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Friday, August 8, 2008

Inside the Farm Circle #2

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

This week we enjoyed the pleasant late summer breezes surrounded by blooming vines and leafy stalks in the Small Farm Teaching Garden, as Tapahpunja shared words on the security of our food and water supply here at New Vrindaban, and Adi-Guru shared the village vibes of his simple upbringing on his family farm in Punjab.

Tapah began by running down our wet and rainy season so far in our main garden projects (Teaching Garden and Garden of Seven Gates-2/3rds of days in May and June were wet). This caused a interruption of the growing cycle, and some crops, like our spinach, have failed due to such things as root rot and a black mold on the soil.

Still, there are some successes. We have been maha-harvesting our green bean crop, and we've frozen and stored 110lbs of beans for the winter.

In the security of our food supply, importance lies in the nutritional value of what we grow. As always, its not just the externals, but what's inside. The foods we grow and store must be nutrient dense and in the mode of goodness.

Vegetable production is just one aspect. A steady supply of cow manure is crucial. Fruit and nut trees are also vital. Madhava Ghosh has laid out a challenge. If ten people can plant five fruit or nut trees, then in ten years we'll have 500 of these trees.

Tapah would like to see our next step move in the direction of grain production. We could store a mass amount of grains for long-term use. We would need to build a granary, and he also mentioned building a root-cellar as another long-term storage device for our foodstuffs.

We are also now dealing with a rogue element from the local coal industry, which may drill under our ground to get at the soft coal there, to convert it into gasoline at a proposed plant nearby in Benwood. If they do this, our well-water supply would vanish, and we would become dependent on city water and water bills, which is not good for householder and farmer alike.

The most important and tricky element is financial and social cooperation. This can lead to a fuller realization of our dual mandate here at New Vrindaban: to serve as a Krishna Conscious rural community, showing how simplicity and spirituality work together, while we also serve as a place of spiritual pilgrimage. To link these two together fully means unlimited possibilities for Prabhupada's mission.

Adi-Guru then spoke about his experiences growing up in Punjab, considered the "food basket" of India. Every 15 days his extended family would hit the fields, planting rice, corn, barley, and vegetables. It was a matter of duty and kinship.

Their production was entirely organic, with cow dung used as compost. They would irrigate with buckets from local canals. Everyone was involved, early in the morning (5 to 10am), with women and children sewing and the men furrowing.

This ritual was the commonplace agricultural practice in his village, which has over 300 families. Adi-Guru is super-inspired to be back in a rural setting after many years of Mumbai education and life, and he has a wealth of enthusiasm and know-how to share with us.

We then adjourned for delicious local organic prasad from our gardens: green bean and squash subji, chapatis, salad, and a cold mint and stevia tea.

We return to the Teaching Garden next Thursday, August the 15th, with a presentation on Women in Agriculture. Please join us!

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