Happy new year everyone! I want to continue where I left off in my previous post, so if you haven’t read that, I suggest you head over there first to get some context. The year was 2022, and like I mentioned in the previous post, we were thinking about farm life and were not sure if we can adapt to it after living in the city for such a long time. Since a few of our unschooling friends were living on farms far away from the city we thought it would be a good idea to visit their farm and see how they live and take care of their daily activities in such remote places. It will help us answer some long standing questions.
We found two such parents and visited them on separate occasions. Their farms were beautiful and so peaceful. Both farms have water bodies right next to their farmland. One has a flowing river which sounds musical if you sit near the river bank. The other has a lake. In both cases they were in very remote places. Even the nearest tea stall is a very very long walk away. Forget that, just to get out of the farm it takes longer than it takes for me to go to get milk here in Bangalore. They have small 2 BHK (if you can really call that) houses. Even cell phone signal is weak. We tried to understand how they live by staying in their houses for a couple of overnight stays. We are thankful to them for letting us stay and share their learnings with us.
It was a wild experience to say the least, but we learned many many things. All the way from composting to living completely off grid purely on solar and batteries. No TV, no broadband internet, just the feeble internet that you get from cell towers. Very few materialistic goods. In fact one of the families don’t have a car and the only two wheeler is an old TVS 50 moped for those of you who know. They only travel by walk, bus, and train. And to think they worked in the US for a good number of years and their children were born there. That is a very contrasting life really. Their kids are home schooled and have no fear picking up bugs, insects and the occasional snakes that they find on farm, with bare hands. They can climb coconut tress planted in their farm with ease without any support, just bare hands and legs.
Those were remote farms away from the city. We even looked at a couple of farms of our friends that are closer to the city. One was inside Bangalore! Can you believe it? It seems the person’s grandfather has kept it without selling and now as the city sprawled around it, the farm continues to stand strong. This farm however is not a place where the owners live. They use it as a weekend getaway. The rooms are much more modern compared to the previous farms. The farm grows a large variety of organically grown fruits and vegetables in addition to cattle and hens. We buy our fruits from there when possible. While I liked the farm because you are in the city with all the facilities, you are still stuck with poor air and water quality.
Another farm of a friend was very close to Bangalore. Less than 2 hours of drive from our place. Again, it was being used as a weekend getaway farm house and not a truly retirement house. Although the couple eventually want to move in, from what we understand. This is a much smaller half acre farm but they are able to grow a lot of fruits and vegetables using permaculture techniques. All the other farms I talked about thus far are over 10 acres. Although this farm does not have a water body very near by, they don’t have water problem.
We even saw a couple more farms of people who we met on WhatsApp group who are doing organic farming. Everyone’s perspective is different and alike at the same time. All I can say is that all the farmers who are away from the city and who live there seem to enjoy the slow life. We prefer that to a farm close to city and only using it as a weekend get away.
After all this research, and as 2023 rolled in, we were finally clear about what we wanted in a farm. It should not be too big because we saw from our visits that it gets too difficult to manage such a huge place all by themselves. You will need some help. We wanted to do everything ourselves. Likewise we did not want too small of a farm because then we cannot grow all the plants we want. The farm should be at least 1 acre, preferably 2 acres, but ideally 5 acres. Should have a water source near by. Finally, the closer to the city (Bangalore), the better it is because until the farm is developed we will have to frequently travel there. We can compromise on the size of the land depending on the distance from the city. So our search started. We saw exactly three farms before we realized that the farm we like is already in the list. No one should do such short research or visit such few farms :). I guess we were too eager.
The farm you see above was beautiful. Water is right next to the farm, so no water problems. Another advantage is that we know the quality of the soil because the farmer is already growing sugarcane. The village is near by too. The only problem is the access road which is not good. Unless we have a tractor or a 4x4, we cannot go anywhere near the farm. Have to park the car a long ways away and walk.
The next farm we looked at was also right next to water source and the farmer is growing mangoes. The soil was really good too. Still we did not like the access road nor the cost :).
The farm we liked has reasonably good access road. It is about 4 hours drive from the city and the highways are really good almost all the way up to the farm. It is about 2 acres in size and is close to a lake, but we have no idea about the soil quality. The farmer has not grown anything in the last 3 years. So we have no idea if anything will grow there. But the farmland next to ours has crop. A few coconut trees and corn. Fingers crossed that the soil is good and we can grow something. Actually this farm was the first one we saw. The previous two farms came later. But we liked this one the best. Strangely it looks like a barren land. No one who looks at it will think of buying it. Yet, here we are going for it. You never know what the heart wants.
Now to convert this barren land into our vision. It will take a lot of effort we know. But who said life has to be easy? The land was supposed to be 2 acres. Although there are some problems with the exact size which I will get to in another post (stupidity #1). The owner did not have proper documents for us to review (stupidity #2). We overpaid by a large margin. From what we understand, we paid at least twice the going rate over there (stupidity #3)! There is no electricity. We don’t know how difficult it is get electricity connection at that time (stupidity #4). We now know and it is a huge pain and a very expensive endeavor, which again I will get to in another post.
Finally, we didn’t even know if we will hit water when we go for a bore and how deep we need to go (stupidity #5). The land is very inclined and not flat at all. In fact it is by the side of a hill. While water logging will not be an issue, we could have the problem of soil erosion (stupidity #6). Moreover we need to plan a way to collect and store all the run away water (rain water harvesting) if we don’t want to depend on the underground water. We started at absolutely ground zero with a whole lot of negatives to boot.
The only saving grace for our stupidity is the fact that the real estate broker who was handling our case is a close friend of our friend. So there is some trust factor there. He is trustworthy at least from what I can tell, but I have been wrong more times that I was right (stupidity #7). So make of it what you want to :). After going through several difficult situations, we finally got it registered and have started developing the farm in incredibly small steps. Yet, this project took away a lot of our time. All the details will come in future posts. Meanwhile, send us your best wishes as we embank on this crazy endeavor in the new year.