A Means to Live, Learn and Evolve

Over the last two weeks I have had the opportunity to meet a set of interesting people. People who are committed to learning from nature and in turn helping themselves as well as nature evolve.

What did I get to see?

  • A three year old farm that has rejuvenated itself from being semi-arid to become an active learning center for permaculture that now attracts interesting people from world over.
  • A six acre farm that applies Natural Farming principles to increase soil fertility, demonstrate self-sustainability and joyful community living.
  • A barren piece of land that was full of pebbles without any top soil is now a thriving seed bank that keeps alive exotic and indigenous plant species. The best part – this was envisioned and executed by two people without any external inputs (or) hired labour.
  • A re-forestation cum water conservation project that has transformed about 70 acres of eroded land into a lush green landscape along with increasing the ground water level by 20 feet. This was made possible through a thriving community of volunteers based on the principles of gift economy.
  • A 43 acre farm, part of the Sri Aurobindo Society that practices holistic farming practices to produce fruits, vegetables, pulses and oil. Also the weeds (that otherwise are discarded in farms) are classified according to their medicinal value and used in natural healing.

Personally it has been inspiring as well as paradigm shifting. But more importantly it has increased my conviction of what i set out to do . . .

It is now becoming more clear to me to that connecting back to one’s roots and living in tune with nature does not imply going back in time (or) escaping from current reality.

In fact if anything at all it is a means to live, learn and evolve. Why do I say this?

Living:

I have first hand witnessed how people are leading a fulfilling life. Sure owning/ running a farm is not going to get you a million dollars, private investments or anything of that nature. But it certainly can provide for one’s basic needs, allows one to spend time with their loved ones and helps one lead a healthy life. In fact for the first time in my life I am waking up at sunrise looking forward to the day ahead. To be able to live, thrive, be happy and not merely survive –  to me means a life worth living.

Learning:

The joy of learning what one seeks itself is a special feeling. Even more so when the process of deeper learning continually happens through observation, introspection and trial & errors. Living in tune with nature provides such opportunities aplenty – as and when one is ready.

Evolving:

This is really an extension of the above two and the only reason i put it out separately is to explore the concept of being connected. Though this could mean many things to many people, to me being connected is about being in touch with one’s myself and being able to get more aware about myself and my actions. Also at another level I see it as a partnership with nature – a collaboration to help each other out in expressing our true selves.

So this is where I am at after the first few weeks of my journey (still in the exploration phase).

P.S:

I am pleasantly surprised at the number of people wanting to live a more meaningful life in tune with nature – almost every second or third person I’m meeting nowadays. Maybe it’s just a filter I am applying or my search is leading me to these kind of people. Whatever it is it feels empowering.

I would also love to know what you thought about this post.

Why Grow My Own Food?

Ok, why did I make this my first post?

  1. This is the first question people ask me, when I tell them what I intend to do in life.
  2. A big part that inspired me to choose this lifestyle has got to do with growing my own food.

So . . . before I get into why it makes sense for me to grow my own food, I thought it would be a good idea to check with Google if anyone else had written a blog with the same title.

Results?

Why Grow own Food

There are hundreds of blogs on the very same topic, right from personal reasons to grow food all the way up to how Michelle Obama inspired a blogger to grow food.

Most of these blogs cover the usual suspects such as:

  • To be able to eat fresh veggies & fruits (that taste much better)
  • Being sure that the food on your plate has not soaked litres of pesticides.
  • Kids are more willing to eat veggies when they harvest it themselves (Wow, this could be a serious motivation for parents I guess)
  • To improving fitness levels (from the gardening workouts & eating healthy food)
  • Saving money on daily groceries (not sure this is a big enough factor though)
  • And last but not least playing a role in saving the planet by consuming locally grown food

Any of the above points is a good enough reason in itself to start growing your own food.

However to make this post worthwhile my time and yours (especially when you have hundreds of posts already on the very same topic), I decided to not list out generic points but instead explore something more fundamental.

Why would one want to put extra effort grow their own food when they’ve just come back from a tiring day of work and a nasty traffic jam? Why would someone really be bothered about eating local produce when he himself has traveled more than 15 km’s that day to work and back?

Well. I can only answer for myself:

Security for Future:

Certain things in life for me are non-negotiable. For instance I cannot sleep well without enough cash in the bank nor can I compromise on the quality of relationships with my loved ones. Similarly I cannot afford to be at peace until I’m sure that I can provide a quality life (for which food is an integral part) for my family and future generations, irrespective of external factors (read – food price inflation, unhealthy farming practices, degrading food quality etc).

In other words, it is the same emotion that triggers one to buy insurance for himself/ his family or to fold a decent deck of cards in a poker game when the odds are only marginally unfavorable.

Togetherness with Friends & Family:

Who does not want to be with loved ones and close friends? Who does not want to experience the sense of belonging and peace that one gets, being their own true selves amidst dear ones?

Food growing in your backyard is a great excuse to create more such opportunities. Whether they are house parties or family dinners, the chances of having a great time significantly increases when your dinner recipe comes from your backyard. Can you already imagine yourself plucking out ripe tomatoes and snipping off coriander leaves while having a hearty laugh alongside your favourite people? Well I sure can.

Get the creative juices flowing:

I get my high’s from having accomplished something I believe is meaningful. It is even more rewarding when you know that your creativity was involved in making the accomplishment possible. If you have ever experienced a high from writing a new song/ poem/ article (or) have broken through a persistent problem in your life/ business/ relationship with your ingenuity you know exactly what I’m talking about.

For me getting my hands in the dirt, figuring out creative ways to take care of plants, constantly learning from nature and enjoying the outputs of the process with loved ones is a great way of self expression and meaningful accomplishment.

What am I going to do?

For the next two weeks, I am going to be volunteering in an organic farm in Auroville. I will be staying in the farm, getting my hands dirty and learning the principles behind growing my own food.

What can you do?

Well all I can say is that Knowledge is power. If you believe growing your own food is important, I have put together a set of resources that can help you get started with growing your own food:

  • Get to know how to you use your windows to grow food with window farms project.
  • A detailed resource to help beginners quickly learn important things about growing food.
  • A paid and a free online tool to help plan for your square feet garden. Learn what a square feet garden is here.

Do drop in your thoughts, I look forward to hearing your views on this post and what it means to you.