Thailand: Faasai Resort Plants Vetiver in Wetland

Sunday, May 31, 2009

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The Faasai Resort and Spa, a family owned eco-resort in Thailand, will plant Vetiver to protect White Water Lake, a conservation lake 500 meters from the resort. Their guests are being invited to join the planting on World Responsible Tourism Day, Tuesday June 2, 2009.

White Water Lake (No
ng Nam Kao) has healing mineral spring waters which collect in streams, the small lake and a swamp. To increase the water retention the owners of Faasai Resort have increased the depth of the stream and lake. They have also planted Vetiver grass, bamboo, lemongrass and about 1,000 trees around the perimeter of the lake and on adjoining land.

"Our intention is to preserve the springs as a reservoir of pure fresh water and to provide a safe shelter for birds and other wildlife including fish, frogs, bats, lizards and snakes," say the owners. So far more than a hundred varieties of birds, dozens of varieties of fresh water fish, fresh water shrimps, water monitors, pythons, rats and water snails have been recorded at the sanctuary.

On June 2 the edges of the water are being planted with an additional 1,000 Vetiver plants - which is considered to be a 'super grass' for water conservation. Vetiver ('yaa faak' in Thai) has a strong fibrous root system which rapidly penetrates deep into the soil and develops into a tightly knitted net. It holds the soil together and serves as an underground wall which retards water flow but allows water to seep into the soil. The roots are also capable of absorbing mineral nutrients for plants and other chemical substances such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides before they flow into the water sources. This protects the water from pollutants and maintains water quality.

The resort is nestled beside a small forest reserve in the foothills of the world-renowned Cardamom Mountains which stretch into Cambodia 100 kilometres away. This makes the area a magnet for wildlife, despite being only a three-hour drive from Bangkok. The sustainable practices implemented by the resort have earned them much recognition from the tourist industry. See more about this story in this Asia Travel Blackboard newsletter.

NRCS Plant Guide on Vetiver

Friday, May 29, 2009

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Stop the presses! This is front page news about Vetiver that may, once and for all, answer some of the doubts that you may have about this plant.

The NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) of the US Department of Agriculture has issued a new Plant Guide on Vetiver. It comes from the NRCS office in Hawaii and has excellent information about the Vetiver plant and the Vetiver System.

The Vetiver community is very pleased with this publication, but a few of its statements may need clarification or updating.
  • The range of soil pH that the plant will tolerate has been documented by the Vetiver Network International as being 3.3 to 12.5 without soil amendment and is so stated in its publications. The guide states 4 to 7.5 which its limiting its application unnecessarily.
  • Except in very difficult enviroments, the plants do not need irrigation or large amounts of fertilizer to become established.
  • The case of "a stem bending down into moist soil and rooting at the node" is so improbable that people working with Vetiver for over 50 years have never seen it.
Be sure to pick up a copy of this guide here, and share it with other people that may benefit from this information.

Nicaragua: Vetiver as a Community Project

Thursday, May 14, 2009

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Googling the web for other information, I came across this article in Spanish from Nicaragua whose title translates as The Wizards of Vetiver. It tells the story of this rural community 45 km south of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua that has turned Vetiver into a communal effort. Working as a cooperative and with the funding and assistance of government agencies, they have turned to Vetiver as an answer to their agricultural problems and as a source of community income.

Early plantings of Vetiver provided dramatic improvements in the condition of their agricultural soils by increasing humidity in an otherwise very dry terrain. The community then implemented an education program by means of posters, newspapers, and radio programs, that resulted in the whole community embracing the technology improving the agricultural productivity accross the region.

Today the cooperative sells Vetiver to the government and other farmers in Nicaragua. Not only has their agricultural productivity increased, but Vetiver is now a major commercial product of their community, with additional income being produced from crafts made out of the Vetiver leaves. In the end, the educational and commercial efforts will have benefited about 12,000 families. This is an important aspect of Vetiver that we sometimes miss in the more developed countries, and it is gratifying to see it done well where it is needed.

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