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Message from Krishna

Dear Friends,

Have you thought about what vegetables you eat? In most households you will find potatoes, carrots, beetroot, cauliflower, broccoli or leeks etc none of which grow in this bio-region. Industrialised agriculture with its sole aim of financial gain has defined the nutritional profile of our society. 
From these fields we harvest banana stem, banana flower, turkey berry, green papaya, a wide diversity of roots and yams including tapioca and sweet potatoes. There are so many different spinaches as well as ladies fingers, different beans, gourds of many shapes and sizes, pumpkins, squash and drumsticks not to mention all the fruits, flowers, vines, seeds and millets that grows so easily. 
Government agencies are now encouraging farmers to grow a wider diversity of crops because they recognise "Over-reliance on a few staple crops coupled with low dietary diversity is a leading cause of persistent malnutrition." Not to mention the ecological damage caused by industrialised agriculture to the soil and water.
The difficulty here is that the persistent value in our society is financial success and that does not take into consideration our relationship with mother nature from which we learn to value this vast cultural nutritional heritage. It's ironic that industrialisation with all its shops and supermarkets, efficiency, vast distribution networks which in turn depend on lorries, petroleum and more industrialisation has eroded our nutritional well being. This well being is there for all of us if we explore our relationship with the earth, which implies community, traditions, myth, music, art, dance, textile, natural medicine, the threads from which we weave the tapestry of our beautiful cultures. 

This December 13th to 15th and 27th to 29th, we are conducting 3 Days Intensive Permaculture Workshop at Solitude Farm, which aims at empowering you to start on this road back to nature. 
Register for the workshop here

“Food and medicine are not two different things: they are the front and back of one body. Chemically grown vegetables may be eaten for food, but they cannot be used as medicine.”
Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

Community Supported Agriculture | Fruit & Vegetable Basket

Wing Beans! Such an amazing bean! We put the leaves and flowers in the salad kit, we can eat the young tender pods raw, when the pods are larger they make a wonderful stir fry. The seeds can be made into a falafel and roots are high in protein. 

The pink flower in the photo is Portalaca and is good for autism and ADHD. Chickoo/sapota season is here again and if you put the fruits in the freezer and then blend them in the mixer they make a delicious sorbet or smoothies. And the list goes on! The rains are not too bad and so the bio-diversity in the basket will keep growing. 

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. We are able to value these foods because we are creating a community around the subject of nutrition. The longer participants subscribe for the baskets the cheaper they are and the closer their connection with the farm and their understanding of these local foods the more we can offer. 

Baskets are available for pick up from the farm on Monday and Friday and there is a Pondicherry pickup Wednesday afternoon.
Please email for sign up. 

Solitude Farm Cafe

Time Machine

As you will have read a lot of the work we are doing is focused not so much on agriculture or permaculture but rediscovering the roots of a Culture. Cultures emerge over centuries even millenia with traditions, techniques, technologies but due to industrialisation, efficiency and profit using electricity and machinery some of these traditions are eclipsed for the sake of profit. Take this Ragi, when we mill ragi by hand on the stone mill (endrum) ; it takes time but hand milled ragi flour has a absolutely superior taste to ragi milled in a machine that heats up the seeds and the flour, I am not exactly sure what nutritional values are lost, but something is lost because the taste is changed. 
At Solitude, we want to take you back in time by re-honoring  these traditional techniques, such as using the endrum, which has probably been around for thousands of years or more. A few years ago I went to the British Museum and in the section about Indian Agriculture there were tools that are still being used today, their simplicity is still relevant and  so we are creating a space at the cafe where people can see the milling going on and participate in this ancient tradition.
It might cost us more money to mill the ragi like this but I think there is much wider profit in taking time to mill these flours and enjoy their taste as they would have tasted thousands of years ago. 
Solitude Farm Cafe - Open | Mon-Sat | 9AM - 3PM

Field Notes 
A Pumpkin Story

On the 18th day of the Tamil lunar month of Aadi, we plant pumpkins all over the farm. One of the amazing characteristics of local food are the diverse parts of the plants that can be used. In the case of pumpkin we start by valuing the tendrils and the tender shoots in a salad or a stir fry. The leaves can be cooked like a spinach and are very sweet. Once a week in our cafe we stuff pumpkin flowers, roast them on the dosa pan, they are a big hit! Flowers can also be used to make bhajjis and salads. 
The pumpkins themselves can be harvested immature or mature which gives a different taste. The mature fruits also offer us seeds which can be roasted or dried and planted the following season. It’s not only the nutritional benefit that we enjoy, we also take delight in watching these amazing plants grow, wrapping their tendrils clockwise then anti-clockwise, gripping, climbing, basking in sunlight.
There are many unused spaces in a farm where there is not quite sufficient sunlight, these spots are ideal for the pumpkins to climb up trees and seek out the precious light they need to grow. They also grow very well with vertical plants like corn and tapioca and are really ideal for planting in back gardens, schools, outside offices or even the local library. Imagine every fence where you live covered in pumpkin vines and flowers! Abundance is the first characteristic of local food! 

Music from Solitude

This song is called Nambikai which means Faith or Belief.It is the very first music video we made with the wonderful director Marcia Juzga. The song is written by me and Krupa Parnam, the original violinist and vocalist of Emergence. It was filmed in Gingy Fort and Fertile Forest of Auroville. 

What is happening on the farm ?

Regular Workshops 

Every Saturday 11:30 A.M - Weekly tour and introduction to the Solitude Farm

Every Friday 9:30 AM | Natural Soap Making Workshop 
It is imperative that we stop polluting our water sources with chemical soaps. By making our own soap with natural local resources, we can recycle all our waste water to grow food. The Process is simple, easy and fun. 

Every Wednesday  9:30 AM | Secrets Of Our Salad: An Introduction to Permaculture 
Secrets of our Salads is an exploration of the values of local food which is at the very heart of permaculture.

Every Tuesday 9:30 AM | Cooking With Local Food
The wealth of local foods, their nutritional and ayurvedic values reflects the greatness of this culture. Many of these foods have been eclipsed by the industrialised agriculture and this workshop aims teaching people how to revalue them in traditional and fusion cooking styles.

Please email us at to sign up for the workshops. 
Contribution required  for all the workshops, except the weekly farm tour. 

3 Day Intensive Permaculture Workshop 

This workshop is to empower you to explore your relationship with mother nature and take the first steps on your road back to nature. 
The modules in this workshop will empower you to grow your own food; urban gardening, circle garden with enormous social implications & a larger field module for those starting their own farms. We will explore soil, seeds, local foods, medicinal plants, recycling water, enzyme & hand soaps and the importance of celebration in permaculture.
Dates for upcoming Permaculture workshop: 13th to 15th December 2019 | 27th to 29th Dec 19
Sign Up Here

On-going Project:
Mid-day Meal | Local Food Presentation 

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Krishna McKenzie · Solitude Farm · Auroville 605101 · India

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