Mono cropping is the most commercially viable method of farming
Ironically, mono cropping, in search of abundance from the soil, goes completely against the principles of nature. The most fertile topsoil is constantly exposed to sun and chemicals with stealing and fertilizers.
To keep pushing fertility and extract maximum output, as the years go by, the input required will only increase, until finally the land is abandoned
Permaculture on the other hand flips this model over. We believe in nurturing the soil in the first few years of farming with trees and natural mulching with almost zero tilling. There are many examples across the world to show that after the first initial years when nurtured soil tends to give that multi fold produce you are literally setting yourself up for abundance with minimal inputs.
The only matter to be understood is that permaculture is not just a different method of farming. It is essentially a different way of life.You have to change the way you perceive return on investments. It is an equation of give and take - where you only stand to make more as the years go by...
Rewilding for gajraj
Beforest is constantly looking to create a lifestyle that bridges the gap between responsible lifestyle and practical viability (read economical viability!)
This endeavour leads us to coexisting with nature and the wild as well as possible
With human habitats popping up everywhere, forested land has fragmented all over the country. Only with a safe corridor to move between forests, creatures like the wild elephant stand a fighting chance at survival.
While it is impossible to host an entire clan of elephants even in a large farm, Beforest with the help of experts is trying to provide safe corridors for them to ply between dense forests.
Across the Western ghats many friendly plantations allow safe paths for the gajraj to move freely instead of blocking them from their farms.
We also hope to inspire communities around us to understand that co existence is the only way forward.
Setting Up Camp 🔥
Hyderabad collective is shaping up beautifully. With the monsoons now we have lush green cover in many parts of the landscape.
Some spots pop right out and beg to be enjoyed with camping, stargazing, bird watching and other equally exciting activities.
Come winter, we should be able to kick start some of these! Folks interested in starting something on these lines at our collective are most welcome to reach out!
#newbeginnings #campingatbeforest #campingwithnature #birdwatching #hyderbad #beforestcollectives...
Food forest is not a profitable venture…Nothing can be further away from the truth. There are a bunch of reasons why - Traditional methods thrive on extract as much as possible from a landscape. But where traditional farms fail in vision, permaculture methods gain in the long run.
At Beforest, we also want to be efficient, but believe in nurturing the forest and receiving multifold rewards in return.
It is true that harvesting can prove to be a cumbersome task in a food forest. But given that we can grow in seven layers, a food forest can actually deliver more output in an acre than a monocropping farm. So we only need to harvest 1/7th of an acre to get the same results!
Added to this, a forest ecosystem, thanks to the millions of ecological links, is one of the most Resilient ecosystems. This means that after the initial years the food forest can continue perpetually with minimal labour and nutritional inputs. In fact the forest produce only enhances immensely with time.
Now, isn't that the framework of a profitable venture!
Some back-of-the-envelope calculation told us that to sustain 100 families at our Hyderabad Collective, we need to secure about 11 million litres of water. So we were obviously excited when our tanks filled up with about 30 million litres this monsoon!
Instead of building straight edged hole-in-the-ground tanks, we decided to create a structure with a gradual incline and resemble a natural lake in a forest and encourage animals to safely frequent the water hole too.
A reed bed has already started to form around the ‘lake’ with families of ducks colonizing the banks.
If and when the water recedes we plan to use the wetlands for a bunch of trials. In all, exciting times ahead!
BeWorks! Delighted to announce Beforest Virtual office!
Our new virtual office is the result of our attempts to overcome the challenges of travel and social distancing using technology. No matter what part of the world you may be in, here’s a chance to have a face to face meeting with one of our team members in a virtual conference room with just the click of a button.
We also have exciting segments like dedicated conference rooms for members and collective specific discussions.
Our virtual office is open between Tuesday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm IST. Just 'Walk in' any time!
One of the biggest barriers stopping good people from doing good is the popular idea that 'Activism is not a Profitable Venture'. This is a debatable notion
A key factors that propelled us to start a company like beforest was to be the change we wanted to see. At Beforest, we are trying to create an example of a community that can live responsibly without compromising on quality of life and economic feasibility. A lifestyle that can be passed onto future generations as a legacy.
We are uncompromising in our values but have our sights set on making this a financially benefiting framework for all those involved, including nature.
If we can inspire a few people along the way it would be a cherry on top of the cake.
As part of the several new initiatives in how we communicate with you, our brand new ‘newsletter’ – The Barking Deer is now out. Check it out ( #linkinbio ). Besides the regular collective updates, get to know the people behind Beforest who are bringing forward and sharing their personal stories and inspirations. To lighten things up we have a Spotify playlist that captures the mood of the month and a list of book recommendations. Enough reason to subscribe?
Our one of a kind forest friendly coffee – Bewild Is now being relaunched in 7 new variants. Sourced entirely from our Poomaale Collective in Coorg, this coffee is grown naturally with minimal intervention in the midst of a forest with abundant wildlife that includes big cats, elephants, small clawed otters and more.
Grown responsibly and packaged sustainably, you can choose from a range of Indian filter coffees, cold brews, roasted brown and green beans. Pre-orders, now open at our store | LINK IN THE BIO
At Beforest, we have been learning from and evolving with every unique experience and interaction, be it diverse communities, wildlife, seasons, landscapes and challenges from the elements. Each of these has enriched us in multiple ways, helped us make course corrections when needed and bring greater clarity, as we grow.
With a new team that has been working behind the scenes over the last few months, we are excited to introduce some new perspectives and initiatives.
Our new logo encompasses these changes and is in alignment with our goal of staying connected and working with nature. To celebrate the wonders of the major seasons (summer, monsoon, autumn, winter, spring) the Beforest logo will also adapt its colours to showcase their uniqueness....
In an increasingly socially distant world, we have been working hard on overcoming these challenges and finding ways to get closer to you.
Our diverse new team has put together several new initiatives, gained from our insights and experiences identified during our journey towards fulfilling the immense potential of our vision for Beforest.
Over the next few days, we have a whole new bunch of announcements to make. Watch this space for more.
“Let Nature be your teacher” said William Wordsworth in The Tables Turned And we have surely learnt some precious lessons over the years..
Patience...for things to come to us when the time is right
Humility...to accept that you are a part of the whole.
Respect...for the universe and inevitability of balance.
When working with nature, you can try with all your might, but a fruit will grow when it wants and a flower will take the colour it chooses. You can nudge and assist nature to go your way and then, just hope. Hope - that you got it right this time, hope that your plans succeed, hope that nature will acknowledge your respect and grace you with its bounty.
One thing is for sure, whatever the lessons, efforts in nature will always be rewarded
So this Teacher’s day, slow down, sit back and watch the world turn, let nature be your teacher.
Happy International Dog Day! We are delighted to introduce two new members of the beforest family - Brownie and Chase!
They have recently joined us at the Hyderabad collective
The importance of biodiversity in creating a sustainable farm is no secret. To coexist with wildlife in harmony, it is important that we maintain some critical boundaries. The equation is delicate, so every little thing matters - even
Along with humans, this applies to animals domesticated by humans too!
As recommended by our experts, we take great care in creating an atmosphere of predictability.
This means human activities and pets are allowed to move around the farm during certain hours of the day only.
This helps wild animals adjust to our presence and feeling safe rather than abandoning the estate all together.
Zoning is an important tool and we use it diligently at Beforest
Identifying zones at the planning stage goes a long way in saving costs, time, efforts and energy in setting up a collective.
The idea is to create logical but not hard boundaries. In permaculture terms, zoning goes far beyond designing a landscape. It encourages instead, to create a lifestyle to meet your needs without disturbing the natural elements of the land.
It recommends using two factors to identify zones: (1) How often we need to use the land (2) How often we need to service the land
Theoretically, zones range from 0 to 5, with 0 being the residential zone or living quarters and 5 being the farthest corners which would require the least amount of intervention. At large collectives like Poomale and Hyderabad, we have been able to identify multiple groups of zones.
Once we conducted a detailed landscape study, based on the above two factors, efficiency oriented decisions like where to build staff quarters, how to keep road construction to the minimum, which flat land to use for homes etc emerged very clearly.
Instead of fitting a landscape into the design, we strive to fit our designs into the landscape without altering it.
A landscape achieves through many decades of natural processes and it is important that it is left undisturbed as far as possible. What's more, more often than not, this leads to unexpected aesthetic beauty too!
So when we come across huge boulders at one of our collectives, we use them as wind blocks rather than busting them down to create a flat patch for a home. We then pick a spot that’s already flat, to construct whatever we need. More often than not, we are not even compromising the utilisation of landscape.
Similarly, if there is a natural drainage i.e water channel flowing, then we use it as a riparian zone - a place that will be the epicentre of the collective’s ecosystem services like water harvesting, filtration mechanisms, forest zones etc. Again, we move the housing to another place that is high ground but sufficiently close to the riparian zone or the water channel.
There are many such examples being practiced by individuals and farms across the world
It takes 100 years to create 1 inch of topsoil. This in itself should be a compelling reason to move from the mindset of ‘building over the land’ to ‘building with the land’.
Was this what Howard Roark meant in the Ayn Rand book - the Fountainhead?
While travelling in the higher hill regions of the Western ghats, you may have come across vast velvet - grasslands marked with almost abrupt patches of forests. Together, these two featuresmark an ecosystem called the shola grasslands.
The beauty of these grasslands can render the best of us speechless. But even more captivating, is the history and significance attached to them!
Following the rule of succession, grasslands should have all been taken over by ferns, shrubs and then trees long ago. But mysteriously, they continued to survive. As some research studies have now found, this was because the frost on higher elevations deterred new saplings from taking hold! The montane forests on the other hand, are dense and don’t allow much sunshine to filter through.
However, this began to change, with the settling of British on the beautiful hills of Nilgiris. Over a period of 100 years, the British experimented with over 35 species of trees and failed. It was Acacia, a species from Australia that finally took hold and survived. Over time, to satisfy economic needs of their people, the British and then the India Government, established plantations of Acacia, eucalyptus, and other commercially valuable tree species and thousands of acres of grasslands were lost forever.
This may not even seem like a problem, until you examine the change more closely as the loss of an ecosystem.
These grasslands are home to many threatened and endemic species and a hotspot of biodiversity. They act as giant open sponges - soaking up rain water during monsoons and releasing it throughout the year thereafter. Many perennial rivers in Kerala and Tamil Nadu originate in these grasslands.
Efforts are being made to conserve and reclaim this ecosystem, but since the species introduced were invasive in nature, experts have found it very difficult to eliminate them. Even if the trees could be discouraged from growing, restoring the grasslands to their original state has an uphill task - pun intended!
Agriculture is a profession typically passed on through generations. So beforest is generally viewed as the ‘outsider’ in the beginning.
It is important we understand the value system, beliefs and practices of the people around us. This is the ‘language’ of the community. When we exhibit respect and understanding, the locals turn receptive.
Once a channel of communication opens up, we are happy to share our methods and learning with everyone. In fact, a landscape stands to be most resilient, generative and sustainable if the entire community starts practicing a sense of conservation and natural farming methods.
A very important change we are trying to inspire, is to fundamentally alter the way ROI from a landscape is viewed. A move from valuing just financial returns, to viewing returns collectively from 4 aspects - inspirational returns, social returns, natural returns as well as financial returns.
There is a strong connection between healthy landscapes, a stable climate, food security and our own well-being. Therefore, involving and inspiring the community to pursue this 4 returns framework together is essential.