When Jyoti Cariappa Saikia bought this piece of land 20 years ago, it was a barren, sandy, windswept desert. Today, while she continues to work in the corporate world of garment export, heading a very successful business, she draws her strength, sustenance and inspiration from the farm, which is truly her home.She is the one with the vision, the driving force… guiding everyone on the farm with her knowledge and foresight, leading all with love and compassion while demanding a committed work ethic. The following is a description of the farm in her own words…
“The farm is in the Aravalis, on the edge of the deserts of Rajasthan. It is a place where I have learnt some of the most important lessons that Nature and Life have to teach. There is nothing more satisfying than watching your fields being harvested, golden grain, ripening fruit and in spring the hum of bees in the wild dill and flowering citrus. There is an ease within as I take in the scene, a headiness in the warmth of the sun and a heart filled with quiet joy, that sends up a prayer on the wings of gratitude. There is another story too, of fields devastated by too much rain at the wrong time. A story of the fight with myself, to not give into temptation and spray a pesticide when the crop is infested. It is not easy and I know why the ‘doctor’ salesman visiting our village manages to sell the latest ‘very strong medicine’ for instant relief from pest damage. It is in this village that I am taught each day, lessons in endurance by Nature, who often seems so capricious and devastating. Her lessons are taught well over and over again till one grows to understand what we have done in our thoughtless rush for instant solutions, in our arrogance that tries to ‘improve’. She teaches us to be mindful in our conduct, to
give back a little of what we so arrogantly take.The transition from owning a farm to becoming an organic farmer has been often rocky, always challenging and the most satisfying part of my life.
My friend Kakoli is with us on this journey and together we are evolving with the farm, turning it into a place where one can be in complete harmony with nature, with one’s inner being, shaping our lives in a way that creates a fertile ground for the Growth of Consciousness.…a place where time is measured by the phases of the moon,…where every leaf, all weeds, each spec of earth, every living creature, every drop of water is considered useful,… where fertilization is hastened not with chemicals, but by introducing bees to cross-pollinate (the honey that one gets is a bonus) & earthworms to enrich the soil,… a place which inspires neighboring farmers to believe in the virtues of organic farming,…a place which nurtures creative thoughts, allowing one’s dreams to cross boundaries of conventionality, breaking down conditioned thought patterns,… a place to live, learn, participate and grow.”
A designer by profession, Kakoli Banerjee, met Jyoti while
working in the garment trade. Her week-end visits to the farm
soon grew into a desire to be there for good and she opted out
of the corporate world to lead a life with a difference. This is
what she has to say about her journey…" It was not an easy choice to make, given that I had a fairly comfortable life and a great job in the city. However, there as an unease and an intense seeking for a more meaningful and complete existence. It was this seeking which took me to Auroville and Pondicherry and on one of those trips, my contact with Jyoti was renewed. Taking this leap of faith has been the
best decision I have ever taken. I have had no farming experience but Nature is the best teacher and I am conatantly learning. When I am out in the fields or waist deep in water or driving through hilly terrains, I couldn’t be happier. There is much to be done … it requires skills in organic farm management, food processing, marketing, social development...the list is endless. I now have a job which is rewarding & satisfying and keeps me very busy… the money may come some day. At this point, the farm sustains. I couldn’t have asked for more.”
Kakoli, at present, lives in Pondicherry, where she is works on Restoration of Heritage Architecture and also manages another farm called HARMONY in Auroville.
She continues to be closely linked with Satya Jyoti Farm as well and visits regularly.
The team will be incomplete without Poonam
She is the Vegetable grower, Housekeeper, Cook....without her, the farm would not be what it is, a home.
She is the pillar and the rock of stability and good sense.
Nishant, Poonam & Dinesh's son, was born on the farm, as did their 3 daughters.
He knows every bit of the farm like the back of his hand and every day after school, can be seen on his bicycle.
Sunita, the youngest of the three daughters, is the brightest of the lot and will soon be leaving for college.
Until that happens, she is the person on the farm who speaks, reads and writes English fluently.