An ancient agricultural tradition has risen to a pioneering new space in urban ‘farm to table’ vitality, with chefs at Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort crafting nutritious dishes from the daily harvest of its rooftop Hydroponic Farm.
Sealing a passion and commitment for the freshest and healthiest produce, Anantara Riverside partnered with Bangsai Agricultural Centre to set up Bangkok’s first hotel-based Hydroponic Farm. One of the very few companies certified with hydroponic farming credentials, Bangsai Agricultural Centre is a family owned Thai business managed by second generation family members Mr. Makavan Horsuwan and his son Chanuphan Horsuwan (Tong), who as Farm Manager & International Consultant is at the helm of Anantara’s flourishing urban farm project.
Throughout high school in New Delhi, Tong spent his spare time studying the pipes and water systems that his father employed on the farm at Bangsai Agricultural Centre. Returning to Bangkok to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management, Tong added to his expertise with a degree from a leading hospitality management school in France, and also worked as a chef. Furthering his credentials, he completed a Masters in Financial Management in Bangkok, and for the past two years has been dedicated to developing the technology and business potential of hydroponic farming.
“My father is my inspiration. After university I joined him on the farm and was amazed at how he could grow vegetables and crops anywhere – even in urban locations or on a roof,” explains Tong. After my father invented the hydroponic growth table, which our family is now well-known for, I wanted to be a part of urban farm industry development.”
Eager to raise awareness about urban farming by helping businesses use more sustainable and eco-friendly methods, Tong’s advanced expertise is a soaring success at Anantara Riverside’s rooftop farm, which proudly showcases the latest hydroponic know-how, rooted in ancient agricultural practices. Reliable, predictable and repeatable, hydroponic farming grows plants using nutrients and water, without soil. In weather controlled greenhouses, water and nutrients are delivered to the root system. Seeds are planted in a soil-like substance, which has excellent water holding capacity to encourage plant growth. Such ideal growing conditions enable plants to grow robustly, rapidly and year round, regardless of the season.
Tong and his team of young farmers at Anantara grow melons, tomatoes, green zucchini, cucumbers, mixed greens, rocket salads and micro greens at an incredible daily production rate of 12 – 50 kg each. The fresh harvests are handed over to Anantara chefs to work their magic. Taste distinction alone sets the culinary creations apart, made even more impressive by the exceptional health and environmental benefits. The produce contains the highest possible nutrition per calorie, with up to seven times richer nutrients compared to local supermarket produce, while using no soil, 90% less water, 70% less land and 50% less fertiliser.
“Looking to the future, I want to take this initiative even further by designing and growing more hotel farms, teaching owners and guests about the long term value of urban hydroponic farming, and also designing effective ways to combine engineering and agriculture by developing growth systems that are even more efficient and technologically advanced,” enthuses Tong. “As populations grow in cities like Bangkok, there is less space to farm. Hydroponic city farming is a highly effective way of combating this issue sustainably, and I take great pride in providing urban populations with organic goodness to nurture healthier eating habits.”