Adhikari Farm: Week 1

My first week at Adhikari farm is done. As with all things comfortable; the week seems to have flown by but it also feels like we've been here forever.

So the quick description first

Sameer and Sachin Adhikari, twin brothers along with their spouses and one kid, Saee, are making their farm into a sort of treasure trove of plants that will provide food that is both easy to access and available year round and organic and nutritious. 3 days after we arrived, Sachin came back from Mumbai with his wife Shraddha and his daughter Saee. Saee has been unschooled for the last 2 years. I've met her before, at LSUC, and found her to be a very quiet, sensible and calm child. She still is. Jishnu and Saee both seemed to hit it off really quick.

She speaks only english which I found disappointing since i wanted Jishnu to learn to speak Marathi. But for now the fact that they get along is most important. The week passed with a tiny bit of sowing and I began to feel like farm life is just like Fukuaka said, slow and leisurely.

This myth was broken by the arrival, on Friday, of a pillar of farming, Julius Rego, from Navi Mumbai. On his arrival all calm was shattered and we were put to work sowing, mulching, digging trenches and catching bugs that sprayed us with noxious fumes. To be honest, I loved it.

In the past I've had a few complaints about my posts being too long and so this format, where I start with a short yet complete idea of what I'm going to say in the long and more verbose, thought filled and meandering "main body".

As I've said earlier, Sachin and Sameer are pursuing a vision of a farm where they grow all their food. This farm is about 7 acres and possibly 1 acre is given up to rice plantation in the monsoon. The rest of the land is chock-a-bloc full of local plants. Or atleast I thought they were chock-a-bloc until Julius came in pointed out all the square inches of soil, free unused soil; soil that was not held down by roots and would be washed away in the rains. The twins first mission, to producing organic and nutritious food, is to enrich the soil. They are quick to point out that this is to be done by natural means and not artificial fertilisers. Various plants are grown as cover crop, many plants are sown just so that their roots will fix nitrogen into the soil and their leaves, when cut, will be used as mulch and decompose there itself releasing a bunch of nutrients back into the soil. Nutritious soil means nutritious food and plants that are able to withstand pests and diseases on their own without the use of pesticides and the like. The twins want to make this a model farm and to this end, have opened up the farm to visitors and volunteers. All of their ideas though are not lost on the child Saee, she seems to understand what they are doing, but has enough of her own mind to wish to eat maggie a few times, much to Jishnu's pleasure.

This was a lesson to me, in the past I would sort of force Jishnu to eat the veggies, not because they were good for him or would make him stronger, but because he should not say no to anything. How futile this is. I do want him to say no to certain things and I will have to use example to guide him. One of the main ideas of unschooling is to treat the child as you would any other individual. This first week has been nerve racking, so many new things to experience and see and my darling son insists on just watching youtube (minecraft and fortnight) and playing Brawl Stars on the mobile. Sameer assures me that this too shall pass. Sachin gave me 3 books to read. Apparently, the problem is not Jishnu, its me. I haven't left the reins yet. I still am trying to be more than a provider and protector. I must try to be an observer.

In other news, Sachin has expressed a wish to make a workshop on the farm. I've encouraged him to think of not just woodworking, but an all encompassing workshop. Set out so that, saplings can be made, soil can be mixed, cowdung can be powdered and all the tools and other materials can be stored safely in one place. Its been a good week.