Pondicherry does not have a desert. But the land on the outskirts of the town was very close to one. All the trees were cut down for wood and later for vegetation. This meant that with every rain, the rich top soil would get washed away to the Bay of Bengal. Completely barren and useless until two amazing people turned up to perform magic in their little farm. How a Belgian Man and an Indian Woman have painstakingly built a farm from an absolute barren land is truly inspiring. Watch the photolog.
This photo was taken a few decades ago. This is an aerial shot of the barren land with almost no green cover. All the trees were cut down and this has led to shocking levels of soil erosion. With every rain, the top soil would get washed away to the ocean leaving just lifeless hard soil.
Closeup of the soil. Its just pebbles and hard soil with no nutrients. All the rich top soil has been washes away to the Bay of Bengal. — at Pebble Farm, Auroville.
Bernard, a Belgian came to India nearly three decades ago and Deepika began the arduous task of reclaiming the barren, lifeless land.
Bernard demonstrates how they painstakingly created soil purely out of dry leaves.
The way how they do this is first planted an australian variety of eucalyptus tree. Its one of the trees that has the ability to grow in the most harshest of climates. Its also fast growing. The dried leaves from these trees serves as the main ingredient for starting up. They would collect the dried leaves and soak them up in water overnight. Then make a layer of dry leaves and cover it with soil. Then they would add a second layer of dry leaves and cover it with soil. They would continue to do this for 12 layers. They let this decompose and wait for nature to play its course. After two months, this turns into rich compost and is suitable to sow seeds and grow small plants. This is how they regenerated 14 acres of land.
The scene right now at Pebble beach. Rich vegetation all around. Bernard and Deepika have performed nothing but a miracle. We leaned a key lesson of the importance of biomass and its regenerative powers. No more burning of leaves and twigs. They need to be treated with respect and help make their way back to the soil.