an update on the home garden.
we now have a number or organic vegetables growing for self consumption. ladies fingers (okra), cucumbers, aloe vera, long beans, radish, spinach, kangkung and some herbs – mint, basil, oregano,rosemary.
we have also put in roofing for a shaded resting area which is incredibly necessary in non-stop rainy taiping! picnic table made from recycled pallet wood for volunteers to relax outside.
work on the land is currently pending electricity to be set up, so we are focusing on growing as much as we can at home for ourselves and the neighborhood. that way, we would have accumulated enough knowledge to start growing on the land in a few months.
part one of setting up a kitchen was sorting out the flooring.
we were lucky enough to host a volunteer who has previous renovating experience. he shared his decades worth of knowledge and assisted us by creating a building plan for the kitchen hut.
4 inch cement flooring with a mixture of cement, water, sand and stone. wire mesh to get it to hold together.
total time spent on putting in the flooring – 2 full (5hour) days of work.
arture had the chance to sell some of its homemade products at a recent food fair for st georges school in taiping. we are happy to say that we sold out!
soap is one of the most often used products in our lives. it can be easily called an essential item in any household. you can see soap in all kinds of varieties. and all of those varieties serve different but the same purpose – soap is there to clean. doesn’t matter what it is – your hands, your body, your dishes, your car. we think of all those cleaning agents that help us remove dirt as basically soap.
the truth is of course that all that soap is not the same. it’s not the same on a surface, has different smells, different shapes, comes in liquid, powder and hard form. but the main difference of course is inside. all those “soaps” have different chemical formula and different properties. they are manufactured differently and different ingredients are used. you wouldn’t be surprised to find out that detergent to wash your clothes is different than your hand soap bar. so the question is how natural soap bar is different from a regular commercially made bar of soap.
the truth is that soap we buy now in supermarkets is closer to powdered detergent than to traditional soap. with technological advances modern cleaning agents surpassed traditional soap in ability to remove oil and dirt. they are also less expensive to produce in large amounts. it may sound like new commercial soap being better, less expensive, more colorful and smelling better is just an improvement overall compared to traditional soap that your grandmother used to use. but it is not true. driven by profits in mass markets commercial soap industry reduces the cost of soap disregarding some of the essential aspects and effects of using soap on your skin everyday.
the benefits of using handmade soap are many: simpler ingredients, fewer chemicals, natural vegetable oils instead of animal fats.
natural soaps are made in a time-honored fashion. it involves a very simple chemical reaction between oils (or fats) and lye (sodium hydroxide for bars). all soap is made with lye, but there is no lye in the finished product. the chemical reaction converts the lye/fat mixture to glycerin. the glycerin is a natural by-product and, as such, the relationship between the soap molecule and the glycerin means you have a cleanser with abundant, luxurious lather that cleans like nothing else. as a bonus, it does not strip your skin of its natural, protective oils.
at arture, our soaps are made with our own homegrown aloe vera and a mixture of good fats – shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil, palm oil etc.
an arborloo is a simple and ecological type of toilet consisting of
– concrete slab
– superstructure (toilet house) to provide privacy
– a ring beam to protect the pit (optional)
the concept of the arborloo toilet is to collect feces in a pit, and subsequently to grow e.g. a fruiting tree in this very fertile soil.
the arborloo works by temporarily putting the slab and superstructure above a shallow pit while this pit fills. when the pit is nearly full (3/4), the superstructure and slab is moved to a newly dug pit and the old pit is covered with the earth got by digging the new pit and left to compost. the old site uses a bed for fruit tree or other, which is preferably planted during the rainy season.
after getting the hole set up, we realised the water level on the land is quite high and will pose a problem to the composting. personal findings show that the arborloo is not a viable option for lands with high water levels.
we hope to find some other use for the beautiful hole that was dug.
we were able to scavenge some wood from the old colonial buildings that are being taken apart in taiping town. with the help of our new jigsaw, we could cut the wood more intricately for a better finishing touch.
shower built with wood, zink sheets, cement bricks for flooring and borders and rainwater shower heads because, why not?