This 25 acre land on the coastal hillock on the West coast of India is a typical lateritic plateau habitat (locally called as sada) in the Konkan region of Maharashtra. There is very little soil cover and sparse vegetation. Typical monsoon climate indicates that 4 months wet season (average annual rainfall more than 3000 mm) is followed by 8 months dry season (average temp 22 to 32 degree celsius). The land entirely consists of hard rock, yet not a single truck of soil or fertilizers was ever brought here since the last 20 plus years. All the trees - including the coconuts - stand in small pits dug into the rock. Over the years they have been nourished by naturally decomposed layers of local grass, mulch from fallen leaves and twigs, vermicompost from the earthworm pits built here and most importantly, natural cowdung manure collected from the cowshed housing more than 30 cows of local breed that were at some point of time abandoned by people in nearby villages.
The perennial system here is mainly composed of grafted fruit varieties and coconut palm polyculture. The climate is suitable for varieties of mango, jackfruit, jamun, guava, water apple, kokam, lemon, sapota, etc. In coconut palm polyculture, the intercrops are mainly spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, black pepper and banana and colocasia. The support species used are Gliricidia, Pongamia and Acacia. In monsoon, cucurbits and yams are grown. The animal system includes self grazing cattle of local breed. A small biogas plant is used to digest the cow dung and the slurry is used as a manure. Vermicompost tanks surrounding the cow shed also prepare quality manure for the orchard.
Shakuntal Permaculture Farm
This 2.5 acre farmland is owned by Harshad’s aunt. They treat this land as ‘a native place’ to escape the urban chaos on quiet weekends, family outings, mini get-togethers etc. In 2009, Harshad got an opportunity to maintain this farmland. He treated this place like an open laboratory in order to get his first hand experience in agricultural activities through ‘on field experiments’ in crop cultivation and plant propagation. In the journey full of early failures & disappointments he consciously discarded harmful chemical farming techniques and adopted a more sustainable, holistic approach of organic, natural, ecological and poison free farming models. During his PDC, Harshad naturally picked this place for his Final Design Exercise model, where he redesigned this farm in a permaculture way and immediately started implementing the new ideas.
Currently there is a farmhouse, an outdoor kitchen with Chulha, an active kitchen garden with seasonal and perennial vegetables, herbal garden, butterfly garden, Main crop garden with Bananas, Papayas, Mulberry etc., a food forest orchard with a diversity of Mango varieties, Guava, Chiku, Moringa, Jamun etc., paddy field, crop cultivation zone for pulses and oil seeds, a nursery, cow shed, chickens, composting zone, wild forest zone, and a farm pond. Also many educational programs like botany and ornithology courses have been conducted here.