ON MY PLATTER – BY DESIGN  01

On My Platter – By Design

(Part 1 of 3)

The pleasure of seeing my family tuck in at the poison free fare on the dinner table makes me count my blessings every single day. Friends bless us when we share the vegetables, fruits, eggs and meat from Chaitraban and it drives me to continue to work hard, while enjoying every single moment, at the three acre homestead. It encourages me to do research and learn more while still doing the trapeze of living in the city and working at the hobby, now turned into a profession, of designing edible landscapes for weekend farmers. I am ever so grateful to God to have granted me a healthy mind and body to work at this and to have given me the opportunity to learn from people who have chosen a life to live in harmony with nature.

The house 'Aajol'
The house ‘Aajol’

Retrofitting Chaitraban from the weekend home built on the overgrazed pasture, to a thriving permaculture site over a period of five years has been very fulfilling. Now, the place is ready to be a venue to host courses, with the hidden agenda to bring in people to look at how beautiful a place is and how simple it can be to build it when we work with nature instead of working against it!

The camp
The camp
The animal shelters and store room and nursery
The animal shelters and store room and nursery

Unlike how ideally it should be, we first built our house and then started learning on how to build a place which would grow poison-free food for our children. Equipped with information and knowledge from teachers like Rico Zook, Jeremiah Kidd, Dwarkanath, Narsanna, and Geoff Lawton, I started on my journey. Learning from experiences of people and places I visited doubled my determination to do what I do today, help design sustainable beautiful and functional landscapes for weekend farmers while at the same time, working at making Chaitraban to be a demonstration model for people to believe that it is possible!

The emerging food forest
The emerging food forest

The design of the landscape that Chaitraban is today, half evolved of its own when once we helped it a little and mulched, mulched and mulched again, and left nature to do the rest. Over a year, and mother nature showed us the way, and I started working at a Permaculture design for the small homestead. The original design still changed every six months as the place evolved and also with integration of every appropriate permaculture technique that was explored and seen at different sites visited. Tweaking the techniques to suit our situation was very interesting and challenging.

Trial and error was a wonderful teacher in terms of learning experience! Finally, many systems like integrated chicken-compost systems, main crop beds on contour, the duck pond feeding manured water to the bananas planted on beds on contour and chickens working as pest control in the orchard are all now parts of the design, working on land.

Bananas and other plants fed by manured water
Bananas and other plants fed by manured water
Mulched main crop beds on contour
Mulched main crop beds on contour

Though there are many improvements waiting on a priority list, today, the design made on paper is implemented almost fully…

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and the relationships between elements in the design work perfectly as per the connections chart…

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As the elements work together the design grows more complex, making the ecosystem more resilient…

Next, in the series of On my platter – with design –
Part 2 – The Design
Part 3 – Parts of the design

Jyoti Deshpande
Maharashtra, India.
Connect with the author on [email protected]

Feature Figure: The sheet-mulched beds