Soil plays a vital role for our life on earth. It stabilizes the ground, provides us with food, filters our water, stores a huge amount of carbon dioxide and is home to countless species and microorganisms.
Akasha Academy is dedicated to protect this precious resource of life. One means to do so is regenerative agriculture, which helps to regenerate soil, protect biodiversity, provide nutritious food and create attractive jobs in agriculture.
Therefore, a model farm for regenerative land use is currently established at the headquarters of Akasha Academy in Nepal. The model farm provides practical approaches of sustainable organic agriculture and is accompanied by various educational programs for the local community.
About regenerative agriculture and model farms
Regenerative agriculture focuses on the regeneration of soil – as opposed to the depletion of soil fertility resulting from conventional agriculture. Thus, it is a sustainable way of land use, which provides humans with necessary and healthy food while protecting the natural resources crucial for our survival.
A model farm provides the opportunity to try out and optimize certain techniques of agriculture on a smaller scale first. The methods are demonstrated for educational purposes and can then be replicated on larger areas.
Situation in Nepal
The effects of climate change are pressing in Nepal. A combination of political, geographical and social factors lead to a particularly high vulnerability. Extreme droughts, flooding, landslides and erosions threaten the Nepalese population, especially those who live in poverty or in remote areas.
Conventional agriculture, unplanned infrastructure development and land plotting contribute to the environmental destruction and loss of biodiversity. The use of chemical fertilizers is very common, leading to a long-term deterioration of soil and food quality.
Benefits of regenerative land use
Regenerative land use has enormous benefits. Regenerated soil gives richer harvest over generations without the need for chemical fertilizing and has a positive effect on biodiversity and health of the consumers. Biointensive agriculture, as one example, shows ways to maintain harvest also in case of water scarcity, thus making farmers more climate resilient. Another positive effect on climate change lies in recovering the carbon storage capacity of the soil. Farmers applying regenerative land use methods can benefit from higher income due to the good quality of the food and improved reputation of working in agriculture.
Our approach at the Akasha Academy
On our model farm for regenerative agriculture at Akasha Academy in Suntakhan, we aim to practically apply principles of biointensive farming*. In addition, we offer practical education for the local population. The model farm provides healthy food and herbs for students and staff at the Akasha Academy. Herbs are used for teas and as a natural herbal medicine.
Several aspects have already been put into practice, always accompanied by educational workshops for locals:
- Plantation of fruit and nut trees
- Farming of vegetables on a smaller scale (“kitchen garden”)
- Cultivation of a herbal garden
- Production of compost and natural fertilizer
- Preparation of the soil for farming on a larger scale
We place importance to sustainable and regenerative methods, e.g. by use of:
- Organic seeds and proper preparation of the soil
- Regenerative farming techniques to grow vegetables, fruits and herbs
- Composting system, providing natural fertilizer from kitchen waste
- Biogas plant, providing gas from cow dung and further organic waste
With educational programs and workshops in the frame of the Akasha Traineeship and for the local community we raise awareness for the connection between land use, environment and health. Additionally, we aim at enabling the participants to apply the techniques learned in their homes and pass them on in their community – contributing to a positive change in their surroundings themselves.
“Many people living in Kathmandu have land outside of the city. With the model farm, we can easily attract all kind of people who want to grow good food and implement sustainable farming. Through the participants and students of our education programs, we can easily spread regenerative approaches of land use in the area.” – Shyam Kumar Pyakurel, Senior Agriculture Consultant at Akasha Academy
All our work aims at protecting the natural resources as the basis of our existence. Our next planned steps regarding regenerative land use are:
- Expanding our regenerative farming to a larger dimension
- Building a greenhouse
- Building raised beds
- Creating a seedbank
- Establishing a shed for cows, goats and chicken
- Starting a social business for the long-term cultivation of the model farm
In order to become more independent from imported, oftentimes chemically treated food, we aim at providing fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables to all employees, students and guests of Akasha Academy within the next two years. Surplus goods will be sold through the social business. At the same time, our projects create new, attractive jobs with fair working conditions in agriculture. All of this improves the health of the environment as well the health and quality of life in the local community.
In terms of education projects, we plan to offer further workshops for various target groups, for instance local farmers, students, women’s groups, and our trainees, on topics such as:
- Regenerative land use and sustainable agriculture
- Production of herbal fertilizer and pesticides
- Green housekeeping
- Use of medicinal herbs for common ailments and diseases
In addition, programs at schools are planned to provide environmental education and to introduce kitchen gardens on site.
How to get involved
We aim to apply ways of regenerative land use with benefits for the environment and health – and inspire the spread of sustainable methods locally in Nepal and globally.
Partly, the model farm is being supported by the BMZ. To realize all the connected projects, further subsidies and funding are necessary. We are grateful for private persons and companies, such as Kiepenkerl and MaibornWolff, who support us in establishing the model farm.
If you also feel inspired to financially support our model farm, you can directly donate here. Thank you in advance – your support is highly appreciated!
*The principles of biointensive farming was developed and is promoted by Ecology Action.