Not beer- The Sand Farmers

Whilst on a trip with my dad the other week I was greatly impressed by something I saw in the small town of Chiang Khong,Chiang Rai province,on the Mekong river and the river border crossing point to Laos.

Sand Farmers!

I have known since in my teens just how fertile the sand banks of this most majestic of rivers is,that people can get up to two extra rice crops from it’s sands in the dry season. But this was not rice and it was in Thailand,not on the impoverished Laotian side of the waters.

ImageThe first thing that jumped out at me were these “allotment” style plots of land/sand, in which garden veggies were growing. I am not a gardener, but the beauty of these green leafy  plants was hypnotic.

Then I noticed some very strange looking containers all lined up in the sand.

ImageI could not, for all my guessing, have figured out what was going on under the tarp.

I didn’t have my camera of phone with me, but decided to ask a young lady who was digging in the sand near the containers what was going on. I had not expected more than a one or two word answer.

Much to my surprise,she gave me a VERY detailed answer and told me that I should come back the following morning to see her boyfriend at work.

ImageDo you like Thai food? Chinese food? Noodles?



She had five “sets” of containers, the weight of which would be about 150kg of fully grown sprouts each and every day! River sand and river water were used and nothing was spent apart from on the seeds from which to grow the final product.

It’s all about 9s,she told me. Nine levels of sand and the same of seeds. Five days of watering and all we have to do is wash them.

So,on,say, Monday set 5 would be taken out and like a Solera beer,would be started all over and become set one.

ImageThis is a picture of day two after planting.

ImageDay four’s crop waiting to be watered.

ImageThe product of day 5 ready and waiting to be washed in the Mekong waters.

ImageThe first container is in the basket and is being loosened of all the sand before the real washing begins.





ImageThe finished product,roughly 11kg of beansprouts ready for market and noodle stalls.

ImageThe gentle winter sun just reaching it’s way over the water from Laos and warming the sands of Thailand.


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