Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kitchen Permaculture

My friend Nandini in Delhi, I recently had the opportunity to visit. It's always fun staying with her, plus the food she makes is awesome.

She and a friend have recently put together a cookbook will be published this spring. It is international vegan food.  They've organized it in the form of menu's.  It sounds amazing, so far I've tried one item in the cookbook which is awesome.

It was a gluten free, oil free lasagna.

Basically it's made of steamed veggies which have been cut into strips, carrot, zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, and in between the layers is put a tomato sauce and a fermented cashew cheese.

The cashew cheese tops it, and I could not even believe that after baking it, the cheese even became crispy on top!  It was so delicious and I am certainly looking forward to their cook book coming out :)

An interesting thing they do with their orange peels is putting them in a big bowl of water to soak. This water than became very fragrant, and makes an awesome floor wash!

She also showed me her rooftop garden which was lovely, all of her kitchen scraps get placed in the top clay pot, mixed with leaves and then slowly the pots move down the line, until it becomes finished compost at the end. The compost then gives back to her garden in pots :)
She is growing spinach, sprouts, radishes and others.

She was having a hard time with aphids, and someone came to help her switch out all of her soil for new soil, and this seemed to clear up the problem.

All Creatures Great and Small & Naz Foundation

I recently had the opportunity to visit the animal sanctuary run by Anjali Gopalan.

I was contacted by Claude who is in charge of composting at the sanctuary.  They have a something like 1/2 an acre of a vegetable garden from which they feed their staff and center for children who are affected by HIV in Delhi.

I came to test the soil, which the results should be coming out soon, for general nutrients and also testing for heavy metal contamination.

The organic farm/animal sanctuary was beautiful. It was so touching to see all of the animals taken such good care of by Anjali and her staff, the animals are visited weekly by the employed veterinarian.  The animals that make their way there are typically in critical condition.  They may be missing limbs, or have broken bones, orphaned, blind, etc.  They had a small monkey who was paralyzed they were feeding, I also saw a calf who was rather disoriented as he was blind. A small pup couldn't quite keep his tongue in his mouth, he was missing a part of his jaw.

I asked Claude, is it possible to get prosthetics for these animals, is there such thing as a prosthetic jaw?  Claude looked at me and smiled, "Well just because they may look a little funny, doesn't always mean that their quality of life is any lower or they are less happy.  This one still eats normally and plays normally, just because he looks different doesn't mean he hasn't the right to be, or shouldn't deserve to be around."

Of course I didn't mean it in the sense that something ought to be done or else. But it's always a good reminder, for us all when we are ever seeking perfection and improvement.  I guess there are those who feel that way, that a dog with three legs may not live a happy life.  I didn't get that impression from the animals here. Their very presence really touched my heart.  You could definitely tell they had a good life, and had so much love, they were love. And it was beautiful to be there.

 They had many animals, they had donkeys, horses, cows, one camel, emus, baby monkeys, over 200 dogs, cats, peacocks, chickens, and baby deer who were very very adorable.

They also had a pond of fish :)

 They also had such a beautiful big and open kitchen

They recently purchased more land so they could expand the amount of land that the animals could have.  Claude is very keen on integrating as many permaculture principles as he can into the design as well.

As of now his compost his a mixture of old farm soil, ash, compost/fresh greens, straw and newspaper.  The crop looks awesome, he bought some simple soil pH tests, which indicated that the soil and the compost were rather alkaline -- about 8.0

Our thoughts were to maybe decrease the amount of ash used in the  compost.

Yet, it will be interesting to see the results from the soil lab because we also don't really know how accurate those tests might be.

In this picture you can see their system for watering, they put in these tubed pipes so that they only need to water into the tube, so the plant receives directly the water that it needs.

I am a little apprehensive about this method, just because watering the soil isn't just about making sure the plants get the water that is needed, it is also important to take care of the soil itself and the organisms that break down organic matter for the plants.  It would seem like a good idea to water the soil periodically to keep the soil itself alive, but I guess if there is limited water on site, of course the plants themselves will be prioritized.