SELF-SUSTENANCE AT ORGANO NAANDI FARMS

  • July 4, 2019

Every problem has a solution. Although when it comes to a problem as real and threatening as environmental damage, this statement does not have a black and white, simple application. Each strategy to deal with the issue constructively has several implications, and sometimes they may be harmful to certain sections of ecology as well. When considering a strategy, a 360 degree approach of thinking about the environment, the society as well as the economy is necessary. Recycling, reusing and several other common methods of undoing environmental damage are highly appreciated, but they’re not holistic in nature. Sustainable natural resource management, on the other hand, takes into consideration not only the different beneficiaries at various levels, but also the present and the future. Sustainable management and usage of resources ensures, or attempts to ensure minimal waste of resources, therefore slowing down the rate of their depletion, and hence saving some for the future generations. Its beneficiaries are not only our successors, but also us, since a wiser use of resources means a lower impact on our immediate environment, in terms of water, air, soil pollution, etc. Sustainable management is preventive rather than reactive, and is an approach that could be used in varied realms, from households to profit making businesses. Sustainability is a long term approach, and therefore involve a lot of activities at both executive and strategic levels.

According to the University of Wisconsin, sustainable management of natural resources involves ensuring compliance with various legislative and judicial bodies that concern themselves with environmental laws; conducting research in the field; proposing initiatives as well as businesses aligned to the goal; building awareness; and lastly, measuring the outcomes and evaluating the efforts. Sustainable resource management can even start at a grassroot level at homes and within families, where plastic bags are replaced with cloth, jute, or other alternatives, water used for anything but drinking purposes could be obtained from rainwater harvesting procedures, and so on. At a corporate level however, new attempts at launching green business have been Sustainable practices for management of natural resources are the need of the hour. Our world is facing immense strain as we exploit and contaminate resources. We have forgotten our roots and are opting for endless progress at the expense of holistic development. In this context, it is not just an option, but a need to manage resources in a sustainable way. It is our responsibility to ourselves and to future generations and to Mother Earth.

According to UN World Commission on Environment and Development, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” We are coming to a realisation that the practices being adopted at the current stage would have adverse effects in the long run. In this context, a group of passionate architects envisioned a place that would incorporate sustainable practices in the built environment for management of natural resources. The project ‘Organo Naandi’ (Aziznagar, Hyderabad), emerged as a brainchild of ‘NaViRa’ (the visionaries – Mr. Nagesh Battula, Mrs. A. Vijaya Durga and Mr. Rajendra Kumar). The project was conceptualised and designed by ‘FHD Group’ and built by ‘Metaphor’.

Organo Naandi followed the Rurban concept, which merged the principles of the ‘rural’ with the conveniences of the ‘urban’. It merged the best of both worlds. They developed and adopted the seven strands of sustainability – Sapthapatha, which encompassed food, water, air, earth, energy, shelter and people. In terms of food, the goal is to grow organic food to self-sustain the community. There are community farms and personal kitchen gardens to enable people to see how food is grown and eat fresh, nutritious food. This food is grown without the use of pesticides and chemicals, growth hormones and non-organic feed for the farm animals. With regard to the second element, water, watershed measures are practised to enhance the catchment areas and conservative usage. Bio-pools are in place to allow a natural process of cleaning water and enriching it with nutrients.

witnessed in the recent decades. These organizations not only go green with their products or raw materials, but also their infrastructure, as well as their vision, mission, as core values. Besides this generic effort, sustainable resource management has been undertaken in many countries as part of projects, such as, GESOREN, commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development for Ecuador. Ecuador being a poverty stricken country, the farmers and other communities heavily rely on natural resources for their sustenance, as well as harm these resources by engaging in farming using pesticides, etc. The project undertaken was aimed at supporting the poor rural population with the help of sustainable resource management strategies and methods as well as increase their income.

It has four components, namely, development of institutions and strategies for conserving natural resources, valorization of the same, local governance of ecocorridors, and finally, a national framework to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation. In another case, UNESCO contributed to undo the rapid loss of forest cover and biodiversity as well as promoted sustainable development in Siberut Biosphere Reserve, where an indigenous community lives and is co-dependent on the ecology of the region. UNESCO has been assisted by The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the Spanish Autonomous Organization for National Parks (OAPN). UNESCO Jakarta has taken a collaborative approach to achieve their objective, where the indigenous communities are to be involved in planning and decision making with regard to conservation. A similar mindset is followed by the Indian government, where indigenous tribes living in forested areas have a right to take part in safeguarding their ecology as well as culture that has grown out of it. However, seeking assistance from autonomous organizations like the UN or other private bodies to generate funds could help in executing such strategies.

Addressing the concern that it is difficult to get fresh air to breathe in the cities, there is a tunnel draft mechanism in place which extracts air through surface intakes, runs it through large tunnels buried underground to cool the air and then pumps fresh, cool air through vents in each home. This is apart from the natural freshness of the place full of greenery. There is also a one acre medicinal plant garden that emanates a deep, fresh and serene scent. Organo Naandi produces its own energy and is self-sufficient in the same. In fact, sometimes, it has surplus energy. It has solar panels installed in every house. The solar panels also act as shading devices to bring down the temperature and lessen the energy requirement. This is in addition to a biogas plant, which produces methane for energy production. Earth is considered sacred. In Organo Naandi, the soil is managed effectively. The top layer of the soil was filled with coconut fibre to facilitate water absorption and retention. Permaculture is practised in the soil in which
different crops, plants and trees are cultivated together so that they complement each other. The villas are arranged around the farmland to facilitate interaction with the farm. Animals are reared in a loving environment and are an integral part of the ecosystem. They provide the community with fresh milk and eggs, like in olden times. In terms of shelter, Organo Naandi’s homes are designed to optimise spaces and facilitate interaction with nature.

The clubhouse is a model of sustainability, being India’s largest bamboo structure. Apart from providing shelter from sun and rain, it provides a cool atmosphere for people to interact. People are considered as an integral part of the community. Active community living is encouraged. People learn to share a special bond with nature. Organo Naandi believes in managing waste responsibly. The organic waste from animals and homes is used for farming. The wastage in farming is used as fodder for the farm animals. The community has combined scientific contemporary understanding with ancient wisdom to become a role model of sustainable community living. These sustainable principles could also be adopted in urban areas. For instance, organic farming could be practised in kitchen gardens and terrace farming.

Solar energy could be adopted in communities and common spaces. Energy-efficient appliances could be used to reduce energy consumption. Rainwater harvesting must be practised in every place. Efforts should be made to reduce pollution levels and to plant trees to improve air quality. Plants with special properties of filtering air could be used indoors. Waste segregation should definitely be practised at all levels.

Designing buildings in tune with local climatic conditions can help bring down the need for artificial heating and cooling. These are some simple sustainable practices that could be followed to manage resources effectively and conserve the environment. Let the consciousness to build sustainable relations with the environment rise and rise highly.

We often tend to adopt wasteful practices in our life, without considering the dire consequences they could have. Indeed, it would help to reflect on our behaviour, to realise the amount of waste we produce and the impact it could have on the environment. The whole concept of waste, in reality, lies in the perception of it. For, waste could actually become a resource if managed effectively. In this light, a model such as the ‘Parivarthana’ recycling plant, Centre for Social Action, CHRIST (Deemed to be University), showcases an effective approach to dealing with waste and converting it into a resource.

‘Parivarthana’ literally means transformation. It indeed implies how waste is transformed into a resource. It showcases how a simple act of segregating waste at source could provide the potential to use waste for various useful purposes, such that they become waste no longer. While wet waste is composted and dry waste is recycled, a huge amount of waste generation comes down drastically. This transformation can be
immensely beneficial to the environment. However, on a deeper level, Parivarthana also symbolises ‘transformation in mindset’ and living sustainably. This transformation in thought, speech and action can really help us adopt a more resourceful lifestyle instead of a wasteful one. We must thus begin to take more responsibility for what we think and do, so as to benefit the environment and ultimately, ourselves.

Once this attitudinal shift comes in the individual level, it would translate into collective action. Moreover, social behaviour can also influence how individuals act. This is a continuous cycle, which must be set in motion indefinitely. It is important that we, individually and collectively, ‘transform’ our mindsets and act ‘sustainably’ to bring about ‘Parivarthana’.

-Ananya Gurusangameshwar

GOrganic

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