Category Archives: getting to know

1000 Tree Projects

The 1000 Tree Project was started in response to the drought of 2016 when we saw large scale cattle deaths in our area. Deforestation and failed monsoons combined with chemical farming, soil erosion, overgrazing and plummeting groundwater supplies created a downward spiral for the community living here. Climate change, erratic weather patterns, changes in rainfall volumes and frequencies have all made livelihoods and fodder availability uncertain. The 1000 Tree Project is a holistic design strategy that supports small groups of marginal farmers with a minimum of 4 farmers including at least 1 woman farmer on 10 or more connected acres in a cooperative endeavour to reduce the risks of farming in these erratic climatic conditions.

Each project begins with support to acquire fencing, water harvesting earthworks, drought tolerant native crop seeds, and high-quality tree saplings. The program stipulates that the farmers must engage in holistic and sustainable practices such as water harvesting, alley cropping, mixed cropping, seed sharing and the planting of a minimum 100 trees per acre. This will help change the agricultural practices from monoculture cash-crops, which produces a maximum of 2 crops per year, to a variety of foods and fodder produced year round. These polyculture systems will better provide for the needs of the farmers giving them surpluses to sell and trade while guaranteeing a yield even if some crops fail.

With the 1000 Tree Project we co-create productive landscapes helping them farm again, protect their crops from wildlife and overgrazing, and plant local, drought tolerant trees which build soil and restore biodiversity. The practices of agroecology, agroforestry, mixed cropping, alley cropping and water harvesting heal the soil and nurture the ecosystem while providing food, fodder, fuelwood, medicine, timber, income, and seed security for marginal farmers.

Along with sparse rainfall, man-animal conflict, a history of chemical farming, eroded and exposed soils, the farmers here are small farmers holding 2-3 acres of rain-fed land. These fragmented land holdings are a result of the breakdown of the extended family, the lure of  “greener pastures” in the city and the harshness of the conditions here. The cooperation among families for sharing resources such as food, seed and labor has also been lost. Farmer debts are increasing as the inefficiency of monoculture, chemical farming continues to produce less while inputs continue to rise. Making village life attractive to villagers must include viable economic opportunities if we are to keep the youth and families from moving away. Recurring droughts and changing weather patterns force villagers who depend on the land for their livelihood to migrate to cities to
find menial jobs to meet their needs.

The aim of the 1000 Tree Project is to prevent these farmers from becoming landless by reviving the traditional polyculture systems and reducing stress on the already fragile forest ecosystem through a program of afforestation and ecological conservation. By further helping to nurture and protect the trees until they are established, as well as supporting farmers with access to native seeds, exposure visits and trainings, we are facilitating a method that can provide nutritious food, consistent fodder, a diversity of produce for trade, and livelihood security where farmers are empowered, self reliant and live a life of dignity.

Through the 1000 Tree Project, our goal is to plant as many trees as
possible, build soil, recharge water supplies, restore the
biodiversity of the area and bring sustainable farming back into
practice. Our hope is to see the village come together through a
sharing of resources, cooperative actions, engagement in barter, and a
local exchange of surpluses. The farmers who have fed us this long,
who were silently toiling to make that meal on our plates, need
recognition, support and a voice.

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EDIBLE LANDSCAPES – a viable design option

EDIBLE LANDSCAPES
– A VIABLE DESIGN OPTION

Imagine entering a resort or a hotel and walking into a beautiful, bountiful and a productive edible garden with a wide array of textures, colours, sizes and shapes that not only provide scrumptious food but also saves money whilst providing a multitude of other benefits.
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A landscape that triggers a rethinking of the false distinctions between beauty and utility, that beautiful gardens need to be solely ornamental and edibles are restricted to vegetable gardens.

I’m beginning to believe that, in addition to being a viable design option and, if can be maintained organically an edible landscape is the most compelling landscape concept for the future.

I’m encouraged to have more of perennials and annuals (permaculturist, that I am) and a few seasonal varieties thrown in. A combination of hedges, vines, flowers, medicinal plants, ground covers, bushes, trees, aquatic plants – options area abundant and limitless. These edible landscapes become even more interactive and aesthetically appealing by integrating ponds, bird baths, pergolas, herb spirals and other static and dynamic hardscape features.

Watch this space for an exclusive list for south of India (sub-tropics), including a list of companion plants, growing seasons and related details..

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AQUATIC PLANTS and water loving plants

lotus
water chestnuts (trapa natans)
azolla
zizania (wild rice)
bulrushes (typha latifolia)
canna
Acorus calamus (sweet flag)
water lilies (nymphaea)
Euryale ferox
Fox nuts
Ipomea aquatic
Bacopa monnieri (JAl brahmi)
Aquatic mint
Watercress
Papyrus
Hostas
Sholapith (Aeschyomene aspera)

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GROUND COVER

sweet potato varities
straw berries
varieties of mint
coriander / cilantro
Pursalane
Creeping thyme
Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusa)
Centella asiatica
Chamomile benghalensis
Alternanthera varieties
Nasturtiums
Ground nuts
Most greens
Salad greens
parsley

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OTHER GOOD LOOKING EDIBLE PLANTS

Turmeric
Ginger
Collocasia 
Elephant yam
Jicama (tuber)
Asparagus
Zucchini
Varities of peppers
Cherry tomatoes
Varieties of okra
Varieites of brinjal
Buck wheat
Herbs – rosemary,
basil
thyme
sage
lavender
tapioca
corn
sunflower
biryani leaf
cardamom

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BUSHES AND SMALL CANOPY TREES

Moringa
Curry leaf
Citrus varieties
Sweet leaf
Tree spinach
Varieites of Banana
Varieties of Papaya
Tree tomato/tamarillo
Cocoa
Coffee
Mandarin Orange
Kumquat
Citurs varieties
Adathoda vasika
All spice
Cardomam
Breadfruit
Fig
Mulberry
Phalsa
Strawberry guava (psidium cattleyanum)
Surinam cherries
Barbados cherries
Pomegranate
Celosia argentea
Chaya leaf / tree spinach
Tejpatta (cinnamon tamala/bay leaf)
Clove plant
Kalanchoe

PERGOLA – FLOWERING AND FRUITING VINES

Passion fruit
Lab lab
Ivy gourd
Jasmine varieties
Clitoria ternatea/ butterfly pea
Basalle spinach
Grape
Chayote squash
Dragon fruit
Rambling roses
Sweet pea
Betel leaf
Pepper
Balloon vine

HEDGES / BORDERS

Hibiscus
Marigold
Geraniums
Lavender
Chamomile
Vetiver
Lemon grass
Citronella
Liquorice
henna
pirandai
aloe vera
Carissa carundus
Jute
Corchorus capsularis ? C. olitorius (edible leaves)
Indigo
Tropical cherries
Vitex negundo
Mulberry
Sansevieria varieties
Lemon grass
Rosemary
Vetiver
Pineapple
Sugarcane 


FLOWERING AND MEDICINAL PLANTS/SHRUBS

Marigold
Cosmos
Calendula
Geranium
Mustard varieties
Pansy
Shatavari
Ashwagandha
Ornamental cabbage
Ornatmental peppers
Poppy
Violets
Gardenia pandanus
Basil varieites
Indian borage
Chives
Colourful chards
Celery

References:
The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping – Rosalind Creasy
http://www.rosalindcreasy.com/edible-landscaping-basics/
https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/gardening-techniques/edible-landscape-zmaz10onzraw

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all about soapberries - natural laundry, dish, body and hair wash

SOAPNUTS!!!

soapberries

Generally called saopnuts, but truly it’s a berry. It’s called reetha in hindi.

We got a generous gift from a dear friend of two varieties and are on our way to making some saplings of them. We already have both varieties growing on our land and we would want more and more to share with friends and farmers around us.

They’re excellent to use for laundry including in washing machines. What’s best is the greywater can go into your plants without a worry… use this to wash your hair, body and even dishes…

Soak the shelled seeds overnight or in hot water for 10-15 minutes and tie them in a small pouch and put them into your washing machine or bucket to soak dirty laundry. You could also make a coarse powder of them thus reducing the time for it to be used actively… I love the smell the clothes washed with these…Use the liquid as dishwasher liquid, to wash hair, body or anything. Traditionally these were used to wash delicate silk. The wash water is bio-degradable and eco-friendly. We let our greywater directly into our mulch pits that grow bananas, basalle, collocassia and papayas…

a Gorgeous beautiful large tree, hardy and drought tolerant.

Sapindus Trifoliatus is the Soapnut tree that grows in South India. Their fruits and seeds are slightly smaller than the North Indian soapnuts. The shell is of a red colour and become darker after they are harvested and dried. The tree grows upto a height of 12 meters. Flowering and fruiting occurs between the months of October to January.

Sapindus Mukorossi (Himalayan) is the Soapnut Tree that grows in North India. Their fruits and seeds are slightly bigger than the South Indian Soapnuts. The shells are a golden colour when harvested but become a darker red colour once dried. The trees grow upto heights of 20 meters. Flowering and fruiting occurs in the months of May to February.

Generally propagated by seed. Its easy if you have the seeds!!! Soapnut seeds germinate quite easily. Just soak the seeds for 24 hours in warm water. Then sow them about an inch into the soil. A sunny location with well drained soil is ideal. Transplant the germinated saplings when they have a few leaves into pots/nursery bags till they are ready to go into their permanent location on the land.

Be patient however, the tree starts flowering after 8-9 years.

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