Solitude Farm: A Living Story of Organic, Sustainable Agriculture in Tamil Nadu, India
“A society that doesn’t know where its food comes from is a society without humanity, without culture, will perish” – Masanobu Fukoaka
Solitude Farm has been inspired from the work of Masanobu Fukuoka and aims at reconnecting people to where their food comes from.
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 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 Solitude farm through sustainable food projects such as fruit and vegetable basket, the 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.
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, British, who studied at a Krishnamurti school in the UK 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 been made possible by the wide vision of The Mother Sri Aurobindo.
The story of the 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 a 100 pounds in change. The spread of abundance then in 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 5acres 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 evolutionary vision of the farm is to simply reconnect people back to where their food comes from has been and continues to be the driving force behind all the projects.
“It is not cultivation of crops but the cultivation of the human soul” – Masanobu Fukuoaka
What we have on the farm is a living knowledge, a wisdom that can be learned through keen observation of relationships and an unafraid, open heart. One cannot learn deeply by memorising plant names and dissecting farming into a mechanical science. Farming for us is not through specialisation but in observing wholeness, the totality of life. The farm is a living result of years of observing relationships, learning cause and effect and playing with these observations, applying them in simple, direct ways. Although not initially influenced by permaculture, we were increasingly over the years practising it…
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?” instead can result in breaking patterns in our thinking. Our way of sustainable farming in Solitude is creative and grounded, in a state of constant play with common sense therefore enabling real, practical change from the conventional ways of farming.
Our work is an honouring of Mother Earth. There are lessons to learn from the land, the biodiversity of life, from people. By living and playing, by creating 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 a 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 diversity, interdependence and whole systems 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.