Bhaskar Save, Gandhi of Natural Farming

“When a tree sapling planted by a farmer is still young and tender, it needs some attention. But as it matures, it can look after itself, and then it looks after the farmer.” - Bhaskar Save
“When a tree sapling planted by a farmer is still young and tender, it needs some attention. But as it matures, it can look after itself, and then it looks after the farmer.” – Bhaskar Save

Bhaskar Save’s farm is a food forest that provides a net supply of energy, water and fertility to the local eco-system. In a letter to the Prime minister Save writes, “In this vast nation, does any government agricultural department or university have a single farm run on modern methods, which is a net supplier of water, energy and fertility to the local eco-system, rather than a net consumer? But where there is undisturbed synergy of Nature, this is a reality! By all criteria of ecological audit, my farm has only a positive contribution to the health of the environment. Economically too, I get a manifold higher income than ‘modern’ farmers.”

Bhaskar Save says that nature already produces an abundant yield by itself, and that man is arrogant to try to increase that yield in a synthetic way. All man has to do, according to Save, is help ensure the conditions necessary for the best yield.

He believes that things people usually consider undesirable like ants, termites and weeds have their place in this type of natural orchard/farming that eventually matures to virtually take care of itself. Inside the farm’s gate there is a sign that reads: “Co-operation is the fundamental Law of Nature.”

Micro-organisms as well as earthworms, ants, and termites help with “conditioning of the soil and in recycling plant nutrients” while “weeds moderate the temperature of the earth…maintaining suitable conditions for soil organisms.” Excessive weeds are also a sign to the farmer that something is off with their crops and that they may be “hurting the earth and her creatures”.

Here is a summary of Save’s 4 fundamental principles of natural farming:

1. All living creatures have an equal right to live

2. Everything in Nature is useful and serves a purpose

3. Farming is dharma, a sacred path serving Nature and fellow creatures

4. Perennial fertility regeneration: humans take 5 to 15 % of the plants’ biomass yeild and leave 85 to 95 % to renew the soils fertility.

According to Save “Non-violence, the essential mark of cultural and spiritual evolution, is only possible through natural farming”. If we continue to produce food using the current standards of industrial farming isn’t it hypocritical to call ourselves evolved? Industrialized farming depletes the soil, kills micro-organisms, and requires an excessive use of harmful chemicals to produce.

Since the model of natural farming requires time to mature, and there are no immidiate gains, I picture individual farms using it to feed people locally, rather than it being used by corporations. It helps me envision farms like works of art, each farmer an artist intimate with his soil, plants, and animals. I think Ghandi was right when he said “complete self-reliance at the village level” is the basis for a good life.

Do you think that it is possible to use this model of farming to feed a whole country or the world?

From the article Bhaskar Save, the Gandhi of Natural Farming by Bharat Mansata on permaculturenews.org

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