• The Soil Course at Shunya Farm in Bir, Himachal Pradesh

    About Shunya farm - 

    Shunya farm is a community supported farm in a small village called Bir in Himachal Pradesh, India. With an area of about 3/4th of an acre, the farm produces food for a few local people and restaurants. The farm is as much a source of food as it is a home to innumerable soil microbes, insects, birds, mongoose and more beings than we can see or identify, and place for visitors and seekers to reflect on the our connections with soil and food. The practices on the farm are influenced by Fukuoka’s natural way of farming and Permaculture design towards creating a sustainable organic food farm and a regenerative community. 


    The farm is run by aerobotics engineer Anshul and architect Angelica. They met while doing a permaculture course in Auroville, fell in love, and joined forces to grow green and old together. 


    About the course -

    Rudolf Steiner, in his lectures on Agriculture, explains beautifully how the spirit of soil is linked to the spirit of humanity. The energy required for our consciousness to evolve can only come from food, the manifestation of all the cosmic and earthly energies (air, fire, water, earth and ether).

    This is also why soil, the fertile mother earth has been revered as a living entity which holds the power of creation and abundance, through time and across human cultures. Soil sustains human life not just through food, but also habitat, clothing and art allowing humanity (and of course other species) to grow and thrive.

    However, in the last six to seven decades, soil, just as other natural resources, has come to be perceived as a commodity, a dry mass of minerals and nutrients, existing solely to be exploited for farming operations. Large agriculture corporations and short-sited government policies have forced the farmers to pollute the soils with hybrid seeds and a host of chemicals impacting the health of the farmers, consumers, the larger ecosystems leading to a gradual depletion of the culture of farming. In losing a connection with the spirit and health of soil, humanity has lost the connection with its own health and well being. This is evident in the rise of diseases caused due to modern food and lifestyle.

    The way for a healthy human population in the future, is not a question of accessibility of good healthcare but also good food. And in imagining food to be wholesome and healthy, we need to revive the spirit and health of the soil.

    Thus the study of soil is important for not only farmers and foresters, but also everyone who is interested in eating healthy food, and interested in participating in creating a new culture where growing good food is possible. This shift that we require today is beyond organic agriculture.

    This course explores the depth of the hidden world of soil and its amazing relationships with microbial, insect, plant and animal lives and presents simple techniques on how we can participate with the natural processes to create abundance and diversity in soils.

    This course is for people who want to develop a deep understanding of the relationships between food, soil and human health and develop skills on building healthy soil in urban/farm settings from locally available resources while establishing how soil microbiology helps in accelerating succession and creating healthy ecosystems.

    In learning about the soil, the course aims to facilitate learning a little bit better about ourselves, and the world around us.


    Course outline -

    The story of soil — Soil food web and soil biology — Holistic soil assessment — Building healthy soil without external inputs and chemicals — Forest systems — Harvesting indegenous microorganisms — Successional agro-ecology — Composting — Making biochar — Crop rotation patterns for soil building — Earthworks and waterworks for soil conservation — Ethics and principles of soil care


    Farm work -

    All participants will spend some hours working at the farm every day. During this time the participants will learn some basic skills on using tools, starting a fire, plant identification and classification, reading landscapes, water harvesting, starting seeds, harvesting, and a natural way of working in a garden or a small-scale farm. All work on the farm is done with hands and no heavy machinery is involved.


    Course fees - Rs. 7,500

    Note: The course fee does not include food and accommodation expenses. Stay with village families and at local guesthouses is available. Food is offered at the homestays or the dhaabas in the village market. Participants are welcome to take the fresh seasonal produce from the farm.


    Dates - June 8 - 13


    Number of participants - 6-9


    Reflections of earlier participants - shunya.earth/courses-reflections


    How to apply - Please fill a contact form here and then go to http://shunya.earth/courses-register/ to register


    Read more about the farm here or visit their website here


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