Krishna, as called by everyone in Auroville, a British, took the viewers through the farm that he has strived to develop and nurture. Started in 1996, by a group of young Aurovillians, one of them being Krishna, who was immensely inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka. Here it is definitely worth mentioning about Masanobu Fukuoka, (1913-2008) was a Japanese farmer and philosopher, who was celebrated for his natural farming and re-vegetation of desertified lands. He was a proponent of no-till, no-herbicide grain cultivation farming methods, traditional to many indigenous cultures, from which he created a particular method of farming, commonly referred as “natural farming” or “do nothing farming. To his credits he has authored many books, scientific papers, publications to this effect. Krishna was not only into natural farming but also into permaculture, which is, “a set of design principles centred around whole systems thinking, simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and resilient features observed in natural ecosystems” in other words,” it is an innovative framework for creating sustainable ways of living. It is a practical method of developing ecologically harmonious, efficient and productive systems that can be used by anyone, anywhere, be it in cities or in outskirts”.

Krishna, felt and thought, initially like the rest of the Auroville, the land needed tending and care, Fukuoka advocated that all bio-resources around us, such as leaves, weeds, branches should be constantly being returned to the soil to increase soil fertility. He internalised that this technique would be the basis of all work. Furtherance, no pesticides or fertilizers have been used on the land. The farm slowly involved into non-tillage, that is NO-TILLING farming is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage. No-till is an agricultural technique which increases the amount of water that infiltrates into the soil, the soil’s retention of organic matter and its cycling of nutrients.

Seven years back, with a need for financial sustainability and a refusal to compromise on Fukuoka’s vision of natural farming they thought of serving these local grown produce into local foods which paved the birth of SOLITUDE FARM, to honour the gifts of Mother Nature. Krishna didn’t confine himself to only farming and running the café with local menu varieties comprising of millets, grains, vegetables, fruits, pulses etc., he thought of the need for farming to reach, at education level, by hosting in schools, conduct workshops and now the well-known weekly farm tour. Krishna a musician himself, combing arts, culture, food to bring more people together, felt the importance and relevance of farming, which led him to be a motivational speaker, who travels with his project, people, food, music bringing them altogether.

He suggests” A ROAD MAP BACK TO NATURE, by three simple steps, one, Honour all organic matter, our bio-resources and return it to the land. This is our profit, non-financial, but nutritional. All well-being starts with a healthy soil. Secondly, Honour all the gifts that Mother Nature offers to us. Honouring them means, eating them. Thirdly, Building community through celebration, education on the diverse values of local food. “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings”.

A farm-to-place restaurant open from Monday to Saturday, serving breakfast, an array of cooling juices, vegan smoothies and ice-creams, meals and café made desserts are also available. These consists of wide range of fresh seasonal produce. Local Food Basket, al commitment to your health- a weekly basket filled with a collage of seasonal fruits and vegetables along with a unique juice kit to ensure a complete nutritional package. Free Farm Tour, Every Friday and workshops on Saturdays which would give one a clear insight on how to re-connect with Mother Nature through the principles of natural farming and permaculture.

It is praiseworthy, appreciate the efforts and unstinted focus of Krishna McKenzie to have thought of being one with Nature and gifting the knowledge, produce to one and all. Keep going Krishna.

-Vijayashree Ramesh

The writer is an advocate based at Chennai