Natural Forest Food
At Svaguna, we believe that natural foods are a great source of positivity, and this is not only true for us who consume these foods, but also for the soil and eco-system.
Our commitment to natural (no intervention in terms of manure / fertilizers / pesticides) farming is a step towards establishing a balanced ecology. At Svaguna, we grow and promote most products that are natural to the forest and don’t take away much from the soil.
Svaguna is derived from the Sanskrit word स्वगुण that means self attribute, we believe our products have all their attributes intact as we cultivate them free of chemicals and pesticides with no intervention in their growth process, hence one gets all benefits of the product from consumption/usage of Svaguna products.
Svaguna's mission is to supply natural and organic food products to consumers directly from food forest in India thereby bypassing the trader or middleman who pad up their margins making natural products very expensive for the consumers. We do multi-layer farming on all our farms and practice only those methods of farming that are healthy for the soil and mother earth and aids in improving the quality of produce that is more flavorful and fragrant.
All Svaguna products are authentic and help enhance the taste and flavor of food. Svaguna supports all efforts that are made to ensure the farmer gets the right price for his efforts and is able to live a life of dignity and not be dependent on subsidies and doles. Come join us in our journey that supports traditional methods of farming that is free of pesticides, fertilizers or chemicals and promotes good health for human, mother earth and soil.
Farming Practices Followed at our Food Forest
We have realised that Indian food has been losing its flavour and aroma since a couple of decades and when we dig deeper we realise one of the reasons is usage of hybrid or GMO seeds used in cultivation across India. We at Svaguna Foods LLP promote the usage of desi/native seeds in cultivation where possible and are ever in the lookout for desi seeds across the length and breadth of our country to try to cultivate them on our Vivavan food forest. At our Vivavan Food Forest, we use only desi seeds for most pulses & some spices like coriander, methidana, alsi, hadli, ginger, etc. peanuts, sesame, etc thus ensuring that are spices are more nutritious, aromatic and delicious. Below is a chart giving the difference between desi/native seeds vs Hybrid/GMO Seeds.
Ideally we would love to sow and market harvest of only heirloom seeds but in some cases they aren’t easily available as farmers haven’t passed them on from generation to generation nor have they stored it for the long run. Where we don’t have heirloom seeds available, we sow organic seeds of the product that we want to cultivate and store the produce for the next sowing season.
We at Svaguna Foods LLP promote desi/heirloom seeds as we believe they are better for humans, soil and mother nature. Svaguna is attempting to keep everything natural at their food forest and doesn’t believe in tampering with nature & the first attempt starts with natural/desi seeds.
Our food forest Vivavan is situated in a slightly hilly area where water accessibility has been a problem for decades. One of the reasons why the land hasn’t been cultivated in the last 2 to 3 decades has been non-accessibility to water through the year and limited rains in the monsoon season (drought years or lesser rain years are many). A large parcel of land around Vivavan Food Forest is owned by the forest department and they haven’t done much from their end as well on account of limited water availability through the year but things are changing for the positive slowly but steadily.
WATER is the lifeline of farming, it is an essential resource for farming and indisputably the most important resource without which farming is not possible. Our goal is to reduce demand for water and the need for imported water through the year as to WATER is most important to build sustainable farming.
We are working on creating an integrated simple technique to enable our food forest to be self-sufficient in water for our farms and area around us, thus ensuring the quality and quantity of groundwater improves around the area. Methods adopted a focus on collecting, storing, and using rainwater throughout the year as it is better quality, soft, and low in toxic minerals. (storage of rainwater and multi-layer farming helps increase the water table of the area, hence the demand for water reduces)
We have a few dug wells on our land to collect and store rainwater thereby re-charging the area around the wells in the monsoon season so that we can use the same during the non-monsoon season, we opted for dug wells over bore wells as bore wells tap fossil water and our principal is not the harm nature or take away from a natural resource in any way.
We have built 2 large water storage areas on our land, one pond with a depth of around 12 feet and another is a small check dam with a depth of 20 feet to stock rainwater and use it on our food forest during the non-monsoon season. The check dam helps to reduce soil erosion and we can use the collected soil as topsoil on our farms once the area starting drying up in the summer season thus ensuring our healthy soil doesn’t leave our farms.
There are multiple trenches/rainwater harvesting pits built of around 3 feet to 4 feet across our land to re-charge the soil water during the monsoon as the water gets collected in the pits and the area around maintains the moisture in the soil for longer days. Trenches prevent soil erosion when there are heavy rains as the soil gets collected in the trenches and we re-use the soil as topsoil. We use these trenches as compost areas during the non-monsoon season, we collect dry leaves and other waste and put them in the pit to decompose which again is used on our plants.
Other than water collection methods, we have planted a lot of forest trees of the region on our land as it has been scientifically proven that trees attract rain and help increase the moisture content (plants need moisture to survive not necessarily water) of the area thereby reducing water requirement. The elders of our area tell us that imli/tamarind helps attract rain and bamboo, neem, and mahua help hold water amongst which bamboo has a high holding capacity, hence we have grown them in abundance on our land especially in our borders. Other than tamarind, mahua, and bamboo some other forest trees that we have planted are teak, sal, bel, palas, mahaneem, peepal, chironji (almondette), shisham, sissoo, jamun, awala, gular, bahera, harra, etc.
Our food forest should be self-sufficient in our water requirement in the next 2 to 3 years and people in the area should be self-sufficient in water requirements in the next 5 to 6 years by our water conservation efforts.
Supporting Rural Economy
Our Vivavan Food Forest is situated between 3 villages in Amarwara taluka of Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh, the names of the villages are Bineki, Kekda and Khami. We are attempting to support and provide employment to the locals of the 3 villages, nearly all our team members belong to one of these villages. The locals weren’t trained nor are introduced to natural farming or natural farming concepts, we took them under our wing and skill trained them for our requirements. Not just our manpower but even our contractors, suppliers, seed suppliers, transport provider, mason, electrician, insurance agents, vets, etc all our locals, at times it is difficult to find people to execute our work but we explain and in case anyone willing then we are ready to explore options with them by training them via others from urban or semi-urban areas.
It is our endeavour to go as local as we can as the idea is to make the villagers associated with us self sustaining within the villages itself so that they don’t need to go to semi-urban and urban areas for their livelihood as the living conditions are poor for them in those areas whereas they own their houses in the villages and are able to maintain better living conditions for themselves with more area for themselves.Directly and indirectly around 20% to 25% village families are associated with us in 2 of the 3 village and we are working on involving more of them as we scale up slowly and steadily.Earlier we were only planting trees but now we have cultivating pulses, vegetables, etc which is manpower intensive and we are processing the dals and convert the masala to powdered form at the farm itself to enable us to provide further employment at our villages.
We employ around 60% to 70% women folk on our farms as most of them don’t have another source of employment in the villages and in our discussions with them we realized they are keen on supporting their families with additional income and in a few cases their income from working at our food forest is the primary source of income for their families. Primarily most of the villagers are dependent on agriculture income for their livelihood which is nature dependent and is annual mostly (in few cases it is bi-annual where they take both Kharif and Rabi crop, very rarely our villagers take the Zaid crop), so working with us provides them with regular and monthly income to meet their expenses and sustain their families.
We have plans to support the local primary school of the area from our end and will start working with the required agencies from year 2022 and will also working on building a library (physical and digital) at our food forest for children and elders to access so that they can have access to information from across the world.