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Message from Krishna

Dear Friends,

This is our 10th newsletter of the year. We are so happy that we have  managed to do this every week for 10 weeks! 
Last Sunday, 22nd of December, we brought Solitude Farm Cafe to Chennai , T Nagar, for the Pop Up For the Planet in association with MEEL Foundation. 
We ended up cooking for 110 pre-booked thalis and 25 volunteers including Solitude Farm team. There were two batches of lunch as the restaurant had a limited sitting capacity and before each service I gave a talk on the importance of local food and Nutritional Cultural Identity. The talk and food were both warmly received. It was the first time we have practically shared this food outside of Auroville. I have always said that the most powerful way to change the present paradigm is to simply eat local food and this is exactly why I think people resonated with what we were sharing. Foods that come from their culture, tasty, healthy and having no carbon footprint. It was surprising though to see many people actually didn’t know how to cook banana stem. The difference between village based knowledge and  that of city dwellers was quite apparent.
Many people asked us to come back and repeat the event and we decided the next thing we must do is to conduct a workshop to teach how to cook these foods and of course to then eat them together as a celebration of our cultural identity.
The cherry on top of the cake of the whole event though was surely when we realised that we had over cooked by about 50 people and one of our volunteers had a number of a group that came and picked up the untouched food and distributed it to people in need. This is such a simple act and I felt so much gratitude to this group called “No Food Waste Chennai”  Check them out here. This was the first of more events planned for Chennai and other cities! Stay tuned! :)
Do check out Behind the Scene Photos from the Pop Up Day here



“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

Community Supported Agriculture | Fruit & Vegetable Basket

What we haven't achieved is to get local farmers started with their own basket service. It implies community and an understanding of the philosophy of Natural farming. It needs some amount of training but more an acknowledgement of cultural nutritional values. These baskets offer an amazing economic possibility for the farmers and a revitalization of nutritional well being for consumers.
Equally our mid-day meal project has enormous potential for farmers and children. How do we make these projects happen? Recently we have been having meetings with people interested in helping get these projects off the ground and one thing that has been said is we need metrics, statistics, to show how this project is feasible. The basket service we run offers about  300 kgs of local produce a month and that is only limited due to lack of subscribers. We also provide approximately 300 kgs of produce a month to the farm cafe.
We need help in finding like minded farmers, ready to dive in and start valuing their cultural farming heritage, to explore permaculture and help create a community with them that will honour them financially. Please get involved with us if you have relevant ideas.

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. 

Field Notes

The Bounty on the farm in this season is just amazing and it hasn't  all started producing yet!
We have noticed over the past few years a tendency to a slightly colder winter and a couple of years ago I managed to grow quite large cauliflowers. So Although we advocate growing and eating local foods that are simple to grow, if something does grow without too much effort in a particular season, then why not try! This year we have planted 50 kgs of seed potatoes and they are doing really well. They were intercropped with spring onions and coriander. We are very excited to see what yield we get. I guess one of the good things about the potato is it will store longer.
Another more European crop we have tried is Turnips. They just shot up so quickly and look so healthy. I did grow some a few years ago but getting seeds for all these different crops has not always been obvious. Carrots are also doing well. They last only 3 to 4 months but they work in this short season so to bring diversity is worth it.
There are also amazing Wing beans. This year we have been using the leaves and flowers regularly in the salad and the beans have been a staple in the baskets for a few weeks now. We planted a number of trellises but also planted beans at the base of different trees as they are not too dominant. Now we have wing beans literally everywhere. 
Sweet potato is very successful too and we have been using the leaves, which are a superfood, everyday in the salads for months. At first they were intercropped with corn, which has long since been harvested and here and there we have ladies fingers growing up through them along with rosella and of course some papayas and bananas
Dioscorea is a huge family of tropical plants of which some are yams. They are hardy and tasty! They too are growing everywhere on the farm, climbing in trees and up bananas. Deepika in Pebble garden had one tuber of 35 kgs! We are waiting to harvest!
Red and white Radishes, wild and cultivated rocket, parsley, coriander, endless limes, ladies fingers, lettuce, tomatoes, capsicum and eggplant varieties, beans, jicama, lots of cucumbers and snake gourd, ash gourd and bottle gourd and lots of pumpkins, tapioca,which is year round along with papaya and bananas and of course the turkey berry and local spinaches, banana flowers and herbs are all there still.
So which is the best season? Is the summer season when it is so hot but full of the sweetest mangoes best? or the season when we have tomato and lettuce salads best? Nature knows no best. All is a movement of life, a respiration, form, colors and tastes in constant flux and so we give thanks!

Spring Onions in semi-shade. 

Colder winters has allowed us to try Potatoes, intercropped with spring onion and coriander. 

Red and White Radish 

Rosella, soon to be harvested. 

Wing Beans on Bael Fruit tree 

Turnips, Carrots, Spinach and Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes 

Dioscorea on Moringa  

Endless clusters of sour tangerines 

Solitude Farm Cafe

Pop Up For The Planet | Chennai - Menu and the thali

Solitude Farm Cafe - Open | Mon-Sat | 9AM - 3PM

Music from Solitude

This song is "Harder the Heart". It is a song about not addressing our fears and letting experiences crystalise.
This show was just before we went to play at the Maximum India Festival Washington DC USA.
You can listen to all Emergence tracks here

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 
People have so many concepts about everything even about Permaculture! It means different things for different people. For me permaculture really boils down to the food on the table. This is a photo from the Secrets Of Our Salad, which is one of the module from 3 day Intensive Permaculture Workshop which is happening 10th to 12th January 2020, 7th to 9th Feb 2020 and 21st to 23rd Feb 2020. All this produce was harvested by workshop participants and transformed in the most amazing salad that demonstrates all the important characteristic of local food, include a direct solution to climate change. Learning about local foods in this very practical way starts to integrate permaculture in your daily life. 
Dates for upcoming Permaculture workshop: 10th to 12 Jan 2020, 7th to 9th Feb 2020, 21st to 23rd Feb 2020, 27th to 29th March 2020, 10th to 12 April 2020

Please email us at to sign up

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

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Krishna McKenzie · Solitude Farm · Auroville 605101 · India

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