Come, let’s celebrate, become one with nature and find the place we belong. Some time spent away from this madness, in the lap of nature, where time stands still, where nature unfolds the miracles of day and night, spring and summer, rain and heat, a seed turning to a sapling, scent of a beautiful flower and a peacock feather painted in most glorious colors and shades, a rainbow in its full glory should fill your souls with richness.
Our passion for nature and a deep desire to engage in something soulful commenced our journey, little did we think of the challenges as we began, as passion was such infectious that despite all odds, we moved forward. We had walked this forest when we were kids, collecting wild berries and flowers, every time we visited our grandparents during the school summer vacation. Roar of the leopard and the frenzied barking of dogs in the winter night was an exciting experience. Sleeping under a starry sky, milking of the cow before the crack of dawn, applying cow dung on the kitchen floor every morning ushered another day of joy, nothing was more exciting than sitting by the chulha waiting for hot and crisp rotis. Stealing freshly prepared murraba from the earthenware pots, makki ki roti, sarson ka saag with fresh white butter dripping off the plate lovingly poured by our grandmother tasted divine. This was the Punjab that we grew up in.
After many years we returned to see farmers’ selling off their land, taking up small jobs in the factories nearby, the development around seems to have changed the cultural landscape of our village. The forest resources have dried up, the land is barren and devoid of all vegetation, the natural spring in the forest had dried up, signaling drastic changes in the forest. The central government erected a check dam that was meant for irrigating part of the forest land, which lies empty, not for the lack of monsoon rains, but for the reason that the iron valves and pipes in the control room had been stolen, exposing the entire village to flash floods, as now the water collected in the dam gushes out eroding the soil and flooding the land. It was this neglect and disrespect of nature by the local community that made us sit up and do something for the environment.
We challenged ourselves to slowly recreating an ecological environment in the private forest land that we inherited from our ancestors. Knowing well that the task ahead would require consistent motivation and financial resources, our love for nature inspired us to keep going. We started by carrying out a land survey and spent many days searching for ways to start the healing process, like an artist with a clean canvas, we too started our flight of fancy and dreamt of a place which was naturally beautiful, endowed with all the natural resources as a forest would, in its full color, birds and cattle roam the pastures, our imagination was to bring back the forest to its full glory. My father, who retired from the army many years ago showed all his toughness, even at his age of 60+, and spent many a hot and hard days getting the forest land fenced. Once this grueling task was complete, we started applying our minds to understanding and put in place, small steps to control soil erosion. It started with contour terracing followed by putting up small mud bandhs to harvest flowing monsoon water. The next thing was to plant medicinal and ornamental plants, trees, shrubs, grass and fruit orchards.
With a kinnow and a guava orchard in place, organic seasonal vegetables flourishing in our garden assures us that the baby steps we have taken are in the right direction. All plants are micro irrigated and fed with manure and vermi compost. We have a caring crew (locally employed from the village) looking after the fruit trees and vegetables along with talking care of livestock on the farm. All the seasonal fruit, vegetables, eggs and milk is consumed on the farm. Our effort in arresting soi erosion is paying off, we see less and less of top soil erode and improved quality of soil which is being enhanced by traditional farming methods. We took upon us to build living quarters that are minimalistic and environmentally friendly, a mud and thatch cottage build by local craftsmen and a few tents dot the landscape.
We are fortunate to be located (7km) close to the Ropar wetland, which is one of the 21 sites identified by the Ramsar convention as a unique bio diverse wetland, giving us the opportunity to witness the bird migration from Oct- April every year, it is a joy to see bird formations cross over PRAKRITI farm, we often become hosts to a few exquisite species of migratory birds that like to visit the farm during this period. This is just the beginning of our long journey, with so much to learn, we continue this journey guided by nature and child like excitement. The nostalgia of summer vacation still warms our hearts every time we milk our cow at the crack of dawn or hear a roosters call….. Spend some time with us to be a part of our journey…..
Do not go where path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a Trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson