Second toilet: Our functional second ecoSan toilet requires to be finished. We will experiment with rammed earth walls as a learning experience. Between the new cottages, refurbished pavilion and the second toilet we should be in a position to consider adding a couple of more volunteers, subject however to other considerations.
Use of overflow water: We expect the windmill to pump more water per day, for more weeks into the summer than our 4,000 litres storage can hold. We intend creating an extensive network of pipelines to lead this overflow to vegetable growing areas.
Waterbodies: 2011 will see the completion of major water harvesting works. When done there would a total of seven swales on the west to east slope, about 140feet apart. The last swale will lead into a catchment pond. In all about 3 million litres of water harvesting capacity will have been created. An area of about 14 acres will be hydrated evenly.
The ultimate goal of pointReturn is to grow enough food for 40 people. That will not come about for many years but we discussed how much land we needed to earmark for growing it. Based on current experience we decided about a fifth of an acre for vegetables and 3 acres for grains, pulses and edible oil seeds would suffice.
In 2010, a fifth of an acre was prepared for cultivation. We expect we will be able to prepare an additional 40 cents of land for raising crops in 2011.
Once food growing fields are earmarked we would know the extent of remaining unplanted acres. Knowing that and knowing the varieties and numbers of trees already planted would help us plan for the coming tree planting season. We hope to plant out upto 15 acres if not all of the 17 acres in 2011.
Now that we are assured of full time presence in the project we can consider keeping cows. With plans to grow more food, cows, the fastest converters of biomass into manure, would become essential. We would also be able to install a small biogas digester to serve our kitchen.
We have to trend towards cooking for a lot more people than the six we are now. All food is cooked in firewood so far, with LPG used for only making tea. Our solar cooker is likely to play a good part this year. A suggestion to use an induction heater instead of LPG has not met with a consensus; we have decided to move directly to biogas in 2011.
The pointReturn adventure began as a quiet demonstration of an alternative to the development model that is the darling of India’s blind and deaf gnomes of economics. Paraphrasing Schumacher [‘Economics as though people mattered’] I would say pointReturn is trying to champion an economics as though the environment mattered.[It’s altogether another story that for the great helmsman of today’s India, even people do not seem to matter] Decentralised communities conserving resources and producing surpluses, while enjoying healthy, creative, non-exploitative, earth-responsible lives should become central to planners’ vision if this country is to attain sustained prosperity for all. Globalization of knowledge -enabled by the Internet, the one and true Republic today- should be encouraged and that of materials and goods, discouraged. Science, research and technology, insofar as they have the promise to serve the environment driven development mission should be evaluated for adoption.