Entering into the world of Permaculture - Reflections on Volunteering experience

Name: Rajaganesh
Organisation: Terra Soul

While we disconnect from our daily office routines and entered into the world of new learning, we were able to comprehend a lot about ourselves than the subject we were learning; this volunteering work is one of such activities. The observations and reflections which I gained here are plenty to share….

Though farming is one of the areas of my interest, like most of us it’s the first time I am engaging myself in intensive farming activities. Actually my works at Terrasoul are largely on farm based activities which include clearing the weeds, collecting different plants, mulching, composting, watering plants, preparing beds, preparing nursery and even some plumbing works and ultimately sitting silently and connecting with nature. Terrasoul is relatively new farmland within Auroville which is consciously developed by Mr. Neil with the support of a few like minded individuals. One of the best things in this farm is that there are lots to do and learn for everyone. Mr. Neil is one of the most wonderful human being I have ever met in my lifetime – cool, humble, easy going, happy to teach and learn. He is one of the exponents of Permaculture practices and is always ready to support us and teach permaculture.  While working, Neil shares lot of insights on farming activities both from theoretical point of view and also based on his own personal experiences on the field.

As a part of SLI, we can explore possibilities to start a course on Permaculture Design – a 72 hour course on how to identify relevant strategies in order to create a permaculture system jointly with TerraSoul. Since Terrasoul has enough experience in conducting this course, Mr. Neil is interested to design similar course for the region (Tamil Nadu).

I have started reading Permaculture: A Designers Manual by Bill Mollison whenever I get time and I realized that I have miles to go and lots to do… because as Henry David Thoreau wisely said, As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” 

Learning by Doing - Reflections on Volunteering Experience - Part II

Cutting Grasses, preparing compost bed, chopping, chopping, chopping & chopping and mulching in the farm beds are my major work today. Every work at farm has its own unique technique .. I started cutting grasses as Rajinikanth does in one of his film –தம்பிக்கு எந்த ஊரு J, gradually I learned the shortcuts of  grass cutting and the art of chopping and composting. Pain in the fingers, scratches in skin parts and itching were disturbing and distracting at the initial stage of work but later the immune system started responding well little by little and by the end I was able to  manage and bear the troubles and continued the work… chirping of unknown birds, cool breeze in the middle of sunny morning are natural energizers for us during the work at field.

Mr. Neil shared the importance of soil management and explained how mulching and composting would support the soil system to rejuvenate. This is one of the benefits working with Neil, he always share information about how the work we do is directly or indirectly helping soil/farming. Having a black coffee, pep talk with the fellow farm workers and some fresh Guava fruits at farm helped to re-energize us in between our work.

 As the word Terrasoul defines, we can sense that our Soul always connected with Earth at this Unit.

Raja Ganesh. M

Raja Ganesh. M

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