Farm Fresh in Sri Lanka: Repurposing Land for an On-Property Chef's Garden

As the saying goes – when the world gives you lemons, make lemonade. With this proactive mentality, Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka colleagues made a garden out of underutilized land. In line with Rooted in Nature, Shangri-La Group’s sustainable food and beverage initiative, Executive Chef Ashok Bandaru spearheaded the construction of the on-property produce garden to provide fresh produce in the resort's restaurants and bars, as well as enrich the resort experience.

“The kitchen team at Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka has been on a mission to repurpose the resort’s Artisan Village and create a sustainable vegetable garden that will provide fresh produce and create interactive guest experiences,” said Ashok Bandaru, executive chef at the resort.

On June 6, members of the culinary team prepared the land for farming including enriching and aerating the soil, and installing compost bins. By June 16, the team planted saplings and seeds, which was harvested for the first time on August 18.

With the success of the on-property garden, the culinary team relocated the cricket grounds and China harbor area to expand the garden. Since the expansion, the culinary team has planted and harvested over 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables.

To date, the team has harvested over 699 kilograms of fresh produce including aloe vera, beetroot, cabbage, coriander, corn, banana peppers, cucumbers, curry leaves, custard apple, dragon fruit, green beans, guava, lime, passion fruit, mango, okra, pomegranate, pumpkin, spinach, papaya, tomato, turmeric, watermelon, white radish and more.

The garden has also provided homes for Sri Lanka’s smaller residents, including garden snakes, honeybees and more.

“Soon, guests will be able to select their own produce from the garden with guidance from the resort’s chefs, as well as participate in cooking demonstrations,” said Bandaru. “It gives me immense pleasure to lead this team of hardworking, passionate, committed and creative colleagues who live and breathe our ethos of ‘Own, Drive, Strive.’”

Looking ahead, the resort is in the process of building an on-property hydroponic greenhouse, in which colleagues can grow produce and spices that do not thrive in the tropical climate.

Congratulations to the resort culinary team on the impressive project!