Film by Dan Hodgson
When 19-year-old film student, Dan Hodgson, took an interest in what we’re doing and chose to make a film about it we were super happy to oblige.
He delved right in to explore some of the deeper issues about why environmentally-positive, highly nutritious, diverse, climate-adapted local food is so important.
Our home Kitchen Garden & Food Forest in Tropical Monsoon Goa, South India (Latitude 15 North) is an example of how degraded land can be regenerated to provide an abundant supply of diverse food, medicine and materials.
Our land was far from choice, but it’s what we had access to, so we ran with it. Measuring around 600m sq maximum, it is stretched out long and thin, measuring just 5 to 7 metres in many places. What could seem like a serious drawback lends itself to a feeling of a much greater space as a simple walk through the garden becomes a long meander. And that’s a lot of edge to work with.
The land is made up of rocks, stones, and zillions of pebbles. As part of an ancient “bund” system surrounding low-lying paddy fields, it seems that every single rock and stone found in the vicinity was piled up here over generations, along with broken toilets and diverse building debris from more recent times.
After initial infrastructure efforts (more intensive in the Kitchen Garden but quite light in the Food Forest), and a serious learning curve, it’s now thriving as it’s own sustainable ecosystem. It has proven itself to be resilient enough to weather seasonal water shortages and our periodic absences. Although events like travel, birth, visitors, family commitments, injuries and off-site commitments meant that at times we were unable to tend her as we would have liked to, little was lost. She continued to thrive, feed us, and grow in complexity of species and connections. When we’ve been able to give more, it’s not been a complicated nor difficult task to pick up again. We know we can walk away and come back to a solid framework which can be quickly and easily coaxed back into a more managed productivity. All will not be lost. And there will always be something delicious to eat.
The garden serves our own food needs, provides a surplus for friends in the local neighbourhood, and serves for demonstration & education, and research and development purposes.
Every new (or perhaps just forgotten) species that we find or re-discover that grows well here is a victory. The best ones are perennial or self-seeding. For every species we try that may fail, there are others that prove to be absolute winners and will continue to serve us and our community, potentially for generations.
The next step is working out how to use them, getting them onto kitchen tables and into people’s diets. We are all creatures of habit and these changes don’t necessarily come easily. Along with our own research & development we love to support and have collective input from those excited to work with the hardy, climate-relevant, delicious, nutritious and somewhat unusual foods that we grow. It’s so satisfying to discover all of the fantastic ways these foods and flavours can be enjoyed.
We are actively involved in awareness and outreach to individuals and organisations who wish to participate in every aspect of local food security. Sharing & exchanging of knowledge & experiences is of prime importance. These things are infinite and the more we share the stronger we will be as local communities and society as a whole. Time seems to be the strongest limiting resource for that and we long for more hours in a day.
Rosie Harding & Peter Fernandes