Shared vegetable farm – update

After a long pause we made some progress last week. We brought in a contractor for constructing a well. He thinks we should be able to get sufficient water at a depth of 10-15 ft. We are also talking to a neighbor on the possibility of utilizing their unused well.

Getting electricity connection is continuing to be a challenge. Electricity office told us that either we need a certification from the agricultural department that the connection is for agricultural purposes, or we need to have a building permit to get electricity connection. When we visited agricultural department they said agricultural connection has a subsidized tariff and so they require at least 30 cents (0.3 acre) of land to issue the certificate, but only have 27 cents! We said we don’t need subsidy and are ready to pay full commercial tariff. It seems we are stuck in red tape. Frustrating.

In the mean time, we cleared all the wild grass and other vegetation on the field with some external help. We left everything on the ground as an organic mulch. We also need to bring down a few branches of trees. I have attached a couple of pictures of the field. One with the area where we plan to start planting vegetables, and the second is the existing banana plantation.

I hope we will get through the hurdles in electricity connection and get going with farming quickly.


Field getting ready! Banana plantation

Soil test results

After about three weeks of waiting we finally got the soil test results. The lab said that the soil sample we gave was wet and so they will keep it for several days before testing. If you are planning to do a soil test, dry the soil sample in advance so that you won’t have to wait as many days.

If you are in the Kakkanad area, your nearest soil test center is at Maradu. Actually Krishi bhavan told us that it is the only one around in the area.

The result looks like the land is fertile for vegetable farming. It shows that we are good on N (Nitrogen), but P & K (Phosphorous and Potassium) are on the higher side. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. Lab recommended some fertilizers, but I’m going to get some expert help from organic farmers before I add anything to the soil.

Soil Test Results

Setting up a small urban organic farm

I am starting with two small pieces of land.

First is a 20 cents (1/5th of an acre) plot. Half of this plot already has banana plantation. A couple of trees are there in the other half, but they don’t seem to put too much of shade on the ground. Excluding the banana plantation, I am expecting roughly 8 cents of cultivable area to start with some vegetable crops.

Farming on this land is a group project. Nishad and I are going to work on this together, and probably bring in two or three more members. Nishad is from a very similar background as I’m, 20+ years of working in IT in the Middle East and US, and now in an entrepreneurial / executive role. Land is owned by a common friend of ours, Dinesh, who has generously agreed to give us the land for farming.

We hope to organically produce enough vegetables from this farm for our families. Each of the members would take turn and attend the farm. This land is close to my home, just 10 minutes walk away. We need to find a water source, well or bore well, and get electricity connection for irrigation. We are awaiting soil test results now to figure out what kind of soil preparation would be needed. So, there is some pre-work to do before we can get our hands dirty. 🙂

Second is a personal project on a similar size, 8 cents, plot. There is good vegetation in this land but no cultivation at present. Somebody seems to be letting their cow graze here, which is great (until I start farming) because it keeps the grass short and fertility of land stays in great shape. This plot is 20 minutes drive from my home and it will be difficult to visit every day. So I plan to plant crops that don’t need daily attention.

I hope to run this personal farm in a financially self-sufficient model after the first few months. Meaning, I should be able to sell the produce for making enough money to run the farm and be able to distribute a part of the produce to family and friends. I know that’s too ambitious for a farm of this size, but nothing wrong in having a dream, isn’t it? 🙂

Like in the first case, I need to find water source, get electricity connection and do a soil test. I hope to make some progress over the next couple of weeks. Well, I better stop blogging and start farming. 🙂