produce

Market garden
The site proposed for the Eco Centro I considered unsuitable due to size and location for the needs of the resort and guest experiences. An alternative site next to the generator complex would provide ease of access and room for further development as the resort grows and limit further noise pollution for guests.

Eco Centro Site

The identified immediate requirements for the Eco Centro are seen to be mulching and composting stations. Composting to be done either manually or mechanically with suitable machinery for shredding of wood waste is essential to any soil improving strategies with the collection of cardboard for sheet mulching and tropical bed building. Currently waste management is done by the local community where systems are in place that support good waste management principles of recycling, reusing and reducing. Members of the community make their income from turning waste into wealth and could be supported further by improving waste separation at site and building storage bays at the Eco Centro so pickup can be reduced to weekly to lower transport costs. 

Plastic recycling depto

General landscaping has been overgrown or has the potential to be with the existing plantings of Lantana, Beach Morning Glory and Sea Lettuce. I  suggested the removal of all Lantana and to replace with a local less invasive shrub and Beach Morning Glory and Sea Lettuce to be removed where overgrowing plantings of Lemon Grass and Vietiver Grass. Vietiver grass and Lemon grass to be planted on contour down slop of fruit trees to trap soil and nutrient during wet season.

Beach Morning Glory

Start of clearing 

Sheet Mulching

Sea Weed used as mulch
Lemon grass grown as chop and drop

As the soil was sand with no organic matter when trimming the grasses I suggested to leave the cut grass around the base of coconut trees as the grass adds organic matter to the soil for improving soil health, water retention and soil erosion.  Chop and drop.

Chop and Drop
Adding organic matter
Work shops were held on Banana circles and clearing of invasive plants allowing the food producing plants an opportunity to survive. And Chop and Drop mulching.

Banana Circle

Finished Banana Circle 

The result of the site visit supported the introduction of sustainable systems to enhance the resort by providing guest, host and local community members education and experiences on sustainable land care and food production.

My time at Con Dao was a rich experience as I worked with the local employees on site visited the markets and market gardens and saw first hand intuitive permaculturists at work using traditional knowledge handed down from generation to generation and all with big smiles on their faces. I could not speak their language though we all communicated through our love of nature and there was much laughter!!

Smile !!

1 comment:

  1. Looks great! My friend and I wanting to tour some permaculture sites in Vietnam. Do you know of any other projects going on? Please let me know!