Solitude Farm: A Living Story of Organic, Sustainable Agriculture in Tamil Nadu, India
Solitude Farm has been inspired from the work of Masanobu Fukuoka and aims at reconnecting people to where their food comes from.
“A society that doesn’t know where its food comes from is a society without humanity, without culture, and it will perish.” Masanobu Fukoaka
We recognise that all the organic matter that grows on and around the farm is a bio-resource. This is our profit, not financial but nutritional. The currency that we are generating is the currency of wellbeing.
We understand that a healthy soil means healthy crops and healthy crops in turn mean healthy people and healthy people mean a healthy society and a healthy society means a vibrant and creative culture. We deeply believe that to bring any meaningful social change we have to bring people together. Healthy nutritious food is at the root of this solution.
These ideas come together on Solitude Farm through sustainable food projects such as fruit and vegetable baskets; permaculture and cooking workshops; the People, Food, Music movement; music festivals and events; and in the heart of the organic farm, the Solitude Organic Farm Café.
History of Solitude Farm
Solitude Farm was started in January 1996 by a group of young Aurovillians, of which Krishna Mckenzie remains as one of the founder members.
Krishna is a Briton who studied at a Krishnamurti school in the UK. He came to Auroville in 1993 when he was 19 years old. Everything that has happened since the start of the farm in 1996 has been inspired by the teachings of Masonubu Fukoaka and has been made possible by the wide vision of The Mother Sri Aurobindo.
The story of Solitude Farm as it exists today started with a dream. Krishna speaks of a dream in which Fukoaka appeared and cut his hair. In the dream, Krishna paid Fukoaka 1 pound and received 100 pounds in change. The spread of abundance is a running thread at the heart of the farm and café.
The farm today has been the result of a journey of learning. It is now an abundant 5 acres of food crops, both wild and cultivated, fruit and forest. The farm project continued to expand. In 2005, the Solitude Café and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) baskets were born, and workshops and music events followed soon after. In 2015, the People Food Music movement was initiated, aiming at a wider involvement with food and community.
Permaculture and natural farming has attracted many people to the farm. The simple evolutionary vision of the farm is to reconnect people to where their food comes from. It has been and continues to be the driving force behind all the projects.
Philosophy of Solitude Farm
“It is not cultivation of crops but the cultivation of the human soul.” Masanobu Fukuoaka
On Solitude Farm we have living knowledge, a wisdom that can be learned through the keen observation of relationships and a fearless, open heart. One cannot learn deeply by memorising plant names and dissecting farming into a mechanical science. For us, farming is performed, not through specialisation, but in observing wholeness, the totality of life. The farm is the living result of years of observing relationships, learning cause and effect, playing with these observations and applying them in simple, direct ways. Although not initially influenced by permaculture, we practised it increasingly over the years…
Fukuoaka termed his way of farming ‘do-nothing farming’, which doesn’t mean no work, but no unnecessary work, a fundamental principle of permaculture. His was a way of common sense, that increasingly precious resource, reducing redundancy and asking the right questions. Sometimes asking, “How about not doing this?” can break patterns in our thinking. Our way of sustainable farming in Solitude is creative and grounded. It is in a state of constant play with common sense, and therefore it enables real, practical changes from conventional ways of farming.
Our work is an honouring of Mother Earth. There are lessons to learn from the land, the biodiversity of life, and from people. By living and playing, by building community and working with different networks across the country and the world, by exchanging different seeds and knowledge, we realise humbly that that there is constant life-long learning to be done.There is oneness. That oneness emerges from a healthy soil. From which emerges projects, community, culture, nutrition and general well being.
What we have learned is an applied ecology, that ecological principles like stability in diversity, interdependence and a holistic view are essential not just for the farm but for growing community through healthy, nutritious food. Wendell Berry said, “We cannot isolate one aspect of life from the other. When we change the way we grow our food, we change society, we change our values”. That is the truth weaving through all our efforts on this bountiful land.