Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Permaculture in India

Hello Everybody!

I am back in India, this time I'm not on a temporary permaculture apprenticeship, rather I have an apartment in Pune. And I will most likely be in India 4-8 months out of the year, every year!

I have started a few of my own permaculture design projects, which so far have been volunteer work to help me get started as a permaculture consultant.

The most recent thing that I created was for Lend-A-Hand India. Which is an NGO in India working towards educating village youth life skills that will enable them to become more self-sufficient as they get older and obtain jobs and careers more readily.

A current project they hope to soon materialize, is a permaculture curriculum and 2 permaculture demonstration sites in Pune. The objection is to teach high school kids about sustainability and design.

The course will be designed so the youth can empower their own communities to use their resources sustainably.

You can read more about the project here:

Since I am in Pune, I contacted the co-founder and president, who asked me if I could perhaps research what was already happening regarding to permaculture in India. And a brief description of what the numbers were like.

So I wanted to also share with all of you what I found:
and if you are aware of any other permaculture teachers, demonstration sites, schools, organizations who are working in India, please add them via a comment or you can contact me I will happily update the list!

For those of you, who may be new to permaculture, I've provided a short brief:

Permaculture Brief

Permaculture literally means, “permanent culture.” Permaculture finds our sustainable answers through observing and learning from nature. Permaculturists learn how to design and incorporate sustainable models for our homes, backyards, villages and cities by observing nature and it's patterns. Permaculture means, creating no waste. And seeing what is currently labeled as waste, as a possibility rather than an inconvenience.

Permaculture may be more work to initially set up a system, but once the system is established, much less input from us is needed in order to sustain it. The systems are designed inspired by nature. And in nature, there is no 'work' to be done to keep things going, the act of organisms just 'being' is enough for everything to flow in harmony with one another. Our current method of farming takes massive amounts of fertilizers, pesticides, weeding, plowing, and watering etc. Yet, in a permaculture garden, the ecosystem is nourished, so the system itself does the work for us. For example, a permaculturist will plant trees to retain water in the soil, they will plant many different kinds of plants together to host many different organisms in the soil. These organisms help aerate the soil, and bring balance to the insect food chain, making sure that no insect populations become so large that they may cause problems to the crops or plants. Flowers and trees native to the region are planted to help bring the native pollinators to the crops. Biodiversity in plants and animals add more to the fertility of the land than we physically can as humans.

Permaculture brings the natural elements of nature back into systems, to help us clean our water, our soils, and our air. It provides us with cheap or free fuel, healthy organic produce, beauty in our surroundings and solutions to what we normally label as 'waste'.

History of Permacutlure in India:


Permaculture was introduced in India in 1986. It was a one day workshop hosted by the Deccan Developmental Society presented by Bill Mollison in Hyderabad. The following year Bill Mollison conducted the first Permaculture Design Certification course in India.

* The first permaculture demonstration farm in India was created in
Pasthapur on 3.25 acres. Which is located in a semi-arid zone in Andhra

o The goal of the demonstration farm was to become a self-sufficient
farm for 5 people, to provide enough in regards of fuel, food, fodder.

o In meeting this goal, the farm also sought to be an example of
rainwater harvesting, arresting soil erosion, reducing wind impact on
plants through tree windbreaks, and poly-cropping.

o The farm did so well in regenerating its soils and abundantly
producing food (surpassing yields of all the surrounding farms) it
slowly evolved into a seed bank.

* 2nd PDC was conducted in Bombay in 1990.

*The permaculture association has been conducting short permaculture courses
in Kerala, Karnataka, and Orissa.

*Auroville has also had a number of PDC courses and other short courses over
the past few years. And permaculturists from this area have been doing many
projects in Tamil Nadu.

CASE STUDY: An Example Permaculture Project in India

( I have taken the following example from the website: http://permaculturewest.org.au/ipc6/ch06/narasanna/index.html)

Permaculture extension in Andhra Pradesh

* The DDS runs many Balwadis (schools for non-school-going children of young age groups) and these children are provided a free, nutritious meal. Many of the Balwadis have endowed agricultural lands. On all these, basic soil/water conservation earth works have been completed, leguminous and horticultural species have been planted and are being cared for by some of the parents. The strategy for these lands is to produce food and fuel for the kitchens of the Balwadis.

There is a Green School in Machnoor Village in the project area, started and managed by the DDS. It has about seven acres of land on its campus, lying fallow, degraded and highly prone to erosion. This land has been designed on permaculture principles.

All the children and the staff are involved in the implementation of the design by practical participation and exposure to some aspects of permaculture. Highly efficient soil/water conservation works like trenches and bunds on contour, gully pluggings, diversion channels, and farm ponds have been completed and are functioning well. This land is getting greener and has already started providing some yields.

We have been struggling to evolve a regular permaculture curriculum as a regular subject for the students, but so far, not satisfactorily.

Another very significant extension occurred between January '93 and June '94. During this period, a micro-project for soil conservation and water harvesting was undertaken, funded by the WWF, Switzerland. A rough idea of the physical side of this project can be gauged by the following data:

* Total area of farm lands covered is 138.5 acres
* Number of villages covered is 12
* Total length of graded and contour bunds and trenches is 16,161 metres
* Total volumetric excavation is 11,590 cubic metres
*1 large checkdam, 2 farm ponds, 14 gully pluggings, 1 diversion channel,
etc., are completed
* All the bunds etc. have been consolidated by seeding and planting

During the execution of the above works, a workshop was held attended by 67 farmers, men and women, drawn from 27 villages. Topic discussed in this workshop were:

* Categories of water.
* Sheet erosion.
* Alarming lowering of the ground water table and the need to harvest all rain
water into the soil itself.
* Land use and cropping patterns for subsistence farming to ensure greater
food security.

The fall-out of this project has been:

* A qualitative and conscious designing of farmlands by micro-watersheds and
creation of assets of natural resources like soil and water;
* Participation of a large number of local men and women farmers in the
execution of earth works;
* Evolution of a local cadre of men/women trained in earth works and who are
continuing the use of this skill on their own lands and at various other
places, especially in regenerating wastelands under various projects.
* Very palpable and visual effects of soil regeneration on these lands in the
first season itself.

Current Status of Permaculture in India:

(for more information on the following organizations or people please email me: schmaizee101@hotmail.com)

Permaculture teachers in India:

Rico Zook (Nationwide)

Ringo (Nationwide currently working in Coorg and Banglalore)

Max Lindegar (Chennai)

John Button (Tiruvannamalai)

Narsanna Koppula (Hyderabad)

Permaculture Organisations:

Permaculture Society (Nationwide) Non-profit charity organization providing permaculture courses and volunteer opportunities for permaculture projects
-Has 11 delegates for its National Advisory Forum, one for each of the following
states or regions: Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, National Capital
Territory of Delhi, Nagaland, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana,
Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh.
Permaculture supporters online:
-Has 7 trustees
-Has 451 likes on Facebook

Sewa Ecotourism (Ganeshpura)
-Working on an eco-regenerative project.
-They are using permaculture to create sustainable farming practices and create tourism in the area.

Aranya Agricultural Alternatives (Hyderabad)
-Attempting to revitalise and revamp the permaculture spread in AP now through both live farm development,academic courses handling advocacy and awareness of permaculture concepts and principles.
-Has worked with over 12 lakhs of farmers.
-Promotes indigenous seed varieties, native based traditional practices and conservation techniques
-Live farm demonstrations for crop diversification & diversified species conservation
-Wild tree species plantations with local participation in the respective Mandals
-34 people listed as employees

Buddha Smiles (Tamil Nadu) an NGO working towards the objectives of holistic education and sustainable development.
-Annual natural building and permaculture workshops, annual eco walks in the Himalayas
-Building Gandhi King Mandela Farm – alternative schooling system where holistic living, permaculture and natural building will be taught.

Annamalia Reforestation Society (Tamil Nadu)
- Central Nursery: supplies to NGOs, schools and individuals
- Permaculture Demo Farm: uses renewable energy (biogas, wind, solar), water and soil conservation practices, education facility for workshops and seminars.
- Wasteland Development: surrounding wastelands being planted with medicinals, fruit trees, and other flowering plants.
- Eco-Awareness Educational Campaigns: provides lectures, demos and other educational campaigns in schools. ARS encourages children to start their own Eco-Clubs to spread environmental awareness among their peers.
- and Women Development Projects: offers practical skills training like nursery raising, food preservation, vocational courses, and organic farming among others.

Odanadi (Mysore)
- Grassroots organisation, has developed a permaculture garden.

Heal the Soil (Tamil Nadu)
-Has an organic CSA
-Teaches Permaculture Design Certificate courses.
-Teaches locals how to grow their own organic food, and helps them implement their own gardens while providing seed for them.

Sadhana Forest India (Tamil Nadu)
-Regeneration of 70 acres of degraded land into thriving evergreen forest .
-Hosts permaculture courses.
-Through the use of trenches and earthdams they have raised the water table by 6 meters.
- Created a project in 2009 called, 'Children's Land', where children and parents are taught about sustainability in a way that empowers them.
-won the third place in the Humanitarian Water and Food Award (WAF) 2010. The ceremony took place in the Marble Hall of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, on November 25th, 2010.This award is an international recognition of the quality of the ecological and humanitarian work done by Sadhana Forest

Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti (Rajasthan)
-Creating a permaculture site, still in the developmental stage.

Singilila Bioconservation Project (Singilila National Park, Himalayan foothills)
-Teaches permaculture to villages living in area. Empowering their quality of life while reducing their environmental impact.

Low Carbon Living in Villages (Madhya Pradesh): Helping villagers live sustainably.

Art of Living Foundation (Bangalore)
A permaculture demonstration and training center is being developed.  For more information you may contact Venkatesh Dharmraj at

Private Permaculture Farms/Demonstration sites:

Centre for Nonviolent Farming (Maharashtra): A transitional permaculture farm and homestead run by Dr. Samantha Bhaware, both a delegate of Maharashtra and a trustee of the permaculture society.

Organic Farm in Kullu Valley (North India): undergoing transition into a permaculture showcase farmlet in collaboration with the PRII Kullu campus.

Permaculture Demonstration site (Kolkata)

Permaculture Demonstration Site (Deccan Developmental Society in Pastapur)

Solitude Farm (Auroville, Tamil Nadu)
Runs several natural farming and permaculture courses throughout the year.

Pitchandikulam Forest (Auroville, Tamil Nadu)

The Himalayan Farming Project (Uttarakhand): Sustainable permaculture farm also associated with other organisations and projects.
-746 people like this on facebook

Punarvasu Farm (South of Udupi, Karnataka): Permaculture farm and demonstration site

Hamsah (outside Bangalore): Permaculture and Demonstration farm

The Swale Project (AP):Through permaculture design principles this project converted an orginally dry hillside into a thriving mango orchard.

Roundstone Farms (Pallani hills): Roundstone Farms is a young 15 acre farm and permaculture project.

Traditional Healthcare Datam (Jharkhand): currently underconstruction but will be a healthcare clinic which will incorporate sustainable architecture and and the development of a small organic farm based on permaculture design principles.

Satya Joti Farm (Pondicherry): Permaculture farm also hosts PDC's

Relevant figures:

Permaculture India Group on Facebook has 4,795 friends and 410 subscribers

Permaculture India Group on Twitter has 796 followers

Australian Institute of Permaculture's website has 36 personal profiles for India.