Our Farmer: Babulal Gandhi
Babulal Gandhi – Maganlal Smriti Van, Vinchurni, Phaltan
An organic Farm that nurtures life and spirit
Once you have tasted Babulal kaka’s Farm Chickoo, you will never like any other. We also reach his Red pumpkins, Custard apples and Kesar mangoes to you.
Soon to become a centenarian, Kaka has been a prominent ‘Bhoodan activist’ who worked alongside with Shri Vinoba Bhave, Babu kaka had visited many villages and learned traditional techniques of farming. When he came back to his village, he saw barren grassland with a few scattered neem trees. He decided to prove to the local farmers, that such land could also be developed into a bountiful farm.
Despite skepticism of the local farmers, Babu kaka decided to grow watermelon, an unconventional crop in his region. And harvested it only for seeds; by inviting children to savour the fruit and give back the seeds. The seeds were then shipped out to make profits on this crop.
He has over 450 chickoo trees and when chickoo prices dropped, he designed the traditional solar drying methods and sun dried the chickoos, making a powder of it retaining all its nutrition values and it could be used over the year to make shakes, sheera and much more.
Through his work over four decades, he followed one principle – do not disturb the local biodiversity. As a result, the farm still bustles with wild rabbits, hares, foxes, birds and insects that belong to the grasslands. The peacocks have claimed this land as their own, and a community of more than 150 peacocks have built a neighbourhood among the trees. The two man-made lake for water conservation has increased the water table of his land, ensuring the farm is green throughout the year and survives 2 to 3 years of drought too. Migratory birds can be seen in the Winters at this farm.
His farm thus becomes a must visit place for Ecological students to study Grassland economy.
With a cowshed at its heart, the entire farm is fertilized by using jeevamrut, a mixture of cowdung, cow urine, jaggery, gram flour and curd. Such a mixture is converted into a solution, which is then introduced in the farm through drip irrigation. The excess cow dung is used to feed into the vermicompost beds and a biogas plant that supplies cooking fuel to the kitchen. Bio-gas plant helps make food for the visitors as Kaka also encourages many school students camps to connect with nature.
More on his farm can be read on: