Far from the madding crowd...

Sustainable living

At a time when rapid urbanisation has shrunk green cover, a group of six like-minded friends has sought to do their bit to increasing it by setting up a farm called Kanana on the outskirts of Mysore.

GREEN WAYS Top: A huge pot installed to collect rainwater. Photos Srikantswamy BCivil engineer P Guruprasad, Panchayat Development Officer A N Subramanya Sharma, entrepreneur Vijay, Ayurvedic practitioner Dr M C Manohara, Dr K K Ganesh and Shyamsundar, Director of National Institute of Engineering (NIE)-Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology (CREST) barely knew each other. But, they had one thing in common. They had an interest in agriculture-related activities, but were keen on taking up the organic method of agriculture.

Though they were novices in terms of practical experience, they had acquired some knowledge on organic farming collated through books, periodicals and journals. They decided to jointly purchase about two-and-a-half acres of land in Baradanapura village on Manandavadi Road, a 20-km drive from Mysore. It was seven years ago and that was how Kanana Farm (Kanana meaning forest in Kannada), was born.

Now, all the six are proud to call themselves organic farmers, for having converted the barren land then to a rich green farm. A total of 20 to 30 coconut trees, mango plantation, guava, lemon, papaya among several other fruit-bearing trees have ensured that the plot is a treasure-house. The crops grown here meet the requirement of their own homes, and the remaining is sold through organisations involved in dealing with organic products. Instead of pesticides and fertilisers, they depend on a fertiliser mix made out of jaggery, cow urine and rice, to check diseases that affect the crops.

In close commune with nature

Subramanaya Sharma explains that the venture has also ensured that they stay close to nature. During weekends, all the six families, including children, descend on the farm. “At a time when children are growing up without any contact with nature, our kids here know the names of fruits, trees, snakes, lizards, chameleons etc.”

Adds Guruprasad, “the kids play here without any of the problems that children face in urban areas. Moreover, the young ones are introduced to the basics of food production-what urban living doesn’t teach them in nascent days. Also adept at catching snakes, Guruprasad shows the bags that have rat snakes and a few others. “It was caught in the field,” says Guruprasad pointing at a rat snake.  “We teach the kids about snakes,” he adds Manohar who instructs the kids to make a circle, to get a glimpse of the snake from a safe distance.

Eco-friendly home

An eco-friendly house has been built on a portion of about one acre of land that they purchased opposite the farm. Being an engineer himself, Guruprasad used bricks made of red soil available in abundance to construct the house.

Two huge mud pots have been put up on both the sides of the house to collect rain water. Long pipes connected to the pots, have been put up over the roof to facilitate the free flow of water. The water gets filtered in the mesh installed inside the pots. This simple measure addresses the problem of drinking water during their stay. They also have a solar cooker to use during their stay at the farm. Why they brought this piece of land makes for another interesting story.

The plot has a small pond (called kalyani), albeit dried up (about 80 to 100 feet deep), which enhanced the beauty of the plot. Behind the same land is a lake that Guruprasad and his friends have recently de-silted. Organically grown crops are used for cooking in the farm.

Tables and chairs made of wood and granite slabs arranged under the shade of a huge tree forms the dining hall, amid natural settings here. Recently, they celebrated ‘Kanana Habba’ a festival that brought organic farmers from different parts of Mysore and also some parts of the State under one roof to exchange information.

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