So, on Wednesday we went back to help at Solitude Farm. We were all put to work pretty much straight away. The mornings task was to clear a field about one acre in size of weeds. The weeding is done by hand, defiantly no ploughing!! The reason that the weeding is done by hand is to preserve as much as possible the soil matrix and not unduly disturb the mico organism ecology of the soil. As far as I understand the principle of permaculture is to work with nature and grow mixed crops. This reduces pest attck and also ensures vigorous and strong growth of crops with minimal human intervention. Mulching is used widely to ensure water remains in the ground and does not evaporate. The temperature at the moment is only 26C and in summer this rises to 40C so, water is a precious commodity not to be squandered!
Often bananas and papaya will be grown amongst things like squashes and cucumbers and pinapples etc.... This provides shade to these other crops in what can be harsh conditions.
The soil was rock hard and so to make the weeding easier the field is first flooded and then we lined-up and set to work removing the weeds. There were about 15 of us volunteers and within an hour and a half the job was done. It was lovely feeling the warm squishy mud between your toes. The volunteers were made up of People from USA, Canada, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, England and Holland.
After the weeding I helped with the composting and by the end of this the sun was high in the sky and we were feeling a bit worse for ware and so ducked out of the next job of raising the planting beds by digging shallow irrigation furrows. Instead we went and helped weed between the pineapples, lemon grass and spinnach which were growing in the shade of the bananas and papyas. This job was actually very prickly! Pinapple plants have thorns on the edges of their leaves, similar to that of aloevera plants. Rae had been seconded to help prepare lunch. Krishna was showing a party round the farm and they also stayed for lunch. The food again was amazing, flavours were wonderful.
Also on Wednesday we went to the Sri Arobindu theatre again at Bhart Nivas to see Ramil Ibrahim and the Sutra Troupe. The theatre was packed. The dancing truley wonderfully amazing!
Yesterday morning we went to Repos beach. The sea was very, very warm and refreshing. By 11.00 though it was getting very hot and so we headed top the cafe for a drink. The cafe is run by a lady who comes from Bridgwater. There were some other english people their and she introduced us to them. Its a small world because it turns out that Mike runs a fetsival stage called the Bimble Inn and used to go to Millfield and so knows Butleigh and Glasto really well.
Later we met up with our Greman friend Lars and he took us to lunch at a resturant on the main Pondy Chennai road called Coco. Unless you knew it was there you would walk passed it without giving it a second glance. The food was delicious and so cheap!
Lars' friend Antonia who is also German was sitting at a table when we walked in so we had lunch and chatted and laughed lots. Rae and I are becoming increasingly embarrased by our inability to speak even one foreign language! We are determined to become at least fluent in French this year!
Next Tuesday we leave Auroville. We are going to Alleppey in Kerala by overnight train from Chennai. We are looking forward to moving on.
Rae and Marc XX