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Message from Krishna

Dear Friends,

This week we have been working on promoting the Pop Up For The Planet Lunch we are running in T Nagar, Chennai, Sunday  22nd December. After working on this for the last 5 days I realised It’s actually a very ambitious event, to bring our whole Cafe to Chennai, to cook for over a 100 people. The main challenge has been to get enough people to reserve a thali so that we can simply cover costs. Fortunately The Hindu and DT Next have both run articles on the event and we have also contacted many food bloggers and various people from climate change activists to Start Ups looking for nutritional solutions for their employees.

If you live in Chennai we would love to see you there for lunch on Sunday, we need your support, even if you can’t make it please share this link with relevant networks. Seats will only be available by pre -booking via Better India ONLY. We will not be accepting any registrations by phone calls or emails or drop ins, please! 



“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

This week’s CSA has amazingly sweet bananas, chickoos and papayas. For the sambar there are radish, wing beans and ladies fingers, there are also plantains, the juice kit and the salad kit and this week there is Panna Keerai. 
This wild spinach grows in the most astounding way! We don’t plant it and yet it germinates after the rains and the field looks like someone has carefully sown it seed by seed. This spinach is often cooked with tamarind and has a delicious and unique taste. This type of produce, in my opinion, really makes this basket very very special.

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 
Turmeric Jungle 

Finally we have turmeric growing all over the farm, three are so many pockets in the farm that are too shady to grow plants like brinjal and cucumber but turmeric does really well in the shade. We actually planted a batch last year but due to failed rains and late planting it died off in the summer. This didn’t worry me too much because I knew it would just lie dormant in the soil until rains picked it up again. In July, we planted over 30 kilos and now it is prolific! With previous turmeric harvests we have used it fresh in the food at the cafe and also offered it as a juice with lemon. Interestingly the leaves also have medicinal values, crushed leaves boost digestion and reduce gas. It is known for its antiseptic properties and some dishes are also steamed in the leaves. The abundance of this wonderful plant, defined by lack of light, will surely enhance the taste of our thali, keep our fields full, improve our communities health and brings us income. 
Turmeric can easily be grown in pots in an urban garden. Its exciting for children to see how leaves sprouts from the root nodules and then gives them an opportunity to use it in their food. If you want to try this during Pongal, as Tamilians will know, it’s very easy to find the tubers that are suitable for planting. 

Solitude Farm Cafe

Banana Flower - Forgotten Food 

In the drama of this subtropical food forest called Solitude Farm, the banana, which is not a tree, it’s actually a grass, is one of the lead characters. We regularly eat the stem, in curries and vegetable dishes, of course the bananas are adored and as well as eating off the leaves, at least once a week we also eat banana flower. The banana flower is a valuable source of potassium, vitamins, essential and non-essential amino acid and is a good antioxidant. We use it in the Cafe to make vegetable dishes, vadai and curry. 
It has a lovely texture and tastes really amazing! To prepare it some time is needed, which may explain why it has been eclipsed by vegetables like potatoes and carrots. 
Here are step by step instructions on how to clean the flower which is by far the most tedious part of using banana flower.
We will look at the recipes in another newsletter. 

  • Take the banana flower and open the large petals. inside you will see  many small florets.

  • Remove these florets, now take each floret and check for the two parts that need to be discarded. 

1. perianth - these are the outer papery like covers that protects the stamens and the stigma. these translucent cover needs to be removed. 2. style - this is a long sticky structure with a bulb like top. the bulb like top is the sticky stigma. both style and stigma needs to be discarded. they are removed as they are not digestible and also makes the dish bitter if added.

  • A point comes when the florets become smaller in size. At this step you come across florets which are very tender and the perianth or outer cover is too tight. when you see such tender flowers, then just chop them.

  • Later where the bracts cannot be opened, you will see a whitish colored structure and this is the banana heart.
  • Now take the cleaned florets in parts on a chopping board and then chop them along with the heart. 
  • Often chopped florets and heart are then cooked for few minutes in turmeric water and salt. Then they are ready to be used as a vegetable, added to a vadai mix or made into a curry. 

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

Music from Solitude

Here’s a fun music video from the song - If I am In He, from our second album, Chosen by God. The Video was made by a wonderful artist, Elena Pereira. 
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 this month from 27th to 29th December and 10th to 12th January 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: 27th to 29th Dec 19, 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


The workshop is an exploration of our relationship with and in nature at Solitude Farm and involves art, writing, sculpture, creative writing and poetry.  There are two-3 hrs session for adults on 23rd and 24th December afternoons and one session for children on 26th December
On the Sat 28th december, there will be presentation of all the work at Solitude Farm Cafe along with music. 
This is a beautiful opportunity to explore art in nature with a very interesting working artist.
Please email us at to sign up

Pop Up For The Planet

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

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Krishna McKenzie · Solitude Farm · Auroville 605101 · India

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