Aaji’s organic small scale farm — Training on her farm to construct DIY Greenhouse
Greenhouse Ginegar driplock diffused plastic material was collected from Bhivandi at a wholesaler.
Plant trays and cocopeat were collected from a wholesaler in Nashik. The plan was to set up a low cost Greenhouse pilot model and grow cherry tomato saplings, starting with a few farmers who have been organic right from the start and have never given up despite extreme difficulties.
Aaji is a 70 year old, Maharashtrian lady who is no less than a soldier in Shivaji’s army. She is rich in land but by social standard, poor in cash. Her cosy lovely home is a large hut made with hand made mud bricks and a tin roof. They have a typical rural way of her life and their land, several acres of it, has the richest soil in the Niphad. Their farm has probably never never seen any urea,chemical pesticides or fertilizers.
They have a sturdy Indian indigenous cow ‘Gir’, a good Indian breed. The milk of Gir cow is absolutely delicious. It is also the same milk rich in A2 Vitamin.
In my travels through and learning’s through natural farming, I have discovered through age old wisdom farmers that the indigenous cow dung,urine, mixed with jaggery and besan in 100 litres of water as Jeevamruth is enough for 1 acre every week. Basically one indigenous Indian cow can sustain 20 acres of rural land for natural farming! This was a revelation!
At Aaji’s farm,they prepare ‘Jeevamrut’ and use it as natural fertilizer. Dashparini is used as a natural pesticide. All leaves that are not eaten can be used to prepare this. Aaji’s farm did not have some of the wild habitat trees required e.g Nirgundi. So they visit a neighboring farm to pluck the required amount which shows the open, unquestioned interaction for necessities in the rural scenario.
Aaji has drip irrigation and a natural borewell and they have earmarked half of a field to build a natural reservoir for the approaching monsoon.
After a course meal in Aaji’s hut-she called for organic grapes Black and Green from an organic farmer attached with ‘Art of living Kisan manch’ and Lemon water prepared from their lemons, followed by raw groundnuts (delicious!) from their organic fields. The actual lunch came after 2 hours of work. I was impressed with the observation they maintained as a natural course of meals, since they took it for granted that there has to be a gap between the fruit and nut starter and grains. The normal gap could be 30–45 mins between each course meal.
bajra millet bhakri (roti), onion curry, papad, tomato chutney, green grapes
Lunch was homemade and home grown. Wheat and Bajra bhakri from their own organic harvest, Baingan (Brinjal) bhaji, spring onion leaves cooked in a coconut gravy, lemon pickle. Red chilly and coconut are the main spice due to being home grown but even though filtered or cold pressed edible oils are available in that region they were using a cheap form of refined oil. We discussed on how to make filtered edible oil available to them at affordable prices. Unfortunately even farmers who grow their own oil seeds of that region e.g mustard, groundnuts (they didn’t produce enough to extract oil but they had enough mustard and we advised them to get oil from their own mustard) do not use filtered or cold pressed oil for their own cooking.This awareness will have to be created. They buy chemical free ‘Gud’ (Jaggery) from a nearby farmer and this was the dessert, rolled in a piece of Chapati.
About the author - MSc Oxford University, Founder www.tarunaturals.com, PanIndia small farmer movement for sustainable farming, agritech, fair markets for value added natural products