Having lived, studied and worked in the US and UK, with past lives as a professional photographer and freelance photography teacher, Anak Navaraj moved back to his native Thailand three years ago with a vision to use his artistic point of view to change the conversation around sustainable living. In addition to family initiatives including Sookjai Foundation, which supports 170 organic farmers in Nakhon Pathom province, and Sampran Riverside—an eco-cultural destination where guests can experience authentic Thai culture, Anak established Patom, a gorgeous urban oasis of a cafe space, built from reclaimed materials, where city dwellers can access the sustainable and organic products produced by the other projects. Here’s how it all works together in harmony, and what’s next for sustainable Bangkok, according to Anak:
How does the eco-system of Sampran, Sookjai and Patom work in practice?
The Sookjai Model Movement is our upstream, where we get all of our organic produce from. Sampran Riverside is our midstream, where our food and body care products are made. Patom Organic Living is our downstream and is where we share our products with our customers.
Tell us about the inspiration for the design and architecture of Patom.
The original design was based on a terrarium. We liked the feeling of being indoors and outdoors at the same time.
Have you always been passionate about sustainability, or was it inspired by particular life experience?
Since I had kids I have become more aware of what we eat, and what we give to our children. I have also become more aware of how we will leave the planet for the next generation.
What are the specialities at Patom—the menu items that visitors mustn’t miss?
Our chocolate desserts and drinks are something that I would highly recommend. Our chocolate is grown in Prachuap Kiri Khan. We make a pure and dark hot chocolate drink that is very rich. Another favourite of mine is our dark chocolate tart, which you cannot miss!
Tell us about some of the workshops you hold in the space.
We like to hold educational workshops to show people what organic farming is all about. This helps them appreciate the process of how everything in our shop is made.
Do you think projects like yours are changing attitudes towards sustainability in Bangkok? If so, do you have any examples
Yes, I think that our customers are starting to ask questions, which we are pleased about. Our customers are becoming more aware of certain things like organic farming as well as plastic waste. When we made the switch from plastic straws to morning glory straws, we initially received complaints or confusion with our new policy. Now, everyone that comes to Patom accepts and understands why we don’t give out plastic straws.
Are there any other projects or venues in Bangkok that you see promoting eco-friendliness in similar ways?
Yes, we have connected with local businesses like The Commons. We have also worked with ELC [Early Learning Centre International School] to promote learning about organic produce to some of their students.
The original farm has been operating for over 10 years and is already certified Organic IFOAM. Tell us about your plans for the upcoming opening of the new Patom Farm.
The new Patom Organic Farm will be both an educational and a relaxing place for people to visit. We hope to inspire and show more people how to live an organic lifestyle in a fun way.
What’s your motto for life?
Go and visit Anak at the organic cafe on Sukhumvit Soi 49/6 for all your organic skincare products, coffee, pastries, and Thai dishes needs and find out more here: Patom