Permaculture is Weaving Magic! (Maharashtra, India)

by Jyoti Deshpande, Chaitraban

It has been almost three years, and, as Toby Hemenway says, the magic is happening! The trees are yielding shiny tasty food, the variety of weeds on the land is slowly reducing, the soil is a darker colour now and there are tons and tons of predatory insects patrolling the site.


The new beds growing cow pea and carrots reseeded themselves


We had planted the breadfruit because the mango looked quite dead last year.
Voila! The mango loved the new friend and both are wonderfully well,
including the self seeded gourd climbing on them.


The bitter gourd between the moringa and hibiscus

Last weekend was the most amazing time at Chaitraban. I could feel the breeze on my face, fragrant with the aroma of fruits and vegetables. The sweet smell of jasmine and fresh mint in the air was mesmerising. There was a romantic feel about the way the monsoon clouds played with the string of birds flying high.


White ginger with taro, marigold under fodder tree, where the tap leaks in
summer and provides the needed moisture!


Passion fruit on the water tank

There is magic happening! Vegetables from last year have reseeded themselves and are yielding fresh food for the table. The fruit trees have decided to bless us with ample chemical-free nutrition and the bees and butterflies have decided to make their permanent home on the farm. The pathways are all lined with ground covers or mulch, there are smaller shrubs, bushes under new fruit trees and the upper storey is made of fodder trees for the cattle and goats. The no-dig beds are ready to grow some new veggies (as there is too much rain) and they will be sown to grow all food in three month’s time.


Lemon grass, with pigeon pea to line the path


First lemons between the flowers


The star fruits, the berries, the turmeric and pumpkin all growing and yielding

The orchard is all planted with mango, guava, coconuts, citrus, custard apple, water apple, figs and many more, and is waiting to grow other layers of the food forest. The pond is ready to welcome ducks, the outlet of which ends in a hose to water the veggies with the fertilised water (provided the kids agree to sacrifice their splash pool!). A new area of no-dig beds is ready with the beds and waiting to welcome chickens after the monsoon.


Fodder trees, malabar spinach and air potatoes growing on them, the beds
underneath will be planted with veggies now with marigolds


The extended zone one

The trees are choosing their own plants to form guilds and the farm is forming its own system of being self-sufficient in terms of beneficial insects, nutrition, pollination and everything else that will be needed for it to thrive! The weeds are (somehow!) helping the plants and trees to grow better. We began with weeding two years ago and it was a back pain and still the plants were not doing any better. Now, in the absence of extra help we do not weed and the trees and vegetables are growing wonderfully together!


Guavas this year! Sweet and full of vitamins. We did not crop and prune the
trees. I believe the tree is balancing itself with its well placed branches.

Finally, after more than two years, we can sit on the verandah and enjoy a cup of delicious mint, lemongrass and ginger tea, looking at the rain drizzling through the beautiful landscape and the river and waterfalls in the mountains beyond.


My favourite verandah to enjoy a cuppa


My own landscaping design on 3 acres


A road to heaven…

In a couple of years, we hope to have accommodation for volunteers and hold permaculture courses on site. I can’t wait to meet wonderful new friends from all over the world!