An Ode To Bamboo: Organo celebrates World Bamboo Day

India’s largest bamboo structure was launched on the occasion of World Bamboo Day, September 18th, 2016 at India’s first self- sustainable collective farming rurban commune, Organo. An organisation that stands for change and alternate lifestyle and works towards sustainability through architecture and design. World Bamboo Day is observed to maximize the awareness and potential of Bamboo. It is dedicated to promoting the use of bamboo and bamboo products.
On this day, Organo in association with Native KONBAC, JANS and FHD launched a magnificent bamboo structure that covers an area of 10,750 sq ft with a maximum span of 82 feet and weighs 61,000 kgs. “An Odea to Bamboo” which was a two-day event in Hyderabad that brought together visionaries of the architecture, sustainability and bamboo industries to explore and discuss the potential, problems and solutions related to Bamboo.
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The panel discussion commenced with insight provided by Dr. Ramanuja Rao, Chairman CIBART, who spoke at length about the spectacular work in Bali, Japan and particularly Columbia which is typically the mecca of large bamboo construction. Coming home to India’s treatment of bamboo as a cellulosic material for making pulp and paper, Dr. Rao stressed on the training of the forest management to direct bamboo cultivation as mainly a cellulite. He congratulated Organo for the leap towards responsible architecture and said, “I’m sure everybody who has any kind of misgivings about Bamboo and large constructions have had their misgivings removed now, and I think many more architects will experiment with this.”
After a 360 degree view was presented on the stage, Mr. Krunal invited Dr. Sudheer Pandey, Advisor to the National Mission on Bamboo Application, to explain the Government’s role in bamboo work in a larger scale. He said, “My knowledge of bamboo came post retirement” but surprised the august gathering by informing that bamboo has over 1500 uses, making it the most eco-friendly and work friendly raw material for construction. He acknowledged the Government’s efforts with instances of financial support to the bamboo mission by the horticulture department with funds worth Rs 2500 Crores.
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Mr. Ninad Karpe, CEO and MD of Aptech International, rightly said, “Businesses cannot succeed where societies fail. The adoption of bamboo by businesses will turn into a virtuous circle if more people undertake projects like this.” He also said, “Today is a historic day for the bamboo industry of India, this is a turning point, it is a great event and this needs to be propagated.”
Insight from an architectural point of view was discussed by Mr. Jaigopal, renowned architect, who recognized the importance of an efficient and dedicated team to make the bamboo dream a reality. Organo’s Founder Mr. Nagesh Battula confided that project NAANDI went through crippling difficulties that were overcome by sticking to their fundamental belief system that “if we serve nature, it serves us back.”
The final panel member, Mr. Rohan Manchanda,representative of TATA Trust, believed that with the advent of technology, bamboo community should advance at a notable pace to provide to a significantly higher capacity. He strongly advocated education in the bamboo sector and announced that the TATA Trust promoted education in Bamboo Research Centre in Maharashtra, in collaboration with the Maharashtra Government. He said,” The Government might not listen to a single player but we can come together to make a much bigger impact” urging corporations to come together and work towards this eco-friendly movement.
The panel discussion, moderated by Mr.Krunal, director, Organo, was a successful demonstration of all spheres mingling towards a common goal- a bamboo revolution. The informative groupthink collaborated the opinions of professionals from different industries. With experience in Environmentalist practices, Architecture and business, the panel discussion was wholesome and educative. The ambience was further brightened by the palpable energy of the audience, sitting in India’s largest Bamboo structure. Among the audience were students from various architecture and design colleges in India. These students participated in the design challenge and were required to design an eco-friendly farm for weekend stays using bamboo.
This bamboo structure is another example of Organo’s foresighted lead that would bring about a paradigm shift in the environmental sphere, and encourage responsible business.

Rain Rain Come Again

Each of us prayed so dearly for rains that they are now here wrecking our beloved city. The rains this monsoon have created havoc with traffic jams, waterlogging and damaged infrastructure. Of course, the reason the rains in Hyderabad are always so destructive is to do with poorly constructed roads, infrastructure that is of no use, and little to non-existent rain water harvesting techniques. Whose fault is it? Are we doing what we must to channel the fury of the rains?
At Naandi, we are.
Water conservation has always been one of the core aspects of sustainability at Naandi. Long before the first rains and even before this year’s summer, we dug up swales & trenches all along our contours and created several water holding ponds at the lowest point of our farm.
organo-3Trenches & Swales are manmade structures created by digging in or piling up. They help control water from running off, reduce evaporation losses and increase the rainwater infiltration there by also adding up to the ground water table. They also protect the fertile top soil from run off due to rains.
Manmade ponds/harvesting pits at the lowest point of a site to store rainwater are very important for every farm. Though these ponds do not increase the moisture content in the soil, they hold run-off rainwater in one catchment area which can then be used for agriculture. And it doesn’t end here, these are not just ponds with water, we have fish that do their bit by controlling weeds, mosquito larvae becomes their food and their excreta in turn is rich in nutrients when used for plants.
organoAs soon as the rain gods blessed us, we caught every drop that fell on our 35 acre farm. Here’s how our ponds looked right after one downpour. Imagine how much water can be stored if we incorporate such techniques in our urban homes.

Why Rooftop Solar Power Is Better Suited To Naandi

One of the questions we at Naandi get asked a lot is whether we store the solar energy our Rooftop Solar Systems generate. The solar revolution has everyone excited about the possibilities of generating and storing their own power. While that seems to be an ideal solution, Grid Connected Rooftop solar is far better suited for a project like Naandi than a battery based system. In partnership with Four Solar, our energy partner, we have implemented a Grid Connected Rooftop system that produces more than adequate power for household functions and relies on the grid to sell excess power and harness power in case of low solar power generation.
Here’s how the GC system is better in our context than Battery-based Rooftop (BR) Systems:
ROI: Grid Connected rooftop solar begins to pay you back instantly as excess power generated by the system is sold to the grid. Battery based systems require constant upkeep and battery replacements every year meaning it won’t generate an ROI.
Comprehensive usage: You can power your AC, fridge and other high-power consumption devices on a GC system because the power is directly consumed by the load. BR systems have limitations working with ACs and other induction devices.
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Maintenance: Battery based systems require extensive maintenance due to the number of parts involved. The battery, inverter and other peripherals all require maintenance or replacement after a few years. Since GC systems generate power that is used directly and pass on the surplus to the grid, their maintenance is very limited.
Export surplus power: The excess solar power generated by a Grid Connected system is exported to the grid and earns revenue. The difference between grid power consumed & grid power exported by the rooftop solar system is adjusted in the power bill. In a Battery based system, all the energy generated is stored/used by the batteries and cannot be sold.
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In the context of Naandi, and in most places with power stability Grid connected solar systems are much better than battery based systems. The ROI, less maintenance hassle and adaptability, whether it is by adding gen sets or batteries for certain functions, make grid connected solar score higher than battery based rooftop solar systems.

Introducing Naandi's busy little bees

Did you know we have exactly 4 years left on earth once honeybees go extinct? They are the most effective pollinators that we have today. Without them, there won’t be any forests or any of the biodiversity that exists today.
We have a lot to learn from the bees. They are among the most hard working and useful living creatures. What’s more, they are self sufficient and can take care of themselves without human intervention.
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One thing I found most intriguing is that the role of each bee is pretty clear. They assign responsibility and work really hard towards achieving their goal. This level of delegation and responsibility makes them a very impactful species.
At Naandi, bees are central to the ecosystem we are creating. We have our very own beehive of Apis Melifera bees and we’ll be adding to their number soon.
So let’s try to understand what a bee hive consists of.
A single hive consists of over 1 lakh bees and is home to 3 types of bees:
Thousands of Infertile female bees or Workers: They do all the work, right from cleaning the hive, feeding the queen, feeding the larvae, making the bee-wax that makes the hive, collecting nectar, pollen and water (nectar gets converted into honey, pollen is for making the protein rich bee-bread). One worker bee collects about ½ a tea spoon of honey in her entire lifespan i.e., 6 weeks
Few hundred Male bees or Drones: They do absolutely nothing except for eating honey & flying around in search of an opportunity to mate and that is quite a task as the Queen bee only mates with the one that’s the strongest of all. They fall and die once they mate with the queen. That’s their only purpose of life. The weaklings are then thrown out of the hive by the workers as they are no longer of use.
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One Queen Bee: Only a queen bee has fully developed reproductive organs and hence the only egg layer. Workers treat her really well as she has the capacity to lay about 1500 eggs in a day during her peak season. They understand her importance and once she fails to reproduce, worker bees chose few hive cells with new worker eggs, enlarge them to accommodate queen bees and feed them with a hormone called the royal jelly, a diet that’s rich in proteins miraculously making the eggs develop fertile reproductive organs. Once the eggs become fertile adults, the old queen bee is disposed off from the hive.
At Naandi, our first beehive is buzzing with bees and we are eagerly waiting to collect honey from it. Once we have our first bottle ready, we’ll be back with another post about the hardest working members of our farm 🙂
Written By – Lakshmi Battula,
Farm Manager, Organo

Platinum Rating By Indian Green Building Council

The International Energy Agency released a publication which estimates that existing buildings are responsible for more than 40% of the world’s total primary energy consumption and for 24% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Hence, the need for Green Buildings.
What is a Green Building?
Green Building is an energy efficient building which is environmentally responsible throughout its lifecycle. Green building uses less water, optimises energy efficiency, produces less waste, use locally available material and provides healthier spaces for the occupants when compared to a conventional building
Green building practices aim to reduce the environmental impact of a building.
How can Green buildings change the Environmental Impact?
A Green building brings together a number of practices and techniques to help address issues of building impact on the environment. These include reduction in the use of fossil fuel by using renewable energy like solar energy, rain-water harvesting, conserving natural resources, soil erosion measures, use of locally available material, trees and green roofs for reducing heat island effect and more.
Most importantly, these concepts can enhance occupant health, happiness, and well-being.
What is IGBC?
The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was formed in the year 2001. The organisation facilitates and certifies green building projects in India.
The vision of the council is, “To enable a sustainable built environment for all and facilitate India to be one of the global leaders in the sustainable built environment by 2025”.
IGBC Green Homes:
The rating system evaluates certain mandatory requirements & credit points using a prescriptive approach and others on a performance based approach.
IGBC Green Homes® rating system addresses green features under the following categories:
– Site Selection and Planning
– Water Conservation
– Energy Efficiency
– Materials & Resources
– Indoor Environmental Quality
– Innovation & Design Process
Why is IGBC rating important for us?
At Organo, we have integrated seven strands of sustainability in our project Naandi. How do we check where we stand? IGBC Rating is a tool to measure & compare our project with the other best projects in the country. We have proudly claimed all the Innovation credits for our rating.
What makes Naandi a Green Building?
Soil Erosion Control
Natural Topography
Rain Water harvesting
Rain Water Recharge
Micro Climate Pockets
Earth Air Tunnel Draft System
Organic waste management
Construction waste management
Renewable Energy Systems to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and more.
Come visit us!

Soil Matters

Did you know??
All it takes is a wet soil for a plant to grow… You do not need to water the plants separately when you ensure enough moisture content in soil.
Here’s why?
What happens when there is rainfall? Apart from kids dancing in the rain and adults shying away from it, a large portion of Water is run-off; a part of it stays on the surface and evaporates back in to the air while the remaining seeps into the soil resulting in soil moisture.
Again, there are mainly three types of soil-water,

  • Hygroscopic Soil-water: Every organism or everything that exists naturally always has some content of water present in/around it, soil included. This water is not useful to the plants much but helps them survive through the hot summers and zero rains.
  • Capillary water: This is the water that is present in between two soil particles. This constitutes majority of soil moisture and is the most useful for a plant’s growth.
  • Gravitational Water: While capillary water works against gravity, Gravitational water works with the earth’s gravitational force and has the tendency to move further down away from the soil. This is not useful to the plant

Irrespective of the soil type, water has the power to move downward to greater depths than we can ever imagine.
In arid, undisturbed soils, as much water equivalent to 2 to 3 years of rainfall can be stored at just a depth of 10 feet below the ground.
In India, 18% of water is found 5 feet deep and it is possible to store about 25 inches of water just 10 feet underground i.e., approx. 1.5 to 2 times of 1 year’s rainfall.
While fully packed soil can only absorb about 15% percent of water, a well-drained soil can absorb upto 60% of all the rain that falls over it.
I’m sure No-till gardeners would hate me for saying this but, tilling/fallowing helps by letting water seep through easily to deeper layers and in turn helps in creating ample soil moisture. Having said that, too much tilling would be of little or no help at all.
Now what could be some other methods to increase moisture content??

  1. Mulching: A simple process of covering the ground with organic material such as hay, straw, dry leafs, twigs etc., is called mulching. In most farms, mulching is done on the mounds where planting is done, i.e., around the plants and in some it’s also done on the valley underneath. Mulching not just helps in retaining moisture, it helps control weeds and it also helps reduce top soil erosion.
  2. Swales/Contour Trenches/Gully Plugs & others: These are man-made structures that are usually made by digging in or piling up. All these meet the same purpose i.e., controlling the water run-off and increasing rain water infiltration.
  3. Ponds: Man-made ponds/harvesting pits at the lowest point of a site to store rainwater are very important for every farm. It does not necessarily increase moisture content but it holds the run-off rainwater in one catchment area.

So, what would you do this summer?
Our suggestion to you, keep the soil covered… always 🙂
 
– Lakshmi Battula

Why I chose Organic??

From being someone who looked at the price tag when I first heard of organic to buying anything and everything that claims to be organic. The shift did not happen overnight. It took time, lot of it combined with deliberation and confusion of what to use and what not to… Eventually “authentic” won the battle.
All thanks to the most disturbing findings of recent times from plastic rice to adulterated milk to maggi to maaza to complan and even cerelac, I was shocked and tired… with only one question in mind, is anything safe.. at all???
So I slowly started moving away from the food that is (potential poison) to what it can be (healthy alternative).. Little by little, grain by grain, vegetable by vegetable, trying and testing everything… I was amazed at the results. They differ in the way they look, the way they taste, the way our body reacts to them and even the way our mood shifts…. everything suddenly started feeling different… There I found my answer… and it was a loud and a reassuring YES!!! And that’s when I found out that the key to happiness lies only & only in the food we eat.
I chose organic for myself.. as selfish as it sounds, its true..
I chose organic so I can rid myself of the guilt inside while cooking poison for my family… so I can stay sane while serving food to my daughter… so I don’t blame myself every single time she falls sick…
Are YOU sure of what you eat??
The debate of what is organic and what is not is still on but I am sure of what I eat as I witness its entire lifecycle at Organo from seed to fruit to seed. I am proof of its origin.
I have not yet changed to organic completely but I am about 75% there.. waiting to reach the 100% mark soon.
It’s hard to source something entirely new without knowing where to start… So, my advice to friends… “Start small”… Start with just the vegetables.. move to grains/millets… then to rice and then the spices… and so on
Trust me, it’s a step worth taking….
– Lakshmi Battula