Living amidst nature is something that many of us desire today. While most of us love to enjoy and experience the greenery, we seldom realise that it takes a lot of mindful effort not to lose what we already have. The rate at which we are destroying our own eco-systems, pretty soon we will reach a state wherein our younger generation will have to have such experiences ‘virtually’. Last week, I had the privilege of visiting ‘Ecovillage’ in Dharwad. The experience was something that I will cherish for a long time. Sri Hiremath, a professional landscapist was pursuing his career in Hyderabad and more than 15 years ago felt that he had to do something more than merely preserve ‘nature’. It was this desire coupled with his ecological passion and hard work that lets one enjoy not just the fruits of his labour but also learn from it. From the refreshing welcome drink as soon as one enters this picturesque 8 acre campus to the friendly naturalists taking you on the nature walk, one can feel and experience what it is to truly be humbled by mother nature. What makes the place unique is the place is designed for fun, entertainment, education, and an immersive learning experience.
From the adventure games to the healthy foods, to learning simple eco-friendly interventions that one can do at one’s home – it is several things rolled into one. Hiremath has not only demonstrated the need and importance of conserving nature, but Ecovillage stands testimony to what happens when you actually work with nature in helping it flourish. From the several birds that have made a comeback, to the recharged ground water, to providing employment to nearly 40 local villagers, a closed loop sustainable economic model is there for all to see. While there are several Eco-innovations embedded into the village, what impressed me was how power sufficiency has been achieved using solar and micro wind mills. Water conservation by creating several harvesting structures alongwith a ‘necklace of pearls’ (man-made lakes with slit traps) is a treat. The lake designed like the pendant of the necklace can hold upto 15 million litres of water. Demonstration vegetable plots that households can maintain to simple waste management techniques are all taught to enthusiastic learners here.
What makes it all satisfying is the interest that people have started to take in the Ecovillage. From serious students to nature lovers, from school children to the lay tourist – all of them come here for their own reasons; but then leave impressed and hopeful. Impressed with the systems & practical approach to conserving nature, and hopeful that we can not only mitigate but also help our environment to flourish. What we need is the determination and the discipline to begin to change the way we live. Hiremath is an example of not just this but effectively demonstrating to the world how one can combine one’s passion with the practical realities of existing in a commercially demanding world.
More information about the Ecovillage can be had from their rudimentary website at http://naturefirstecovillage.in