by Alyson Hazlewood
One of the New Life mission statements is ‘To create a sustainable farm that will offer healthy food choices to all of our members, provide an opportunity to our members to practice mindfulness in physical work, and provide an additional income for the foundation.’
I was fortunate enough to arrive at New Life during mango and pomelo season, the crop was so bountiful this year that we were able to enjoy mangos after almost every meal for many weeks. Our rice fields produce more than enough rice to feed the community for the entire year. We grow a huge number of fruits, vegetables, salad, grains and herbs using organic growing methods and crop rotation, with the cows and ducks providing rich fertiliser for the soil. All our food waste is either recycled into a 4 stage composting system or, in the case of certain fruit and vegetable peels, is fed to our contented cows.
It is a joy to see the lush abundance on display everywhere you look, and you don’t have to look far. During morning yoga in the open air Awakening Hall, the sun rises dramatically over the vegetable garden and is truly a sight for sore eyes. Slightly further afield are the fruit orchards, banana groves and trellis structures for growing beans and climbing plants. We even have a darkened mushroom shed for cultivating mushrooms from inoculated spore bags.
The gardens and grounds are looking the best they ever have
Of course, there has been some trial and error, farm manager Leif has experimented with many types of vegetables and inevitably, some just don’t seem to take to the soil conditions. But on the whole, we grow everything we need to nourish our community, and we eat a vegetarian diet in line with the seasons produce, supplemented by duck eggs, and milk, yoghurt and cheese from our three cows.
Many of the beautiful flowering plants around the vegetable garden, such as marigolds and cosmos perform a natural anti-pest function, while attracting essential pollinating bees. Leif’s latest great idea was to plant a border of majestic sunflowers, so the beds are looking particularly beautiful right now.
In just five short years we are well on the way to accomplishing this mission statement. The community is well fed, we have been able to sell good quantities of surplus fruit and rice, and the gardens and grounds are looking the best they ever have thanks to the hard work of the Thai farm team and our volunteers.
Aly Hazlewood is a Writer, Beauty Editor and Make Up Artist from London, currently exploring new ways of living and being. She blogs at http://www.thetruthaboutbeauty.co.uk