August has been a month of everything – finishing up on old jobs, starting new ones and keeping the farm running. We haven’t had much time to sow new crops, so we intend to catch up with our food production in the coming month. We’re happy to announce, though, that the farmhouse is now in the process of being plastered! The feature photograph above shows the blue, which is one of the colours we are using for the interior, the other colours will follow.
Many of you who regularly check in will know that Aranya Eco Village is trying to create all the constructions in the most environmentally sustainable way possible, to minimise ecological harm and both direct and indirect degradation to the environment. The farmhouse is a natural build, made from rammed mud and recycled resources, and on similar lines, the plastering material is made from a mixture of two types of mud, lime and iron oxides, in a range of different colours.
Tamil Nadu is blessed with a wide variety of soils, including high fertility Black soils and low fertility Red soils, that when mixed with set ratios of lime, plus the iron oxides for colouring, make up superb plastering material. If you’re curious about the characteristics of black and red soils, follow the links. To find out a bit more about the use of Iron Oxides as colourants, follow the link here.
We are using red, yellow and brown oxides from completely natural origins, alongside blue and green oxides that have been derived from natural oxides and modified to produce the blue and green pigments.
At the moment, it is hard to visually capture the plastering taking place, as it is happening bit by bit, but soon we will be able to post photographs of the whole interior. On a side note, in the far right photograph featured above, you might notice a bizarre little yellow thing, with one wheel… that is Raja’s new mode of transport, an Electric Unicycle, that can reach a speed of 20kph (12mph). It’s a wonderful new transport technology that can run off any form of electric, including solar power – the route Raja has taken to power his own. The organisation promoting these fantastic alternatives is based in Bangalore and is actually a club, the Electric Unicycle Club, that’s networking the unicycle through #RideTheFuture on Facebook and other social media outlets, so keep your eyes out for their work!
Just to give you a taste, have a look at their recent video…
Cool… right! So maybe if you’re looking for a handy vehicle to get you around town, instead of a motorbike or scooter, this could be an affordable and sustainable alternative to consider?
Whilst we’re on the subject of ‘cool’ things, Raja bumped into a group of really cool people who were selling their produce on a stall at the roadside. A group of people who already knew Raja from around five years ago when he helped them to start their organic farming at Snehagram! They have enthusiastic young minds and are eager to learn the best ways to organically cultivate food crops. At the moment they’re growing 15 different crops as well as a large variety of South Asian crops. These strong minded individuals work hard alongside their studies to cultivate delicious food crops. Two of these hard-working individuals are Kalesh, 18 years old and Lakshmikanth, also 18.
After talking for some time with Raja, Kalesh and Lakshmikanth setup an arrangement to be tutored by him. The tutoring will range from organic farming, farm management and seed selecting to natural fertiliser and pest management. In return, they agreed to spend some time helping at Aranya Eco Village farm to support crop production.
Snehagram is an unusual and wonderful place. It is a home, a place for learning and a nurturing environment for adolescents who have faced hardships brought about by health circumstances. They enable young adults to pursue a wide variety of both academic and vocational development courses, allowing Kalesh and Lakshmikanth to study for a university degree whilst they manage their organic food farm and dairy farm. We can’t praise the organisation, nor the dedicated students that live and develop there, enough. It is wonderful to have rekindled the bond between Aranya and the group.
Kalesh has lived his life in the shadow of fear, due to the health complications he has experienced. His dream is to one day lead a healthy, happy and fulfilling life with his dear family. This is the beginning of his journey to actualise that vision for himself. So if you are passing their regular stall on a …., located …., why don’t you pull up and check out their variety of fresh available produce. It’s organic and grown with passion and the money filters back to supporting the hard work of both the organisation and these wonderful young farmers.
So that’s been the month of August. A here, there and everywhere month with a lot to catch up on before the arrival a travelling school! Come back in September to hear more about the unusual school that sends their students all over the world to learn, develop and share their skills and knowledge. It is another example of a pretty ‘cool’ school.