Friday, 13 December 2013

A story about Monsoon at The Himalayan Farm by Kim Vercammen


The enormous mid-June floods had just raged their way through the beautiful region

of Uttarakhand. The spacious mountain views, idyllic and deliciously crisp after the

insane summer heat, had turned into a devastating sight filled with fear and despair

so suddenly. Insidious landslides and absurdly swollen rivers, violent like I had never

seen before and accompanied with a deafening noise, had washed away roads, houses,

entire villages and so many thousands of lives in what seemed to be just the blink of

an eye.

For an entire week, together with fifteen other yoga students and ashram staff, I had

been trapped high up in the mountains near Uttarkashi. Seven days of suspiciously

and unknowingly observing Mother Ganga. Seven days for the fear to grow, the small

stock of food and water to shrink, and the decision to flee to make, even though the

road down and back into safety was no longer there anymore. The 105 miles into

safety took us two days of climbing hills, begging military drivers for a small spot

that fits one thigh in their crowded jeeps, and gazing into the damage done, beaten

numb. The adrenaline that was still silently raging in our bodies froze, as suddenly as

our hearts broke, the moment we reached Rishikesh, the place of long awaited safety,

and the place where we stumbled upon hundreds of people in despair hoping to grasp

a sign of life of all those people who were less fortunate.


After a couple of days of recovery I was headed to the Himalayan Farm. I was bruised

and broken, in more ways than I will ever understand, but I just didn’t know it back

then. The Farm awaited me with open arms, with its overwhelming green and lush

surroundings and its gorgeous and loving people. They had been waiting for me, to

come home and heal.


Even though monsoon season did not make farm life easy, in all its harshness it

created the home where people care for and are taken care of, the home where

I needed to be. It is so easy to recall a myriad of sensations and situations, even

now, when a couple of months have passed. It only takes half of the time needed

to close my eyes before I can see us gazing into the night again in total awe of so

many fireflies lighting up the sky, before I can feel those glittering and rare rays

of sunlight warming up my cool skin, before I can hear the noises of the forest that

paired beautifully with the songs we sang, before I can taste the best paneer paratha

I have ever tried. These days I burst into laughter when I think back about the fierce

discussions we had when the extreme rainfall threatened to wash away the mud house

little by little. We all had these grand ideas about what to do and at the same time, all

of us were clueless. Today it is a funny scene from an epic movie replayed inside my

head, back then it scared me ruthless. I snigger incessantly when I think about the day

when during weeding my ass was covered by at least hundred mosquito bites, turning

it into a Himalayan landscape of my own and impeding my night rest for a couple of

nights in a row. I still remember descending the hill with my broken toe as well, all

too clearly. The toe still hurts every time I tuck in my toes with every sun salutation I

do, but it is still worth the hilarious laughter that arose afterwards.


There is more than a myriad of things that I can recall or replay, some pleasant, some

a little bit less pleasant or comfortable. However, if there is one thing I would like

to write about the farm, one thing that I would like to remember forever, it would be

that the farm is a loving home teaching some simple, but grand things. That every

moment, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant, is an opportunity to learn.

That every person, no matter how different, has wisdom to share. Even though I

am back in my Western kind of city life for now, there is still plenty of farm spirit

lighting up my world today. There’s these little things that I took home like taking a

couple of seconds to be thankful for food, making delicious masala chai, letting the

spiders and every other crawling little creature sit on the ceiling, listening to radiolab

podcasts, making sambar Karnataka-style, listening to ‘at the bottom of everything’

by Bright Eyes and putting it on repeat for hours, looking at the moon every night as

if it were the first time I saw her, putting tea tree oil on little or grand ailments, using

herbs and spices to sooth a stomach ache or infection, making paneer paratha just like

that night we really mastered it, loving people more, loving life more.

I can only hope that besides all those moments and learning opportunities that I have

let slip away -inevitably perhaps-, I learned as much as I could at the time, and that

perhaps, I shared something that was helpful or comforting to someone else. I am

thankful for the home you all made, the love you all shared and there isn’t a day that

passes by without realizing that. Thank you…


Love and Light.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Looking Back: Experiences at the Himalayan Farm by Temiko Jager

I'm sitting at my computer desk, almost 1 month after leaving the Farm in July, trying to find the words that would describe my experience on the mountain. There really are none that can do it justice.

From the moment I arrived in Do Gaon, greeted by all the volunteers who had just had a day out in nearby Nanital, I felt a sense of peace that still sends me back whenever I think of India. Maybe it was the 'Welcome Home' sign, after climbing through the forest in the night, surrounded by dancing fireflies. Maybe it was Beedy, the wonderful kitten who makes the Farm feel even more like a family. Maybe it was Mohan; "anything possible Mere Bai!". Maybe it was Erica and Akhil, who welcomed me with open arms and a wide grin. Maybe it was being the first Kiwi to stay, and putting small pieces of New Zealand on the walls. Maybe it was the sound of Ben Howard playing, or the music that would be created by various volunteers. Maybe the "OMM" before eating delicious, fresh meals 3 times a day. Maybe the garden, and the fields, and the cow that arrived a few days before I left. Maybe it was the experience of sharing a life with the most special people in the world, and knowing that we were and are all travelers, dreamers, artists, explorers, and environmentalists. Maybe it was everything.

It was most certainly the care and love I received from Hari and Kum Kum  in their home when I became ill.
It was most certainly the forest, bounding with unimaginable life forms.
It was most certainly the rains, that flooded the main house, the ponds, the roads, the path up the mountain.
It was most certainly the baby frogs, leaping with joy at the feeling of being alive.
It was most certainly the feeling of being in the right place at the right time....

It was most certainly the people.

The Himalayan farm will always be in my heart and in my memories, a treasure of beautiful, wonderful people, and precious memories- "the best thing you'll ever have...."

Thank you Hari and Elliot, and everyone else who made the Farm possible.

Forever with love and light,
Temiko
=)




Saturday, 1 June 2013

Dharam's experience at the Farm earlier this summer

Hello everyone! My name is Dharamvir Balmiki and I am here to share the experience of my stay at this heavenly place called The Himalayan farm Project. It was my first community living experience and I want to thank my dear friend Dev for finding this place out with all his knowledge and research. I must say that it was really like a dream come true to be a part of such a beautiful way of living in lap if raw nature and among some of the most amazing people that I’ve ever met.
It’s amazing how people from different walks of life, having certain very basic things in common, can live together so harmoniously. Basic requirements of life like Love, Peace, Good Health etc. were the ever strong strings that were not only binding everyone together but also gave a new comer like me an immediate sense of belongingness here at the farm.
Our day used to start as early as 5a.m. and our daily activity consisted of watering the plants, cleaning pots, getting wood for fire from the forest, preparing ‘Nutrition’ etc. On some occasions we had to get some heavy stuff like our stores from ‘Do Gaon’, the nearest bus stop from the farm which was about 3k.m down the hill. These trips to ‘Do Gaon’ made me realize my physical capabilities which I had long forgotten. Now I feel how disconnected we are from even ourselves.
Ringing of a bell used to indicate that the food was ready and everyone used to gather near the kitchen. We always used to thank The Almighty before having our food by holding each other’s hand standing in a circle and praying together. I feel this act of everyone coming together and thanking the God ( Mother Nature for me) was very special every time. Pickle used to save day for the ones who were used to having spicy Indian food, including me, and ironically i miss that same food so much now. Needless to mention it used to be very healthy always. 
Neither there was any expectation from anyone nor any pressure from the farm for you to do you daily tasks. Positive vibe and a feeling of love used to keep the flow of work very smooth. Everyone used to keep themselves occupied with work that used to be creative, inspiring and valuable for the farm. After dinner everyone used to enjoy the bonfire with some live music. In fact anytime was music time as long as Erika was in the mood and there was some chai around with some cookies. We used to have some crazy laughing sessions once Tug and Andy got going. I am sure their ‘bad-ass’ game will be a real fun game once it is completed.

 While we used to visit the deeper part of the jungle for wood or for exploring the area we occasionally saw dear, families of monkeys, beautiful birds and traces of leopards. Monkeys staring at us as if we were uninvited strangers  used to make me  feel that we were supposed to be here living with nature but we had abandoned it long ago to seek happiness in the material world. The farm showed us how easy it is to establish back our long lost relation with nature by means of simple living in harmony with nature. Like one great man said ‘it’s the forward escape into the past’ that our civilization needs.
 At the farm no time was getting wasted and there was so much free time to explore everything including our own self. The hilltop next to the farm had a small temple and the sunset was a sight to see from there with amazing breeze to be felt all the time. At night Nainital looks like a town decorated with lights for some kind of celebration and I used to wonder if the isolation and peace of the farm is reflecting and making the sight so beautiful.
Fifteen days passed by so soon and I had no idea on my arrival at the farm that the coming fifteen days will be an experience of my life time. Deep connection established forever!
I would like to thank all the volunteers who have ever visited the farm for their contributions. Special thanks to Krishna for being so special, a true artist, Ioana for always being there, Andy for sharing his all-round knowledge, Tug for his wisdom, Lena for an ever smiling face, Akhil and Kashu for being so sweet, Rudolphe for always being himself and being so true, Sid and Selma for the amazing food, Marc for being such a hardworking guy, the water provider, and Erika for her inspiring music. Her song on ‘do-gaon’ is such a relief whenever I am feeling nostalgic. Lastly I want thank Mohan for being such a dynamic guy a true friend and an amazing companion. His hard work makes life so easy at the farm.
I want to give special thanks to Hari sir and Elliot for converting a dream into a reality. Without Hari there would have been no Himalayan Farm and without Elliot the Farm wouldn’t have been the way it is. I want to conclude by saying that I feel extremely lucky to be a part of the ‘Family’ and I wish to be back soon and this time for a longer stay for the spirit of the Himalayan Farm asks for it.

Love and respect to the Family.

Monday, 29 April 2013

volunteer experience April 2013 by Krishna

"i'll see you there!" shouted vincent.  
 "where?" i inquired
everyone bawled back the response: "Everywhere!" and i followed the path down the hill into the woods. 

following me was the sound of many dogs baying and yelping which always accompany anyone who leaves the farm.


compare this with when i arrived three weeks earlier.   it was early morning.  there was no sign of anyone.   i knew i had arrived because i had seen a sign that said, "welcome home".  i put my rucksack down and climb into the hammock.  the sun was coming up and everywhere was the sweet scent of tranquility.   some windchimes were causing some very lackadaisical melodies to float in the air.  i was full of alertness and curiosity about the new people i would meet, but was unable to vent it.  then i heard the human-made melody of a flute, in its turn very lackadaisical i mean relaxed.  i could not see the player.  my curiosity was very high at that point.  i could say that i was high strung with curiosity.  it was actually a little eerie.  the lazy, introspective flute was sounding louder and louder but there was still no sign of anybody.  that is when i became proactive and got out of the hammock and then saw the flute player - Elliot, from france - floating towards me.  his movements were so balanced and calm and his eyes slowly alighted on mine and we embraced each other tenderly.  i was welcomed into the farm.


during my stay at the farm i changed my name to krishna.  it was very easy to do.  when the question was put to me, "what is your name?", i responded: "Krishna".  if they were indian this would often be followed by a "mmmm, good name" and i would often elaborate, "well, my name is actually carson but i have decided to call myself krishna here in india"







Hari's vision is for the Himalayan Farm Project to be an experimental grass roots community.  people connected in simple living he desires.  he wants the farm to show that it is possible to live off the grid by and large self sufficiently.  the human connection is amply achieved but there is still a long way to go before the community becomes self-sufficient.  it requires a unity of intention.  often we ate fresh salads from the garden, with exquisitely fresh bulbs of garlic.  peas as well.  there is a big field of corn and another of onions but they haven't grown so well because the irrigation is still being installed.  mark from canada was the master plumber even though he was learning on the job.  he coordinated the digging of trenches to house the pipes which conveyed the water from the spring at the top of the hill.  one morning we all got up early and finished off digging the trenches together.  amazing it was, how our individual energies multiplied when we were engaged in a communal task. the men from the local village were the real dedicated hard workers, working doggedly from dawn to dusk on the construction of a new mud house which will be the dining room and enlarged kitchen.  the kitchen previously was a pokey smokey hole, where lentils and rice were boiled over the fire, and chai was made.  sometimes the fire outside was also used. and in the cool evenings, a fire was lit on the flat rocky patio and we sat round with the djambe drum and cups of chai.  erica wrote a couple of songs which got everyone singing along with heart she had a great strum on the guitar.  one of them was called "trenching and mulching" and the other "going down to dogaon" - the village (actaully little line of roadside cafes) at the bottom of the hill.


each short term volunteer contributed 300 rupees a day for the cost of food, which had to be brought from haldwani - a bigger town something like 20 kilometres away.  it has got to be said: we ate pretty lavishly.  ioana would have chosen more raw food if she could and i think everybody would have chosen to eat a little less each meal if they could.  difficult not to overeat when the food is so tasty.  we had some really enthusiastic cooks who flung all their love into food preparation.   there would be a call that the fruit and vegetables had arrived in dogaon and a troop of people would head down - 45 minutes or so on a sometimes steeply winding stone path through the woods - and come back up laden with crates of oranges and bananas and potatoes and tomatoes, bags of onions, sometimes papayas.  man, we ate regally.  no shortage of tasty fruit salad in the morning.  often we chose to fry chapattis or parhotas on a pan smeared thinly with ghee. after a while voices said:  "not porridge again" then there followed a hiatus of porridge preparation.   quite often someone would come back from the town and bring up things like crisps and chocolate, of which i  partook "who can refuse chocolate?" the question was posed, still, however, i concurred with ioana that we were accumulating a lot of unnecessary plastic waste.  satisfaction would be high for me if the project ever does come to realise its minimal vision of living in the woods simply growing vegetables and eating them.




one morning i went into the woods and painted the stones and fallen logs and blackened pine trees with lots of love.
spreading such love really filled me with love 









People sometimes talked about being sad about leaving or about other people departures, but Tug's comment was:  "don't cry over what has ended, laugh because it happened."  he attributed the effect of these words to words originally enunciated by doctor zeus.
when i was going to leave the farm i said it felt like i was a page being torn from a beautiful book.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Ruben Costa - Volunteer Experience

English:
I just left Himalayan Farm and I feel the need to share the happy experience that I have had for almost one month in this community. 
Start by saying that for me any project which aims to become self-sufficient and based on a simple concept of life, needs people that feel union between themselves and the space that they share to live, which creates a sense of commitment and rooting. Himalayan Farm was the best experience that I had as a community that really feels this union between the people and the place as I was welcomed with the love that only true union can bring. 
During this month, the no expectation of the community for each person abilities allowed me to explore myself and let the flow of life expresses. So I ended up involved in the construction of stairs, showers, toilets among other little things that gave me a natural pleasure of being, letting my thoughts aside little by little. I had the same feel for each person who has lived with me during this time because each one was open to find his own place in this community so that the Eco-system tend to function naturally. 
I feel that the time is approaching this project become self-sufficient because electricity is being generated, water is being collected from the mountain, there is housing that is being gradually improved and the food is gradually being produced.
 

Soon approaches the Permaculture Design Course to be held here, which will bring a lot of knowledge and different energies to this place and surely a great new experience to all those who participate. For me, this event may shake a little the stability of the community energy, but I want to give my strong support to all who make this diffusion of knowledge possible and I believe that the energy of union that I lived here will remain strong for the continuity of this community. The change is a constant in all lifes and always comes for a better good, so then attachment isn't needed. Surely after this course, everything will stabilize to follow peacefully receiving people as a opportunity to live and learn with the Himalayan Farm Project.
 
I want to especially thank Hari for having supported me in my state of health, using his knowledge in Ayurvedic medicine and still being willing to take me and other mates over the nearest doctor (important detail for any community that don't want to be dependent, needs knowledge about health). I also want to thank Eliot for giving me this opportunity opened during the PDC held in Sapney Farm with Heal The Soil, Tug by good fellowship and teamwork, Selma for so often feed this community with food, the source of life and those who were present for this happy month of my life.I hope to soon return to the project and for now I'll continue with energy to what's life bring to me. Peace and Love for you family.



Portuguese:
Acabo de deixar Himalayan Farm e sinto a necessidade de partilhar a feliz experiencia que tive durante quase um mes nesta comunidade.

Comeco por dizer que para mim qualquer projecto que tenha como objectivo tornar-se auto-suficiente e baseado num conceito mais simples de vida, necessita de pessoas que sintam uniao entre elas mesmas e o espaco que partilham para viver, o que cria um sentimento de compromisso e enraizamento. Hymalayan Farm foi a melhor experiencia que tive como comunidade que realmente sente esta uniao entre as pessoas e o local pois fui acolhido com o amor que so a verdadeira uniao pode trazer.

Durante este mes a nao expectativa da comunidade para cada pessoa permitiu-me a mim mesmo levar-me no meu auto-conhecimento e acabei participando na construcao de escadas, duches, casa-de-banho entre outras pequenas coisas que me deram um prazer natural de existir, de deixar os meus pensamentos de lado pouco a pouco. O mesmo sinto para cada pessoa que viveu comigo durante este tempo, pois cada um foi descobrindo sozinho o seu lugar nesta comunidade de forma a que o eco-sistema funcione naturalmente.

Sinto que se aproxima a hora deste projecto se tornar auto-suficiente pois energia esta a ser gerada, agua esta a ser recolhida da montanha, existe alojamento que vai sendo melhorado e pouco a pouco a comida vai sendo produzida.

Cedo se aproxima o curso de design em permacultura a decorrer nesta quinta, o que trara bastante conhecimento a este local e seguramente uma excelente nova experiencia a todos aqueles que participem. Para mim, este acontecimento podera abalar um pouco a estabilidade como comunidade, pois muita gente e diferentes energias chegaram ao local. Mas quero dar o meu forte apoio a todos os que tornem esta difusao de conhecimento possivel e acredito que a energia da uniao que vivi este mes permanecera forte e sem medo das mudancas que viram pois a mudanca e uma constante na vida e vem sempre por algo melhor, o que torna nao necessario o apego.  Seguramente depois deste curso a energia voltara a estabilizar-se para seguir pacificamente recebendo pessoas magnificas que tenham oportunidade de viver e aprender na Himalayan Farm.

Quero agradecer especialmente ao Hari por me ter apoiado no meu estado de saude, utilizando os seus conhecimentos em medicina ayurvedica e homeopatica e ainda dispondo-se a levar-me a mim e a mais companheiros ao medico mais proximo (detalhe importante pois qualquer comunidade necessita de conhecimento sobre saude se quer realmente nao estar dependente). Quero tambem agradecer ao Eliot por ter-me aberto esta oportunidade durante o PDC que decorreu em Sapney Farm com Heal The Soil, ao Tug pelo bom companheirismo e trabalho em equipa, a Selma por tantas vezes alimentar esta comunidade com comida, a fonte da vida, e a todos os que estiveram presentes para este feliz mes da minha vida.

Espero em breve voltar ao projecto e seguirei agora com energia para o que me traga a vida. Peace and Love for you family.



Spanish:
Acabo de salir de Himalayan Farm y siento la necesidad de compartir la feliz experiencia que he tenido por casi un mes en esta comunidad.Comienzo diciendo que para mí todo el proyecto que quiera ser autosuficiente y basado en un concepto simple de vida, necesita de personas que sienton unión entre ellos y el espacio que comparten para vivir, lo que crea un sentido de compromiso y arraigo. Himalayan Farm fue la mejor experiencia que tuve como comunidad donde realmente se siente esta unión entre la gente y el lugar pues me dieron una recepcion con el amor que sólo puede traer la verdadera unión.Durante este mes, la poca expectativa de la comunidad por las habilidades de cada persona me permitió explorarme y dejar que el flujo de la vida se expresa. Así que terminé involucrado en la construcción de escaleras, duchas, aseos, entre otras cosas pequeñas que me dieron un placer natural de ser, dejando poco a poco a un lado mis pensamientos. Tuve la misma sensación de cada persona que ha vivido conmigo durante este tiempo, ya que cada uno era libre de encontrar su propio lugar en esta comunidad para que el Eco-sistema tienda a funcionar de forma natural.Siento que se acerca el momento donde este proyecto se convierta autosuficiente porque se esta generando la electricidad, el agua se obtiene de la montaña, hay una alojamiento que está siendo mejorado gradualmente y la comida se va produciendo poco a poco.Temprano se acerca al Curso de Diseño de Permacultura, que se hara aquí, lo que traerá una gran cantidad de energías y conocimientos diferentes a este lugar y sin duda una gran nueva experiencia para todos los que participen. Para mí, este evento puede sacudir un poco la estabilidad de la energía de la comunidad, pero quiero dar mi apoyo a todos los que hacen esta difusión de conocimiento posible y creo que la energía de unión que viví aquí seguirá siendo fuerte para el continuidad de esta comunidad. El cambio es una constante en todas las vidas y siempre viene por un bien mejor, por lo que el apego no es necesario. Seguramente después de este curso, todo se va a estabilizar y seguir pacíficamente recibiendo a la gente para una oportunidad de vivir y aprender con el Proyecto Himalayan Farm.Quiero agradecer especialmente al Hari por haberme apoyado en mi estado de salud, usando su conocimiento en la medicina ayurvédica y aún así estar dispuesto a llevarme a mi y otros compañeros al médico más cercano (detalle importante para cualquier comunidad que no quiera ser dependiente, requiere conocimientos de salud). También quiero dar las gracias a Eliot por darme esta oportunidad que se abrió durante el PDC, en Sapney Farm con Heal The Soil, Tug por buen compañerismo y trabajo en equipo, Selma que tan a menudo estaba para alimentar a esta comunidad, la comida la fuente de la vida, y los que estaban presentes para este mes feliz de mi vida.Espero volver pronto al proyecto y por ahora voy a seguir con la energía a lo que la vida me traiga. Peace and Love family.

 

Monday, 18 March 2013

A Note for all Upcoming Volunteers

Hello to those already planning, or interested in coming to the farm,


Lately we have been overflown with volunteers and unfortunately, at the moment, our space capacity has reached it's limit. Due to not only sleeping space, but also the amount of project space on the farm itself, we can hold about 12 volunteers in our communal house with a few extra staying in tents.

With the growth of the farm, we have found that many people who plan to stay only for two weeks end up staying for one month or more. While this is wonderful, it can also become difficult managing the flow of volunteers. Because of this we would like to ask that, for now, new volunteers make a commitment of at least 30 days. It is also very important that each person who has already contacted and has been confirmed space from us fills out the calendar, which can be found in the confirmation email sent to you or by clicking the following the link. http://www.keepandshare.com/calendar/show_month.php?i=1986148

We love to see new smiling faces at the farm and everyone is more than welcome from June onwards. We thank you for your cooperation in helping us make the farm the lovely place that it is to be.  

From all of us here at the Himalayan Farm family






 

Monday, 25 February 2013

PDC in May

Hello friends,

From May 11th onward, we are hosting a PDC. The 14 day Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course will be conducted in the internationally accepted manner and will be followed by a week of hands on. Ben and Matt who are running Panya project in Thailand http://www.panyaproject.org/ will cover every major topic in Bill Mollisons: Permaculture: A Designers Manual & includes the following & more:

~Philosophies & Ethics of Permaculture
~Permaculture Design Principles
~Patterns in Nature- How they apply to design
~Methods of Design- Turning damaged landscapes into productive, healthy landscapes
~Climatic Factors- How to design within your climate where ever you are
~Trees and Forest Systems- How to mimic nature in your design
~Water- Catchment, usage, importance & conservation
~Soil- Minerals, micro-organisms, erosion prevention & soil creation
~Earthworks- Shaping the land to achieve our design goals
~Aquaculture- Fish & water plant production
~Natural Building- Cob, adobe, Wattle & cob, compressed & rammed earth & more!
~Community Cultivating- Strategies for community development
~Urban Design Systems- Designing for density
~Animal Systems - Understanding the role livestock plays in design

But the course is not only about teaching. It is about the experience of community living as well as simple living. It is a participatory process where teachers, assistants, participants, and volunteers create an eco system as to understand at an experiential level the meaning of permaculture.

The course is now for 540 usd (offer stands for few more days, then 630 usd, there are discounts for NGOs and projects carrier please contact us) this includes food, accommodation and teaching. Accommodation is basic and the last people to come will be sleeping in tents. People have to know that we only use compost toilet and basic Indian style showers but this happens on a mind-blowing location: we are overlooking the Himalayas from Corbett National Reserve. Our neighbours except for villagers are tigers, leopards, barking dears and amazing birds…

And the reason for this blog is not only to invite people to attend the course – people have to know that it helps us to sustain ourselves financially - but also to invite volunteers to ‘serve’ the course.

Taking the course and following the teaching is an amazing experience, but serving the course is also a powerful learning process. Everyone is welcome to do it. It is about facilitating the learning. Volunteers will be in the kitchen, streamlining participants, facilitating supply of food and materials. They are essential to the realisation of the knowledge sharing. And they are an integrative part of the eco system that will be created. They are also welcome to share their knowledge during special sessions of the PDC that are open for that.

Participants also have to know that they are welcome before the course as to understand the process of hosting the teaching, but obviously to help to create the space for it.

So this blog is a call for participants and volunteers. Feel welcome to start sharing with us your ideas, time, and knowledge.

Peace and Bliss from the hills,

The Himalayan Farm Family.

 Experience at the Himalayan Farm Project 

by 

Lucy Horwood



Travelling halfway across India to see the person I had come to realize I was in love with two days before flying back to England is not the kind of activity I could ever have imagined happening, considering in England you would be lucky to find me contemplating a half an hour train journey for a date.

Little did I know this final mission from Kerala, stopping at Haradwar for a weeks stop-in with some sadhus and a bath by the ganges, to the Himalayas to proclaim my love for a young man called James would be exchanged for a newfangled love of a peaceful and yet quietly radical grass roots farming project nestled in the heart of a beautiful and what appeared to be endless expanse of wilderness in the northern foothills of Uttrakhand. After travelling from city to city in India the Farm was an unbelievable breath of fresh air and side-step into a natural oasis where the noises from the roads were quickly replaced with the sounds of birds as a wooded forest paved the way up a great hill away from the road . Without a rickshaw in sight and remote from the possibility that an Indian family might want to take a photograph of me with their baby –this voyage of romance was suddenly transformed into an epic and unique discovery ….

If you love the farming lifestyle and the great outdoors, then I advise taking as much time as you can to stay at The Himalayan Farm Project and become part of the community. I was welcomed with open arms to feel a part of the family from the minute I arrived. All of the day´s activities (cooking, showering, eating and farming) took place outdoors in the fresh mountain air. As soon as I arrived eggs were cracked and fried on an open fire and a cooked breakfast and tea was prepared in the morning sun. There are fantastic ideas and projects being actualized by volunteers at the farm for sustainable crops. While I was there the kitchen was being built from the raw materials of cow dung and water so I immediately got my hands dirty (and my face as I simultaneously made a face pack!). The meals were deliciously prepared from the organic vegetables grown on the farm whilst `Chiappatti´ the dog scampered around in the sun. The outdoor shower made with pieces of wood overlooked a staggering vision of hills merging into the blue horizon. In the evening a great fire was made and we the members of the farm sat around under the canopy of a starlit night and shared the peace of a days work on the farm, drinking hot rum and chai and sharing songs and poetry from the different cultures that were gathered. A journalist, and wonderful man Rajesh who has a special link with the farm shared some of the words of Rumi and introduced me to one of the greatest poets of time.  James who I had travelled to see and lives at Amritapuri the Kerelan ashram shared some of the greatest contemplations and stories about Amma and her teachings, more commonly known as the `hugging guru´ and renowned for Embracing the World. I too shared some songs that I had learnt having stayed at the ashram and the couple from Germany sang some old German songs.

I developed an instant and true love for the farm and for what is created and nurtured there. I found it very difficult and almost heartbreaking to leave. I feel that there is an incredibly exciting future and scope for the farm in its capacity to bring together people who share a love of the earth and want to foster a vital and holistic lifestyle. The energy there is captivating and is a place of optimism for people that appreciate the beauty of nature and want to live in tune with it, the farm sings of a creative and subtly spiritual lifestyle that is free from the trappings of the world down below.  As soon as I met Hari the founder of the farm, my heart opened to him by his love and warmth that set alight his intentions with the place which are greatly inspiring and wonderful to witness as the dream is gradually becoming a reality. I feel very fortunate to have encountered such a place and met some very special souls: I intend to return as soon as it is possible.




Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IIT Roorkee ) PRERNA YATRA








Concept and objective of Prerna Yatra
Prerna Yatra is an initiative by EDC IITR (Entrprenur Development Cell, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee) adopting the model of Tata Jagriti yatra, as the name suggests it is a journey to inspire students of IITR. A team of enthusiastic people are selected for the journey to meet with and learn from exceptional entrepreneurs who are developing innovative solutions to India’s challenges and the Yatra encourages the youth to unleash the hero within them. This provides a platform to the yatris for networking and sharing of ideas and the journey and experiences sensitizes the yatris with the life of the underpowered section of our society and most importantly this will motivate the yatris to take initiative and pursue their field of interest.




 PRERNA YATRA REPORT 
ON
HIMALAYAN FARM PROJECT

Only with industry and effort are works done. Animals never themselves enter lion's mouth.
A Sanskrit Wisdom

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. 
Albert Einstein


Following this philosophy, The Himalayan Farm project or in their terms an “experiment with nature – for nature” started as a dream. It is imagined as a space to live an organic, sustainable life close to nature and introduce a larger number of young people to a natural way of living. It  is more than just an organic farm. At the very heart of it is the belief that working as a community boosts happiness.

About Role Model:

Name:      Hari Pant




Background

Retired army veteran (Retired in the rank of Brigadier with 33 years of service)
Attended Apprenticeship Program in Ecological Horticulture at the Centre for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, University of California, Santa Cruz in 2010.
Attended Course - Illness to Wellness  at Schumacher College, Dartington, U.K. in 2007.
Attended  Course – Reconnecting Nature with Healing, at Schumacher college, Dartington, U.K. in 2008.
Volunteer at Schumacher College in 2009 and with The Garden Project, San Francisco in 2010
Working upon alternative medication through homeopathy and foods that heal. Have been able to provide four Thermal Accupressure Beds of Korean Origin for free treatment in Community Health Center at Bhimtal.
Conceived and implement The Himalayan Farm Project
 
Beliefs

Avoid having a leader, Avoid abstracting, judging, and defending. There is no winning through arguments.
Honour other people’s mental models. Feel a part of the whole group. Trust in solutions which emerge from dialogue.
Be a blessing to other human beings by your actions, words and thoughts. Spread light in the lives of others.
Be the master of your life. Be confident & fearless. Live with honour.
Whatever happens in life, face it bravely and accept it as a work of cosmic forces.
Make changes in life when it is necessary. Because, good & bad exists in this beautiful world.

Mission of The HFP

The Project is an intentional community of volunteers, from consumers to producers, that intends to re-introduce the farming model as a real sustainable livelihood in respect of  oneself, other people and the environment.
The Project is an experiment to demonstrate a sustainable life in practice. It is an attempt to learn how to recycle and harness natural, sustainable resources, live a simple off grid life and how to reduce our carbon footprint.
Welcome anyone who has time and energy to make the farm their home and bring with them a positive attitude, creativity and a love for nature. Everyone is welcome – to pick up the hoe – to mend the canal – to sing songs– and to tell us how to do this better.
Reconnect the people particularly urban and rural youth with nature, sustainable living and to the source of their food from farm to mouth.
Introduce the “modern  generation” to the concept of sustainable organic farming techniques.
Save the future by reconnecting them with the land (Relationship with the Earth), so that the future generation contributes towards agriculture, than going for other jobs, leading to food security.
Prevent growing consumerism. “Live with the mother earth and not of the mother earth”.
Help those who are lonely and depressed by providing an opportunity for holistic community living and providing space for physical, mental, emotional  and spiritual health.

Achievements

Has created a space for Indian and global volunteers to live with nature and nurture Mother Earth.

Vision

Hari Pant wants to create a platform where people from all over the globe come and learn about farming and get reconnected with the mother earth. Moreover he wants to contribute the most towards the community. The educated young people in the hills are leaving for plains in search of white collar jobs and “better living”.  The aim is to regenerate interest in organic agriculture as a way of life and also to prove its economic viability, leading to food security for families in hills, who are selling their lands due to falliong out put and not prepared to “dirty” their hands.

How he found resources

After retiring from the Indian army Hari  found time to practice his passion for alternative medication and started a holistic health center in his home in Bhimtal. He also worked with schools and villagers and explored the lower Himalayas holistically. Courses in UK and USA enabled him to realize the total disconnection between the source of food and actual consumption. Similar to the West, the younger generation in India was not only getting disconnected but was relishing junk food being served by out lets like Pizza hut, Mc Donald etc. The percentage of obese and sick children is alarmingly increasing in schools all over India. It was during these times that he found the abandoned farm and decided to rejuvenate it to create a model of sustainable living.

Team formation

Hari with his daughter Richa Pant found the abandoned farm land and conceived the HFP. Just at the beginning of the implementation stage, Hari met Eliott Mercier, a management student from France, volunteering in South India, in August 2011. They both realized that their vision are exactly the same and joined the league. In September 2010, Eliott went back to U.K. to complete his studies. The HFP put first shovel on the land on October 09, 2011. The very first volunteers at the farm were Gina and Keveen, the creators of an NGO called KARAKOR which runs life enriching projects all over the world. They made the web site too for the HFP.

 Infrastructure development

The land in village Raila, above Dogaon was an abandoned farm in the lower Himalayas. It is an hours trek away through dessiduous forest. The only two room dilapidated traditional GOAT house in the village was made livable and ready to dwell by the volunteers and villagers of village Dolmar. They jointly worked upon a dry compost toilet and utilised natural (wood & wood chips, leaves, clay) and waste (plastic / glass bottles, old shoes and slippers etc) materials to complete it.
The kitchen was the next to be worked upon which was completed by May 2012. It is a sustainable construction using mud, wood chips, stones and chicken mesh. Volunteers started pouring in and life sparked at the farm. Today they are working upon the expansion of the farm’s infrastructure to accommodate more volunteers. The Indian volunteers do not appreciate the bare minimum living conditions and existing compost toilet. A new compost toilet with two X three hole ceramic seat from Sheetal Ceramics, Ahmedabad is under construction.
In 13 months of its existence, some of the fields in the Farm were cleared and a crop of wheat, barley, corn, ginger, turmeric, squash, lettuce, coriander, radish,. Carrots, peas, Egg Plant, Capsicum, onion, garlic and chillies have been harvested. The team could see the sprouting beds of Potatoes, peas and garlic. We could also see ginger and turmeric beds ready to be harvested and onions sprouting, which would be transplanted after 3-4 weeks. .  The fields were being prepared for plantation of the winter crops.
During the monsoon months of July, August and September the volunteers transplanted 66 saplings of fruit trees  like avocado, lemon, lime, banana, guava, leechi, mango, sapota (cheekoo),  grapes, orange and malta, besides some bamboo plants. The Farm is currently not in a position to sustain itself and majority of the food requirements like groceries, spices, and fruits are purchased from Haldwani, which is 26 Km away from Dogaon.  From Dogaon to the Farm, the supplies  are brought by the volunteers on back packs.

Technology Used

“Green”- that’s the term which suits the technology used at the farm. The farm is completely made of either natural or recycled products. The kitchen walls have been made up of layers of bottles which provide insulation from the heat and cold cycles. The toilet wall is made mostly of interwoven conifer leaves which have been thickened using layers of mud. The human waste is converted into compost which is utilised as manure in the farm. Everything is given a second life at the farm through its innovative utilisation.For example, cigarette packets are used to make nursery for the plant saplings. The pine cones which are in abundance in the mountains are plastered with clay and dried, and then used as replacement for bricks.

 Projects:

On-going

Currently the volunteers are working to create a new three whole ceramic compost toilet, wormiculture, compost making in piles,  and upon the methods of pesticide less agriculture wherein they use alternate pattern of crops (ginger and potato / peas and garlic) to prevent pest attacks on the crops. Moreover, they are experimenting upon the yield and quality of the crop if the farm bed is covered with moisture retaining materials (hay, dry leaves) or left open to the atmosphere i.e. left uncovered. The bed is prepared in a unique fashion in which the bed once prepared can be utilised for more than once. The soil is dug upto 60 cm after which it is filled with 20 cm of manure and then covered with 40 cm of fresh soil. 

Future prospects

As the locals of villages near by practice chemical farming and are not open to the ideas of organic farming, composting toilets and sustainable constructions, volunteers speak to children in schools and younger generation about protecting nature to protect themselves. Elder people are curious and a bit suspicious of the teachings. In particular they are surprised about Western volunteers not only working in the Farm but even carrying large loads of groceries, fruits, wood planks and beams being carried uphill on backs. Contacts with schools are being established by so as to make an impact at the root level and encourage the future generation for taking up farming activities. 45 children from Don Bosco School were the first visitors to the Farm. Most of these children had not seen milking of a cow or buffalod earlier. Next were six children from SECMOL, Ladakh. We hope that such interaction continues.
The Farm is completely off grid. To solve the energy shortage at the farm a mini hydro power plant is to be set up against the stream flowing through the mountain. Bass consultancy team from IIM banglore has prepared a detailed report about this and other aspects to make the Farm a self sustainable. The implementation of this report requires a lot of finances and the Farm is unable to arrange that.
The Farm has won an award of Rs. 4.00.000 from Mahindra Rise Spark for setting up solar lighting system.
The Farm has three milk animals, two buffaloes and a cow. There are plans to produce Cheese in the near  future to support the earnings at the farm. The infrastructure is being developed to take the farm to the next level in which more volunteers can contribute.

Impact

Social Impact 

The social impact of Himalayan Farm Project can be viewed in following  ways :

Develop as an experimental farm centre for low cost organic agriculture and center for holistic healing.
Share ideas and learn about traditional farming  and seed saving techniques with the local farming community.
Attract youth from across the country to expose them to a unique sustainable way of  living and caring for their planet.
Inspire young people locally and elsewhere to consider organic sustainable farming as a vocation.
Hence, both directly & indirectly, it promotes Sustainable Agriculture, Collective/Community living along with helping hill community to generate sustainable livelihood.

Economic and political impacts

The farm presents a partially self-sustainable picture of organic agriculture. Owing to the short period of its establishment it has not affected the economy and the politics of the region. The project has gained recognition in the media both in India and abroad. In 2013, a girl from   University is arriving for the summer program and is funded by the University. The Farm has been covered by India Today & Aspire Magazines


Cultural impacts

The place is a ground for cultural exchange with people from different nationalities coming to the farm and exchanging ideas. People despondent of the city life come as volunteers and in the meantime also try to understand the Indian culture. They perform folk songs and dances and practice yoga and meditation. Thus it is a place of spiritual unity in spite of the existing cultural diversity. Indian techie volunteers from Mumbai, Banglore and Delhi has been arriving for a week, as they are unable to get 
long leaves.

Environmental impacts

Due to the strict rules in the community for forest conservation and sustainable farming, the processes carried at the farm are not adverse to the surroundings. This can be judged by the better forest density of the farm than the surrounding mountains. The volunteers had done a lot of planting during the last monsoon.

Financial Model

The farm is still struggling in its sources of fund generation. Eliott Mercier is developing a system to generate revenue streams for financial stability. Richa is exploring partnerships and collaborations to create a sustainable revenue stream. Meanwhile the volunteers contribute for their daily expesses of food to keep the Farm functional. The Farm serves only vegetarian wholesome food.

The HFP is concerned about future revenue for financial stability and are looking for support in terms of knowledge and resources. Most recently in 2011 they had a student consulting group of IIM, Bangalore advise them on future growth plans and financial management. 

Recommendations For Development

There is very much scope for expanding their interest areas. Already they have covered areas of farming, organic building, mind – refreshing activities like yoga & also as a consultant in Social Media.  Also they are planning for Generation of Electricity by establishing a small Hydro-power plant.
Here we would like to suggest that in future they should concentrate more on harnessing solar as well as wind energy as the location of the farm is suitable for utilizing these renewable energies.
Hence in future we want to see them totally free. Widening the circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and it’s beauty.