Charandeep Singh, a 57-year-old farmer living in Mohali, Punjab, has been doing natural farming on his seven acres of land since 2015. He is delivering healthy and organic food not only to his family but to 17 families. Also, birds in their fields also get plenty of grain-water. Therefore, in the last three-four years, the number of birds of different species visiting their fields has increased, which is favourable not only for pest management in their fields but also for the environment.
Returned to his homeland from America in the year 2008, no one in the family of Charandeep Singh had thought that he would cultivate. His father was in the army and after his studies, Charandeep moved to America. There he worked as a consultant in some companies. But, after a while, he decided to return to his country and live with his family, and about five years after returning to his homeland, he decided that he would do natural farming. Talking to The Better India, he told about his journey.
He says, “I got inspiration from my wife to grow my food in healthy ways.” He told me one day that we are eating poison and thinking only about profits. When I looked at the situation around me, I felt that he was right. After this I decided that I would do farming myself. We have seven acres of family land, which we used to rent to others. But, then we stopped renting it from 2013 ”. From the year 2013 to 2015 he kept his field completely empty and then started farming in it.
Do farming with the forest model
From 2015, he started farming and decided that he would naturally develop a ‘food forest’ (food forest) in his fields. They decided to do some farming in such a way that they do not have to give any chemical fertilizer. May their fields prosper in themselves and keep their balance. For this, they planted fruit trees in their fields, along with crops like wheat, rice, pulses. Also, he grows seasonal vegetables.
He told, “I have planted all the crops with indigenous seeds. The main crops of my farm are wheat and rice. I grow four varieties of rice, including basmati, including red and black rice. Apart from this, I also grow five varieties of pulses like moong, arhar, lentils, and moth. I have also planted many seasonal vegetables here. Which include pumpkin, petha, ghee, tomato, garlic, onion, coriander, green chillies etc. Also, I also grow mustard, groundnut and turmeric. I have also planted fennel, celery, cumin and fennel in my fields. This year, we have started getting fruits from some trees as well. ”
Charandeep Singh has planted fruits like Malta, Orange, Lemon, Keanu, Pomegranate, Mausambi, Papaya, Peach, Chiku, Lychee, Banana and Pear etc. in his fields. He explains that he makes flour and maida from wheat. Process raw turmeric and make ‘peanut butter’ from turmeric powder, peanuts and ‘mustard sauce’ from mustard.
Apart from meeting the needs of his family, he also delivers flour, rice, fruits and vegetables to 17 more families. He told, “These 17 family members are directly connected to our farm. Apart from flour, rice, other spices, fruits and vegetables are also bought from us. Apart from this, we produce and sell whatever is left in the weekly organic market of Chandigarh. There are also more than 20 regular customers connected to us. ”
Ruchika Garg (53), who lives in Chandigarh, says, “In an organic market in the city, we met Charandeepji. For the last one year, we are buying vegetables, mustard oil and spices etc. from them. Everything is perfectly healthy and natural. From the taste of food, you get to know how different it is from the market. We have also visited their fields and now we know that whatever comes from their place is good for our family. Vegetables or fruits, they all deliver something very fresh. ”
Regarding the income, Charandeep says that his household gets more than his annual expenses. Sometimes there is more profit, sometimes less, but enough for their family. “When I started farming, I was not getting the production right away. This took some time because I did not want to use any chemicals in my farming. After about two-and-a-half years, production started increasing and now almost all crops are getting good yields. But, the production has been doing well for the last three years.
He further added, “I also use a lot in my fields. Like this time I planted three hill lentils – Naurangi, Kulthi and Kali Bhatt pulses in a small part of the field. Due to which I got very good production in narangi and kali bhatt pulses and now they can be planted on a large part of the field. ”
Charandeep Singh makes compost from every kind of agricultural waste left in his fields, and uses this manure in the fields. In addition, he gives green manure in his fields. He explained, “There is a gap of one to two months between harvesting and sowing of different season crops. At this time, when the fields are empty, we take the seeds of six or seven types of plants, which provide different nutrients to the soil. We plant these seeds in the field. When these plants come out and grow a little, then they are cut and put in the field. After this, the field is plowed. In this way fields are given ‘green manure’. ”
Farm in 50 From more Variety Of Bird Do Huh The insect–Management
He further states that when he came to know about natural methods of pest management, it was found that birds play an important role in this. However, these birds, considered friends of farmers, do not appear in the fields nowadays. Therefore, they thought of making their farms friendly to these birds. He told, “My fields are free from all kinds of chemicals. Also, I only cultivate from indigenous seeds. There is plenty of food in my farm for birds. Also, I have arranged for them to sit, stay and drink water. Nests have been planted on the trees so that these birds can live in them. ”
His farm today attracts more than 50 varieties of birds, including eagle, teal, sterling, myna, plover, hornbill and peacock. He says that when he started seeing different coloured birds in his fields, he started taking pictures of them. Gradually, his interest grew and he joined the Chandigarh Bird Club. In the club’s WhatsApp group, he used to put pictures of these birds and try to find out about them. In October 2019, he invited club members to his fields.
Club member Amandeep Singh (25) explains, “Our club has been working on birds in Chandigarh for a long time. We go to the hilly and agricultural areas here to see which birds are present in those areas. So, when Charandeep Ji called us, we reached there. We saw more than 70 species of birds in them and we are also very happy to see how the efforts of a farmer help in saving nature. We noticed that birds were also present in large numbers in the vicinity of their fields. Because birds get plenty of food in their farm. ”
He further adds that the birds want a safe environment, which Charandeep has created in his fields. They are providing food and water to these birds and in return, the birds are proving to be helpful in pest management and pollination in their fields. Farmers must make such arrangements for their fields. Because, this will not only provide healthy food to the birds, but it will also be better for the environment.
If you want to know more about Charandeep Singh, you can contact him on Facebook or Instagram page.