Organic Farming and Dairy Development
A farming system has been developed that uses purely organic materials and achieves yields comparable with or better than those on conventional farms under similar agroclimatic conditions.
The stimulus for the conversion to organic farming came from observations of the toxicity of chemical pesticides and their apparent ineffectiveness in reducing the impact of pests and diseases.
A carefully integrated mixture of activities includes crop growing, animal husbandry, fish rearing and sericulture.
Sufficient organic waste is produced to fulfill the needs of the farm's crops. Energy is partially supplied by biogas produced on the farm. This system is economically viable and ecologically sustainable.
Gloria Land, a 100 acre/40 hectare piece of land was purchased by The Mother in 1963. It was barren , eroded with deep gullies, its top soil washed away.
The layout of the farm was planned by Louis Allan and during the first few years Manindra Pal and Ashwini Pal, uncle and nephew, spent long, arduous hours everyday levelling the fields, demarcating plots and making roads.
Manindra was living and working in Gloria Land. He learnt all field operations and methods of agriculture from Mr.Sheshadri (Ex-deputy director of Agriculture for TN & PY), the then manager of Gloria Land. He also learnt the application of chemical fertilisers and chemical pesticides.
After spraying a crop with pesticide, Manindra invariably fell sick. He also observed dead fish floating in the canal where he used to bathe and dead birds in the fields who had come to feed on the crop. He realized this could not be the right method of agriculture.
He started experimenting with “organic farming” on his own with promising results. He wrote a letter about it to The Mother and She agreed with him in principle.
A local farmer had an old cow which he gave to Manindra, requesting him to let her graze on the land for as long as she lived. Suren-da (Manindra’s local guardian) came cycling to Gloria Land one morning with a little female calf tied to the carrier. He gave the calf to Manindra and asked him to let it grow there. Cow and calf grazed freely, gained health, conceived and soon enough both calved! Manindra had no idea what to do with so much milk! After feeding his dogs a-plenty there was so much more! He started sending the milk to the Dining Room. That was the beginning of the dairy.
In 1971 Mr.Sheshadri was asked to manage the “Freedom From Hunger Campaign” and Manindra was appointed manager of Gloria Land. He plunged wholeheartedly into experimenting with organic farming.
One day Manindra found one of the crops attacked by pests which had spread from the neighbours fields. The next day it had spread even more and progressed every day. Perturbed by the proliferation of disease and loss the entire crop he toyed with the idea of spraying pesticide. But he did not. He thought, if we in the Ashram cannot take the risk of failure, knowing that no matter what the outcome we will still have a roof over our heads and food on our plates, which poor Indian farmer can ever dare to take the risk of a loss? With this in mind he prayed ardently to The Mother and with unshakable faith offered the outcome to Her.
The next morning he found that the pest attack had stopped spreading. In the coming days it started receding and finally the entire crop was free of disease. Science cannot explain this he says, “but I have seen this miracle with my own eyes”. Such was his faith, dedication and love.
From then on Manindra never looked back. He was one of the pioneers of what is today called organic farming. When India was overtaken by the not-so-green ”green revolution”, Manindra was one of the lone farmers, considered crazy by many, to persist with organic methods. His knowledge based on experience went deep and Gloria Land, the eroded and barren piece of land flourished.