1. Success Story

Growing your Own Food is the New Gold!

Sheetal Dhamecha
Sheetal Dhamecha

“If health is wealth, growing your own food is the new gold. I would urge people to reclaim a piece of land and start giving back to the planet. It’s a very rewarding journey. Trust me!”  Manisha Lath Gupta, a new breed farmer practicing Permaculture. 

Aanandaa Permaculture was born from the strong desire of Manisha Lath Gupta to harvest her own food and water, to be confident about the uncontaminated produce and a wish to create a piece of nature for her children. She was drawn to the idea of Permaculture, a practice that mimics the ecology of the forest. Along with her husband, she purchased a piece of land close to Chandigarh. 

Rosemary Morrow’s The Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture became her first handbook for putting permaculture into practice. Today, the four hectares of land is 80% self-sufficient in food. She proudly says, “Everything that grows in North India, we grow at Aanandaa.” 

What was a barren land, is now a closed canopy with more than 500 fruit trees, including mangoes, litchi, peaches, pears, bananas, papayas, figs, pomegranates, lemons, oranges, tangerines, and guavas. Birds, bees, hare, lizards and a lot many friends of nature have made the forest their home. Crops like wheat, millet, pulses, legumes, and oilseeds do pretty well in the forest- farm. There are 4000+ trees from a variety of local species and the water channels in the farm provide groundwater to them throughout. 

The family learnt everything on their own by watching videos, reading articles and books by permaculture practitioners. Besides, experimentation was their key. They learn and then implement, recently, crop rotation and seed saving techniques were adopted. 

Permaculture practices followed at Aanandaa 

Water management: A bore well is the primary source of water. Besides, there are two ponds and four shallow pools to store runoff water from the hills. Mulching also helps to reduce the watering rate. 

Boundary: Locally grown bougainvillea is used as a green fence instead of concrete or metals.

Tree plantation: In the first monsoon in 2011, 1,000 trees were planted across windbreaks, native forest trees, ornamental avenue trees and fruit trees.  

Zoning: There are zones, beginning from zero, which is meant for human habitation. Close to the first zone is zone 1, where we grow vegetables and herbs. A fruit orchard is zone 2, and zone 3 is a field for crops. Zone 4 is a forest, a little more than a hectare, for animals, both wild and domesticated. 

Tilling: Although permaculture discourages tilling, just the fields are tilled with a bull drawn plough.  

Animals: Cows, goats, hens, geese, and dogs play an important role at Aanandaa. To enhance the ecosystem, animals were introduced at Aanandaa. 

Diverse crops: Different varieties and species of crops are grown to avoid dependence on a particular source of food. Also, diversity reduces the risk of crop failure. 

There’s an enthusiasm in urban areas to learn about organic farming and consume organic food. However, buying organic food is not enough. We must change our lifestyles to reduce consumption, reduce packaging and care for the earth. “The urban affluent need to pause, reflect and try to live more consciously. I hope our story of Aanandaa, will inspire more corporate folks to put their money into saving nature for future generations,” says Manisha. 

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