Natural Farming

We farm in the lap of Prakriti, Nature. We are one with hundreds of trees, birds and animals, as well as the unseen world of billions of bacteria, fungus and virus. No insect is a pest, no plant is a weed, no tree is unwanted. Farming harmoniously in nature enables us practice the freedom to connect to the vast world within us, with all of natures other creations, and with the Brahmand. Our farming flows us into a union with Prakriti, deepening the bond each day, month and year. We learn from others, though there is no greater Guru than doing and every mistake we make brings us closer to what nature intended.

The expansion of our awareness of Prakriti is dependant on the intensity of our practice, combined with the knowledge gathered and processed by the intellect. The human intellect, however, is wholly inadequate to comprehend the the unknown dimensions of Prakriti, the sublime order in the seeming chaos. If we remain engrossed in organic farming techniques, we will miss the joy of a very personal union with Prakriti.  

Our farming is undertaken for the joy it brings. Our cultivation is for home and for the peasants who work here. There is no commerce. We hold on dearly to the peasant’s traditional view of farming in our ecology while absorbing new ways of looking, thinking and doing. Our Prakritik gaze enables us apply methods to develop healthy soil, produce healthy food, healthy animals and humans.

Aman Bagh reclaims a new-old time when land and work were not monetised, and were the foundations of an integrated way of living. We learn from rural India of 1947, a far cry from the production-obsessed economy of 2020. It was subsistence living for the self-cultivating peasant family, exchange-based within the village community and some miles around. The peasant grew food in exchange for which the weaver, carpenter, potter, blacksmith, trader, barber and priest provided their services. There were no machines, chemical fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides. Hard labor was a way of life, and the night was pitch dark. Pests were controlled by a growing bio-diversity of crops, by crop rotation and multi-cropping. Nature kept insects harmful to cultivated crops in balance, and Desi methods were used to control those insects that did end up harming crops. Mostly, the peasant shared his produce with other living beings. Intercropping and keeping land fallow for intermittent periods retained soil fertility. Cattle were fed wholesome farm produce, 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
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 all-encompassing paradigm it is today, and subsistence was the rule with its attendant benefits as well as economic backwardness. Today, ‘progress’ that leads to ‘development’ has its own serious problems.  

Indian village life remains unequal, feudal, caste-ridden, sexist and communal and our rural social structure demands a revolution. To these vexed issues of human inequality and bondage, we have added the annihilation of nature by our own hands.

Not all was well before modernity arrived in India in the 19th Century. Indians have been engaged in a slow destruction of Prakriti for millennia. The wet, tropical forests that are said to have covered the Ganga-Jamuna Doab 2000 years ago have long disappeared; as have the later dry, deciduous forests of Sal and Dhak in which the Mughals hunted wild pigs, bears, buffaloes, tigers, lions and elephants during the 16-17th Centuries. These forests and wild life no longer exist even in name in the Doab. Our growing population cleared forests for agriculture, grazing, construction of homes and firewood. Forest-less living and tree-less agriculture became an accepted norm under the relentless pressure of population. Now, in our industrialised GDP-led economic blindness, we bring to bear on this tree-less horizon the unbearable pressure of machines of the most sophisticated kinds to cut, dig and move what is above and below the earth. Of course, we also poison the soil and the food we grow with chemicals of the most unbelievable variety.   

The monetisation of living by a powerful alliance of the state and corporations creates the mirage of a consumer paradise that beckons all of us. Village India has given up the rhythm of well-established natural farming traditions and has not developed new ones to harmonise with nature. Urban India provides no alternative. A civilisation that famously embraced life in the forests is paying a terrible ecological price, the Aranya of Indic myth holds no attraction for the modern Indian despite the lip service to religion.  

Isn’t it time we did something about ourselves? About our consciousness to Prakriti

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

Masanobu Fukuoka

Aman Bagh does away with hand wringing and seeks a balance in relationships between humans and nature that are neither discriminatory nor dominating. Our common human Prakriti binds us to Prakriti and to each other through a new understanding of our inter-dependence. While we re-learn and build on our traditional peasant farming practices, we eliminate barriers of caste and religion. We unlearn what we know to be harmful and destructive to relationships in the natural world including humans.

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, the 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 8 degree difference of temperature between the outdoors and our rooms protected by a roof of stone, mud and baked terracotta pots.

“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.” 

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. 

We have 2 desi Hariana cows leading a peaceful life under the shade of desi trees, fed on farm produce; ghee is extracted by hand from dahi set in baked terracotta utensils. Our land is ploughed by two beautiful and healthy bullocks born on our land. Our grains, lentils, oils and vegetables are grown from desi, open-pollinated seeds and are free of pesticides and fertiliser. We rarely use bio-pesticides (based on garlic, ginger, chilies, neem oil and cow urine) as our land’s natural predator-pest balance doesn’t need us to; our bio-fertiliser is rich with micro-organisms created from fermenting cow dung, urine, and lentils. The floating drum gobar gas plant provides a steady source of manure slurry and methane gas for cooking. Our free ranging desi hens add to the ambience; and course you will enjoy meeting 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 sage Fukuoka. Not all of our fruit trees are local to the Aravali, we continue to experiment joyfully. Some trees grow in groves; some along the farm periphery; and others randomly (carefully thought out) on the crop land.

Guava, Kinnow and Nimbu are imports that do well in our sandy soil and alternating weather extremes of hot, wet and cold. Some of our other fruit trees are Suhajan, Chakotra, Narangi, Aam, Shahtoot, Anjeer, Anaar, Jamun, Shareefa, Kathal, Bel, Ber, Kela, Papita, Aadu, Nashpati, Loquat, Imli, Amla. In addition to fruit, we have hundreds of trees of Shisham, Babool, Neem, Bakain, Jamun, Papri, Semal, Mahua, Khatta, Peepal, Bargad, Goolar, Sagwan, Dhak, Dhau, Kosum, and many 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 a sprinkling of flowering varieties kachnar, amaltash, gulmohar and jacaranda.

We have a network of drip & sprinkler irrigation to serve our sandy and semi-arid environment, I haven’t figured out a way to farm without exploiting underground water rivers. We do plant only local varieties of all crops that grow in the infrequent rains, with far fewer irrigation cycles than the high-yielding green revolution hybrids demand. Hybrid seeds not simply not allowed. The farm runs on a solar system and there are no air conditioners.

There is exertion in manual labor, but there is also much good health. I’ve been educated by my  peasant traditions that there is little in life without the sweat of one’s brow – on the desk, or in the field. 

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 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. 

Here is a perspective on Aman Bagh, in someone else’s words –         http://www.isayorganic.com/blog/aman-bagh/

Handcrafted

42 Responses to Natural Farming

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

    Like

  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.

    Like

  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.

    Like

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

    Like

  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.

    Like

  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

    Like

  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.

    Like

  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

    Like

  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:

    Harsh,

    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.

    Regards,
    Sudeb

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Rekha Gupta says:

    Harsh,
    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!
    Rekha

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Karthik says:

    Harsh,
    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.

    Regards,
    Karthik

    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.

    Regards,
    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.

    Regards
    Salina

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Jeevan Pant says:

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

    Regards,
    Jeevan

    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.
    Sincerely,
    Radharaman

    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:

    Sir,
    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.

    Regards
    Aakash

    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,
    Varun

    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

    ATTHIHALLY DEVRAJ
    Hassan
    Karnataka

    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.

    Like

  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!

    Like

  32. Amit Ghosal says:

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

    Like

  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.

    Like

  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 …..amanbagh.org ………..a bliss and blessed way of life …..
    Regards,Shivani Srivastava

    Like

    • 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.

      Like

      • 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’…

        Like

  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.

    Regards
    Amit

    Like

    • 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.

      Like

  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

    Like

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