Friday, 8 April 2011

Organic Farming: Update from Sotla

Manuel raking away
Today was the first EVER coalescence of EduCARE interns on the organic farm plot in Sotla, Punjab. Thanks to all the 14 heroes that turned up today at 7am to help out, we now have 100 square feet of dirt primed for folding in manure and planting seeds, a working compost system, and only one broken hoe. There were lots of ups and downs, though mostly ups in terms of temperature. There were surprise guest appearances from Mr. Bhullar (with chai and cookies), a giant spider, and various local spectators. Despite the distractions we hoed like mad all the way to midday.

Our patch for organic farming in Sotla, Dosarka
The organic farming project has come a long way in only three weeks. We've expanded our plot from 30 square feet to 100, removed all of the weeds, wildflowers, and abandoned carrots, and aerated the soil by hand. Thanks to Tom Kee, EduCARE's waste management intern, we've got a 2- bin compost system built, and lots of organic waste to fill it with. There's a completed survey to conduct among the local farmers so we can start building relationships with them and understand the lay of the land here in Sotla. Channels of communication are open with other organic farms in the region, and through them we've already got local, organic, heirloom seeds of okra, gourd, amaranth, and cucumber. We're also hot on the trail of organic green manure seeds and red wigglers for composting.

In the next 2 months we're confident there'll be little organic seedlings of oat, okra, gourd, cucumber, cantaloupe, amaranth, and beans braving the Punjabi sun, and a big batch of rich compost ready for the soil. By June there should also be a wealth of information about the farming community here in Sotla, as well as increased local understanding about the organic farming project. We're looking forward to the next round of interns who will keep this ball rolling, and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of the labor done so far. 

Yi Wen and Isis help clear the land
To newcomers, the plan is simple: start an organic plot, spread to hundreds if not thousands of acres and thereby save the world by reducing pesticide use in Punjab, then India, and then the world. Obviously, this is far easier said than done. In order for the organic farming vision to take hold in the region, there needs to be a paradigm shift. The immeasurable value of organic farming needs to be embraced by the community. Luckily, with this first assembly of dedicated interns this process has started. With every morning spent in the field, Punjab, the breadbasket of India, gets a step closer to organic. When asked by the locals, “What are you doing with those tools?” we reply, “We’re farming.” This has changed the perceptions of what the interns are here for and this will open the door for the merits of organic farming to be heard, and hopefully embraced in the community.

1 comment:

  1. A great work on the process by you for the environment. The products to be called organic must be certified from some certification body as per the certification standards. so go for the certification to maintain the organic integrity.