This was the fourth year I attended Amma’s programs in Chicago. Once again, I spent time walking through the farmlands. This year my friend Gopika also came to Chicago; she explored the farm with me.
There were a lot of changes this year. The echinacea field is gone and new MA Center: Chicago plants are growing there. We were told part of the Center’s property is being leased out to a vegetable farmer. Another part is still being leased to a farmer who produces hay. The new focus for the MA Center: Chicago fields seems to be growing dye plants and tulasi.
Last year, there were tomato plants growing in the greenhouse. This year there were indigo, tulasi, and a few marigold plants.
The field that used to hold echinacea plants now consists of indigo and Hopi Black Dye Sunflower plants. The indigo plants will be used to make indigo colored dye and the Sunflower seeds will be used to make black dye. Yellow and orange dyes can be made from marigold flowers.
Beyond the indigo and sunflower field, there was a field of madder plants. The roots from those plants will produce a red dye.
I don’t remember what the field below contains. When I enlarge the photo, part of it looks like tulasi but there seems to be another kind of plant in the foreground. Tulasi is often called holy basil and is a sacred plant to Hindus. Tulasi is said to open the heart, cultivate devotion, boost immunity, and heal disease.
On the far side of the above field, there was a field where both tulasi and marigold plants were growing.
Click on the photo galleries to enlarge the photos.
At the end of my visit to the fields that contained tulasi and dye plants, I walked to the orchard. There are many more fruit trees than there were the first year I attended Amma’s programs in Chicago. The trees have grown considerably since that time.
Early in our walk, Gopika and I were able to get help in plant identification from a volunteer who was working in the fields. I have many more questions though. Some year I will ask a resident to go with me!