The Shunya farmland has been rented from local owners and was first started by Dr. Spero Latchis and Robin Jameson, from the USA, who lived in Bir from 2009 to 2017 and took care of the farm from 2013 until 2017, before moving back to the USA. They called the farm, Shri farm.
Before 2013, part of the land was used to grow corn and wheat in succession; part for fodder grass for cattle and a part was a garbage dump.
We started working on the farm in March 2017, and have called it Shunya farm since then.
We are growing Shunya farm into a repository of plants and ideas useful in this context. Through the farm, we wish to preserve and augment the biodiversity in the area and consolidate and create a knowledge base for the old and new residents to explore new ways of thinking, livelihoods and lifestyle options.
The practices on the farm are influenced by Fukuoka’s natural way of farming and Permaculture design. Along the way, many indigenous communities and traditional farmers have helped us understand why we do what we do and how to do it. We believe that a holistic culture considers the dimensions of spirituality, social relationships, and ecology. The ethics of care for self, people, and our environment are the foundation of our work.
The farm produces food for 5-10 individuals and a few restaurants in and around Bir, which is sold every week, throughout the year. In sharing food, seeds, and plants, the farm is slowly developing a community of people seeking to learn about the soil and plants to grow diverse edible landscapes.
As climate change and weather unpredictability become inevitable, crops and varieties that are resistant to climate fluctuations or can adapt to a rapidly changing environment need to be explored and propagated. The key to a sustainable system is its diversity and relationships. We are trying to establish new food crops and revive the forgotten varieties.
The research and findings of our time at the farm are available through our courses and in the form of seeds and saplings that we offer every season. Our wish is that Shunya farm becomes a place for people wanting to deepen their understanding of working on the land, living in a village community and who are willing to continue and share the research and documentation of plants and biodiversity and regenerative agriculture practices for Bir.
Matasharan, a local farmer has been foundational for the farm. He was one of the first people to work on the farm and has continued his dedicated and hard work on this land since 2013. His experience of working on the land and with people from across the world is invaluable, which he generously shares with visitors and volunteers. He lives in Bir with his wife, daughter and the extended family.
Since 2019, Matasharan has been running the farm on his own with the help from some community members and long term volunteers.