The Organic Way

images

The ICAR-National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (NBSS&LUP) has identified areas in our country that hold high potential for organic farming. This literally works very well as a ground rule for HERD Organic Farms because the fact is that as per the geo-spatial digital map showing organic carbon stock in the soils of all states, this region of Maharashtra is indeed good for natural organic farming.

HERD Organic Farms is keen to facilitate and dedicate efforts for organic agriculture. The farm team collaborates in the organic processes for cultivation of crops, production of organic manure, undertaking crop rotation, product selection and dissemination of organic farming methods. Farm hands are taught to learn and adopt organic farming techniques, production of green/ organic manure, and use of natural pesticides and herbicides.

The past three years have seen HERD Organic Farms emerge as a trusted source for organic food. With up-to-date documentation on sustainable agriculture practice and soil health, the farm team, led by farm manager Mr Anil Khare, collaborate with organic farming practitioners and academic fraternity to fill gaps in our knowledge. HOF envisions improved health for the soil and its people with due conversion of organic agricultural methodologies.

Operations had begun in March 2015 with the aim to create a model-farm to act as a teaching-learning center for organic farming. In time we hope to scale up efforts to become an example to be followed by farmers in the region. We hope to inspire particularly those farmers who remain uncertain or unconvinced about the concept. We want them to look upon organic farming as a viable venture. It is hoped that they would eventually be persuaded to go the organic way.

Our goal is really to contribute to healthy living for everyone. This is why our major focus is on developing and nurturing in-house organic components so as to strengthen the concept of creating a model organic farm in the region.  With the emphasis on using cost effective methods for organic farming, we also use high-tech innovative ideas on the farm.

We take every opportunity to spread awareness of the benefits of organic produce and the dire consequences of eating unhealthy chemical laden foods. On the farmland we make our own manure and pesticides in a bid to retain soil health. We also ensure organic health of pollinator populations. Our home grown organic pesticides do not have impacts on pollinator health. In fact the diverse food crops benefit such pollinators with increase in food sources.

Actually the organic inputs prevent soil pathogen and keep the soil health in perfect order as proven by the soil tests we undertook. HERD Organic Farms continues to collaborate with the organic growers community to help ensure that the unique realities of organic farmers are better understood and considered by the larger fraternity and possibly to influence the future of organic farming in the region.

We keep intensifying our efforts to benefit both the land and the people. We truly believe the words of Anna Lappé, author and educator – “When we fight for organic food, it connects us to every living creature on the planet, from birds to frogs and pollinators—all those harmed by toxic pesticides”. We look ahead to another year of increased organic produce.

Advertisements

Agony & Ecstasy of Organic Farming

HERD Organic Farms (HOF) has been working on organic farming practices right from day one. Knowing full well about the hazards caused by chemical-based farming, HOF was all prepared to face the distress of diminished production, lengthy transition period and unavailability of ready market. The grim picture did not discourage the team that went on ahead to rally around teething problems of organic farming. Tiding over the hindrances in organic farming the team worked with due diligence and relentless efforts to promote organic farming production.

The team pushed forward even as the fear of less production and unavailability of a premium market loomed large. It was a sense of inner conviction that had HOF promoting its organic produce and it has been a real struggle to survive in the face of the wider non-organic market. Joining hands with other organic growers who banded themselves under a common group, the intention became to make people aware of the positive health benefits of organic produce and to cull out a consumer clientele keen on demanding organic fruits and vegetables.

Approximately 42 acres of farmland spreading around the periphery of buffer areas of the Pench forests is marked out for phased organic cultivation. As of now vegetables are being grown under half-acre covered net structures with complete organic inputs. The team headed by Mr Anil Khare has also created a small open-structured radial vegetable garden that can grow up to 15 kinds of different vegetables within its circular layout. This well-laid out round plot of land includes rows of beds of flowers, fruits and vegetables that are grown with organic fertilizers and pesticides. It is a delightful spot.

HOF organic produce is free from pesticides and insecticides and absolutely safe for healthy eating. It may not be wrong to suggest that you could pluck cucumbers and tomatoes right off the plants and eat them straight away. They are that uncontaminated and this is also because the region is cut off from the main road and still pretty pristine. The monsoons made it clear that the area can also get disconnected a brief way from the road in case of heavy showers, making it challenging to commute to and fro.

HOF has been motivating the surrounding local farmers settled in the nearby Chargaon village to adopt organic farming methods. Majority of the farmers are following suit. The team felt that spreading awareness and creating a hub for organic farming would be an appropriate measure to promote organic farming in this region. Despite having earlier used chemical inputs to increase production several farmers are now joining hands for the more arduous task of following organic farming practices.

Farm manager Anil Khare feels that there is a need of cohesive efforts from all angles for promoting organic farming. Decidedly a disturbed rain cycle has added to the farmers’ woes and therefore better water management becomes the number one priority. Next, it would be fruitful to move away from mono-cultures in which crops are farmed in single-species plots. This is why HOF is now venturing into crop rotations and mixed planting that is a better alternative for conserving soil and enhancing environmental conditions.

HERD Organic Farms is currently following its well chalked-out and unambiguous directives for sustained organic farming practices. Working on both financial and technical provisions for the planned outcomes, the team is well aware that mere regulated inputs will not be enough to garner desired output. The path to organic farming is tough and it is definitely a more demanding occupation than conventional farming, that itself is so grueling.

HOF prepares and uses bio-fertilizers and bio pesticides to enrich the soil. The team is attentive in application of composts/organic manure that is produced right on the farm. Appropriate infrastructure has been set up for organic matter to be duly processed and prepared. These operations are of course quite labour intensive and costly as well. HERD Organic Farm is committed to gain the desired results by working every step of the way to enhance organic cultivation. These initial years will be tough and despite loss in yield and lack of fluid marketing processes the team presses on, on its chosen track.

Beejotsav Festival 2017 – All Things Organic!

rice

HERD Organic Farms undertook organic farming to test its viability first hand. We are keen to find out ways to improve agrarian incomes and enhance livelihood options for a waning agricultural economy. We want to see that organic farming is a sustainable and profitable occupation. We work on farmlands lying 60 km from the city, hand in hand with rural farmers of Maharashtra covering initially an experimental 42 acres of land. In time we hope to inspire neighboring farmers to join in with organic farming practices through collective action, after we have established a fair supply chain.

HERD Organic Farms hand-holds all efforts to promote organic farming and is open to the idea of supporting like minded partnerships – formal and informal. We are developing good practices in strategic traditional farming areas that can be emulated by other farmers. We are also planning to evolve into a resource organization for effective knowledge management at the organizational level. By documenting our farming practices we hope to develop resource material and also to provide consultancy services.

It is now that time of the year again when we pitch in with Beejotsav to bring together organic farmers, producers, retailers, advocates and this time round chefs and cooks too for Beejotsav 2017 as we all band together to celebrate all things organic at the annual organic farmer’s festival in Nagpur. We will be putting together a wide range of organic produce for organic lovers of the city. For the first time visitors can enjoy eating organic cooked dishes that will be show cased as healthy specialty food. The event is a partnership between keen organic enthusiasts, farmers and getting good support from organic food lovers.

The celebration which is dubbed as one of its kind in Nagpur is the biggest in Vidarbha and widely known to feature different organic products ranging from seeds, grains, vegetables, fruits, to organic fresh, cooked food items as well as plants, organic cloth and a lot more that we will have to wait to discover! Organic inputs from over 40 exhibitors will be in place by small farmers, NGO’s, village people’s organization, and supporters and advocates for organic produce. This is the fifth year in a row that Beejotsav Festival is being held in succession. It has grown in strength from past years and involved lot more people than before.

Beejotsav 2017 will have you appreciating exquisite muslin fabric which is included in the list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This will be another first for the festival to be introducing organic muslin that is as yet being created in mud houses without use of power of fossil fuels and maintaining the same superior quality. Each piece of Muslin is a masterpiece to behold and visitors will be delighted to see and buy it. So apart from eating healthy, visitors will also get to buy and wear healthy too! Tula India will also be exhibiting its eco-friendly apparel line in Beejotsav 2017.

Started initially with the intention of highlighting concern for traditional seed conservation methods, Beejotsav 2017 now takes on much more under its umbrella. However privatization of the seed sector and poor regulation over seed control has led to valuable seed varieties being lost to the greed of the corporate sector. This creates unrest for traditional cultivation and farming practices and so seeds remain a critical resource under threat.

Beejotsav stands by the concept of seed sovereignty and security as a prerequisite for livelihood security of marginalized farmers. Also various traditional varieties of crops like oilseeds, pulses, cash crops, fruits, vegetables are becoming extinct and inaccessible. Beejotsav works towards reversing this trend toward extinction by highlighting local crop varieties that ensure maintenance of the diversity.

Beejotsav 2017 festival will therefore begin with an invocation to traditional seeds on the first day of the organic fair! It will be a sight to behold as traditional seeds will be venerated in age old rituals. Come one – come all, to celebrate all things organic, all things sustainable and all things healthy! Come have healthy fun at this annual exhibition cum sale of wholesome, healthy and natural farm produce.

IMG_1880

HERD Organic Farms Chargaon

hqdefaultdownload (3)

Two years back Herd Organic Farms began cultivating and producing organic produce. Looking to the fact that organic agri-produce needed a shot in the arm to boost both adoption of cultivation practices and adaption to modify eating habits, HERD Organic Farms at Chargaon became part of the revival of traditional agricultural practices, to revert back to as they were prior to advent of chemical fertilizers.

The organic agriculture scene today may not be exploding with organic produce but its demand and popularity is certainly rising steadily. More and more people are getting into the organic food fold and they do so because it is safer, healthier and tastier. Additionally it is better for the environment too – for the soil, land, water and the well-being of animals.

Organic food actually focuses on the process of how such crops are produced. They are grown without the use of artificial chemicals, hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified organisms. And to be recognized as organic a product must be free of artificial food additives, so no artificial sweeteners, preservatives, coloring, or flavoring. In fact organic farming grows crops using natural fertilizers like home grown manure to improve plant growth. The pesticides used for weeds or pests are also non-chemical. Organic farming improves soil quality, conserves groundwater, reduces pollution and is good for the environment.

Commonly grown organic foods include variety of fruits and vegetables, grains and more. Nowadays you may even buy processed organic products that are increasingly being made available by a growing organic producer’s community. HERD Organic Farms produces organic turmeric and sells it after careful packaging. The medicinal qualities of turmeric are well known and grown organically the processed product becomes more beneficial.

Evidence suggests foods grown organically are more nutritious since they contain plentiful antioxidants and vitamins. Study after study has proved that organic foods generally contain higher levels of micronutrients like vitamin C, zinc and iron. In fact, it is said antioxidant levels can be up to 55% higher in these foods! In fact many varieties of organically grown fruits and vegetables contained over 50% more antioxidants and higher amounts of vitamin C.

So if one replaces regular fruits and vegetables with organic fruits and vegetables they derive extra antioxidants in their diet. This would be like eating 1-2 extra portions of fruit and vegetables! Since organic plants are not dependent on chemical pesticides to safeguard them they produce more of their own protective compounds or antioxidants. This explains their higher levels of antioxidants.

Of course nutrient content may vary even in organic produce depending on varied factors like soil quality, weather conditions and time of harvest. Evidence suggests that consuming these foods reduces exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Many people therefore choose to eat organic for this reason alone, and that is to avoid artificial chemicals.

HERD Organic Farms is convinced that we need to act as a motivating agent to inspire rural farmers to take up organic farming practice. We hope to set an example in the rural region that growing organic foods is ultimately good for all. As more people demand organic food this will produce a domino effect to alter the economics and most certainly make it a profitable venture, in good time.

Dry-turmeric-sticksturmeric-raw-rhizomes-waigaon-variety-500x500