Samui Wining & Dining
THE MALA AND THE MARKET
A look under the surface of the Samui Green Market.

A look under the surface of the Samui Green Market.Samui’s a small place. Yes, it hosts more than a million visitors every year. But who actually lives and works here? The answer is a widelyassorted bunch of all nationalities from all over, and from all walks of life. It’s impossible to guess just how many there are: other than taking their kids to school, there’s no communal way of meeting or getting together. Or at least that’s the way it was, back in 2007.

          

This was the year that Tamarind Springs Forest Spa in Lamai decided to celebrate the International Day of Peace, by holding a small yoga festival. To their amazement (and everybody else’s!) around 600 people turned up, and for all sorts of different reasons – it seemed that there were a great many people living here, looking for a way to connect with each other. Thus Samui Mala came about. A loosely-knit group of people with no membership fees or joining criteria, just folk sharing common concerns “for a clean and green world, starting at home, on Samui.”

          

Since that time, Samui Mala has coordinated numerous events at venues around the island, created fundraisers and helping like-minded groups network around common concerns. Over time, a one-off Mala happening each year was replaced with a regular and on-going community forum in the form of a ‘Green Market.’ Nomadic at first, this forum to get together, meet and greet, swap ideas, eat and drink and enjoy convivial company, found a permanent home at Elysia Boutique Resort in Fisherman’s Village. Here you can find them every six weeks or so, as announced on their Facebook page and website. But every now and then, on special occasions, they’ll move outside to be featured by a sympathetic host, such as Six Senses Samui, where they were to be found in August.

          

From the beginning, locally-grown organic produce was on sale, as well as fresh juices, smoothies and other healthy foods. Produce, organic or otherwise, is a real challenge on a tourist island with high land costs. So over time ‘green’ was overtaken by other healthy and home-made offerings. The range reflects the diversity of the community: the nature and number of the stalls have increased with artisanal breads and baked goods, locally-produced cheeses and chocolate, A look under the surface of the Samui Green Market.pestos, jams and even cosmetics and skin-care products made from natural ingredients. Local restaurants and cafes prepare fresh food and drinks for sale, and you’ll often find environmentally-aware resorts, such as Absolute Sanctuary, Kamalaya, Peace Resort, Six Senses Samui and Vikasa attending.

          

An iconic feature of the Mala since its inception over 10 years ago, and the Samui Green Market today, is to discourage plastic, especially onetime use plastic bags, foam or straws, urging vendors to find alternatives to wrapping or packing in plastic, and for buyers to bring their own shopping bags.

          

Conservation and recycling in itself is not new to Samui. But whereas a decade ago everyone seemed to be sitting in isolation doing their own little thing, now there’s a coherence and awareness that’s knitting everything together. Whatever else it might be, Samui Mala is the facilitator from which this wider perspective has been born.

          

So it’s no surprise that running in parallel with, and woven into Samui Mala and The Green Market, is Trash Hero Samui and Samui Clean, quietly energising, educating and inspiring people, businesses and organisations to join in with their weekly Sunday beach clean-ups and sign up for the refill bottle program.

          

Today the Samui Green Market is very much a community affair and a thoroughly enjoyable get-together, with live music, as well as a place to occasionally fundraise for worthy causes as diverse as Rohingya refugees, Soi Dog, Yoga Gives Back and The Burmese Learning Centre in Kuraburi.

          

Samui’s Green Market isn’t just a market: if you go there expecting to find a mini Fisherman’s Village with imported souvenirs you’ll be disappointed (although there are lots of goodies on sale, anyway). In reality it’s an icon – it represents the visible tip of a spreading awareness worldwide among people hoping for a “clean, green, nurturing, proactive and regenerative environment”. And its growing roots are spreading wider with every passing day.

          

Rob De Wet


 


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