As a Nutritionist, I am often asked where I buy my groceries and where do I source organic, fresh produce here in Phuket. This may be a regrettable question; I tend to get very over excited and can chew the hind legs off a donkey whilst bestowing the virtues of growing & eating REAL food – which for me, having studied ethical & sustainable eating, means food as close to its natural state as possible. Furthermore, in a time of a global health concerns, a robust immune system is without doubt our first line of defense in enhancing our resistance against ailments & infections. For our own health, as well as the health of the wider environment, sourcing and consuming chemical free produce, turbo-charged with nutrients, is one of the best tools we have in our arsenal. However, before I launch into a list of some seriously inspirational Phuket people on a mission to keep us WELL fed, it is important to note that the word organic is often mis-used, intentionally or otherwise and thus for the purposes of this article, I prefer to use the less ambiguous ‘chemical free’.
LITTLE BUKIT FARM
Nestled in the hills behind British International School, is an idyllic plot of land which owners Melinda & Joe Sanya transformed into fully fertile farmland during the 2020 lockdown and months that followed. If it is not enchanting enough to be greeted by row upon row of effervescent, cruciferous greens, farmer Melinda emerges from the forest trailed by three very friendly goats and one even friendlier border collie. It’s reminiscent of a scene from the 1970’s TV Series Heidi, which evokes a strangely restorative sense of nostalgia. As Melinda speaks about the farm you get a real sense of her passion for the project and her innate understanding of the relationship between sentient beings and the environment. Little Bukit Farm is a dream realized and an ongoing labor of love, which is perhaps why there is such a sense of community here and the workers wear the widest smiles. It is also a lovely place to visit with children, fun and educational in perfect measure. You will leave feeling inspired, a little bit in awe and hopefully “reflective of what you buy & where you buy it from”.
A generous basket of seasonal fruit & veggies will set you back 400thb - picked fresh from the farm right before your eyes and completely devoid of chemicals & pesticides. Depending on the day, you may also buy ‘organic’ eggs from some of the prettiest chickens I have ever seen! With an on-site café and cheese room in the making, Little Bukit Farm will be a must to visit in 2021.
To book a visit (Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays) please contact Melinda: 083 506 8434
O-OH FARM SHOPS CHERNGTALAY AND PHUKET TOWN
“O-OH" means "wow" explains owner Varawit, because of the exceptional quality of the ingredients at O-OH Restaurants and farm shops. These pioneers of the trade started growing vegetables for their first location in Phuket town seven years ago - using organic cultivation methods & hydroponic farming in their own backyard to achieve truly natural growing crops with ceremonial care methods. After opening their second location in Cherngtalay, demand grew and necessitated that they source natural, certified ingredients from other farms and specialist growers. To date, they source only from farms that meet the OneCert International Organic standards for food production. Visit their farm shops and you will find a good selection of chemical & pesticide free fruit and vegetables, stored in large fridges and at competitive prices. A 1kg bag of tomatoes will set you back 80thb and paves the way for a delicious & nutritious tomato ragu that will ensure you never reach for the canned variety again (if the taste does not win you over, just google BPA in canned tomatoes!). They also offer excellent value items such as celery and avocados which tend to be quite pricey in the supermarkets and of far less superior quality.
In addition to their chemical free fresh produce, they also sell a selection of specially developed health drinks and a wide variety of authentic Phuket local delicacies, preserving the authenticity of our little island paradise.
Both locations at Phuket Town & Cherngtalay are open for business 7 days a week from 9am to 9pm.
PHUKET FARMERS CLUB
“Grow. Pick. Eat” is the straightforward mantra of the three impassioned Frenchmen who founded Phuket Farmers Club back in 2016. Having quit their corporate careers and settled in Phuket, the guys set out to partner with local growers and artisans who shared their ethics of respecting nature and using sustainable farming methods to produce chemical free fruit & vegetables. They regularly visit the growers they collaborate with and over the course of the last four years have seen new methods of bio-fermentation develop as farmers find increasingly efficient ways to naturally fertilize their crops. To date, most of their partner gardeners are in Phuket with a handful further afield in Chiang Rai where the seasons allow for greater diversity of produce e.g., for tomatoes which cannot be grown year-round in Phuket.
As is the nature of clubs, you may pay an annual membership and get a discount on each order or you can simply opt to order ad hoc with no commitment necessary. Jump online once-a-week (or less) and click on the fresh basket option to suit then add artisan deli items, wicked kombucha’s and all-natural products for the home - as you please. They will deliver to your door every Friday morning, Phuket wide. It’s a fuss free, highly convenient way to get top quality REAL food for your family and a life saver when time is tight for shopping excursions.
RAK PAK HYDROPONIC FARM
Rak Pak hydroponic farm (hydroponic meaning growing plants in water, without the use of soil) is a bit of an institution on the island with Owner ‘O’ operating for the past seventeen years, supplying restaurants, hotels and yachts with chemical free fresh produce. He is arguably best known for his salad varieties & sprouts which are visible from the road just before the turning to Soi Pasak 6. Row upon row of lettuce leaves, all in various stages of their life cycle are ‘vertically farmed’ on a small piece of land which supports eco-friendly & sustainable growing methods. Given that Rak means ‘love’ and Pak means ‘veggies’ in Thai, it is no surprise that there is also a wider selection of fresh fruit and vegetables on offer at the farm, sold in boxes both for retail & wholesale. As with PFC, some of these items are sourced from other sustainable farmers outside of Phuket, where they cannot be grown here all year around.
Most recently, Rak Pak opened its own on-site Salad Bar called Wandee, serving homemade ‘all natural’ salads and dressings plus a good selection of soft drinks. Open from 8am to 6pm, you can enjoy salad rolls, spinach salad, tomato salad, rocket salad, caesar salad & mix salad, starting at just 49 thb with extra toppings available for a hit of power packed protein.
Visit the farm 7 days a week from 8am from 5pm at 9/63 Moo 4, Baandon Cherngtalay Rd, Thalang.
From an ethical & sustainable eating standpoint, the reasons to source & consume chemical free produce, are wide and varied. Chemicals and toxins stay in our bodies and over time, these suppress our immune system and translate to ill-health. Furthermore, buying local, seasonal wholefoods helps reduce waste and support our community, both the people and the eco-systems that have existed here long before most of us called Phuket our ‘home’. The fact that food grown naturally also tastes infinitely better, is surely the icing on the proverbial cake 💚