Garden in the Himalayas
Purna began work on this community garden in his home village of Tanchok in 2012. It is a long-term project with the aim of conserving and cultivating native plants and improving the diet of the villagers. Child malnutrition is, sadly, still a problem in upland Nepal; rather than one-off food aid, a more nutritious and varied diet of locally grown produce will really make a difference. The Garden aims to work with local schools to make this a sustainable and educational venture.
The target is to help both villagers and the environment by encouraging sound practices of inter-cropping and organic cultivation while conserving native plants that are uniquely adapted to the mountain conditions. The ground has been cleared and the first vegetables, flowers and medicinal herbs have been planted. We have planted tea and installed a beehive - the local honey is excellent.
The wild plants we collected in 2014 are doing well - about 80% survived the transition. Cyathea and lobelia and wild roses are looking showy and we enjoyed our first homegrown banana, We mixed English seeds with the local vegetables and herbs already established and now have beetroot, cucumber and courgettes. Avocados, kiwi fruits and grapes from Kathmandu will add a bit of variety to the village diet, along with lots of berries and forest fruits.
The most exciting news is that construction of our house 'Mahakaruna' is completed. It’s designed as a family home and is available to rent when we’re not in Tanchok. There is an open-plan kitchen and living area with a cosy fireplace and two big bedrooms, one with an en suite bathroom, plus a family bathroom and a smaller bedroom. While the house has a traditional look with a slate roof, stone walls, wooden furniture and local textiles, solar-powered hot water, electricity, a back-up generator makes it a really comfortable base for intrepid travellers.
In 2014 volunteers from Holland, the USA and Germany all visited and thoroughly enjoyed their time here, walking, resting in the peace and quiet and observing the abundant birdlife while not hard at work.
There is still a great deal of work to be done and we’d like to invite volunteers to spend a few days helping out in Tanchok at any time of the year. Tanchok is a beautiful village with friendly people located off the mass tourist trail at an altitude of 1700m, an hour and a half from the historic city of Pokhara. It has glorious views of the Annapurna range and there are many trekking possibilities in the area.
Environmentalists, gardeners, cultivators and handymen are particularly welcome - but anyone can lend a hand in different ways and experience everyday life in the village -something you will never get from a tourist brochure. Charitable donations are always very gratefully received if you cannot get to Nepal.