In May 2020, a lady reached out to us asking if it is possible to grow grapes in the permaculture way. I resisted the urge to break into a gyan session about how everything can be grown. Instead, I asked her what her intention was. She told me she wanted to live in a vineyard with a few of her friends who were all wine enthusiasts. They wanted to make their own wine and dreamed of idyllic countryside living. Enter Beforest and that was how the seed of The Mumbai Collective was sown.
The idea of a ‘vine forest’, a term we had invented then, did not have the wind behind it, but the seed took on a different form with folks reaching out about creating a food forest. This was the first time we received calls from people who were excited to know if Beforest was coming to Mumbai, which was a pleasant surprise for us. ‘Vine-forest’ transformed into a more overarching ‘food forest’ and we put a shoutout about creating a farming collective near Mumbai.
Skip to two years down the line, we have identified a beautiful location in the Khopoli region that reminds us of the Highlands of Central India by J. Forsyth. The winding road that traverses through idyllic villages, makes for an excellent cycling track (especially in the winter) and then gives way to a small valley. This valley gradually meets a slow rise that eventually becomes a tabletop with mind-blowing views of the horizon. The beauty of this place is that you can see the sun – horizon to horizon – sunrise to sunset.
Contrary to conventional planning, we love terrain difference, especially when it is stark. Every time two different terrains touch, it presents an opportunity – to collect water, explore the microclimate and create an experience which opens our horizons to what is possible. This is what excites us because it presents an opportunity for a better way of managing the landscape and we look forward to enabling the dream of our seed community in Mumbai.