How a few seeds led to hundreds of plants and trees to provide food for thousands of people
February 16, 2019 - Amritapuri, India
“Just as the ocean serves as the substratum for the waves and gold as the base for all ornaments made of gold, creation and Creator are not two. They are one.” says Amma. “For when we see Mother Nature as the embodiment of God, we will automatically serve and protect her.”
It is this vision of loving and serving nature that has inspired numerous green initiatives at the Mata Amritanandamayi Math. One of them is the Amrita Organic Farm, which certainly had humble beginnings.
“Over 20 years ago, Amma handed me a few dried-up seeds with the intention of growing some plants,” recalls Lola, a longtime resident in Amritapuri. “The surrounding locality was uninhabitable swamp-land, and the earth was filled with hardened red clay and sand. The villagers cautioned me that nothing would grow due to the unfavorable conditions. But Amma insisted that we must keep trying. ‘Clean the dirt of your mind first,’ Amma said. ‘Then all else will become clear.’”
It was with this conviction that Lola and her team studied and practised permaculture-mulching techniques and learned from scratch the secrets of organic farming. Bucket-by-bucket, they used organic waste to create the first bed of pure, nutrient-rich soil for a small organic garden, regardless of the fact they didn’t have a shovel or any gardening tools.
“Amma personally handed me several saplings and told me to grow them, including sacred Rudraksha trees,” says Lola. “A tropical rainforest in coastal Kerala may not be an ideal place to grow Rudraksha trees, which thrive in the Himalaya regions. But now more than 300 are fruiting and flowering all throughout Amritapuri. Some trees produce up to 5,000 fruits per year.”
Today, Amritapuri has two large-scale organic farms and the project has been named Amritaculture: Amma’s Holistic & Sustainable Techniques for the Compassionate Cultivation of Land and Resources. The farm is home to hundreds of varieties of plant species, ayurvedic herbs, fruits and flowers in an area that is more than 1.5 acres of land. The harvested produce feeds Amritapuri’s thousands of visitors and residents with farm-fresh organic fruits and vegetables.
“Amma sometimes kisses the plants or seeds and sets an intention to grow them with love. It is with this love, respect and reverence that the farm is sustained,” explains Lola. “The biodiversity is so unique to this place. I don’t think such a diverse ecosystem exists anywhere else in the world.”
The garden is an ongoing learning experience and a beautiful opportunity to do service. It holds a space for people to lovingly honor Mother Nature through prayer and contemplation, while at the same time study practical gardening and permaculture skills. The neighbors, local villagers and their children come to work in the garden along with the international visitors and residents. It is an inspiring example of working together, united as one family, to serve Mother Nature.
“Building the love of nature is the key to any sustainable farming movement,” concludes Lola. “It is Amma who has instilled this love of nature within all of us to truly see the unity in creation and then love and serve the world by loving and serving nature.”