Organic farming and community supported agriculture
Gorus forest farm began in 2008 on 10 acres of uncultivated hilly land. There was a fair amount of secondary forest cover at that time, so the idea was to develop this farm as a food forest without disturbing the existing ecosystem. The main objective was to see if we can convert this farm to a food forest which is ecologically sound and economically viable (i.e. it exists in harmony with nature, is able to give a steady supply of food throughout the year and is able to generate sufficient income from the farm produce to pay for the labour, equipment, and other overhead costs). The larger vision is to present an ‘alternative forest farming model’ to chemical agriculture and mono-cropping in this challenging era of climate change.
In the 12-year journey from 2008 to 2018, the Gorus team focussed on organic vegetable production and ran a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) network of 30 farmers and 200 urban families, where they supplied weekly baskets of organic farm produce to consumers in Pune city. Over the years they have inspired and trained several other NGOs and citizen’s groups and shared their model of CSA adapted to the Indian context.
After running the CSA for 10 years, they now focus more on developing the food forest at Gorus farm, the nursery, coffee processing and training of farmers as well as urban people who are interested in natural farming.
Ashwin Paranjpe, the founder of Gorus, is an organic farmer and also an ecology and water researcher. He has worked extensively on wastewater treatment projects in rural as well as urban areas in Pune and Aurangabad. He worked with Gomukh Environmental Trust where he was part of the team which worked on watershed development and renewable energy projects in Kolvan valley.
Before going for a Master’s course in Horticultural Sciences from the University of Florida, he had done his Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) from Mahatma Phule Agricultural University, Pune (India). Unfortunately, both courses focused on extensive use of chemicals. Ashwin became an organic farmer after he hit the bottom of the chemical agriculture “pit” where he was producing “Frankenstein” strawberries loaded with chemical fertilisers and pesticides during his master’s research. The use of chemicals seriously aggravated his asthma, and he decided to shift to organic farming. He spent six months working at Rosie Koenig’s organic CSA farm in Florida. After that, he spent a couple of years in Spain growing organic vegetables on a small farm, and doing research in ‘zero-discharge tomato cultivation’ at the Institute of Agri-food Research & Technology in Barcelona, before he came back to India to start Gorus in 2008 as a community supported agriculture initiative.
PROJECTS AT GORUS
Activities you can experience
Gorus has about 1800 coffee bushes on this farm whose fruits are harvested when they become red in Nov-Dec. The red cherries, as they are called, are fermented for 24 hours in water, de-hulled, and then seeds are dried in a solar dehydrator and stored in a cool dry place. When orders are received, they de-husk the coffee beans using a grind-stone and then the green coffee beans are roasted in an earthen pot. The entire process is manual and the coffee beans do not come into contact with any metal equipment during processing.
NATIVE SEED BANK
They grow a wide variety of native vegetables and fruits and save their seeds because native varieties are disappearing quickly in this era of hybrid seeds, and very few organizations/ people are taking the effort to conserve these invaluable native varieties.
Gorus organizes one-day farm tours for visitors where they can learn about different crops and natural farming techniques. During coffee harvesting season, they also give special coffee tours which focus on the history, cultivation practices, processing and brewing of coffee.
This is an opportunity for people who have done the short course in natural farming to visit the farm regularly to work in the farm and improve their faming skills. Farm volunteers generally come in the morning and go back home in the evening. However, if someone wants to stay for a few days and work on the farm, residential facilities and food are provided at a reasonable cost.
This includes the plantation of several fruits, coffee, ginger, turmeric, sweet potato, tapioca, yam, colocasia, spices, vegetables and herbs.
This has saplings of coffee, some spices, different varieties of bamboo, native flowering plants, and a small selection of forest species native to the Western Ghats.
There are two solar dehydrators which are used for drying coffee, papaya, ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, and other vegetables and herbs.
STAY WITH US
Immerse yourself in Nature for a short stay!
The Gorus farms are located in the stunning Kolwan valley with vast views to mountain ranges. It is close to the village of Nanegaon which has a stunning Hindu temple.
The farm has three stone cottages with one large bathroom. Generally, we don’t have full occupancy so there are not many people using this bathroom. The bathroom has a glass window so you can see the forest while taking a bath! Simple vegetarian food cooked with the vegetables growing on the farm is available. Electric kettle will be provided in each room for making tea, coffee, etc. The farms are an ideal venue for nature lovers and also creative artists who love solitude. Writers, painters and trekkers are welcome to come and stay.
Activities you can do on the farm in addition to participating in farm projects include visits to Nanegaon, treks into the forests surrounding the farm and interactions with local villagers to understand Indian village life. There is a sacred grove nearby that can also be visited.
Farm Stay – Rs. 2800/night for a couple including food (lunch, tea/snacks,dinner, breakfast). Contact Us for more details.
Farm volunteering – FREE; if you bring your own food.
If you want us to provide food, the charges are: Rs. 40 for breakfast, Rs.100 for lunch, Rs. 20 for tea. Note – these prices are only for farm volunteers who do at least 4-5 hours of physical work in the farm.
Day visits – Charges vary. Lunch and tea/ snacks are served.
Read more about ways in which you can participate in our vision...
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Sign up to volunteer at Gorus on a regular schedule once or twice a month. These visit help the farm complete essential activities while giving you a fantastic day in Nature.