The more I dig, the more I appreciate simpler times. For farming to yield better results, it seems like we need to go back to a time before monocropping took over the world.
One of the methods of farming that fits right into the ethos of Beforest – is Polyculture. An agricultural system where complementary plants are grown together. I believe one of the most quoted examples of this, is “three sisters” cultivated by Native Americans, consisting of squash, corn, and beans
In Coorg, almost every coffee plantation has pepper wines winding up the trunk, cardamom growing in the cool shade underneath and maybe even some turmeric.
Firstly, growing more produce in a smaller space instantly reflects a higher per – acre yield. Added to this, if we follow methods of permaculture, we are able to replicate this at scale on the entire landscape.
Applied the right way, Polyculture can be a very efficient method of farming. For example, growing multiple crops on the same land, reduces footprint, while making the production efficient. Pest repellent crops, planted with vegetables can reduce crop losses and completely eliminate the use of chemicals.
Another excellent benefit of polyculture is that we could use relay cropping to make sure there is harvest almost all year through. One of the biggest problems running a farm is retention of farm staff after harvest. This method even helps provide employment for farm staff all year round!
At Beforest, we keep referring to old wisdom to guide us. We follow Permaculture and any natural methods of farming that can enhance productivity while reducing the burden on the land. We are working at creating food forests – where much like polyculture, we will be growing multiple complementary crops mimicking a forest.
Long term growth comes when everyone and everything grows together. This is perhaps the most important aspect of Permaculture – Fair Share, People Care and Earth Care. And we keep our eyes open for all that is good for the soil, people, flora and fauna in and around our collectives!