I spent time at Solitude Farm in Auroville, Tamil Nadu (India) a couple of years ago. I was writing Peace & Parsnips at the time, something I did in six different countries whilst travelling around the world. In a strange way, the more I travelled and spent time with local, proactive farmers, the more I realised my passion for ‘local’, ethically produced food.
Wherever you are in the world, local food plays a critical role in so many ways; it connects us with our local environment, it maintains our health and provides our bodies with all they need to thrive and it can help us build stronger communities, sharing knowledge and working together in positive projects based around an ethical approach to life and society.
Krishna was always very kind, Solitude Farm is a place of action and energy, but I occasionally spent late afternoons in my little hut keeping up with the book submission deadlines. Outside of my typing, I spent plenty of time harvesting papayas, watering and tilling the parched Tamil earth, learning from Krishna about the incredible flora and fauna and cooking. I did loads of lovely cooking.
I cooked in the Solitude kitchen with local women, who after weeks still referred to me in Tamil as ‘the tall beardy man’. We prepared the dishes over wood fired stoves with a whole host of exotic ingredients; radhas consciousness (a flower), varagu (like millet), green papaya, plantains, banana flowers, red amaranth leaves……so many wonderful ingredients that we picked freshly every morning. The food was naturally and effortlessly vegan. It was an awesome experience!
I have never seen such fecundity, in one small field we had a diverse range of fruits, leaves, nuts and roots to eat. One small field could provide many, many people with a diverse and nutritious plant-based diet. At Solitude Farm I saw a vibrant window of what farming could be, when we turn our attention away from the industrial and towards more sustainable, sensitive and enriching practices, namely permaculture and the teachings of Masanobu Fukuoka. The earth provides us with all that we need and nature is perfect!
Soltitude Farm was such a fertile place to write and be, a place of inspiration in so many ways, much of which hit the pages of Peace & Parsnips. The sense that when we pull together, anything is achievable and that the future is bright when we turn to the earth and watch, learn and most importantly, act. The answers to all of our problems are here; in people, food and music.
I hope you get the chance to read more about Krishna’s wonderful project and help to support it, allowing the people of Tamil Nadu access to invaluable training and knowledge that can transform lives and communities.
There are only 12 more days to go to contribute towards this important project and there are some inspiring ideas for last minute Christmas presents. Really unique and precious. Embracing and learning about local food is at the heart of a better tomorrow and I thank Krishna for his constant dedication to spreading the seeds of positive change, from the heart to the plate.
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