Suman Sangam-- A forest farm
Trees

 

Every tree is a naturally designed receptacle or a funnel of Mother Earth to catch the rain. We made well-designed pits for all trees to hold as much rainwater as possible and we put in sufficient mulch in each pit, which helps in reducing natural evaporation. We can classify the trees in Suman Sangam into the following broad categories: live fence, flower-bearing trees, fruit-bearing trees, forest or timber trees and special trees. In the fence, we have bamboo, hibiscus, agave, acacia, subabul, cup and saucer, kavali, mullu harivaana, cactus neem, and many other plants.

Fruit trees -- mango -- about 150 plants of some 20 varieties; about 100 sapota plants, jackfruit, jamun, sitaphal, ramphal, laxmanphal, wood-apple, chakkota, lime of different varieties, papaya, banana, coconut (about 100), Singapore cherry, West Indian cherry, kavali hannu, pineapple, guava, orange, amtekai, cashew, starfruit, butterfruit, breadfruit, wood apple, rose apple, cinnamon, etc.

Apart from the seasonal flower-bearing plants, we also have perennial flower trees like bakul, hibiscus, ice cream cone, ratnagandhi, saugandhika, bottlebrush, hamelia, raatrani, ananthpushpa, champaka, kakada, saviramallige, curtain-creeper, wood rose , gagana mallige, Deva kanagile, kanagile Sita Asoka, nagalinga pushpa. We also have cycus, cardamum, allspice, gajjuga, tapioca, nelabasale chakramuni etc.

Forest trees -- teak, sandalwood, matti, honge, honne, hole dasavaala, cassia, shivani, varieties of figs and many more.

I must also mention some special trees which are relatively uncommon in this part of Karnataka. We have eggfruit,, rakta chandana, lokqwat, kumkuma, gauri (Gloriosa superba), litchi, beggars bowl (double coconut) and, very specially, the baobab tree (Adansonia digitata)- one of the longest living trees in the world - said to live for nearly five thousand years!

Water

Suman Sangam is on the edge of the Western Ghats with gentle slopes on three sides of the land - on the east, south and north. The southern border is actually a small hillock - enabling a bird's eye view of the farm. This natural topography of the land has made our task of watershed management and rain water harvesting relatively easy. Contour bunding in the upper half of the land has helped a lot in conserving rain water.

We have five ponds on our land. Sampige Honda, Maina Honda, Raghuteerth - named after my late younger brother Raghuveer, Kavali Kola and the largest of the ponds the Bodhi Kere - spread over about 200 sq mts and about 4-5 mts in depth. We have an open well. This well is located in the lowest part of the land. During the rainy season, it literally overflows. And we have a bore well.

Soil

Coming to the component of the soil, from the very beginning, we had decided to be as clean and as green as possible. Our ground rule is that there shall be no chemical fertilizers or harmful chemical pesticides on our land at any point of time. We continue to have plenty of earthworms of the native variety along with termites, and they have been helping us make our soil more and more fertile over the years. Because of the increasing biomass, the farmyard manure and extensive mulching for all trees, the fertility of the soil is continuously improving.

Out of the total of 17 acres of land, nine acres is under horticulture and timber or forest trees. Five acres is earmarked for cultivation of various crops like paddy, jowar, maize, ragi, tur dal, groundnut, bengal gram, hurali, soyabean, horse gram etc. Two acres are taken up by the ponds, and another acre is kept aside for grazing by our cattle.