Buddha Garden: A 12 acre farm with raised beds and drip irrigation, Buddha Garden grows vegetables and fruit, as well as small quantities of organic eggs. The farm has a variety of education and volunteer programmes based at the Centre for Sustainable Farming (www.csfbg.org) and sells a number of publications on organic farming. Every morning 6.15-9.00am everyone staying in Buddha Garden works together on the farm and afterwards shares breakfast. You are welcome to join us, just turn up at 6.15am any day Monday to Friday.
Buddha Garden was established in 2000 on a small plot of land that was then part of Siddhartha Farm. A vegetable garden was established with irrigated raised beds and dwelling places for Priya and her daughters were built. The main challenges in the beginning were to deal with the considerable number of pests that were there because the soil was very poor and the plants not therefore very strong. In the second year Auroville acquired land around the vegetable garden and Priya decided to expand into this with a number of integrated farm activities that supported each other. This led to the establishment of Buddha Garden as an independent farm separate from Siddhartha Farm.
Buddha Garden covers approximately twelve acres. Vegetables are grown on three different plots, two of which consist of brick raised beds and drip irrigation and two yards where sprinkler irrigation is used which is particularly good for leafy vegetables. There are three irrigated yards where bananas are grown and one yard of papaya trees. There are also a number of cashew trees as well as a wood lot and about 1.5 acres of forest on land too poor to grow anything else. There are 30 local chickens which are fed almost entirely from what is grown on the farm and which are used mainly for making compost. As a bonus they lay small numbers of organic eggs.
From the very beginning the work in Buddha Garden has been carried out by those living on the farm with the help of volunteers who come to experience the work of organic farming and what it means to live lightly on the land. At present there are four people living there permanently which include Priya, Vivek who is a newcomer and in the process of writing up his PhD thesis on how to maximise production using organic farming methods, Pierre, a newcomer who does Reiki as well as farming and Selvam who is an Aurovilian and organic farming student. We have five capsules and a dormitory as accommodation for the volunteers who come to help us for a minimum of two weeks and sometimes for several months at a time.
Education has always been an important part of our work in Buddha Garden and in the past we had a number of local young men who came for two years on an apprenticeship program. This year we have set up the Centre for Sustainable Farming which will be a centre for the increasing numbers of students that we have coming either to do an internship or to carry out research. It is also where the Lucksted Data Base of the Farm Group will eventually be housed. Every Monday we have an Introductory Course where people can come and learn about our methods of organic farming and look around the farm. We also have courses which we run both for the general public and for organisations. Vivek is also available for consultancy work.
Our vision for the future is that we continue to produce healthy food for the community of Auroville in a way that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. At the same time we would like Buddha Garden to be a place where people come to share knowledge and experience and to be a source of inspiration both practically and spiritually.
Publications can be obtained from www.lulu.com priyavincent.