Sustainable Agriculture

birdiversity community meeting

After initiating the Zero Waste project, Deer Park began analyzing other local ecological issues. As with other parts of India, chemical farming has become the most common local practice, while traditional seeds are disappearing. Most of the grains and vegetables available in our local markets are transported from large-scale commercial farms in other parts of India or abroad. In order to promote local food and sustainable agriculture, Deer Park has started small scale interventions through processes like providing a local market for organic food and conducting community-based participatory dialogues on biodiversity issues, food security and livelihood with local farmers. With the support and guidance of individuals and organizations experienced in issues of preservation of traditional wisdom, ecology, agriculture and sustainable livelihoods, we hope to continue this process.

In May 2007, Deer Park co-hosted a Bio-Diversity Meeting with two renowned environmental organizations, Kalpavriksh (from New Delhi) and Grain (from Spain). This meeting brought together over 30 farmers and ecologists from various non-profit organizations of North
India.

In October 2008, Deer Park hosted a 2-day Organic Farming Meeting. The workshop, led by P.V. Satheesh of the Deccan Development Society, was attended by some 35 farmers from the local area, as well as the Kullu and Punjab regions. Participants discussed how to restore biodiversity and maximize local resources through a return to traditional farming practices. They also learned about practical methods for saving seeds and organic alternatives to chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Deer Park also tries to use sustainable agriculture practices in our own organic garden, which supplies many of the vegetables used by our campus kitchen. Starting from December 2009, with the help of an American permaculturalist, we will be expanding the garden to include various indigenous plants and medicinal herbs. This model garden will be used to introduce these plants and their properties to local people, who in recent years have largely switched to monoculture of non-indigenous plants.