Natural Systems Farming

Our farm sits within a nature-anchored view of life. It has been a long journey to understand that farming is about a visceral human desire for living in proximity to trees, plants, animals, birds and the clear open sky. We farm in harmony with nature, perhaps beyond what my peasant grandmother and ancestors did over centuries in nearby Meerut district.

All our cultivation of food is for home, for the peasants who farm there, and friends. It took time to realise that money and customers come in the way, and farming is best undertaken for its own sake. Of course, the farm is not a source of income which enables us freedom from the market. We hold on to a North Indian peasant’s artisanal view of farming, and have absorbed many ideas from natural farmers from many different civilisations who reached out to me through their writing and practices. There are many natural farming techniques we have learnt and implemented, and our natural gaze enables us apply methods to develop healthy soil, produce healthy food, and build healthy animals and humans.

This is light years away from the soil-and-soul destroying methods of contemporary chemical-industrial agriculture for the market which have led to the loss of India’s millennia-old indigenous farming and community traditions.

Here is our story till today: Five Years of Natural Systems Farming at Aman Bagh: 2012-2017. Here is a presentation on our natural farming practices in the spirit of sharing for organic farmers, aspiring farmers and mindful consumers: A presentation on Practices of Natural Systems Farming at Aman Bagh, 2017. 

Aman Bagh reclaims a time when land and work were not monetised, they were a foundation of an integrated way of living. Rural India in 1947 CE was a far cry from the market-driven economy of 2020 CE. It was subsistence living for the self-cultivating peasant family, almost totally exchange based within the village and a few  miles around. The peasant grew food, in exchange for which the weaver, carpenter, potter, blacksmith, trader, barber and priest provided their services. This was a time when cattle dung was the only manure and there were no chemical fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides. Pests were controlled by a growing bio-diversity of crops, by crop rotation and multi-cropping. Nature mostly kept insects harmful to cultivated crops in balance, and Desi methods were used to control those insects that did end up harming crops. Intercropping and keeping land fallow for intermittent periods kept the soil fertility high. Cattle were fed wholesome farm produce, and their dung was a source of manuring the soil to keep it rich and teeming with hundreds of billions of microorganisms in species and quantity.

खेती धर्म है केवल व्यवसाय नहीं

खेती धर्म है
केवल व्यवसाय नहीं

Rural relationships were close-knit and inter-dependent; and the settled-agricultural village was a self-sufficient socio-economic unit where man, animal lived a fine balance with nature. The market was not the defining paradigm it has become today, and subsistence was the rule with its attendant benefits which some of us now realise. Yes, village life was unequal, feudal, caste-ridden, sexist and communal. India’s rural social structure demanded a revolution, none of which has come about till today. Nonetheless, village India has too-easily given up the rhythms of our well-established natural farming traditions, and has not mindfully developed new ones in harmony with nature to take their place. Our civilisation is paying a terrible ecological price, and so are we.

Aman Bagh does away with hand wringing and attempts to find a balance in relationships between man, woman, animals and the ecology that are neither discriminatory nor dominating. Our common humanity binds us to nature and to each other through a new understanding of our mutual inter-dependence. While we re-learn and build on our traditional peasant farming practices, we have eliminated barriers of caste and community. Our peasants are willing to unlearn what they now know to be harmful and destructive.

“Artificial Manures lead inevitably to artificial nutrition, artificial food, artificial animals, and finally to artificial men and women”  

An Agricultural Testament, Albert Howard (1873-1947)
Howard lived in India from 1905 to 1931 and is considered to be founder of the organic farming movement in the West.  President of the Indian Science Congress in 1926, he readily admitted he learnt more than he taught the Indian peasant.

Artisanal farming

Aman Bagh is a little less than 1 hectare –  about 2.5 acres – (80% of India’s peasant tilled farms are smaller than 5 acres), on soil that has been pesticide and chemical fertiliser free for ever. The location – in a valley surrounded by the low hills of the Aravali range 14 kilometres from Gurgaon – is especially bountiful each year from the onset of monsoon in July till the start of summer in April. The ancient Mangar Bani, a rare 200 hectare forest of indigenous Dhau trees, is 10 minutes away; as are the Dhauj rocks. Our land is undulating and is on multiple levels, ideal for ploughing by our two bullocks.

Our one room home and kitchen, the adjoining cow shed, the bonga hay shed and the staff room for the farm hands are architecturally local in design and manufactured by local artisans, as ecologically friendly as construction materials allow. When you visit in mid-summer, you will be struck by the 10 degree difference of temperature between the outdoors and our rooms, protected by a stone-mud-earthern-pot roof.

I decided that I could not do better than watch the operations of these peasants, and acquire their traditional knowledge as rapidly as possible. For the time being, therefore, I regarded them as my professors of agriculture. ” 

Albert Howard

We have 2 desi Hariana cows who lead a peaceful life under the shade of  trees and are fed on farm produce; the ghee we produce is extracted by hand from dahi set in baked mud utensils. Our grains, lentils, oils and vegetables are grown from desi, open-pollinated seeds and are free of chemical pesticide and fertiliser. Our bio-pesticides (which we increasingly rarely use as our natural predator-pest balance doesn’t need us to) are based on garlic, ginger, chilies, neem oil and cow urine; our bio-fertiliser (Amrit) is rich with micro-organisms created from fermenting cow dung, urine, and lentils. Our gobar gas plant provides a steady source of manure slurry and methane gas for our cooking. Our free ranging desi hens add to the ecology and ambience; and course our desi dog टाईगर.

We have planted a rich biodiversity of fruit, flowering and shade trees. One quarter of an acre is a dedicated Kudrati Forest, named after Japanese natural farmer Fukuoka. Not all of our trees are local to the Aravali, some of the flowering and shade trees are those that have adapted to Delhi and its environs over the past centuries. Some grow in groves; some along the farm periphery; and others randomly on the farmland. Fruit trees like Guava and Kinnow are recent imports that do well in our sandy soil and extremes of hot, wet and cold temperatures. Our other fruit trees are nimbu, chakotra, narangi, Aam, Shahtoot, Anjeer, Jamun, Shareefa, Kathal, Bel, Ber, Kela, Papita. In addition to fruit, we have hundreds of trees of Shisham, Kikar, Neem,  Jamun, Papri, Semal, Khatta, Bargad, Goolar, Sagwan, Dhak & Dhau and more, all local to our ecology.  Then there are the dry, sandy soil friendly varieties like ronjh, jhinjheri, kareel, barna, bistendu, kankera, kadam, pilu and urban flowering varieties like kachnar, amaltash, gulmohar, jacaranda, alistonia, casuarina, maulseri.

We have a network of drip & sprinkler irrigation to serve our sandy and semi-arid environment as I haven’t figured out a way to farm without underground water. We plant local varieties of crops (specially the cereals) that grow with the infrequent rains, and which take far fewer irrigation cycles than the high-yielding green revolution hybrids demand. So, no hybrid seeds. The farm runs on a solar system, though we fully understand the need to reduce our demand for electricity guzzling goods at the same time as we address the supply. There are no air conditioners.

There is effort in manual labor, but there is also much good health. Our land is ploughed by two healthy bullocks born to our land. I’ve been educated by my hardy peasant traditions that there is little in life without the sweat of one’s brow.

The uncounted species of insects, butterflies, worms, bees, birds and other animals  have multiplied manifold since we commenced farming in 2012. They have been drawn by the food and shelter they find in abundance. The welcoming peace is accentuated by the chirping of innumerable birds at dusk, the occasional call of the peacocks, the rooster, the the sounds of the bells as cows chew the cud. The welcoming sounds of a peaceful village home at work and in repose.

Here is a perspective on Aman Bagh, in someone else’s words –


42 Responses to Natural Systems Farming

  1. A noble effort by a great leader & mentor who has transformed my personal and professional life.


  2. Acky Kamdar says:

    In all of us, there is a farmer somewhere. Reading this article, reminds me that there are many exciting possibilities besides what we do on day to day basis. The difference is that Harsh has made it real in Amanbagh for all of us, and I hope to someday share the experience with him.


  3. Muriel & Mario says:

    Wow Harsh! Cannot wait to get to Amanbagh, though it does seem like a distant dream, with the loads of things we have on our hands.

    And talking of dreams, you are doings the things that we only dream of at the moment.

    Much success and lots of solidarity, in a common mission.

    Your organic and Permaculture neighbours in Goa,

    Muriel & Mario.


  4. Proud of you bhai – planning to get kids over so they get a touch of reality.


  5. Jasjit says:

    Proud of you my friend. You are following your dreams.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Alok Sharma says:

    Harsh Sir,
    This narrative is very nostalgic. Seems like I am looking over my shoulder 50 years distance and watching my grand parents actually living what is described.
    it is indeed unimaginable for today’s generation. Establishing a community and the whole secured ecosystem around it; this only a leader like you can envision and practice. Still learning from you in many ways.
    Aman Bagh, is emerging as a motivational center for the society, I can see, Have been fortunate to be in your proximity and mentored.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You have gone back to your roots Harsh and are inspiring us to go that way- through supporting your efforts and partaking of the organic produce of ‘Aman Bagh’.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Aloke Paskar says:

    Harsh, This is back to the roots. Finally we all do and you have led the way. Looking forward to visiting the farm when I am next in India.


  9. Mohit Goyal says:

    Harsh, wonderful to have had an atleast 180 degree view of your life progression and your committment to every phase of it. You always had a great human quality & temperamant and one just knew you would not be content to rest on your laurels post HS. I’ll definitely check out some of your products! Take care, Mohit Goyal


  10. Sarita Vij says:

    Harsh, it was an amazing experience to visit your farm and see what you are doing. The location and ambiance of the farm is great. Some of the organic produce that i tried was very good indeed. Would love to visit again soon.


  11. Sandeep Sahai says:

    Follow your dreams
    Great to see this
    Have fun

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Rohit Baswani says:

    Real proud of you bhaiyya. Have to get the kids over soon.
    Harika and Rohit


  13. Nikhil says:

    Hi, what an achievement!!! The world aspires to be so close to mother nature but very few are able to do it. All the very best!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sudeb Mandal says:


    We had a wonderful time when we visited your farm last year. You have once again setup a great thing and this time in a different field altogether. Really privileged to have worked under your leadership and you continue to inspire.


    Liked by 1 person

  15. Rekha Gupta says:

    This is amazing. You have been an inspiration always and your passion is infectious.
    You do things with a style and that’s visible here too!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Karthik says:

    Such a joy to read this.
    Aman Bagh shows the leader, patriot, artisan and the entrepreneur in you. Your hand-print is clearly visible. Your efforts inspire us.
    There’s so much for all of us to learn and you keep re-iterating that through your endeavors.
    It’s a privilege to have worked with you.


    Liked by 1 person

  17. Murty Eranki says:

    Dear Harsh,

    This is really a great work. Even though many of us came from agricultural back ground, going back village and doing something like this is not an easy job. Your passion and leadership always inspires me.

    It was a great opportunity to work under your leadership.

    Murty Eranki

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Salina says:

    Wow Harsh, Aman Bagh seems to be absolutely amazing. Took me back to my childhood when I would visit my grandparents in Kerala during summer vacations. Never thought this could be recreated in this era. Hats off to you, Harsh. Admire your passion towards the environment we live in.


    Liked by 1 person

  19. Jeevan Pant says:

    Incredible, Inspiring, Nostalgic .. all at the same time. You have always been a true leader Harsh


    Liked by 1 person

  20. Radharaman Lath says:

    So very thoughtful! Heartfelt admiration for a genuine leadership!! I wish Aman Bagh to become a true change agent in making Mangar a model self-sufficient unit.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Yash Mishra says:

    Aman Bagh is indeed a great tribute to mother earth by adopting traditional organic farming aiming at village community self sufficiency for all round cohesive development and progress.

    In todays world where commercialisation and HYV’s are deep rooted in the the Agriculturists, Society, Technocrats and other preachers of the like, I personally feel that the endeavour of the promoters of the Farm need a NOBLE SALUTE with a sincere wish that there are more such motivators and followers.

    Warm Regards

    Yash P Mishra

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Aakash says:

    You are really a true leader. you have transformed and inspired the lives of so many people in around the world and you are still continuing the same. You are born to lead
    With all my best wishes in your new journey.


    Liked by 1 person

  23. Varun says:

    Hi Harsh,
    Wish you and yours a very Happy and prosperous New year 2014,
    Had been meaning to do this for a while, really wanted to say Hats off to you for such an initiative. My love for Organic is quite recent specially when I moved to US but now can really appreciate how great this is. I really wish I get an opportunity to come over to Amanbagh someday!
    Regards and best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Kapil says:

    Harsh is a great personality ! I SALUTE him. A man who followed his dreams and went back to his roots. Reminds me of the book ‘The monk who sold his Ferrari. ‘

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Varsha says:

    Wow Harsh, Amanbagh sounds like a dream. I want to visit you there when we come to India in Dec 2014. We were in Lucknow in Feb. and mourned the ugly colors they have used on those magnificent buildings, and the neglect of our beloved city makes me want to cry. Hope you and Rabab are both doing well. Varsha

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Vani Narayan says:

    Hello Harsh, this mail might sound funny to you. I was with E&Y and had a chance to meet your wife and her beautiful Mother;they visited us at our wedding (way back in ’97) just wanted to know if Ammamma is doing well. Cheers, Vani.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Vishal Sareen says:

    Harsh has really proved that Great leaders have Super Great Thoughts and implementation..
    Salute to Harsh!!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Atthihally devraj says:

    It is nice practice. our ancesters done only this, our modern scintists brout all these chemical practice. when i was a member in board of regents in University of Agricultural sciences Bengaluru, I was asking the scintists cant w do it without chemical use? can we controll isects in organical methods? Even i put these questions to national level scintists ? The were unanswerable for my basic questions.
    Fortunately UASB preserving 1500 types of paddy varieties
    In karnataka so many people came back to organic farming, And also doing zero farlng or natural farming. Using desi seeds also
    Thank you AMANBAG FAMILY


    Liked by 1 person

  29. Varun Gera says:

    Hi Harsh….very inspiring and now a benchmark!
    Varun Gera

    Liked by 1 person

  30. shekhar vajpayee says:

    Hi Harsh…. You have done a great job, being close with the nature only can be experienced.


  31. nitin babbar says:

    Great work Harsh,

    You have always been a phenomenal leader and innovator….
    Feels great to have worked with you and even better to know of the new initiative that you have taken after leaving headstrong…

    Great going Sir!


  32. Amit Ghosal says:

    Great going Harsh,
    I do look forward to catching up with you as soon as possible.
    Best wishes as always.
    Amit Ghosal


  33. shekhar vajpayee says:

    Harsh Ji,
    Very much motivational and I would like to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. harshlohit says:

    Sure, you are most welcome. Call me on 9810032223 to schedule a visit.


  35. Shivangi says:

    Great endeavour Sir. We all know farming is a big gamble and you tossed your super job for farming… is astonishing for most of us! I have heard so many good things about you from my husband (Abhishek) and I am too glad to find you here. Your life sort of reminds me of the famous lines from IF by Rudyard Kipling –
    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss…
    All the best Sir… may you pave the path for others to follow…

    Liked by 1 person

  36. saltnpeppernlife says:

    Harsh….bow to you …what can i say more …a dream for me .. a reality by you …….a meaningful and worthy way of living and livelihood ……for which one now longs every moment … ………..a bliss and blessed way of life …..
    Regards,Shivani Srivastava


    • Shivani, thanks for your sentiments. Lets us both be careful, however, not to romanticise Aman Bagh as the problems humans have created are too vast and deep to be addressed by organic farming. Our whole way of consuming life needs to be reset, I get tired at the complexity of the endeavour.


      • saltnpeppernlife says:

        Yes completely agree with the line ‘Our whole way of consuming life needs to be reset, I get tired at the complexity of the endeavour’…


  37. Amit Tyagi says:

    Hi Sir, I am in IT right now. I live in Ghaziabad and work in Noida. About 50 Km Away I have close to 60 Bigha of land in UP. I am looking forward to move to Farming and leave IT job. I want to get some guidance and what are the pitfalls of leaving the job and doing farming.



    • Harsh Lohit says:

      60 bighas – assuming 15 acres – can provide a living, but that will mean giving up your job and living with fewer conveniences, and living in or near your farm. Most probably you will not earn as much cash on the farm as you do and can in an IT services job. The benefits will be more than financial though, health and a certain way of life come to mind. You need to think this through very carefully as the comforts of city life are difficult to give up. As your home is close to your farm, maybe you can find a way to setup the farm while remaining at your job and staying in Ghaziabad on the weekdays. These are all thoughts you need to mull through, with your family. On the farming plan, yes I can suggest what can be done.


  38. Adrian Cleo says:

    Hi, My son is on an EVM project and we’d like to speak with you. Could you please send us contact details? Thank you


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