DhakDhakGirl's Travel Journals


  • 28 years old
  • From Maryland, United States
  • Currently in Pondicherry, India

Seedbank Gardens

Seedbank gardens

Seedbank Gardens

Afghanistan Afghanistan  |  May 02, 2011
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As part of my Food Group capstone project, we visited Pebble Garden, an organic seedbank garden.  Bernard and Deepika founded this garden in 1994. When they began, it was entirely pebbles and laterite soil, hence its name. Using the only available biomass on site- the acacia trees –they created a fertile garden.  They collected the fallen acacia leaves and broke them into small pieces by hand. Then they layered this mixture with some silt (collected from ponds on sight). They make three layers of acacia leaves interspersed with three layers of silt, and then a layer of charcoal soaked in urine. They build up these beds on site, till they have about 12 layers of acacia leaves and silt. Bernard told our group that he and Deepika were inspired by how termites break down leaves and build their tunnels all over the red earth of Auroville. Unlike traditional Tamil farms, there are no animals in Pebble Garden, to provide milk, dung, or urine. 

On these raised beds, the couple plants over 90 varieties of rare vegetables from around India. Deepika uses netting to protect those plants they are growing for seed, and grows vegetables for personal consumption outside of the nets.  The garden is incredibly lush, with multiple stories of small plants, shrubs, and trees, the weeds growing lushly and fertilizing the crops (Deepika doesn’t worry about weeding, as long as “the weeds don’t outgrow our crops’).  As we wandered through the garden, our faculty member Bindu began snacking on guavas, rare brinjals, and spinach.

Bernard and Deepika take their seeds (about 3,000 a year) and distribute them to home gardeners around India.  Deepika gave my Forecomers family some organic seeds to grow cucumber, chilies, and red okra (from Chattisgarh). Within a few weeks of planting, the Forecomers community had delicious okra to eat.

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  • Seedbank Gardens

    May 02, 2011
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