February 1, 2009
From Prescott College
Greetings, welcome and Namaste!
Congratulations! Finally you found us at the Eternal farm site. Please join us for hospitality, food for thought, opportunity to visit and stay in a permaculture and multipurpose family farm. The farm as well as the site is evolving as we begin to converse with you and with ourselves. We are also contemplating starting another such farm-based educational center in the hills of Nepal, probably near Pokhara or the Kathmandu Valley.
The word eternal also captures the essence of what we originally meant by Ajamvari, a Nepali word. We started this farm in 1993-94 when we were working on a project on agroecology and sustainable livelihoods in Nepal. I gave the name Ajamvari Multipurpose Farm to reflect the idea of permanence, abundance and sustainability. The word Ajamvari I thought represented the agro-ecological tradition of Nepalese Himalayan foothills. But due to changing times, rapid modernization and globalization of Nepalese economy, something needed to be done to keep this tradition alive. In its own modest ways, the Ajamvari farm has kept the promise alive.
Let me share a bit of history, the katha and Kurakani of and about the farm. The original team starting the farm consisted of myself (Pramod) and Dr. Elizabeth Enslin (now a Waldorf teacher in Portland, Oregon, a homesteader of a ranch near Flora in remote part of eastern, Oregon, and a mentor for Prescott College students in its Portland Bioregional Hub). The duo of post-doctoral researchers and the MacArthur Foundation Fellows were joined by Anil Bhattarai (now a doctoral student in urban planning at University of Toronto), Udaya Parajuli, Sadhana Parajuli and family (featured in this site), and Pramila Parajuli (now a teacher in Kathmandu who is also raising her two beautiful children, Dipendra and Dipika).
As is in our family tradition, the wider and larger extended family of Parajuli's and Bhattarai's were integral part of the evolution and maintenance of this farm. The Bhattarai family is also intimately connected to this farm because Madhumaya, eldest sister of Pramod and Udaya lives in Tandi, a town in eastern Chitwan, on the way to Sauraha. Madhumaya and her one daughter and five sons all love this farm and have contributed their labor and love into it. So are the family of brothers, Siddhi Parajuli and Tirtha Parajuli. Among them, Anil Bhattarai and Pramila Parajuli are one of the original architects of this farm.
Why the Farm?
As of 1993-94, agriculture in Chitwan was already heading towards a crisis. The soil had begun to get depleted, and crops had begun to be diseased. I was so sad to witness that once the robust crop of mustard and the winter landscape of blooming yellow mustard was disappearing in Chitwan. Desperate and helpless, peasants had begun to loose hope of eking out their livelihoods from farming. Peasants and farmers had taken loans from the bank for chemical fertilizer, pesticides and even the use of tractors. During our initial investigation on agroecology for a post-doctoral research, we realized that a bold and a deep solution was needed to keep the peasants in the farm.
But how? In Nepali, we say, Ke Garne?
None of us had a formal training in agriculture. Perhaps that was a blessing that we were not saturated into the reductionist thinking of green revolution that had created this havoc in the first place. Luckily, we had taken with us a book by John Jeavons, called, How to grow more Vegetables (visit: www.ecologyaction.com).
We began to search for answers and a path ahead for Nepali peasants. How could they continue to live in rural farms but also afford to have dignified and healthy lives? How could their basic needs be met in and from the land without destroying its vitals but by enriching soil’s health and vitality?
A dream was born to build a model for a family farm that builds on agro-ecology and assures sustainable livelihoods for rural Nepalese. In a unique Nepali way, we began to thread several traditions:
a) bio-intensive agriculture as practiced by John Jeavons in Willits, California
b) permaculture and whole systems design
c) using all wisdoms from the agro-ecological traditions of Nepalese Himalayan foothills as exemplified by our ancestors, our hajooraama, Parvati Parajuli, in particular
d) draw from the indigenous traditions of Tharus, Kumhals and Botes who had been inhabiting in the Rapti Valley for generations
e) inspiration from the agrarianism of Wendell Berry (a poet-farmer from Port-Royal, Kentucky), Mahatma Gandhi (his model of village republic and Hind Swaraj for India), Vandana Shiva (Earth Democracy, from India), Emiliano Zapata (the peasant revolutionary from Mexico, who championed the idea of land and liberty for Mexicans) and many others
f) focus on meeting the basic needs of a peasant family (food, fiber, fodder, firewood, health, happiness, and renewable energy)
g) nurture the ideal and practice of our age-old tradition of dharma and hospitality
We wanted this experiment to be in a reasonably smaller scale such that other peasant families with similar land holding of 2-5 acres could learn from it. The goal of educating and disseminating was and remains central. Thus by April, 1993, we bought and designed this farm.
Thanks to the tropical climate and fecundity, garden began to flourish rapidly. By 1994, this farm served as an epicenter for a movement for Sustainable Livelihoods in Nepal. Hundreds of workshops and meetings have taken place in this farm. A new generation of farmers, gardeners and food and agricultural educators have been inspired from this farm. The thatched-roof, and open-aired gazeebo has been the intellectual hub of the farm around agro-ecology, sustainable livelihoods and permacuture design. Many family and social rituals and festivities have also commenced under the roof.
Reflecting back over the last fifteen years, the experience of dreaming and designing this farm has been one of the most satisfactory initiatives in my life. This experience has influenced my and my extended family's lives in most unique and deepest ways. Once we began to converse with the earthworms and spiders, the world turned upside down. A new interpretation of the world began and so did our priorities, choices and activities. Once, I remember, wanting to bring all the plants of the Chitwan forest and animals and the birds into this piece of land. I have written on that design and dream in an article called, How can Four Trees make a Jungle? available at:
See more of my articles on the right side of this home page.
Since then we do not see the soil, the land, the farm, and the food in the same way. Now all of us are active in the food and garden based education, learning gardens and initiatives for agroecology and permaculture. The time for agroecology and permaculture has come to full fruition. Inspired by this, I also started the learning gardens movement in Portland, Oregon.
I am convinced that food, farm and gardens will be the gateway to social engagements that will not only be DEEP but also DELICIOUS.
This Ajamvari farm is dedicated to our late parents Pundit Kedar Nath Parajuli and Parvati Parajuli. Both of our parents have passed away (Parvati in 2008 and Kedar Nath in 2003) but their inspiration continues through our and your good work in this farm.
Please join us in nourishing the soil, soul and society.
You can write to me at:
and find out what I am doing here in Arizona and the US-Mexico border.
Some readings and resources on agro-ecology, permaculture and sustainable livelihoods
www.resurgence.org (go to archives and search for food and agriculture)
Political Ecology of Food and Agriculture, Google Group
Vandana Shiva, Soil, not Oil: Securing our food in times of climate change. Boston: Southend Press.
Also visit website of my two favorite authors:
Gary Paul Nabhan at:
And Michael Pollan at:
Let me tell you something about our Organic Farm. We call it Eternal Farming and it is situated in Chitwan, which is just 150km from Kathmandu and just 15km from Chitwan national park. This small multi-purpose family farm was established by Professor Pramod Parajuli. He is teaching at Prescott College, Arizona, USA. There he teaches core courses for the Doctoral Program in Sustainability Education and also serves as the Director of Program Development in Sustainability Education.
In our farm, you will have opportunities to learn more about organic farming practices that we are adopting. Besides, you will have a chance to learn Nepali culture, language and rural lifestyles. Your host family will be Mr. Udaya Raj Parajuli, who runs the farm. He is a married with two teenage kids. We will provide you fine accommodation plus good, organic Nepali cuisine. If you are interested in teaching in school we can also arrange that. All subject, apart from Nepali, are taught in English and help from a native speaker would be a great benefit to the children.
To learn more, read on below and do click on the slideshow image to the right and see some pictures from the farm, school and village. If you want to get in touch, click on contact to the right.
I had the pleasure of staying with the Parajuli's in October 2008 and had a truly wonderful time.
When volunteering one of the factors that always concern is where you'll stay, what the conditions will be like, what will food be like, will I still have my freedom, will English be spoken, will I enjoy it? Now 7 volunteers / visitors have stayed and having read the visitors book, they all feel the same as I did: that it is a wonderful place to be.
The family is 5, 6 if you count Buddi who works on the farm.
Udaya is generous and hilarious and speaks pretty great English. One of those people who can always find time to laugh, who likes to get things done, who is an optimist and is either full of energy or asleep. He works hard on the farm, works also at the school teaching science to the younger children and enjoys spending time with his family. He is also very curious. I was asked many questions about the differences between Nepal and my country, the way things are done and why. He is keen to learn and explore new things. He is a great host.
Sadana is the mother of the family and spends much of her time cooking, cleaning and making sure the family is well. Her cooking is delicious and comes directly from the garden and the families rice padi. Here she is harvesting a few flowers from the garden.
Sebika has just finished school and is enjoying exploring her independence.
Subash recently (and expensively) broke his arm and should be better by the end of November, but is temporarily banned from riding his bike (which he ignores of course).
Sweta is a cousin to these two and is staying with the family and attending the local school. She and Subash took some of these photos. All speak pretty good English.
There are two buildings: a brick built house and wooden building accommodating buffaloes (which provide milk), goats and chickens. There are also two pigeon roosts which provides a pleasant cooooing sound through the day.
The most impressive thing for me was the amount of pineapples growing amongst the trees. In addition you'll find coconuts, lemon trees, guava and numerous other delights, including trees that have medicinal purposes and fixed my Kathmandu cough.
There are is also a more traditional vegetable plot where greens, potatoes, beans etc grown. All the food that you eat is harvested from the garden or the families rice padi a kilometer or two away.
Clean water comes from a well on the site. There is also a bio-gas installation that provides enough gas for cooking, fuelled by buffalo dung!
The School was set up several years ago as a community project where many members of the community bought in shares to raise the funds to buy land and build classrooms. Now there are around 200 pupils from ages 6 to 17. The curriculum is in English and taught in a mixture of English and Nepali. While the school is successful and results are good for the area, the value of having a native (or fluent experienced) English speaker is great: conversations become real, motivation to speak increases due to curiosity and pronunciation and fluency can hopefully improve.
Additionally there is the value of bringing an alternative world view. This is a rural environment and apart from the Hollywood films shown on TV (of those families that have) the outside world remains outside.
- Teaching in the school: as mentioned English language is very important in the curriculum and a volunteer with good English ability will be a great asset to the students at the school. In return you will have a great deal of fun with the students. Children on the whole are very good natured, incredibly smiley and friendly.
- Organic farming: If you have knowledge of organic farming practices you are more than welcome to come and try your own project, make suggestions and generally learn about farming in Chitwan - the seasons, climate and local crops. If you don't have farming knowledge, you are also welcome to come and get your hands dirty! It is also a lot of fun and an adventure to milk buffalo, pick pineapples and fill the bio-gas chamber with dung.
- Community project: There are many community projects on going with community groups. For instance a local women's group wishes to set up a library and knowledge sharing centre. Udaya and family wish to encourage other farmers in the area to move to organic farming. Just ask to see what else is happening at the moment and see what interests you.
- Micro-credit: This might be going a bit far but if you find a local small business opportunity, maybe you'll want to look into something like Kiva.org.
- Just visit: If you don't have time, just ask to see if you can visit for a few days on your way to Chitwan national park.
If you have questions, just get in touch - leave a comment below or send an email to eternal.farming [at] gmail.com.
Looking forward to hear from you!