Ankura, an idea that started as a bud
in 1998 on a barren 1 acre ancestral land near Hoskote (Old
Madras Road), has blossomed into a self
sustaining "Green Field" today.
We wanted to grow lot of trees on this piece of land so
it would attract varied birdlife. But somewhere along the line,
without us consciously realizing, our interest and love for the
trees also grew with them.
With more than 500 trees covering 70+ species, it is
looks like a mini forest. This place has not been tilled,
de-weeded, added manure or watered for last 5-6 years....letting
nature take its course. It has been an uphill journey, from
restoring this land that was unused for decades, devoid of any
topsoil to make it support the varied flora that we wanted
to grow here. We attribute the success in the endeavor to expert
advise by our uncle Late Dr. V.S.Sheshadri and immense
efforts of its caretaker, Anjanappa.
Our interest in bird-watching was the
igniting factor. Plant trees ...birds will follow was our
understanding. Our ignorance about agriculture, probably was a
great help. We thought that most of the lands before cultivation
will be barren and only by hard work..... plants grow. Hard work
certainly paid off, probably our ignorance helped us more, since
we didn't follow any of the "conventional also read commercial" methods.
We started by tilling the land and leveling the ground
as any farmer would. On hindsight, leveling may not have been necessary.
Tilling certainly helped, as it loosened up the concrete like
we went about the task of planting the plot with tree saplings, few at
a time. Several of them were from forest nurseries around the Hoskote area.
Dr. Sheshadri advised us to plant the boundary with 2 rows of
fast growing trees mainly Silver Oak, Teak and Rosewood and have
mix of every fruit tree that we want in the middle. We
just went about planting trees that sounded new ... 1 or 2 of
each species thinking that diversity will be nice. Since we were not too familiar with the
identification of trees, the first few years was also a period of
learning for us. It was good fun though!- at times, when we knew the
botanical name (binomial nomenclature) but didn’t know
the local name to convey at nurseries.
Sometimes we had seen a plant that we wanted and didn't know the
name ... but had to describe
the leaves, flowers etc to get the sapling. We are indebted to
many people in different forest nurseries for educating and
helping us during these times. Then we started referring to books such as ‘Book of
Indian trees’ and ‘Some beautiful Indian trees’ which made these
tasks easier. It was in these books that we discovered that a
tree ‘Red Sanders’ is on the endangered list. Imagine our
surprise when we found the saplings in one of the forest
research nurseries. We pleaded with department to spare 2
saplings for us and were delighted when we could have this plant
in our farm. Unfortunately, the saplings being very small didn't
survive. We are glad to say that we have 5 of them growing
pretty well at "Vanashree'. Today we have more than 500 trees
cutting across 70+ species at Ankura. Detailed list of trees is available
Dr. Sheshadri advised us to grow 'Methi'
as our first crop and follow up with 'Tur dal' to enable
nitrogen fixing. Our ignorance helped us again.. as we didn't
remove the tur plants immediately after harvesting the pods. The
leaves of 'Tur" littered our land and without our
knowledge we had added organic matter into the soil. 'Tur'
plants also prevented any erosion during the following monsoon.
After the 1st year it was clearly visible that the land was
changing dramatically. We followed up with few tractorful of
silt from nearby lakebed and distributed evenly.
Since the saplings planted were small, we had plenty of
space to grow vegetables. We grew several crops in the land
between the saplings for the first few years including beetroot, potato, radish, knol knol
Another thing we have learnt over the years is "Patience". Trees
don't grow overnight and these methods don't yield results immediately
persistence seems to pay!
concept of organic farming was introduced to us by Dr.
Sheshadri. Knowing our love for birdlife, he advised against use
of any pesticides and asked us to control thru' natural
methods. Once, he remarked " Don't think of them as pests
..... its actually debt we are repaying to nature for using
their land". He advised us not clean up the fallen leaves to
make the farm look clean. Marigold was introduced to us as "more
than a flower", it was one of the best way to control pests when
we were growing Tur, Beans, Chick pea etc. Marigold acts a
preferred host for pests and minimizes main crop loss. Over last
3 years we have not removed any weeds also...
Ankura was also the place which brought meaning to "Dignity of
Labour". Anjanappa and I had decided to do everything ourselves from
digging pits, planting, watering and harvesting mainly due to
scarcity of labour. It was a new experience as realization came
that farmers literally toil with their sweat and blood. There
were numerous occasions when a city bred person like me, had to
battle bruises and cuts when digging pits. Just the task of
planting was arduous initially, to bend for long hours during
planting, sowing or harvesting was daunting. Seeing Anjanappa at
twice my age doing 3-4 times my work was equally humbling. But
we continued ..... and proud to say that Anjanappa and I
planted every single tree and probably have a story to tell for each and
Over the years the
bonding with the trees grew stronger as they grew......resulting
in increasing desire to have lot
more trees and explore the possibility of self sustained living. The outcome of this desire was "Vanashree".