Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Sustainable Focus

"In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught." - Baba Dioum

On World Oceans Day 2017, Gili Lankanfushi opened its new Marine Biology Shack, ‘Gili Veshi’, which translated from the Dhivehi language means Gili’s Environment.

Marine Biologist and Intern Vici on opening
Gili Veshi is an educational centre open to hosts, guests, local communities and local schools so they can learn more about their environment and how to better protect it. One area of focus within the shack is our Sustainability Shelf which guides viewers along the processes used to keep our food and waste systems sustainable. It features one member of our Green Team who has made it his mission to turn our kitchen and garden into a center for sustainability:

John Bakker is Gili’s Executive Chef and he has been working on developing and expanding the Organic Garden since his arrival on the island in 2012.   From humble beginnings as cluttered ornamental herb garden, the Chef has built a team of traditional method farmers from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to help bring historical practices and authenticity to the production. Through the hard work of the first two years the garden has grown to its present size with 105 individual beds growing a consistent supply of the islands lettuces and soft herbs for guests and staff alike.  

Garden Plots
Chef John Bakker
Chef John comes from generations of Dutch Canadian farmers who lived within a larger community of agriculturists. He was influenced by the farming and market garden lifestyle of Southwestern Ontario in the 80’s being encouraged to respect those that work with and live off the land. As he rose through the ranks at international culinary destinations he continued to incorporate the freshest ingredients into his work, often from the classical kitchen gardens of Europe. Today, Chef John is the leading edge of the Gili Lankanfushi home grown, sustainable and organic culinary concept, environment and waste management.

To ensure steady growth of the garden, the team initially began using a time tested method of composting organic waste by burying plies of garden waste under the normal garden topsoil to return some of the captured carbon and nutrition to the beds.  Although this was an effective method it was time consuming and inefficient and only allowed then to utilize a small portion of the total waste available. In an effort to find a more efficient and sustainable solution Chef John happened upon a contact with British waste management company “Tidy Planet.”  Through a consultation with them and following an extensive waste audit Gili Lankanfushi decided to purchase the Maldives first and only Mechanical Biological Composter aka “The Rocket.”  Basically a large self-contained composting chamber, The Rocket allows Gili Lankanfushi to process and compost 100% of the organic waste produced in all the kitchens and return it to the garden a fertile organic compost.

The Rocket Composter
Since The Rocket has been in service for a year Chef John has also started a barrel composting system for jungle/island waste as well as a very exciting new project called Vermiculture or worm composting. 

The waste management system at Gili Lankanfushi starts in the kitchens by aggressively separating all kitchen waste into specific bins for wet and dry waste.  The collected food waste is processed through a dewatering machine which reduces the total volume of waste by chopping it into small pieces and extracting any excess moisture/water/juice. This finished dried product it the food that powers The Rocket and eventually becomes compost. 


To create compost, the dried food waste is mixed together with some chopped jungle waste (mulch) and added to the Rocket Composter. The rocket composter revolves 8 times every two hours and slowly develops the heat and bacterial activity required for decomposition.  After 18 days of mechanical processing the active material falls from the hopper and is collected by the gardeners.  This active compost is placed into a holding bed to mature for a minimum one month by which time it is ready to be used throughout the garden as organic fertilizer.   

The development and production of the organic garden has allowed Gili Lankanfushi to tailor its food offering throughout the resort and given us an opportunity to choose the freshest as well as the most sustainable options when developing the menus.  This concept is not more readily apparent then within the Lunch salad bar concept in the Over Water Bar which utilizes 15 different types of organically grown salads and herbs daily.

Lunch Leaves
Gili Lankanfushi is committed to continuing the sustainable ecological philosophy throughout the resort.  We are so proud of our new Marine Biology Shack that will continue to teach others about the developing suitability process coming out of Chef Johns Kitchen and Garden. If you would like to learn more, please join us for an eco-tour of the resorts processes and visit us in Gili Veshi. 


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