Our (not-so-long-ago) Indian past
India is a vast treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom and sustainability was an integral part of our ‘permanent culture’. We did not call it Permaculture back then but the systems were passed on from one generation to the other. Over time, as population rose and rapid urbanisation took over the sustainable settlements in most places, elements from those systems were compromised with and the systems, especially the food growing systems became too simple and no longer sustainable. An older generation did retain the traditional knowledge but were unable to apply it to build new systems.
Taking the food growing system which is an integral part of survival for us, humans, as a species, the green revolution did not help this trend of doing away with the complex relationships between elements in a system and things became worse (it is well proven now) when millions of tons of fertilizers and chemicals were sprayed over large areas, sometimes, even by helicopters. The food growers enjoyed a multi fold increase in the produce for a few years, and the consumers got used to having deceptively large sized and shiny fruits and vegetables, little knowing that the prosperity would be short-lived and their soils were getting depleted season after season in the process.
This and other various crises loom high over our heads today.
But, the good news!
There is still hope! All is not gone yet. We can still take out from the attic, the treasure of our traditional knowledge which built sustainable systems for food growing or simply our social and cultural systems. We can learn from this valuable resource, learn also from the older wise generation which, fortunately, still survives, observe and study the present and tweak the older systems to improve our today’s world and take it forward to a sustainable and abundant future.
Since we have messed around so much with our older prosperous past, we cannot apply the same rules that we had only a couple of hundred years ago and we will need to change them to change and improve the systems we have today. Fortunately, awareness about the harm that we are doing to our wonderful planet is increasing (though at a slower rate than the rate at which damage is being done) and more and more people are being drawn towards having a more sustainable lifestyle. They are determined to leave a better and abundant future to the generations to come. Among the various ways we have available today to move in a positive direction, is ‘Permaculture’.
Permaculture in India
Bill Mollison and Robyn Francis came to India in 1985 and the first Permaculture Design Certificate course was conducted in early 1987 in Andra Pradesh. A National Conference on Permaculture was held in 1990. From here, Permaculture spread a little around many other states. However, the movement did not gain momentum satisfactorily.
As a boon of modern technology, the internet opened up opportunities for people and interest was renewed again. Quite a few people (from the cities) were drawn towards Permaculture as a science and went on to complete their PDCs abroad and in India (with Rico Zook as a teacher – he has been teaching and spreading Permaculture in India since he first conducted a workshop in Nashik, in Maharashtra, in 2004). Amongst them, a few started experimenting on their own gardens and farms and found amazing results.
The first National Permaculture Convergence was held in Hyderabad in February of 2016 and India hosted the 13th International Permaculture Conference and Convergence in 2017. This has given a big boost for the Permaculture movement to spread in India.
People who experiment with Permaculture
Today, to name a few who experiment with Permaculture in India, on their own gardens and farms, apart from our own homestead Chaitraban, are, Clea Chandmal’s food forest in Goa, Rosie and Peter’s Garden in Goa, Narsanna and Padma Koppula’s farm in Zahirabad, and the list keeps growing every day…
(Please stay tuned as we add to the list of permaculture people and sites in India!)
Permaculture Courses in India
PDC courses are a regular event at many places and the number of graduates is increasing. To name a few venues where PDCs are held regularly and a few teachers –
DLR Prerna, Darjeeling
Clea Chandmal, Goa
Aranya Agricultural Alternatives, AP conducts a Permanent Agriculture Design Course regularly
** Stay tuned for updates on courses on the home page…