IMCPA Conference Day 2
European Farm Conference 2018 – Karuna Bhavan Eco Farm , Reaches out for GEN, Global Ecovillage Network
Day Two, 8th of September. Written by the IMCPA team.
Networking – European Coordinator of GEN (Global Ecovillage Network) Robert Hall – based in Sweden
Because of a lack of networking communities feel isolated and are less ambitious. Isolation leads to villages taking input from non-ecological communities. Networking is very important.
There is a great value of networking. If networks are not needed they will disappear. There must be an input of energy to keep them. Networks:
Share Knowledge. No need for every community to have same problems. Very important and it can be done physically or on line. Share experience, technologies and workshops.
Community Building. Helps to live the same type of life and values. Connecting with others to get a large number of people to get to know each other.
Advocacy. Advocate for local communities
Resource Mobilization.Networks are a place where new ideas come out, a place where one part of the world can mesh with another part.
Different types of network. One is EGO where there is a prominent person and the other members are around this central hub. The prominent person sets the agenda, it can lead to other members taking steps back. Second type is ECO where every part is actively involved. It allows all members to be actively involved and taking initiative. It allows activity and there is a sense of owning the network and a shared purpose of it.
Networks need to be responsive. There needs to be an organisational structure but not stifle initiative. If the meetings are not interesting then people will stop participating. There is a need to put in energy to keep the networks going. When starting up it may look like an EGO model because some leadership is important. Start more EGO but going towards ECO. Networks facilitate connections, putting people together who are not normally together. A formal networking entity can access funding when it is mature enough.
Inisrath Community Report on the goshala – Prahlada Bhakta Prabhu on behalf of the community.
There are two cows (who are currently non-milking) and two semi-trained oxen. The goshala was started by a management who did not have sufficient planning. When those managers left there was nothing in place to continue with the goshala. The community are taking care of the cows but they want to pass the responsibility on. The person caring for the cows is getting older and wants to hand the care on over the next year.
New Govardhana Farm, Australia – Ajita Prabhu
Srila Prabhupada gave a lot of instructions about farm communities. To go somewhere you have to sometimes go on a detour. We have to just grow something rather than being ineffective for this reason or that reason. Have to think outside the box to find solutions. Ajita had some suggestions:
Don’t take any loans
Start a business to provide an income for the farm
Have a culture of growing your own food
Bring what you have outside into the community.
The deities are the most important. We should know what the deities want and what we should do. What is the mood of the deities. Krishna-Balarama wants produce from the land. Gaura Nitai want people to dance and Radha-Krishna want brahmanas.
If we only have a bunch of brahmanas nothing will get done because there is nobody to do the work. Growing own food has many considerations. There is the health value of food. 80% of organic food has been made with blood and bone fertilizer. We are eating that consciousness if we eat organic food grown that way. Many foods are not suitable to build up our immune system. A balanced soil offers proper nutrients. Grow some food. Grow it properly. Study it.
Protect cows – Huh! Temple presidents they say no way. Cows are very valuable. We need to convince the western people why cow protection is so important and show that the cow is more valuable alive than dead. We should build a goshala and have pasturing that nourishes the ground. A holistic management approach is very important. When we find that the cows are leaving some grasses and crops uneaten we spray molasses mixed with water and the cows then will eat them. The cows hooves benefits the land. We can turn desert into fertile fields by using many cows. This requires expert advice, and it may turn the land into a valuable asset. We need to show how the cow is better alive than dead.
Syntrophic agriculture is very important. It allows to keep the forest no more than 3m high with all the foliage being cut and left on the ground as a mulch to increase fertility. This fenomenon replicate the syntropic links which be seen in natural systems like the forest. It is a paradigm of working with nature rather than against it.
At new Govardhana we have 250 Hectares of land. We have 80 cows. One of our plans is to work with a local farmer to milk for us as he already has the infrastructure in place. This would give us an access into the marketplace. (initially they are planning on starting with 5 cows in this system). The cows would be purchased and they are our cows although the farmer would be milking them. The milk is ours and the calves are ours. The females would stay on the farm and be part of future milking cows and the bull calves would come to us. The milk would be labelled as ahimsa milk.
Vegans don’t do anything positive for the cows
Krishna Eco village – New Govardhana – Ajita Prabhu
Krishna eco village is a department of the new Govardhana Farm. There is 1000 acres of which most is very hilly. Not much flat land. There is a full school system in place for the children.
Krishna Village is placed at the entrance of the farm. In the 1960’s people joined our movement easily but now it is different. So much internet, so much choice. Our method at Krishna village is to soak people into a Krishna conscious atmosphere for a long time. The village is a comfortable environment for them to imbibe Krishna. The area is controlled and is a comfortable zone for them. They get 3 meals a day of prasadam. They associate with the devotees through service and prasadam. The farm has 150 residents of which 75 are non devotees.
Brahmanas follow principles and have a sadhana. There is a need to have a pool of workers and of non brahmanas who can do the practical work. We get our people from the WWOOF programme. We also have a guest programme for paying guests.
Krishna eco village grows its own food. It is cooked by the volunteers but they must offer it to Srila Prabhupada as part of the preparation. Many people move from the Krishna village to the temple. This movement is created to preach. We created a business enterprise called jiva juice. This changed a 2000 dollar a month deficit into a 15% annual profit to the temple. All the practical work is done with the people from the Krishna village. 99.5% of people who leave the Krishna village are very happy. Many of them get dressed up as devotees and go out on harinama. Some stay for a few weeks and some for a year. We have a limit of 3 months stay but they can re-apply. All the volunteers stay in tents. We used to provide a smoking area but we found it became a low class area so we stopped it. In this way we found that a better class of people applied to come to the farm. The website sets out the principles and dress code to follow. Everyone gets up at 6am.
The managers need to be tolerant. The principle is to make guests favourable to Krishna. Classes are targeted and relevant to guests. Segregation is important. Gather together but live separately.
We need to bring people into our own environment so they get a Krishna Conscious soaking.
If people want to live in the devotee community they pay a down payment of their rent of 150,000 dollars. They don’t own the house or the land but they have the right to stay there. As long as they do service they don’t pay anything further, but if they stop service then they pay 300 dollars a month as rent.
Ahimsa Dairy Foundation – Sitarama Prabhu and Kapila Monet
The market for ahimsa dairy exists. It is self sufficiency through trade. It is an alternative to slaughter dairy.
This has been developed since 2007 with the initial idea. If you can measure success by survival then we are surviving for the past 10 years. We have been producing milk for the past 7 years. There has been a steep learning curve working with different partners. Our key principle is to keep pushing on.
Initially we wanted to work with Bhaktivedanta Manor then we started working with an organisation called commonwork where we had segregated cows and segregated milk for our customers. This used their experience for us to get started.
In the ahimsa community there are 2000 people. 4% are ISKCON and 8% receive milk and the rest support the ahimsa dairy foundation. They find the vision enthralling and want to support its work. We have 48 acres and will be buying a further 25 acres shortly. 180 people sponsor cows and we have 360 members who pay at least £9 per month. There is a waiting list of 1000 people who want milk and so we have stopped taking new applicants.
We are trying to set up nano dairies and trying to find a formula to reach more people. We also have a couple of market stalls were the milk is sold out very quickly. We are demand driven. Each litre costs £4.50 and is raw milk chilled and is sold out within 2 hours. London has a pool of ethical people who are willing to pay the price. Members pay £3.15 per litre. There is a pool of people who want to buy its unique value. There is a direct monthly payments system. The price covers pension and non productive cows.
Every single litre counts. The wholesale market would add £0.15 so no market for it. There is a restaurant market and it is part of something that they can believe in.
Our farm has hand milking, pasture fed, impregnation with a bull. The lactations run for 2 to 4 years. We have one cow that is giving milk without having a calf. We want sustainable growth. 70% of the cows are not producing milk. Each cow giving 4 – 8 litres per day over its lactation. We are currently breeding 2 cows per year to balance the herd. There are 4.5 non milkers with every milker.
We have created our own village. The more you can deliver to your base the better. Now we have milk, then there will be milk products, honey, vegetables etc.. The ahimsa membership are waiting for what we produce. Selfridges wanted our cheese but we decided against it. So far we have delivered 140,000 litres of milk. It is sustainable demand led growth. Our herd was originally montbeliarde and Swedish red now we are moving towards brown swiss type 2 milk.
Oxen have been trained. The whole herd is important parts of the project. Animals are happier when they are used. For the farm we are building we want to be off the grid and use the oxen on treadmills.
We want to collaborate with other projects. They could lease our cows and that way not take a risk. We would take them back. This will help to grow the operation.
The biggest risk is retirement. We must take care of the cows for the full life cycle. We are growing slowly. Key principles are localized and deliverable. Demand driven is better than supply driven.
Feasibility Study for Goshala at Karuna Bhavan.
An outline of Karuna Bhavan was given to the conference who were then asked to discuss some steps forward for a goshala in Karuna Bhavan. The following figures gave something to consider as part of the discussions and proposals
One calf a year will enable cows to give 10,000 litres per year. This was broken down as 5,000 litres for the first year, 3,000 litres for the second year of lactation, 1500 litres for the third year and 500 litres for the fourth year.
Cows live on average 16.25 years (18 years is the average age a cow will pass on if you don’t take into account calf mortality and accidents).
Karuna Bhavan has 6 acres of pasture and grass and the management has previously said they would be able to get additional land.
The community need between 4 to 10 litres per day 1460 to 3650 litres per year
Estimate labour costs as £10 per hour
Some of the comments from the group were as follows:
Would need about 1 or 2 people for the care of the cows (in discussion later this was corrected to a need for 3 persons – one person as main milker, second person to cover other days in week and a third person in the wings to cover for sickness and holidays). The work time for a small herd would not be a full day and so a suggestion was that the milker could also help with marketing the rest of the time. One of the ways of supporting the goshala could be from subscriptions.
There is an empty barn already at Karuna Bhavan (during the tours it was also pointed out that the walled garden could also be a potential place for a goshala). The goshala would need to have a population plan to ensure there is proper consideration for land etc… Once there was a plan people would support the goshala
Some suggested that the traditional Highland cow might be a suitable breed for Karuna Bhavan – some thought it was not milky enough for a dairy plan. Some of the groups went into more detail about a business plan and were estimating how much the community needed and how much surplus milk was available for sale. They also went on to budget for buying additional land.
A suggestion was to get two heifers because they are easy for hand milking. There would also need to be a preparation room for the milk which must be either heated (pasteurised) and then chilled or chilled down to 6 degrees.
Budgeting should be projected for years 1,2, 3, 5, 10 and 15.
Males would need castrating at 7 months to avoid any unwanted pregnancies. There would need to be provision for oxen. 3 year heifers can be impregnated (they can be impregnated earlier at about 1.5 years old – this was a comment from the participants). There would need to be a plan about how to impregnate. If having their own bull was the plan they would eventually need two or even three bulls to keep the blood lines spread.
The community would be interested in donating for a cow. A Gosevak scheme would ask for £2 per day to maintain a cow. There would have to be consideration how the cows can interact with people taking into account any health and safety issues with people getting close to the cows.
For pasturing the small paddock it was suggested that if it was divided into six parcels using electric fencing it would be a more efficient grazing regime.
Ministry Comments – Kalakantha Prabhu.
There are many qualified people in our society and we want to make a network of these consultants. Resource is not the limiting factor it is connecting them.
We are working on a certificate of readiness for any persons who want to establish an ISKCON approved goshala. It will include many aspects of goshala management. The cows are part of our family. There needs to be a real business plan.
The conferences are ideal platform to share knowledge and bring important points to the leadership
IMCPA has organized on having the main conference every two years with a mid-session the following year focusing on further development and training.
Eco Village near Madrid, Spain – Jivatattva Prabhu.
There is a need to create a society so that people don’t leave. Jivatattva Prabhu and others are developing a community near madrid to provide the physical , mental and spiritual needs of the community. Each household will have a plot of land which they can have free. They will need to pay something for all the legal permissions (about 8,000 euro). There is permission by the local government to build 13 homes a guest house and a goshala.
Three houses have already been built. The location is quite ideal in that they have their own lake and river. Families get a life long lease (usa fructo). Houses cost about 25-30,000 euros to build. If a person decides to leave the community he can only sell his house for the price he built it for. There cannot be any investment buildings that sell for inflated prices.
Taking care of Downer cows – Case Studies from Bhaktivedanta Manor – Sadasiva and Karunaisvari Prabhus (Family team).
The presentation showed the practical steps needed to care for downer cows. Practically all goshalas will have downer cows at one time or another. The manor almost always has at least one downer cow that is cared for in the cow nursing pen.
The main reason cows go down is because of 1. Old age. 2. Slipping or 3. Damage from another cow.
When a cow goes down we get the local Veterinarian to assess the cow and then we take to the nursing pen and attend to its needs.
The nursing area has an electric crane to lift any cow or bull, there are wide straps to put under and aid with the lifting, cushioned bales to help support the cows. Extensive first aid kit for dressing any wounds or bed sours. The finance department are very supportive of any cows needs. A cow stretcher is a gate with a plywood sheet secured to the top. Cows are rolled onto the stretcher. This can then be pulled to the cow nursing area with the crane lifting the cow into place.
Eco Vrindaban – West Virginia, USA – Yamuna Jivani Prabhu
Eco vrindavana is a non profit organization serving the cows and the gardens. Srila Prabhupada said that Agriculture and cow protection are the main activities of new Vrindavana.
There are 901 acres of which over 300 are forest, 245 acres of pasture, 100 acres of hay fields. At part of the estate called Bahulavan there is 250 acres made up of pasture and forest. There is an apple orchard and a blueberry field. There is currently a small ox programme with some young calves for training. There is a teaching garden and a flower garden and a community garden.
The area has a temperate climate with hot summers and cold and snowy winters. The growing season is from march until November.
There are 8 milking cows milked by hand. They are growing the herd to 100 cows and oxen. The plan is to be milking 10 to 12 cows. They want to be self sufficient and are trying to produce the milk and milk products for the community. They make yogurt from skimmed milk. The cows are checked daily and volunteers help with many of the tasks.
Hay is grown on 150 acres of which 100 acres is owned and the other 50 acres is neighbours land. Some excess hay is sold to neighbours.
There is an endowment fund being generated to ensure the long term security of the cow protection project. The income for this comes from the money from the gas drilling at New Vrindaban. The placements for the drills was carefully considered so it does not negatively impact the community. There was due care and many health checks conducted. The gas is likely to end in about 10 years and so there are intelligent plans to invest in infrastructure to have things in place once it ends. Parts of the funds of ECO Vrindavana are used to help other projects. Money is also raised from guests who support quite substantially for the cows.