Volunteering at the Permaculture Pathshala
I volunteered at an urban farm belonging to Aranya Agricultural Alternatives to get a hands-on experience of practicing permaculture. The 1000 sq m farm is located in Badangpet, in surburban Hyderabad, Telangana. Started in 2015, this urban permaculture farm has both annuals and perennials. An idea to grow their own food has led to this farm now providing for more than 3 families. It also stands as an inspiration to urban dwellers to understand how a small space can still create abundance. The biodiversity of the farm shows how permaculture can both provide healthy food, and regenerate the environment in a suburban setting. Following Aranya’s goals, the farm is now functioning as a learning center and is known as the "Permaculture Pathshala" (Permaculture school).
The biodiversity of the farm shows how permaculture can both provide healthy food, and regenerate the environment in a suburban setting.
I worked on the farm with my fellow volunteer Hugo Vasseur. Our work at the farm was mainly maintaining the seed bank, researching on growing and harvesting patterns of plants and working on outreach activities which would help in sharing the knowledge and experience of the farm with city dwellers.
The farm is being maintained by Ravi Anna and Sumitra Amma. They live at the farm along with their little son Rakesh. They take care of the farm and apply permaculture principles to get high yields. They also help in setting up the farm for workshops and help in conducting them too.
The farm has more than 46 different plants, most of which are edible. There are various varieties in plants too (For example, more than 20 varieties of tomatoes are being grown)
Such diversity in a small farm leads to a huge number of animals, insects and birds. Permaculture believes that a farm needs to have this kind of a biodiversity in order to maintain a good ecosystem within the farm.
During this one month we also got a chance to host birdwatchers from the Birdswatchers Society of Andhra Pradesh. Expert birdwatchers from the society helped us in spotting and identifying 21 different birds in and around the farm.
The one month I spent at the farm helped me get a deeper understanding of the techniques of permaculture. It also helped me learn how to identify various plants and to work with people from different cultural backgrounds.