The owners of Shaan & Jeevan’s Eco Farm have been doing some amazing things to make Koh Lanta a greener, more eco-friendly tourist island, and promote sustainable tourism in Thailand.
Their farm is located on Koh Lanta Noi (Little Lanta) and you can visit to take part in eco tours around the local area, walk through the mangroves to a deserted paradise beach, go kayaking to a nearby uninhabited island, and learn all about their eco farm and how they live off grid on Koh Lanta.
Meet Chai and Aruna
Chai and Aruna are a multi-cultural, multi-religious couple. Chai is Thai and left the Bangkok rate-race, where he worked as a quality controller for big brands, to live closer to nature.
Aruna is half Swedish (on her mother’s side) and half Indian (with a Sikh father), and was born and raised in France. She left behind a career as an international business lawyer in Paris to pursue a new and totally different lifestyle.
They met on Koh Lanta in 2006 when they were both working as dive instructors.
Eco Tourism on Koh Lanta
Shaan and Jeevan’s Eco Farm is tucked away, one kilometre down a little dirt road, near Langsod beach, and it’s a wonderful place to visit to experience an off the beaten track adventure in Thailand.
Chai and Aruna began their farm with this goal in mind:
‘To PLANT – Plant, Love, Act, Nurture, and Transmit.’
“Our goals are inspired by living more consciously and being more aware of how everything we do has an impact on nature and life around us. We want to live close to nature and listen, to respect and conserve her, not destroy her.”
The farm is named after Chai and Aruna’s two young sons, Shaan and Jeevan. The family live off grid, getting their water from a well, filtering ‘grey’ water to use on their garden, using solar panels for electricity, keeping chickens and growing fruit and vegetables.
A short walk through the mangroves next to the farm brings you out onto a deserted tropical beach, where you can relax and enjoy unspoiled nature and solitude.
As well as running the eco farm, Chai and Aruna have also helped set up and run many of these great projects on Koh Lanta:
Aunty Bee’s Eco Handicraft Shop
They helped to set up Aunty Bee’s Eco Handicraft Shop on Koh Lanta Noi when, in April 2017, they decided to try to reduce the amount of plastic bags used on Koh Lanta.
“Saying no to plastic bags is one thing but we need to give people an alternative, and that alternative must be cheap, eco-friendly and fair-trade.”
With this in mind, Chai and Aruna approached Aunty Bee, a local seamstress in Langsod village, Lanta Noi.
They presented Aunty Bee with some old rice sacks and asked if she could make shopping bags out of them. One week later, she had made 15 wonderful upcycled shopping bags.
Aruna and Aunty Bee then decided to sell the bags for 50 Baht each, using a local Facebook group to market them to Swedish tourists on Koh Lanta Yai. They never imagined how popular the bags would be and that they would sell out within 24 hours.
No reinvention of the wheel has been made with these upcycled rice sacks, as these bags exist in many parts of the world already. What this initiative has done though is given the local women of Langsod village the opportunity to truly understand the importance of sorting and recycling trash, and the possibility to make money from setting up a small fair-trade business.
Aunty Bee’s business is growing bigger each day, and employing more women from the local village. Her team now makes bags and other handmade items, such as fans and table mats, using a variety of recycled materials, including Tetra Pak packages and plastic straws.
Chai and Aruna have really helped to make this business a success with their ideas, inspiration, and marketing, as well as encouraging local businesses to recycle their old fruit cartons and plastic straws by donating them to Aunty Bee.
They set up collection points at 555 mini mart in Phra Ae and Lanta Muay Thai Complex in Khlong Dao, where people can leave items for Chai and Aruna to collect and take to Aunty Bee to make into fantastic upcycled products.
It’s a win for local people and a win for the environment.
Take a look at some of the fantastic products Aunty Bee makes and go visit her shop when you’re on Koh Lanta to buy some locally made, fair trade, eco products.
Kids Book Club
Chai and Aruna’s sons, Shaan and Jeevan started at the local village school, in Langsod village, in May 2017. They quickly noticed that the local children didn’t have the same advantages that they did – their friends had no toys to play with or books to read, and their main form of entertainment was playing on Smartphones.
There were no child-friendly activities in the village, and the children were often really bored. Sadly, many village children end up turning to drugs due to boredom and under-stimulation.
In September 2017, Chai and Aruna decided to try to change this. Thanks to the help of a famous Thai children’s book author and illustrator, Cheewan Wisasa, who donated 25 of his books, Chai and Aruna were able to start a Kids Book Club in the village.
Since then, every Saturday afternoon, they have donated their time to reading Thai and English children’s books to the local children. The kids love it and, very quickly, more and more children began showing up each week.
In December 2017, tourists started donating toys and board games to the Book Club and, after reading books, the children now have the chance to play with lots of toys and games.
Today, the Book Club is so popular with the children of Langsod village, it’s hard to get them to leave, and it’s also attracting many children from the neighboring villages.
If you would like to help enhance the lives of local children, the Book Club welcomes people to donate their time by reading and playing with the children.
If you have children of your own, bring them along to join in and give them the opportunity to meet and play with some local children.
The Book Club takes places every Saturday afternoon from 2 to 4 pm at Aunty Bee’s shop in Langsod Village.
Keep Lanta Clean
As if Chai and Aruna weren’t already busy enough, they have also recently started working on a fantastic new eco project, alongside Keep Lanta Clean, the Koh Lanta Community Compost project, and Lanta Thai Cookery School.
Keep Lanta Clean recently launched a composting pick up service for local businesses and individuals, with the aim of reducing the amount of organic waste being sent to landfill on Koh Lanta.
The pilot phase began in April 2018, offering a daily food waste pick up service to 12 local businesses.
Chai and Aruna donated some of their land at the eco-farm to build a compost station on, and they are also donating their time and energy to the project, helping to get it set up and managing it.
They have also helped out with the composting workshops run by Koh Lanta Community Compost, an initiative which offers workshops in both Thai and English to local businesses and individuals, showing them how they can compost their food waste.
Reducing Plastic in the Local School
With the aim of reducing plastic waste, Chai and Aruna recently raised money to buy all the children at the local school Trash Hero refillable water bottles. Now, instead of using plastic water bottles each day, the children can refill their Trash Hero bottles from a large bottle of drinking water (which also gets refilled).
Creating Sustainable Tourism in Thailand
Before building their eco farm, Chai and Aruna set up and managed an eco-friendly Bed & Breakfast on Koh Lanta.
“We, in the tourist industry, have an immense responsibility to be in the lead of sustainable tourism. We must be the change and set an example and show another way of conducting tourism. Something must be done to save our home from ecological ruin.”
They are now a year into their dream of living off grid on an eco farm and have done so much in that time to protect the environment, raise awareness, increase the sustainability of tourism on Koh Lanta, and enhance the lives of the locals on Koh Lanta Noi.
“Our dream is to walk the talk for ecology and humanity. We dream of planting seeds and showing locals, expats and tourists on Koh Lanta that there are alternative ways of living and conducting tourism.”
Visit Shaan and Jeevan’s Eco Farm
We highly recommend visiting Shaan and Jeevan’s Eco Farm, where you can spend time in nature, take part in a tour of the farm and the local area, and visit the beautiful mangroves and paradise beach next to their farm.
Find out more about Shaan and Jeevan’s Eco Farm and contact them on their Facebook page.
Take a look at more sustainable tours in Thailand with Intrepid Travel.
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