Bhaswati and I have applied Permaculture design principles on semi-arid land in Tamil Nadu, India (roughly 20 kms from Bangalore) and our efforts over the years have shown very promising results to turn highly compacted and degraded soil from years of over grazing into lush gardens with productive fruit trees. We have successfully grown over 150 fruit trees across over 25 species, including Mango (Imam Pasand, Mallika), Indian Gooseberry, Sapota, Water apple, Moringa, Ramphal, Soursop, Custard apple, and Jamun, as well as certain climatically suited Ayurvedic medicinal herbs.
As the site has no running water we have relied on Rain water harvesting as the primary technique for irrigation, channeled through a system of interconnected swales and underground rainwater recharge pits. The entire project has been sustained by once-a-week weekend visits (only) to the site, and each tree nurtured by its individual olla pot at its base. We have introduced bio-diversity with several trees and plants species interspersed with companion flowering plants that serve as natural insectaries as well as bright attractive flowering plants to attract bees and butterflies as pollinators. Many of the fruit trees support guilds of two or three smaller herbaceous bushes that we have experimented with for the climatic and soil conditions of the region. We have mostly used leaf mulch in the initial years and tree biomass for mulch in the later years. Most of the composting and foliar teas are from kitchen waste that we have carried with us to the site.
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Community projects are projects that help develop sustainable community interaction and increase localised resiliency.