Wednesday, May 13, 2015

One day visit to Maitri Farms

1. Its a 20 acre plot jointly owned by 3 friends from Pune. Out of them, Shreesh Ponkshe is very serious about farming and spends most of the time there.
2. The original idea was to create a fruit orchard on the plot, seemingly because not everyone was going to spend too much time in active farming there. However things are not as easy as it seems.
3. The soil in Konkan is deficient in organic matter and essential mineral nutrients. Folks have spent a good deal getting experts in assessing the soil quality to ascertain what all will be needed.
4. Shreesh is a well read guy, part of a lot of forums and an avid organic farming experimenter. To improve the quality of the soil, a lot of cow dung manure was used and the situation is better today compared to 2011, when the plot was taken.
5. The Konkan soil is not good for many crops, but he wants to grow items like bananas and that too, the organic way. Hence he is keeping his experiments up to date.
6. To understand the plot, it is composed of a small hill and quite a deal of plain plots around the hill.
7. The fruit plants are cultivated on the hill slopes, which have been dug out in a terraced format/bunds to reduce erosion and water flow, which can potentially destroy the crops in the plots in the plain area.
8. The mango trees are planted on the western slopes, into the bedrock soil - an ideal way of getting the best mangoes.
9. The farm houses Prakash and his family consiting of a wife and two kids. They are from Bijapur and help around with the farming and food. They stay on the farm.
10. There is one room where probably two people can stay. Generally there are no long term volunteers on the farm, folks come from around the world to stay for a week.
11. When i reached there was a french boy named Alex Clet on the farm, and he was in the last week of his visit to India. Like me, he quit his engineering based job 4 months ago, and now wanted to do farming on his granny's 3 acre plot back in north eastern France. A very good natured fellow.
12. The farm has a couple of cats and dogs, some poultry, a small rabbit. I am not sure if there are cows, could not visit all the places.
13. Active farming projects include banana plants on one side of the house, and a mixed cropping area cultivating okra and pulses on the other. The mixed cropping area is done on a raised bed basis to reduce leaching.

I intend on spending a good deal of time on this farm to learn the basics and help out.

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