Do we wonder what food we eat everyday in our lives… Most of us wonder about it only when we go for a fine dining eat out! Otherwise on any other day, we care a damn what vegetables and cereals are being cooked to make our curry… After eating a tasty crunchy Gobi Manchurian or a Butter Chicken, why do our fingers have orange coloured stains… When mom cooks at home, we never have stains!
Do you remember all those grandma tales about how strong people were in those days… How immune they were to diseases and injuries … it’s a different story that more people died of cholera and typhoid in the good old days! But then, antibiotics were not yet invented. So without modern medicine how did the villagers managed to survive…
There must be something in their Dal-roti and their Jati-bootiya! Hey, could the secret of their success be chemical free organic food! Oh my goodness, it’s the same food promoted by those khadi kurtha wearing NGO types and oh so pseudo intellectual types!
But then do you remember the last time when Coca-cola and Pepsi had a joint press meet to address some big issue… why would those sworn arch-rivals hold anything jointly… Yes, it was about the pesticides in their oh! so soft drinks! Hard to digest, isn’t it… The whole world collapsed on the gentle MNC giants who till were seen as noble saviours by the Indian Youngistan! http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_24/b4038064.htm
Anyway, coming back to the topic, apart from the nutrition and ‘ma-ki-mamtha’ that goes into our food, a lot of pesticides and chemical fertilisers join in the feast. But then should we believe those intellectual types about organic food being so pure and nutritious… The only way to find out was to go to the farm where food is produced. I thought it is better to visit a farmer who has a chemical free organic farm anywhere near Bangalore.
A day before May Day, I read an article about an organic farmer totally transforming not only his land, but also the entire village. I was thrilled to know that his place was just outside Nelamangala on Pune-Bangalore highway and we friends had to go there. As we turned from the highway towards Kunigal, we were surprised to find a well-metalled road leading us into a valley to the edge of Kumudvathi river. All through the way, there were cultivated farmlands interspersed among the ubiquitous Nilgiri (Eucalyptus) plantations.
We came to the end of the road in Marasarahalli and stood in front of Sukrushi Farm covered with lush green foliage of coconut, cyprus, and teak trees. We met with H R Jayaram who is actually a lawyer by profession and an organic farmer by vocation. He has made a Herculean effort for six years to make this miracle happen. When he bought this degraded land, it was covered with a dense cultivation of eucalyptus plantations. Today, farm veterans have been surprised by a lush greenhouse full of flower plants grown without a trace of fertilizer or pesticide.
Jayaram made sure to plant more trees from different species so that they complement each other rather than compete on resources. Today after six years of hardwork and scientific approach, this flourishing plot of land is a dense forest of arecanut, banana, coconut, drumstick, Singapore cherry, glyricidia, silver oak, gooseberry, sapota and even vanilla.
Imagine a three year old Tiptur Tall Coconut palm giving yield! Imagine a banana plant sprouting a plantain right in the middle of its stem!!! It stands as evidence for the soil enrichment due to organic activity.
Lot of effort goes into building this organic activity by the use of Vermicompost. Jayaram has created all the required facilities to prepare compost and growth promoters. This rich black gold which comes out after two months of work nourishes the soil and builds beneficial microbial activity. Blue green algae is grown as a nutrient.
The abundance of flowers in the farm allows the bees to collect honey throughout the year.
Rain water that flows down from the storm drain is diverted to a porous pit. The pit allows the water to trickle down slowly into the bore-well.
Jayaram has been relentlessly persuading other farmers around the Marasarahalli village to take up organic farming. His model of water seepage concept with the help of a check dam has been an eye-opener for them.
Earlier weeds were simply burnt, but now farmers have learnt to put them in compost pits and for mulching. They now use arecanut leaves to cover up the base of the plants. Each plot of land has a pond whose water will be useful throughout the summer.
To our surprise, we found some foreign tourists working along with the farm workers! When we enquired with Jayaram, he said they are tourists as well as organic enthusiasts who are part of the global farming voluntary organisation. WOOFING is the platform where touring enthusiasts get to know which farm to go next. To our shock, we found that the global organic movement is so vast and well networked. http://www.wwoofindia.org/home.htm
After this enlightening visit to Sukrushi Farm, I was converted into an organic enthusiast. Yes, now I wear khadi kurthas and hobnob with the pseudo intellectuals!
– Factfile –
Location – Marasarahalli, on the way to Kunigal
Best time to visit – Weekends after summer rain
Contact – H R Jayaram – firstname.lastname@example.org