July 2002, Volume 3, Issue 1
Within the context of producing food for the
experimental, international township of Auroville,
the stewards of Annapurna aim to discover, develop,
demonstrate and document methods of food production
that are organic, regenerative, healthy and
humane. We emphasize the utilization of traditional
techniques and the conservation of indigenous
Who Are “We” Producing Food For?
Threshing Floor Extended
Ecologial Accounting Update
Bharat Nivas P.O.
Tamil Nadu 605 101
New Pond Created
discussing the pond's progress with the farm's supervisor,
In June a new pond was created near the
farm's entrance to capture rainwater runoff from 15 acres
of Annapurna land, and 75 acres of neighboring land. The pond's
water will be used to irrigate rice and cowfodder. Equipment
for the job was hired from Auroville's Water Harvest project.
In six days an excavator removed 1,735 lorry loads, or 5,200m3
of soil from the site.
Irrigation Pipeline Extended and Deepened
This summer the farm hired Hare Krishna
and his team of diggers from neighboring Ottai village to
dig up the irrigation pipeline so that it could be repaired
and re-laid deeper.
The pipeline had suffered frequent
breakage due to soil expansion and contraction throughout
the year. We expect that we will have less trouble with the
pipe located deeper in the ground.
Lucy dozing in the green manure
Tabbu after her arrival
A new puppy joined the pack at Annapurna
earlier this year. We named her Tabbu. She was purchased from
a kennel in Pondicherry. We are teaching her all the important
do's and don't's (eg, do stay on the property, and don't eat
the chickens) and she is being trained to take up the usual
farm dog responsibilities. In her free time she plays with
the other dogs on the farm; Tara, Lucy, Minar and Coromandel.
In December 2001, Indu, a resident of Annapurna for 9 years,
died of pyometra. In May 2002, Kosha, age 13, expired.
posing with the rosella crop
with Tara (right side) and Tabbu (rear left)
Who Are “We” Producing Food For?
Starting with the economies
of food and farming, we should promote at home, and
encourage abroad, the ideal of local self-sufficiency.
We should recognize that this is the surest, the safest,
and the cheapest way for the world to live. We should
not countenance the loss or destruction of any local
capacity to produce necessary goods.
George W. Bush, while signing the environmentally and fiscally
disastrous 2002 U.S. Farm Bill remarked, “Let me put it as plainly
as I can: we want to be selling our beef and our corn and our
beans to people around the world who need to eat.”
The President's remark begs a number of questions. One such
question is; does the qualifier “who need to eat” indicate
that George Bush believes that some people do not need to
Did he not actually mean to say; “to people around the world
who can afford to eat”?
On whose behalf is President Bush speaking when he says “we”
Do “we” also want to sell “our” topsoil and groundwater to
people around the world who need to eat?
Does President Bush understand that beef and corn and beans
are products of topsoil and groundwater and, in most cases,
Has President Bush thoroughly considered the social, economic
and ecological consequences of subsidized food exports?
The Bush Administration, by its policy of forcing heavily
subsidized American food into foreign marketplaces, not only
discounts the longterm health of American farmland, but also
denies foreign farmers their rightful economic opportunity
and traditional livelihood.
In an era of rapidly dwindling natural resources everyone
will be better served if American agriculture feeds Americans,
and if American politicians allow the rest of the world to
New Bulls; Madhu and Taro
Poor results with artificial insemination
(A.I.) in our dairy herd lead us to acquire two young bulls
this summer. We got both bulls from nearby farms belonging
to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. First we got Madhu, a cross between
Holstein, Tarpakar and Gir. Later we got the younger bull,
Taro, a cross between Israeli Holstein and Gir.
After some months of service, Madhu
will return to work at the Ashram's farms, and Taro will pick
up Madhu's duties here.
Preliminary results indicate that
Madhu performs better than A.I.
New Threshing Floor
The hole for a new threshing floor in
front of the godown
While the excavator was here to dig
the new pond, it also excavated an area of 400 m2 which will
become a new threshing floor.
The farm needed more threshing space
because we have gradually increased the area under production
for several years. Such space was essential particularly because
the farm produces many varieties of crops as a part of a program
to conserve endangered traditional germplasm. For example,
every year we grow over thirty varieties of rice. Each of
these varieties has to be kept separate during drying and
More space was also needed because
of the increasing amount of research being done of the farm.
The hole will be filled and covered
with cement flooring before the growing season starts in September.
Ecological Accounting Project
We should reconsider and renew
and extend our efforts to protect the natural foundations
of the human economy: soil, water, and air. We should
protect every intact ecosystem and watershed that we
have left, and begin restoration of those that have
-Wendell Berry Thoughts in the Presence of Fear
Brooks is presently structuring the
database for the research project, Setting Up the Books for
On-farm Ecological Accounting. He is using biophysical benchmarks
identified during his literature review, empirical measurements
taken on the farm, and data collected and summarized from
our previous cropping season.
Such references will be used to inform
look-up tables in the database program. We hope to have a
beta version of the database functioning in time to enter
data from the next monsoon season, starting this September.
In connection with his research, Brooks
has been invited to participate in a workshop entitled, Valuation
Indicators for Evaluating Soil Science Research, organized
by Dr. Rajeswari Raina at the National Institute for Science,
Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS) in New Delhi
Dr. Raina is also collaborating with
us on trials of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI).
SRI was developed in Madagascar and shows potential for increasing
rice yields dramatically.
Results of the trials will be reported
in our next newsletter.
Brooks continues to receive considerable help from a group
of advisors. At this stage he is receiving valuable guidance
from Professor P.S.
Ramakrishnan, an ecologist at Jawaharlal
Nehru University in Delhi, and Dr. Martin Bender, director
of the Sunshine Farm Project at the Land Institute in Kansas.
Employee Profile: Ediyan
Ediyan, a resident of Vanur village,
joined Annapurna's workforce in May 2000. Previously he had
worked for companies in the Pondicherry industrial estate
as a general machine operator, maintaining motors and other
He generally works on the farm seven days a week, irrigating
crops, driving the tractors and also functioning as a watchman
in the forested areas.
A velvet bean (green manure) seed sits
on the soil surface after the field has been disced
It was a fabulous surprise to receive
an email message last December from an old schoolmate of Brooks
whom he had not seen in nearly fifteen years. She wrote that
she had learned about Annapurna through the Auroville website
and that she wanted to support our work. She asked if there
were any specific projects which needed a sponsor.
Brooks told her about our dream of digging a rainwater catchment
pond in the front area of the farm. He explained that captured
rainwater provides an excellent and relatively inexpensive
source of water for irrigating our crops.
She was excited about this possibility and she responded by
sponsoring this summer's entire digging. Her only condition
was that she should remain anonymous.
The generosity of such friends transforms our lives and this
land in beautiful and productive ways. We consider such friends
our partners in this longterm project. We deeply thank our
sponsors for the support that they have so generously contributed
in the past year: Shawn and Diane Johnson, Luciano Gemo, Dr.
Dale and Mrs. Katherine Bruner, Mark and Rosie Deats, Lynn
Autry, the congregation of Orange Congregational Church, the
congregation of the First Presbyterian Church of New Haven,
Connecticut, Dutch friends, Maroma, Stichting de Zaaier, and
The Leighty Foundation.
Tomas and Usha
watch the excavator remove the black soil layer from the pond
Field surface after a green manure has
been incorporated into the soil
Bharat Nivas P.O.
Tamil Nadu 605 101