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Up | Our Journey | Srikanth, Priti, Sriram | Shanmukha, Jaya, Manoj

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.

As our 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 inspiration in 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 Poornachandra Tejaswi. 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 remarkably happy!

We also met a whole bunch of people whom we could immediately relate to...thanks to Santosh. Among them was Dr.Ravikumar, Professor 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 Vanashree.

Santosh on 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 Navadarshanam.

Jyothi and 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.  

When searching 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.

This website 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. 

 

This site was last updated 10-Sep-2011