It takes a village to raise a child, it is said. I think – It also takes a village to run a farm.
Economies of large scale and consumerism don’t favour the sustainability movement one bit. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Almost none of the industries, which rely on resources from nature, care about recharging the source of resources they so much depend on. And (pseudo) free markets rely only on economies of scale to finance their corporations and factories – source cheap labour & material from developing countries and sell en-masse using fossil fuel heavy supply chains. (Why I call them pseudo, is for another blog! )
Everyone seems to be now getting absorbed by the self perpetuating consumerist lifestyle. So, the people striving to leave a better world than they were born in are quite few and far between in this world right now.
Noushadya and my approach is to first reduce our cost of living instead of trying to find out how we can increase revenue from the farm. Which means, we are trying to live off the land. We are trying to figure out how we can substitute packaged consumer goods with produce we can find and grow in the land. Whatever we can’t grow, we buy from a grocery store who packs our produce in paper only.
While we had budgeted for most of the major expenditure, there were a lot of unforeseen expenses which we had to take on. For example, one fine summer day, motor stopped working. And we had to spend Rs. 13k just like that. The roof of the earth house sunk because of sudden heavy rains and the rework will cost us upwards of Rs. 2 lakhs. A lot of the infrastructure investment is contingency spending more than anything else.
After starting on this journey, I have realized that I am a poor negotiator. And because of lack of experience, I haven’t had, in my mind, the benchmarks of prices of certain goods in the rural economy. So, I have spent more than I should have on multiple occasions. The learning curve is indeed steep for someone like me, who has had zero experience in agriculture, leave alone natural ways of farming. The intention of this blog post is not to scare people who are interested in this journey, but to aquaint you with the obstacles along the way.
We have been as prudent as we could be with our routine spending – and we only hope to get wiser. Thanks to contributions from family and friends, we have managed to sustain this journey so far and hope to continue forever. So, this blog post is a nothing but a big THANK YOU! from us to ya’all.
1. My father, Ramasubramoney, for the tremendous amount of trust he has put in me to carry out something at this scale. A significant part of his savings got eroded when we bought this piece of land and constructed the house. He has always wanted me to be entrepreneur so that I can create jobs. While I have not created much employment yet, at least I can be called an entrepreneur now. My mother, Manjulata, for inspiring me along this path and showing tremendous amount of zeal in everything we do. She has been a keen gardener in the tiny space we have in the Mumbai apartment.
2. Noushy’s parents have been very supportive throughout the journey despite the risky nature of the endeavour we have chosen.
3. Nirmal Aunty for funding the finance needed to buy our 2nd cow, Kapila
4. Jaya Athai, Charu Athai and Kannan chitappa for funding the finance needed to buy our 3rd cow, Lakshmi
5. Ajanta didi, Prashant Jiju for funding the solar power in the house
6. Ajit Singh uncle for funding construction of the Compost toilet
7. Poornima and Arun for contributing towards our cows upkeep
8. All our family and friends who have supported us by buying our produce : Balamurali, Bharath & Bhavani, Radha Chithi, Ramesh Mama, Srividhya & Venkatesh, Lalita aunty, Saumya & Keshav, Jatan & Shivani, Bhavya & Reshmi, Naveen, Arnab and Sandeep.
9. Most importantly, all the people who have helped us at the farm and construction of the house : Deepak, Sohn, Anusha, Vyas, Anand, Ganesh, Muriel, Joshua, Akshat, Vita, Kevin, Nishant, Adi, Nandita, Ramanathan, Orlando, Kiran, Nirmal, Ashish, Rajesh, Varun, Siddharth, Dhaval, Lalita Aunty, Ajanta Didi, Prashant Jiju, Om Prakash, Ramanathan & family, Uttara Mami, Srinivas, Carter and the Thannal team
I am sorry if I have missed out anyone’s name. You were missed because my memory is not the best. We will reach out to more people for selling our produce & services, once we learn how to achieve economies of small scale. We will also reach out to you all if we need crowd funding to finance any of our projects. 😀