~5 minute read~
I was doing a fellowship at Milaap.org, a crowd funding platform for personal and social causes in 2016. There, I got an opportunity to speak to a lot of inspiring people in the sustainable living movement. That’s when I got to thinking about the purpose of life and many similar questions.
My parents and I took a road trip across Tamil Nadu in 2017 after we decided to buy agricultural land in Tamil Nadu. The objective of the trip was to chart water availability on one axis with price per acre on the other. These days, the price of agricultural land is usually a consequence of proximity to towns of major economic activity. In my opinion, in a few decades, this will change. The price will be influenced on the basis of water availability and the capability of soil to hold water. This opinion is because ground water levels are reaching perilous levels in several districts across the country after over use of water in agriculture for several decades since green revolution.
Thamirabarani river is a perennial river, because the source of the river gets both South west and North east branches of monsoon. Our farm is approx 1kilometre away from the river. The proximity to the river will help in decent ground water levels in the long run hopefully.
Western Ghats are beautiful hills. The eastern side of the western ghats get on average only about 40% of the rain the western side of the ghats get. We are in one of the southern most districts in Tamil Nadu. So, it is as tropical as it can get in main land India.
Another significant reason for choosing the farm was proximity to my Appa’s birth place, Kadayam. Kadayam is a village on the edge of the western ghats, just 15 kms from here. And I have lots of memories of the beautiful village from the occasional once-in-four-year visits in my childhood. This definitely was a strong factor for me.
The farm is disconnected from civilisation to a certain extent. Distance from major metropolitan cities such as Bangalore and Chennai, where a lot of our relatives and our friends are based out of, is 600+ kms. Thats the reason very few people whom i know have visited this place :p The reason for this was to escape the pull of an urban life. I did not want to have the option to escape to a city every weekend because developing a sustainable life needs dedication for several years. And i thought it is best to quit an addiction by keeping a distance from it. Besides, farther away from cities, cleaner is the air, greener are the landscapes and clearer are the skies. 🙂
The farm is next to a wildlife forest reserve, Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. The charm of being next to an untouched forest is unparalleled. While it opens up the possibility of man-animal conflict, it also gives us the opportunity to learn how nature works when left alone. It teaches us to be respectful to all other beings on this planet. People who have stayed at the farm and us have spotted sloth bears, sambhar deers, monitor lizards, a number of snake species , grey langurs, wild pigs, asian wild dogs so far. We have heard stories of leopards attacking goats and dogs around the farm. An elephant has uprooted two coconut trees right outside our fence. Peacocks are the noisiest and most influential wildlife at the farm, so far.
The Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve is also home to Karayar Dam which is the reservoir for a hydroelectric power station. While we will be powering our home with solar panels, the motor in the well is powered by electricity. I am against our country’s ultra dependence on fossil fuel based energy sources, as you all know. While this was not a reason behind choosing the farm at all, retrospectively, I am happy that the energy source we are relying on for doing agriculture is from a fairly renewable energy source.
There is a small amount of religious tourism because of Papanasam temple. So on weekends and festivals, Shiva’s devotees visit the temple in large numbers from nearby villages and towns. If ever we open up the farm to eco tourism, there will be some influence of the Papanasam temple on the farm.
One factor which i didn’t include in choosing the farm is ‘soil type’. A sandier soil would have helped in establishing trees faster. The learning curve in establishing trees in clay soil is a little steeper.
While there is no SOP that can be used to choose a farm, you can use the pointers above in deciding how to finalize location to buy a farm. Please get in touch with me if you want to have a conversation whenever you decide to choose to lead a farmers life. 🙂