In the three months ending April, we have grown and eaten 8 types of vegetables totalling 50kg. Not a great achievement to report you might think until you recall that this has been a land barren of trees and plants- let alone, vegetables- for as long as anyone can remember. There is a sense of having wrought this modest success, with limited water, manpower and biomass resources. It has been possible because great knowledge came from the late Emilia Hazelip and tremendous energy and commitment from young Karpagam and Sriram.
Emilia began studying Fukuoka’s method of growing food. She stated his fundamental principles of natural agriculture to be these four: no tilling, no weeding, no artificial fertiliser or pesticide. Do read her insightful statement How does one practice this on a large scale? One doesn’t; one begins with a small area that is manageable consistent with the above four principles. [Scaling up is ideally achieved with a large number of small-scale practitioners -everyone, if possible- instead of a few at industrial scale ‘modern’ agriculture, as now.] Holding the four principles firmly in view, Emilia came upon the idea of growing vegetables on raised beds.
In early January, 2010 I built the first two raised beds at pointReturn. There were a few surplus arecanut slats left over from the pavilion construction. I used these for raising the sides of the bed. The bed was located at the head of a slope. Each bed is 4′ wide and 7′ feet long. The width enables reaching from either side without stepping on the bed. Walkways between the beds are provided for the same reason. The walkway is mulched to prevent weed growth.