It's all about the flower
What we say:
The lotus is a powerful spiritual symbol in Asia, one of purity and divinity. It’s also pretty – and a pretty versatile flower at that. Not only might you stumble across it in traditional Khmer cooking, it also has properties that produce a delicate fibre which can be woven to produce organic and empty-your-wallet-expensive eco-friendly garments.
The Lotus Farm is a venture that opened in 2013 by fair trade textile company Samatoa, where you can learn about this oriental member of the water lily family. The workshop is located on the road to Phnom Krom, which takes you to the floating fishing village of Chong Kneas on the Tonle Sap Lake, just before the local restaurants with their swaying hammocks. It’s possible to cycle down here in about half an hour from town, but the many bends in the road do not make this the safest option.
If you’re headed to Chong Kneas – only recommended if you’re very short on time and can’t make it to more interesting and far less touristy floating and stilted villages – then the Lotus Farm makes for a short an interesting diversion. The stilted wooden workshop perches over the organisation’s second lotus farm — the main one is in Battambang – where you’ll be introduced to the various sustainable processes involved in lotus fabric production and invited to try your hand.
The lotus stem holds the secret to the woven goods. Picked based on maturity, stems are collected and cleaned of their prickles. A knife slices into the stems to be pulled apart, allowing the fibres to be extracted. This is easier than it looks and to produce enough thread to weave a jacket takes two whole months, explaining the hefty price tag on the handmade clothing, which can be well into four figures.
There are a couple of traditional looms at the workshop and a small collection of items for sale, though the collection of clothing of the high-end fashion brand is found back in Siem Reap town. Conscious not to only cater to the niche luxury market at the Lotus Farm, a few gift items such as lotus bath products are available to buy, but there’s no pressure. Shopping is not the main draw but rather an education on this surprisingly productive flower.
If you’re interested in your arts and crafts, also worth a visit are Artisans D’Angkor Centre and the Silk Farm, which like the Lotus Farm are also free to visit.
More detailsPhnom Krom Rd
Opening Hours: Open daily 10:00-18:00
Last updated: 19th November, 2013
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