A Visit to Kuzhitura Farm

On Wednesday, I went to Kuzhitura Farm. The farm is a 20 to 30 minute walk south of the ashram. I think I have visited it for five years straight.

When I walked onto the land, I saw two friends weeding a tulasi and basil field.

My attention was then pulled to a form of “spinach” I was introduced to last December. It is so tender and can be eaten either raw or cooked. I loved it so much that I found some seeds in the U.S. and planted them, but they didn’t sprout. I’m going to try again this year even though it probably doesn’t get hot enough in Seattle to grow that type of spinach.

Over the years, the devotees who have worked at this farm have tried various ways of catching and storing water. They had a new method this year. [Note: I was wrong about these tubs being used to catch water. Read I Was Wrong for an update!]

I saw so many beautiful flowers. (Click on any of the galleries to enlarge the photos.)

In the middle of the property, there was an Amma altar…

… and many other beautiful and interesting sights. Everything grows so fast in the tropics. Some plants that were a foot tall last year or the year before have grown to a height of five feet.

I saw butterflies, birds, and a dragonfly. I tried to take photos to show you but they all moved too fast, so I gave up and looked at them for myself. When I took the time to observe them, I noticed there were at least a dozen types of butterflies. The colors and markings on their bodies were exquisite. Maybe some day you will come here and see them for yourselves!

To read the previous posts in this series click here.

Living and Learning in Amritapuri, India: January 9, 2017

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Monday, January 9 was another full and rewarding day. My main goal was to visit Vrindavan Farm, which is located in a part of Vallikavu that is south of the Amrita Ayurvedic College. I wasn’t sure how to get there so I decided to go by rickshaw and then walk back to the ashram when I was finished.

I will be writing a whole post about that farm later, but will share some photos, including the one above, with you now so that you can get a sense of what it was like.

A sevite (volunteer worker) offered to take photos of me. Normally I would say no, but I decided to let her do it. I enjoyed seeing the shots she took. I had no idea how much my hat protected me from the hot sun!

While I was at the farm, I talked with one of the other sevites. I discovered that he works at the Amrita Serve Garden in addition to Vrindavan Farm. I have been trying to find out the location of that garden so was excited that I had met someone who knew the answer to that question. He was willing to take me there later in the week, but our schedules didn’t line up very well. I asked him for directions so I could go on my own.

He said it might be hard for me to find it, since I had to locate a particular foot path. I decided to try. If nothing else, my Fitbit would record a lot of extra steps!

On the way, I walked by a building that I have thought was a new supermarket. I had seen the supermarket sign, but the store it was on looked so small, I didn’t bother to check it out. When I walked by the sign this time, I noticed it was just an advertisement. The supermarket itself was located off the road behind the small store. I was astounded. I’d guess it is nearly ten times the size of the other “super” market in town. There is no other shop in Vallikavu that is anywhere near that size.

I continued walking, passing by the supermarket and a new temple that was under construction. I saw two foot paths. I started down one path, but in a short time decided it was the wrong one, so I turned around and came back to the main road and took the other path. On that path I saw these:

After some time on the new path, I reached a paved road. I was clearly on the wrong path so I again walked back to where I had started and re-took the original path. After some time, I saw the garden I had been looking for.

No one was present to show me around, so I just wandered. Before I leave Amritapuri, I’m going to meet up with the man that gave me directions so I can learn more about that garden. I will pass on the information he gives me when I write the main post about the Amrita Serve garden. For now, here is a glimpse of some of the plants. [Update: I met with the sevite on 1/12. When he looked at the photos he told me that wasn’t the Amrita Serve garden. I apparently was on a private farm that grows tapioca, coconuts and bananas! There aren’t signs on either property and there are private houses on both so I had never considered that option. I had been told that it was after a purple house. There was a purple house just before this one too. I’m going to see the Amrita Serve garden this morning, 1/13.]

When it was time for me to walk back to the ashram, I decided to take the canoe rather than walk over the bridge. It the first time I had done that since the bridge was built, eight years ago.

I felt so peaceful floating on the water, and the ride to the peninsula only cost 10 rupees (about 15 cents). I may never walk over the bridge again.

In addition to having a wonderful morning exploring the gardens, I had walked more than 13,000 steps!

 

To see all of the posts in this Amritapuri series, click here.

Flowers at Kuzhitura Farm

I spent part of this morning at Kuzhitura Farm, a site that is a 20 minute walk south of the main part of Amma’s Amritapuri ashram. I will be writing at least two posts about that visit. I’m eager to show you the flowers I saw, so I’m going to start with that one! You can click on the gallery to enlarge the photos.

To see all of the posts in this Amritapuri series, click here.

I’m Laughing at Myself

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I recently finished reading Novella Carpenter’s book Farm City. Years ago, Novella turned an empty lot in Oakland into an urban farm. On it she had a big garden, as well as bees and animals. At one time or another, she raised chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits and pigs! I loved the book and felt sad when I reached the end. I related to many parts of it.

One part that I related to was Novella’s comment that when you have an urban farm, part of the farm ends up in the house. In her case, she had beekeeping and gardening equipment throughout the house. Even though my gardening attempts can not be considered farming, I do end up with so many outdoor items inside. This weekend when I looked around my house, I remembered her statement and laughed.

I don’t raise bees, but I have two worm bins; one inside and one outside. The indoor one stays in the kitchen. In addition to transforming food into vermi-compost, a high quality fertilizer, the worms produce a liquid that can be turned into “worm tea.” I’ve been diluting it and pouring it around plants, or just pouring it around the plants undiluted. Today I read some articles that have shown me that much more goes into making worm tea than draining the liquid from the worm bin, so I need to change that practice.

Anyway, back to the subject of how the outside world ends up inside my house. As I looked around my kitchen yesterday I saw:

My worm composting bin with a jar to collect the liquid they produce in addition to the castings.
My worm composting bin with a jar in front to collect the liquid they produce.

Inside the bin are my worm friends and all of their castings.

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Novella went dumpster diving to feed her animals. I’ve never done that, but the worms now eat way more than I can give them from my food waste, so I beg grocery stores for some of their damaged or wilting produce. Therefore, I have bags of produce for the worms in my refrigerator. That is certainly not something that would be inside of a “normal” household!

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As I continued to look around the kitchen I saw:

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Egg shells that I will grind up to put in the worm bins
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I recently separated the worms from the compost and took a big box of the compost to the outside shed. This container has some extra compost.
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This is a jar of the liquid from the worms; there were four jars there a few days ago. Behind it is the food waste bin. Food I don’t use for the worms goes into the big yard and food waste bin that the city picks up and this container is for that. To the right of it is a jar with some vinegar in it that is used to trap fruit flies that may be in the food waste bin. I have no problem with fruit flies in any part of the vermi-composting processes.
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I use a food processor to chop up the food that I put in the worm bins. That really increases the speed of vermi-compost production. Sometimes I also add coffee grounds that my friends give me. The worms really love that!

My outdoor clippers are also in the kitchen at the moment.

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I have something new in my kitchen. It will be there until I figure out what to do with it.

Three years ago my dahlia plant was in the back yard. It would grow tall but it only produced one flower a year. That fall, I dug out the tubers and in the spring planted them in two parts of the front yard. What a difference that made! By summertime, the new plants were six feet tall and often had stalks that were more than an inch in diameter. They produced flowers until November, lots of them.

The dahlias have been taking up so much of my garden space, that I decided to dig the tubers out again and give most of them to the neighbors and friends who had asked for them.

So this past Friday my friend Rachael and I set out to accomplish that task. We were amazed at what we found.

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Rachael saying “It’s SO big!”

My plan had been to separate the tubers and give them to people right away, but I couldn’t separate them without breaking them. Rachael looked on the internet and discovered they should be placed upside down for a few weeks so that any liquid could drain out and be then stored inside for the winter.

What would I do with them? I decided to put them upside down in a wheelbarrow at first and leave them outside. I put a tarp over them but that night we had a big windstorm and the tarp blew off. And rain was expected for the next day.

So, yes, for the moment the tubers from one of the plants resides in my kitchen. I need to figure out what to do with it.

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In my hallway closet, I have two bottles of the diluted vermi-compost liquid. My friend Vince gave me some Coke bottles to put the liquid into. Eventually, this will make it to the outside shed. Next to the bottles are some egg shells that I need to grind up for the worms.

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Inside my front door is the room I call the “entry way.” Garden tools often occupy part of that space.

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At this point there is also box with a bit of vermi-compost there.

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When I brought in the tuber ball from the second plant, it was so big and heavy that the best I could do was get it through the front door. So at this moment, that is where it is living.

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I decided to weigh the bundle of tubers so I could share that information in this post. It is almost 30 pounds! In the process of weighing it, I created a mess.

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I think I made my point. There is a whole lot of outside, inside my house. It is time for me to finish this post and go clean up the mess in my entry way!

 

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Kuzhitura Farm in Amritapuri

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One of my goals for the last week of my trip was to visit the garden/farm south of the ashram as well as the one across the bridge near Amma’s Amrita School of Ayurveda. The land in both places is very dry, and water is scarce, so developing the gardens has been a process of trial and error over many years. This year the change was mind-boggling. In both places, I felt like I was walking into paradise.  This post will be dedicated to the garden south of the ashram which is now called Kuzhitura Farm.

When I visited this farm last year, I had learned that they were focusing on using permaculture techniques. One of those techniques was the banana circle. I still remember how shocked I was when I researched bananas and banana circles later and learned that banana palms are not trees, they are actually considered a grass! (Banana Circles in Amritapuri).

When Premarupa and I arrived at the farm this year, I was struck by how different it looked. It is amazing how fast trees and plants grow in the tropics. While there are vegetables growing throughout the area, the big vegetable garden I remembered from the previous year wasn’t even in the same place. My guess is the trees and banana palms had grown so big that there was no longer enough sunlight in the original area. There is now a garden that is about triple the size of the previous one a distance away.

Here are pictures of the farm this year.

(Click to enlarge pictures)

This property is also now home to Amritapuri’s food composting and vermi-composting (worm composting) centers.  I will share more about those projects in the next post.