It all started in July 2010. Actually, we had been thinking about growing our own food and harvesting uncontaminated water for several years before then, but really did not know how to go about it. Buying and building a farm from scratch seemed like a lot of work, and living in Mumbai, with both of us working, we didn't think we would have the wherewithal to do that. But in July 2010, we met a friend for dinner while on vacation in Amsterdam. An Indian, married to a very evolved dutch man, she told us about their dream of buying a small piece of land and pursuing permaculture.
We were like "Permaculture? What's that?". She went on to explain that it was farming, with a difference - like permanent agriculture. An agriculture ecosystem which is self sufficient and sustainable. Where human effort is minimal and nature does most of the work. Now this sounded like something we could manage, even with two full time jobs!
We started our search for land near Chandigarh - even though we lived in Mumbai at that time. Chandigarh is our home town, and we wanted to build a farm where we wanted to settle down eventually. We also wanted to be familiar with the language and culture of the local community, something that we didn't feel confident doing in places like Karjat or Alibagh near Mumbai.
Its difficult to buy land, specially a large piece with all owners willing to sell. But finally we found a piece of land - 6 acres, completely barren, with a gentle contour and a village pond adjacent to it. Having a road on two sides of the land, it had a diagonal dirt track running through it, used by tractors and motorcyclists. The soil was yellow, brown and powdery with absolutely no organic matter. We knew we would have to work very hard to restore the soils, but that was the challenge. Our neighbors were suspicious, and we had to work equally hard to win their trust.
Our friend sent us a book on permaculture to get us started. It was Earth User's Guide to Permaculture by Rosemary Morrow. Our sister gifted us another book - Trees of Delhi by Pradip Krishen.
Armed with these two books, we started planning the layout, plantation plan and water management system for the farm!