The Organic Way!
Having heard so much about organic farming and seeing the exorbitant labels of organic produce in the upmarket city malls, it came as quite a surprise to us that in reality, organic farming is so much simpler and economical than we imagined it to be. We learnt from our visits to local farms where this method is followed, saw how age-old techniques have withstood the test of time and how organic is more a way of life rather than just avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
One golden rule explained to us by a certified organic farmer was – Throw nothing outside the farm and buy nothing ‘for the farm’. There is no farm waste that needs to be discarded/ disposed off. If a farm is well looked after, you need not look outside the farm for any fertilizers or pesticides –you will find it within the farm itself. A couple of local cows is all you need to maintain a farm he said.
And truly so. All the farm waste – the fallen fronds of the arecanut palms, dried leaves, weeds, all go into the compost pit along with the day’s cow dung, urine and the water with which the cow shed is washed. The cow dung acts as the compost starter, providing vital nitrogen too, the farm waste provides the carbon content and lo behold, you have wonderful nutrition for the plants. Apart from this, we prepare Jeevamruth and Panchgavya. Instead of commercial pesticides, we use a dilute solution of stale buttermilk, wood ash and a dash of soap.
How things are reused in the farm:
The black pepper vines which grow clinging to the arecanut trees for support, sometimes break loose and need to be retied. The best and most economical ‘ties’ are the thin slivers of the arecanut leaf sheath soaked in water.
The husks of the coconut are used as fuel for heating bath water.
All fruit, vegetable peels, kitchen scraps are relished by the cows. Even tough, prickly peels like pineapple and jackfruit provide a treat for the cows.
An annual coconut rejuvenation program calls for the coconut tree basin to be dug up and filled with green manure. All the overgrown shrubs, woody branches that break off and fall in the heavy rain and gusty wind are all used for this purpose.
Old fallen arecanut tree trunks are slit lengthwise and used for creating shelves or a loft for drying farm produce.
So, the trees, animals and the land itself offers much more than just the fruits that we can consume or sell. It is a continuous cycle where waste – whether farm waste or animal waste is reused to replenish the natural resources of the land and enrich it. And in this lies the true meaning of sustainability.