The Group encourages mutual support and cooperation, sharing of resources, and joint planning between the farms in direct response to Auroville’s food needs. It takes collective responsibility for its members and represents them in the community.
The Auroville Farm Group aims at growing as much healthy food as possible for Auroville. in ways that are sustainable for the earth, the community, and the bioregion.
One of the most urgent needs that Auroville’s farms are facing is funding. Finances are required for infrastructure (fences, bore wells, irrigation systems, etc) to improve the efficiency of the farms, some of which are short of basic facilities and equipment.
There is a need for training and education in organic farming, both in Auroville and in the bioregion, and for more people to get engaged in all aspects of sustainable agriculture. At present a group of young Auroville farmers is undergoing a year-long training, and it is hoped that a new understanding and enthusiasm will motivate more Aurovilians and Newcomers to take up working with the earth.
Currently only an estimated 15% of Auroville’s food is produced by its farms, with the rest being bought in from nearby Pondicherry and beyond. In recent years, the Farm Group has started addressing the question of food security in Auroville, and in 2011 developed a five-year Auroville Sustainable Agriculture Plan (ASAP). This was a rather challenging undertaking, as such a plan for Auroville must not only take into account possible future realities (such as climate change and increasing population pressures), but must function in a way that protects the inner and outer freedoms which will allow a new spiritual consciousness to emerge.
The full implementation of this vision requires changes in many aspects of life in Auroville, from more sustainable food choices, water and energy consumption, transportation and waste management, to more efficient and sustainable farming practices.
FoodLink is Auroville’s central collection and distribution point for Auroville’s farm produce, and thus a vital link between farms and community. From here, the fresh organic food is supplied to Auroville’s collective kitchens, restaurants, schools, food processors, and the PourTous outlets, PTPS & PTDC. Occasional surplus is sold to customers outside Auroville. Since Auroville is not self-sufficient in most food categories, FoodLink invites organic farmers in the bioregion to supply to Auroville, in the vision of creating a mutually supportive network in the service of healthy food and a healthy environment. A current project is the development of an efficient crop-planning system for Auroville’s farms, in tune with the food requirements of the community.
FoodLink Market is a small retail outlet located on FoodLink’s premises, where Aurovilians and guests can buy Auroville’s fresh farm produce, as well as some basic processed foods made in Auroville. Located near Solar Kitchen, PTDC and Free Store, open Mon to Sat 10 am - 3 pm. Payment through P/T account or Aurocard.
An overview of Auroville’s main farm crops
Rice, Auroville’s staple food, is cultivated mainly as an annual crop, in ca. 9% of the cultivated area. Vegetables, the second-most important food group in Auroville’s diet, are cultivated on ca. 6% of the total area. The greatest demand for vegetables is between December and March, coinciding with the guest season and the cool season when the largest variety of vegetables can be grown. At other times of the year, particularly during the hot season, the demand decreases, and less variety can be grown. With appropriate planning, improvements in farming and a shift to local food consumption, Auroville could become self-sufficient in its vegetable production. Pulses are grown on several farms: black, green and some red gram, a good source of protein and a nitrogen-fixing crop. Millets – varagu, ragi, samai, etc - are excellent grains to grow in this climate as they can grow even when rainfall is low or intermittent, and have a rich nutritional content. They are cultivated on ca. 5% of the land, and are worth being promoted as a healthy food for Aurovilians and the environment alike. Orchards occupy 40% of the available land, with 20 kinds of fruit being grown in Auroville. Most fruits, with the exception of banana and papaya, are seasonal, mostly perennial trees, with mango and cashew the most common crops. Orchards tend to be less labour-intensive than grains and vegetables, and there has been a tendency to grow fruit rather than food staples. All papaya, citrus and bananas grown on Auroville farms are currently consumed within Auroville. Among other major crops are oil seeds (sesame), peanuts, sugar cane, and cow feed.
There are small herds of cows in many farms and Green
Belt communities, with Annapurna being the only certified dairy farm in the
region. Despite that, and the 200,000 eggs annually produced by
AuroOrchard, production of milk and of eggs is currently not quite sufficient to supply all of Auroville.