Our cottages are located in a beautiful, serene and pure environment. To maintain the environment in the same way, there are a few steps that we have taken and some activities that we do from time to time.
Our cottages are totally environment friendly. Sunlight provides us with the required energy and by promoting the rational use of electricity, we are able to manage without any dependence on fossil fuels. The design and construction of the cottages ensure that they remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter. 100% of the water used in the cottages is recycled back. We also have put in simple methods to prevent the runaway of rainwater, so as to enrich the groundwater. All of the bio-degradable waste generated is composted and used for maintaining the gardens around the cottages. We educate everyone to reduce waste generation also. All the non-biodegradable waste, however little we generate, is disposed off as per the government recommendations.
We run a homestay and this gives us a chance to meet new people and spend time with them. We use this opportunity to influence them to become green warriors. We are facing a climate crisis, and we need each and every person who can contribute anything to it.
On the ground level, we have taken various steps to reduce our carbon footprint. We don’t use plastic bags or buy items that are wastefully packaged in plastic. We also request our guests to do the same. Our tap water is potable and we further use simple filtration methods to avoid water wastage. Our guests are provided with fresh drinking water in glass jugs (though on request, we do provide packaged drinking water).
We educate our guests on how to prevent water wastage and minimize the impact of their stay on the environment. Our laundry and cleaning are done using earth-friendly enzymes. Even the water is reused.
Sustainable Farming (natural farming and organic farming)
Sustainable farming for us means environmentally sustainable before everything else. Organic farming is preferred where possible. We discourage the use of insecticides and pesticides. We give birds a natural ecosystem to thrive. They, in turn, pick up small worms from the fruit trees and keep the fruits healthy. Crop rotation helps in keeping the soil nutrition-rich. Even the organic waste from the orchard and cottages is composted and used.
Our farming practices have their roots in three similar philosophies of agriculture – the natural way of farming, organic farming, and bio-dynamic methods of farming. We promote the use of soil-improving cover crops like white dutch clovers and green peas. Companion plantation helps in achieving good outcomes. When you visit us, ask one of our family members to explain how we do it and we’ll be happy to demonstrate. We also have patches of permaculture in some parts of our garden.
The villagers from the neighboring villages have also understood the importance of environmentally sustainable farming and now they too are moving towards it.
Employment to the Villagers
Whenever anything needs to be done and we need outside help, we give priority to the local villagers. Be it help required at our cottages, basic garden maintenance, or technical jobs that require some training/experience. We believe that by empowering the villagers, we are creating a sustainable ecosystem for the region.
All of our team is from the local village, and for us, their family is also like our own extended family.
Earning Opportunities for the Villagers
We have connected some of the farms directly to consumers like us. By implementing from farm to the plate concept, the villagers earn good money and the consumers get to enjoy fresh farm produce.
We are now influencing the village ladies to take up knitting and crocheting. These can then be sold online and provide an alternate source of income. Read more about this here – Hill Yarns
Helping the Birds
Himalayan birds differ from those found in other parts of India. Some of them are even endangered. In our orchards, we have ensured that some wild trees like oaks, deodars, acacias, etc are also present. These are natural places for building nests, by these winged friends of ours.
During the fruit season, we also keep telling people in the neighboring orchards to leave some fruits on each of the trees. These are left for the birds to feed on. Magpies love pears and sour apricots. Various tiny mountain birds are fond of apples.
We have been doing tree plantation for the past many years. There are many bare areas where trees have been felled unscrupulously. Instead of simply talking about it, we decided to act on it. Now we procure trees for planting from forest nurseries and sometimes even from various private nurseries. Wherever we see a bare patch of land, these trees are planted. If you want to join us in the tree plantation drive, let’s do it!
Trees that we prefer to plant are the ones that are indigenous to the region and can easily grow in the wild. Deodars, oaks, and some wild flowering trees grow quite easily. We have also planted some hardy cultivars of apples too, in the hope that once established, people will not chop them down for the love of fruits. These trees with their wide leaves, also help with rain in the region.
Preventing landslides is a new challenge in this time of extensive deforestation and destruction in the name of development. Plants and grasses come to our rescue here. From our experience and interaction with some of the forest department people, we have identified some of the indigenous bushes, shrubs, plants, and fast-growing grasses that have an extensive network of roots. These prevent landslides and are quite easy to grow. Apart from planting trees, we therefore also encourage planting these, especially where the soil is loose and prone to getting washed away.
Since we have changed our own lives to live in a more mindful and earth-friendly manner, there are many more things that we do, that are better shown than told. Let us spend some time together and as a reward, we will try our best to turn you also into a green warrior.