Floating gardens

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It can sometimes be hard to distinguish lake from land because here they are skilled in aquaculture. The array of bamboo sticks pocking up from the greenery in the photo above are anchors, keeping the floating rafts of vegetation from literally floating away.

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To make these rafts, the villagers head to the lake and collect naturally-produced floating clumps of greenery, particularly water hyacinth.  These clumps of vegetation are so dense that they can trap and hold sediment. After some 10 years or more of being loading with silt and mud, they are sturdy enough to support the weight of crops, such as tomatoes, beans, gourds, and flowers. The villagers tie strips of water hyacinth together and slowly push them to the farms. Fertilizer is also naturally provided by harvesting lake weeds.

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This is an incredibly efficient and productive arrangement which has boomed since the 1960s when it became easier to transport goods out of Shan State.

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© Helen Gray 2020