Solitude Farm is a farm which was founded by Krishna McKenzie in January of 1996. He was inspired to start his farm because of a Japanese farmer/Zen master, known as Masanobu Fukuoka, who wrote a book entitled “The One Straw Revolution”. The basic idea of the book is that nature is already perfect, you can’t improve upon nature, but as a whole, we just seem to continue to destroy it. Krishna questions how we can reconnect with nature and bring value into our daily life—what is the simplest thing we can do? The most basic thing we do every day is eating, but the problem is, the majority of the time we have no idea where the ingredients used to make our food comes from. Who grew it, where was it grown, how is it stored, how is it transported? These are all questions that we fail to ask ourselves when we go to buy food and then consume it. We have no relationship with this basic thing that we do on a daily basis. The truth of the matter is that we are privileged, and we are in a bubble that has lost the value of the importance of connecting with nature. Industrialization of our most basic need is what is killing our planet. So, what do we do? Krishna suggests that the most basic thing that we could start to consider is to discover local foods and which foods in particular are growing locally. It’s up to us to start eating foods that do not have a high carbon footprint, that will not have a negative impact on our planet. That is where Solitude Farm comes in. It is a farm in Auroville that is entirely dedicated to rediscovering and reconnecting the relationship to where our food comes from in a practical way. This all starts from the exploration of local foods. For Krishna, he struggles to understand why us as a society overlook local foods. It is something so obvious and practical, yet we are too lazy to realize how impactful local foods can be for our planet and for our economy. Local foods grow easily and in abundance. They are growing all over and so at the end of the day, they are NOT EXCLUSIVE. Everyone has access to these local foods. It makes me think of a term used quite often in economics: public goods. Goods that are 1) non-rivalrous and 2) non-excludable. These local foods are just that, but we as a society struggle to realize that and we struggle to take the time to consider that. If we would take the time, we would recognize that local foods actually have a higher nutritious value than the more industrialized products. These industrialized products have an extreme ecological cost to be able to produce them and then transport them.
Solitude farm has more than 140 plants that are used throughout the year. Krishna took us for a walk around his farm where we were introduced to several different plants. Before his explanation of plants, he discussed soil. How it is built up simply because organic matter falls. Solitude strives to recognize how everything around them, all the organic matter in the farm, is a bioresource. Bioresources are the “nutritious prophet” as Krishna explained to us, as the nutrition in the soil is directly related to our wellbeing. There are millions of microorganisms that are alive, and this healthy soil is the basis of our existence. Krishna explained that to him “it is an act of love to eat these (140) plants, it’s almost like a spiritual path”. Mother Nature is able to offer us so much, but we neglect to receive what she has offered. Obviously not all of these 140 plants will be found in Paris, America or any other part of the world, but there are plenty of plants that we have access to. It is up to us to find which plants we do have and how we can implement them into our daily life. In his discussion about the plants, we all realized quite quickly how many positive effects these plants will have on our wellbeing. One of the plants is good for cognitive abilities, pregnancy and asthma. It is high in vitamin C. This particular plant is used by Solitude Farm in their green smoothies, green ice cream, pesto sauce, kimchi, and many other things. The whole idea that Krishna stressed was creativity. There is a wide array of possibilities for these plants to be used, it’s up to us to experiment and figure out what we like. The problem is that with such a plant like this, there are less than 2% of the bioregion who actually are eating it, as most have forgotten what grows around them due to industrialization and money. If we just put our best effort out there to make a difference to change our habits, there could be a revolution in our society, what Krishna explains is a “nutritious revolution”. This revolution would be touching on so many of the sustainable development goals, as it would affect matters socially, economically, ecologically and culturally. It starts with such a simple thing as this.
Other than just growing food locally and providing, Krishna believes that it is important to also celebrate and have festivals. Coming together is really our humanity and celebrating each other’s existence is something very special. For him, it will bring society together. Culture is something that can bring our society together and will help us get us back to our roots, back to nature. Every year, Solitude Farm hosts a festival that goes from dusk to dawn with 14 different food stalls. These food stalls are very important to Krishna, as these people working them are striving to bring awareness to locals about farm to table food and the importance of shifting one’s lifestyle back to nature. Personally, I am someone who does not spend time thinking about how I can make smarter choices with food and how my food choices can really have an impact on society. Hearing Krishna speak changed a lot for me. He is right. It is really just the fact that we as a society do not place importance on something that is so practical and really easy to do. His efforts to bring awareness to people about this issue really inspired me to want to make different choices in my life. It is definitely time for a “nutritious revolution”.
Written by: Caroline Dougherty, Photos by: Caroline Dougherty