Snehal Trivedi ( or Seed, as he prefers to be called) runs Sapney farms, a small farm next to Auroville in Pondicherry. He moved back from UK a few years ago with the willingness of getting back to his roots. Please read the interesting interview with him here.
1) Tell us about yourself.
I have been a graphic designer all my life, after spending couple of years in England, I returned back home in late 2007 and discovered all new way of living on a barren land and building a small shelter made of natural material, now its know as Sapney farm where I live with people from around the world practicing and experimenting sustainable living. My given name is Snehal Trivedi but I love to be known as Seed
2) How did your interest in farming take shape?
I was born in a village of Saurastra, Gujarat. Lived my first toddler years in a village house full of farm produce and fresh homemade butter, later grew up in a city fonrunately with a big vegetable garden which my grandma would take care of with so much care and love, we would enjoy all different fruits all year around, playing with mud and climbing the mango trees, this memories stayed fresh in my heart, when I finally managed to save some money at the age of 33, I decided to retire from 9 to 5 work and move back to living on the land. I also started a restaurant famous for it’s cold coffee, known as ‘KofiBar’ with a K. To be able to serve fresh organic food at our restaurant, we got more focused into farming to grow our own.
3) Talk to us about your experience and process of buying the land?
When I came to explore Auroville for couple of months in 2007, I got interested in looking into the possibility to be able to buy a small piece of land, luckily after couple of months, I found a perfect piece of half acre of land right in the centre of town in a village called Kottakarai. After confirmation of the authenticity of the land papers and talking to few people in the trade, I decided to buy this land and started living on it in late 2008.
4) What would be your advice to people who are contemplating investing in a farm land?
As our great great grand parents would say, invest in the land, she will never let you down, never let you go hungry, and it is still true in today’s time. One has to do some research on the type of soil, water and rain, about the natural resources around the land including the knowledge of the community of farmers or people living in that area. It is indeed a fascinating idea to go back to land, but it need good amount of patience and faith, lot of planning and minimum of 3 years of financial resource to support your life on the upcoming farm. As far as finance is concerned, If you have 100 units to spare, invest 50 in land and keep 50 for the development.
5) Why did you name your farm as Sapney farms. Any thought process behind it?
Sapney means Dreams in Gujarati, Hindi and even Sanskrit. As a designer, I have lived my life and build my life with dreams, living on a farm was dream of my parents and mine, and since we started living in our Sapney, we have hosted thousands of people from around the world which has inspired them to live their dreams whereever they go.
6) What is the size of the farm and what do you grow there?
Half acre, so it’s not really a farm, more like a big garden but still we have more than 150 different types of plants which includes medicinal, herbs, fruits and vegetables including dozens of palm tress, few neem trees, a huge tamarind trees. Its an upcoming farm and was completely degraded for the last 300 years, there was no top soil and the land was hard as rock when I started living, In the last 3 years we have covered almost half of the land with rich living matter and are allowing wild plants to grow freely to attract diverse variety of insects, birds and animals. What do we grow? We grow dreams and with them, we grow hope!
7) What challenges did you face while you set up your farm and how did you overcome them?
Not just did we still are, challenges are on going and I guess it will never stop, but thats the most fun part of starting from scratch. Specially deciding to farm a barren and almost dead land, we had to keep lot of patience, try out different plants, manage resources and above all, invest a good amount of money and time without expecting any immediate returns. That’s why we call our project ‘Heal The Soil’, its to give back to the soil and be grateful that she has been providing us with our most essential needs, all our life.
8) How have you benefitted by your decision of getting back to the land?
The most amazing experience was to understand the entire cycle of life, the value of each and every grain which grows, being aware of all the natural factors which affects us and the land we live on. It was like going back to the real school of life. Learning which never happened in my school or college, such lessons were learned and learning was happening when I started living on the land. It made me more tolerant and humble towards nature and others.
9) What are the activities that you conduct at your farm?
We conduct regular workshops on sustainable practices, including permaculture weekend workshop, Internationally certified permculture design course for 3 weeks, invite school children and groups for a half intro tour to our medicinal garden, composting and raised bed making. We host volunteers for short and long term, as well as its one of the most favorited space in the couchsurfer community.
10) Let us know your contact details and your presence on social media so that people can reach out to you.
Seed Snehal (Snehal Trivedi) – FB
Heal The Soil CSA – FB
Heal The Soil CSA – Twitter
Snehal Trivedi – Linked
Personal email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Personal mob.: 09489692272