Life is what happens when you are busy making other plansJohn Lennon
Maximum Life near Maximum City
Imagine waking up to chirping birds instead of honking traffic. Head out for a walk along the trails of your choice or spend some time meditating peacefully by a stream along the foothills of the Sahyadri range. Step out of the canopy cover and get some sunlight to let your body generate some natural Vitamin D instead of popping a pill. And when you’re done with that, head back to your home or the community dining area to savour some fresh and wholesome farm to fork breakfast.
Being away from the confines of your urban home or office, doesn’t mean you are cut off from work. Do it at a spot of your choice. Maybe under the shade of a mango or a banyan tree, with the cool breeze letting your creative juices flow and your productivity hitting new highs.
Take short breaks to lend a helping hand in the farm or spend your evenings with your neighbours, admiring a clear starry sky.
These are just a few of the things that urban living has deprived us of. At Beforest, you get to do all that and more. With a community of like-minded folks, the journey to a sustainable life becomes even more rewarded and enriching.
The Mumbai Collective
At Beforest, our vision is to create and manage sustainable farming communities, which are food, water and power secure and where members are actively involved at every stage.
In the past two and a half years, as we worked on building our Collectives in Coorg and Hyderabad, we received several requests from other parts of the country to do something closer to Mumbai and Pune.
The Mumbai Collective is a manifestation of that expression of interest.
At a driving distance of approximately 85 km from the city, the Mumbai Collective is located on the foothills of the Sahyadri ranges. Set along the banks of a monsoon stream, this area receives almost 2500 mm of rainfall and can be abundant from a food and water perspective once managed properly.
We envisage a farming collective of around 100 acres. About 85% of the land would be dedicated to a permaculture landscape – mostly growing perennials, with a few annual crops. The remaining 15% would include the non-farming aspects like the housing clusters, staff quarters, storage areas, processing facilities etc.
Like with all our other collectives, we aim to create a collective that is food, water and power secure. To achieve this, we will be creating water management structures, set up food forests and farm zones in line with permaculture design principles. The energy requirements for the collective will be designed for a minimal, optimal need and met through a blend of grid and solar power, with future extensibility planned for. These efforts will go a long way in rejuvenating the land over the next couple of years.
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 on that.
We are currently in the process of setting up the seed community, which makes up about 25% of the initial members and plays 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.
This is the first time this approach is being used this extensively over a large landscape in our country.
You can read more about our approach to landscape planning here
The food production zones will account for enough grains, pulses, seasonal vegetables and fruits for at least 65 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.
We aim to use the untenable spaces between the housing clusters as veggie patches. These are simple yet efficient tricks we use to get the most out of the place without stressing the ecosystem out.
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 eight million litres of water to provide domestic water security for 65 families. Considering the regions in and around Mumbai receive over 2500mm 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 community.
To know more about The Mumbai Collective and what the next steps are. Click on the “Enquire now” to the right and share a few details with us and we will get in touch with you shortly after.