Wilai Sirila and her Dutch husband Peter started their farm in 2007. The idea came after Wilai was invited as key note speaker at the Ratchabat University Loei to speak about international tourism. One of the audiences stood up and said that it requires a huge amount of investment in order to create a tourist attraction in the international market; therefore, it is impossible for them, grass-root class people who do not have much money, to do it. However, Wilai replied that it is not necessary to have a lot of money. Currently, what many foreign tourists love to see are the basic things we have, such as nature and our Thai traditional culture. It is even possible to set up a project without electricity. So that was how Wilai and Peter came up with the idea of Sirila Farm where there is no electricity.
The first thing they did was clean up the 35.000 sqm land that than was looking like a jungle. Then they let a company come to thrill a hole of 35 meters deep so they could pump up their own water. The idea also was to let things grow that aren’t yet planted in this area. So that the farmers can come and have a look and give them some other idea’s as growing rice or sugarcane. The first plantation was of agar trees (oil for perfume). However, the carrots of the trees went rotten with the flood of 2011. But they went on. Instead of one big plantation now they started to do smaller plantations but wit more variety and with plants and trees that never has been planted in this area yet as cashew nuts, macademia nuts, coffee and others. They try to plant things that do not need big investments so that poor farmers can come and have a look and get some advice about how to grow and maintain these trees. So far it became succesfull.
Beside that they wanted to invite western tourists. So they built a restaurant, toilet, kitchen etc. mainly made from nature materials. Even though this is not really a new discovered market because there are already some other farms in other parts of Thailand, Sirila Farm is still different from them in many aspects. Sirila Farm has special and distinctive characteristics because nobody has done the exact same thing before, and this project turns out to be very successful and has satisfied customers since the introduction stage even. They try to match life without electricity with comfort as much asossible. So now, in 2014, they built some comfortable safari tents which made it possible to stay here for some nights. The tents are a real good combination with the concept of the farm. And the students…yes they came and come to have a look about we are doing and are interested to co-operate in different projects.
Guests feedback! The people don’t know what to expect when they arrive. So when customers arrive, in the middle of nowhere, it is really in the middle of nowhere, in a land surrounded by mountains, they say “Wow, how can this be possible”? Many called it “little paradise”. They are also amazed about the quality of the food. Some customers mentioned that “We learned something here, we don’t need materialistic things, but it seems we can also be happy in a basic way” as well as “I will remember this night at the farm for the rest of my life”.
Experience is everything!