A Wilderness Collective
Most of the wildlife in the country exists outside the national parks, in completely unprotected farms, villages and in this case, in touching distance of a major city. Central India has long been considered the cradle of co-existence. For millennia, man and animal have survived together in the abundance of these forests, that Rudyard Kipling so beautifully described in his classic, The Jungle Book. But in the last 50 years, over 60% of the forest cover between Central and South India has disappeared. At Beforest, we have often wondered if we could contribute towards reversing this process through our collectives. We are bringing all our expertise and learnings from turning around geographically diverse landscapes to Bhopal where we intend to set up our second wilderness collective
The Bhopal Collective
Spread across a 178 acre farmland, The Bhopal Collective is a stone’s throw away from Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary. Nestled between the Khari Territorial Forest and the urban sprawl of Bhopal, the estate has a beautiful monsoon stream flowing through it, which acts as a hub for the wildlife in the area. At a driving distance of just 15 kms from Bhopal city and 39 kms from Bhopal’s Raja Bhoj Airport, the estate is conveniently located on a 30ft road off the Bhopal-Sehore Road, making it easily accessible from any part of the country.
There are plenty of trails and hikes in and around the estate. Being very close to the
Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary, the area is teeming with wildlife and is a great spot for camping, birding, photography, walks and a lot more. Take a moment, sit down and take it all in.
This is a working farm which we aim to diversify into a deciduous food forest for about 80
members who would eventually nurture it as their home. The housing clusters in the collective would be in the form of earth homes, designed by Biome Environmental Solutions.
As with every Beforest collective, we will undertake detailed studies that include biodiversity studies, hydrology mapping, slope analysis, solar patterns, etc. All of these will give us a thorough understanding of the land, its potential and how many families the collective can support. We call this the carrying capacity of the land. We have promised you sustainability and we will deliver that.
The best time to conserve a forest was yesterday. The next best time is now.
Our projects are community funded and co created. As we start to lock down on this option, we are looking for a few early members to come aboard and form an early adopter group that we refer to as our seed community. Seed community members play a significant role in defining the character of the collective. Once the seed community is formed, we proceed with acquiring the necessary permissions and setting up the infrastructure at the collective. The window for housing construction is spread over 2 years, 5 years and 7 years from the date of the seed community formation.
In addition to the self-sustaining forest, we also plan low footprint hospitality operations and related events on the property, improving the odds of an early break even operationally. You can read more about our approach to landscape planning here
The site for The Bhopal Collective is based on a 178 acre wheat farm. We believe that we can transform this mono-cropped landscape into a thriving, sustainable and food secure ecosystem by growing a food forest. The food production zones will account for enough grains, pulses, seasonal vegetables and fruits for the 90 families in a completely natural way. A natural integrated pest management system including barrier species like marigold and neem will help maintain the diversity without any external intervention.
Plant diversity is our strongest asset. Besides adding to the overall variety, we also use them to create natural bio fences and feeding zones for the resident wildlife to provide them their fair share. We also focus on growing only seasonal and native variants of food crops simply to make sure the soil and the microbial life in it is capable of supporting these plants. This means we will not be growing any bell peppers or iceberg lettuce by following the simple belief that, ‘Grow not what you desire; but what the land allows’.
We aspire to provide complete water security to the community, something that most cities across the world have failed to provide. Our estimates suggest that we need about ten million litres of water to provide domestic water security for 90 families. Considering the regions in and around Bhopal receive close to 1125 mm of rainwater every year, we aim to make the most of this by building check dams, water harvesting structures and replenishing groundwater.
What is most important for water security, however, is soil health. Our studies show that a 3% increase in soil carbon raises the absorption capacity to an extent where the soil acts like a giant sponge soaking up all the water that falls on it during the monsoon.
Blessed with ample sunlight through most part of the year, the collective is ideal for generating solar power. Solar farms centred in close proximity to the housing clusters are critical in our efforts to provide power security. In addition, most of our heating requirements will be met through solar or bio heaters. The earth homes that are sensitively planned will also ensure a five degree temperature drop indoors. The grey water recycling also reduces the pumping needs of each home. Both of these will ensure that the energy needs are a fraction of what we expect in the city. With a combination of grid and solar, we plan to achieve complete power security for the
To know more about The Bhopal Collective and how you could be a part of it, click on the “Enquire now” button below and share a few details with us and we will get in touch with you shortly.
And into the forests i go, to lose my mind and find my soulJohn Muir