We have been working over the years towards developing at least one small-scale housing project in India where families and individuals who genuinely believe in ‘green living’ and a small carbon and ecological footprint, can reside. The aim of the project is not ascetic living, but to facilitate a lifestyle where one is eco-conscious and aware of the effects of one’s actions and way of life on the environment; a lifestyle where modernity and eco-sensitivity can coexist. Due to resource constraints we haven’t been able to get started on this plan, especially considering the huge increase in land prices in most Indian cities over the past half decade. We have therefore moved our focus to implementing a small-scale sustainable home project in rural India, and also help interested groups establish such projects any where in India.
We are currently planning an organic farm plot and farm house project outside Shantiniketan near Kolkata, West Bengal (similar projects are also being considered near Bangalore, Karnataka and Gurgaon, Haryana).
Considering the location this will perhaps be a second-home or weekend retreat for most residents, but any one who intends to use it for round-the-year living will also be comfortable, and find that all amenities and conveniences are provided for. The project is exclusively for those who genuinely believe in the philosophy behind it and is not a ‘fad’ project that throws about the word ‘green’ as a marketing label. It will therefore be completely different from any of the (so-called) farmhouse or bagan bari projects that have come up outside many Indian cities, including Kolkata.
This project is located within a village outside Bolpur Shantiniketan. Every home unit (or bagan bari as called locally) within the project will come with its own piece of land which the owners can use for organic cultivation or planting as per their choice. We will manage and cultivate the individual plots organically for a period of three years as per the choice of the owner. The home project will be completely independent, but will be located within a larger organic farm, where a farmer training centre, demonstration farm and student orientation centre will also be sited.
The project will be developed as a cooperative, with those aspects that form the ethos and the reasons behind the project – cultivation, construction, lifestyle, waste management, energy usage, animal welfare, etc. – being part of the rules, agreements and by-laws. Sattvic Farms will continue to be associated with the project and provide its services and support as long as these key aspects remain unchanged, but the cooperative would also have the right to decide its own course after three years when the project is complete, all systems are in place, and the owners well-acquainted with each other.
Some of the important features of the project would be :
Housing : Modern, secure homes which are aesthetically-pleasing and comfortable, made using locally-available, environment-friendly building materials to the largest extent possible, and with sensible architecture (including passive solar planning bearing in mind the sunshine, wind and rain patterns of the area). While comfort will not be compromised and the architecture will be largely customised, ostentatious or extravagant construction is not permitted.