Our interests in nature and birdlife was
the foundation of the venture we undertook 10 years back. A small piece
of ancestral land
Ankura was the site for some of our
early experiments . Never realized that
this step taken 10 years back was to result in many changes in our
outlook and setting us on a journey of discovery.
The barren 1
acre plot which had lost all top soil and had not seen any
vegetation for 30 years according to the locals was to be our
trial ground. Having no knowledge of agriculture at that time,
we went to our uncle Prof V.S.Sheshadri, HOD and plant
pathologist at Agriculture university, Bangalore. We owe all the
initial successes to him for hand holding us in the
early days, during our foray into farming. He helped us look at farming as a
commercially viable option despite most people
considered it as an eternal investment sink with no returns. His
support was more than just providing technical information, he
helped us develop an insight into agricultural practices and
encouraged us to adopt Organic and Multi Cropping methods. Perhaps it was his unnerving faith that we
were doing the right
thing that helped us tide over the difficulties.
He was our chief mentor when
we were developing Ankura.
enthusiasm increased, there were a
hundred things that we wanted to try and experiment. A lot of
those were made possible, thanks to Anjanappa, care taker
of Ankura in our absence. He was the first
person we had come across who was educated well and still dabbled
in agriculture (not too successfully though- but that never
seemed to stop him!). At 70+ he's still the most enthusiastic person
when it comes to implementing new ideas - but was completely at
loss when told that we wanted to grow plants without using any
fertilizers and pesticides. He mostly indulged us (probably considering us as ignorant
city bred kids) when we told him our idea
of organic farming. It took almost six years before we
could prove that that it was indeed possible to have an organic farm! Now
he also has plans of implementing the same in his land.
Ankura, mainly rain-fed, is now a
a densely wooded landscape with over 500 trees covering 70+ species.
All trees yielding well (except for Coconut and Nerle/Jamun)
and abode to 20+ species of birds.
"Vanashree" was our next
step was to take up the challenge of restoring an 8 acre plot
which was plain except for 4 trees. Started our planning and
execution in Aug of 2005. We wanted to have as many trees as
possible, and experiment with grow everything we need ........ (well....almost everything!)
Our guide and
this area were some amazing books and their authors. One of the first books on plants in
general that we came across was a kannada book 'Hasiru Honnu'-(by
Prof. B.G.L Swamy) wherein the author mixes botanical
information adeptly with humorous anecdotes. It's almost an
introductory textbook in botany that reads like a novel. The other book that opened new Vistas was 'Sahaja Krishi' by
This book is actually a commentary and extrapolation of another
book called 'Ondu Hullina Kranti' kannada translation of
Masanobu Fukuoka's book 'One Straw
Revolution'. We can say that coming across this book was a
turning point in our life. Farming as a
"hobby" for us, changed to "a way of life". It is probably the most
influential book we have read.
The next event
that propelled us was a meeting with the author of 'Ondu Hullina kranti'
and his father. The owner of the bookshop where we went to buy,
suggested we could meet the author Santosh Koulagi, in
Melkote, 120 kms from Bangalore.
We drove the very next day, unannounced to Melkote to meet
Santosh. Since Santosh was out when we reached, his father Sri.
Surendra Koulagi kept us engaged. 'Dada' as he
is fondly called, runs "Hosa Jeevana Dhari" (New way of life),
a self sustaining organization of physically challenged and
local tribals. Dada, a
Gandhian and as one of Vinobha Bhave's lieutenants came to
Melkote 40 years back as part of "Navodaya
Movement". True to the word "Gandhian" he stands for all the
great things the name implies.
Santosh is a chip of the old block. Being with them
was like staying in a wonderful new world. His wife Geeta,
amazingly supportive of Santosh, their children who quickly
became close friends to our son are remarkably happy, an oddity
in today's world. Maybe we can attribute this to the fact that
they're home schooled....it seems to be a common thread among
all children who are home schooled (provide link to home
schoolers group in B'lore here) . Unlike other kids they're
We also met a
whole bunch of people whom we could immediately relate to...thanks to Santosh. Among them was
in NIT, Mysore, who also heads an organization very aptly called
CART (Center for Appropriate Rural Technologies). He's an expert in alternative energy resources & rain water harvesting
and has been great resource for us in implementing some of them at
learning our interest in self sustained living suggested to meet
a couple Jyothi and Ananthu at Thally some 20kms
from our farm in Maralwadi. Well it was a revelation of sorts
when we met Jyothi & Ananthu! They've been
the leading lights of an economically sustainable, simple, community
centered and community involved living. We' are still in awe about them and
the work being done by their trust
Ananthu on learning about our intended move to "farm based
living" informed about a couple, Satish & Akhila who had
done just that. So off we went to their house. They stay about 25
kms from our Farm. Most
of the apprehensions we had about whether we can lead a
simple and sustainable life on the farm were dispelled after
meeting them. Satish is an active member of "Sahaja Samrudha"
(provide the link here), an organization dedicated to
propagating holistic natural farming methods in Karnataka.
on the internet for gobar gas plants came across a site called
Acres-Wild.Com. This is much more than a natural and organic
cheese farm. Acres-Wild in Coonoor is carefully nurtured by
Mansoor and Tina. This website probably sets
a benchmark in information dissemination. To say that Acres-Wild
is an inspiration for our site is an understatement.
has been compiled by Priti & I for sharing
information and get feedback on the kind of things we are doing and
planning to do.
The journey so
far has been one of many co-incidences, 'a chain of events'
with one leading to other.