It was the mid-70s when Vijay started planting trees in what is now Baraka. Many fruit trees were planted, and a beautiful fruit orchard was established with mangoes, tamarinds and other varieties.
The community consists of 40 acres of forested land and 5 acres of orchards and residential area. It is run with solar power, there is no connection to the grid. There is only a backup generator for the solar pump that is used during the cloudy monsoon days.
Acreage: 40 acres | Steward: Achilles
In 2010, Achilles started to adopt horses and ponies. Most of them were already in Auroville and could not be taken care of by previous owners. Others were rescued from terrible conditions. A spacious corral is now home for 14 horses and ponies. Children come to Baraka for daily riding classes - an initiative that is now part of Auroville's educational and sport activities. The horse manure is also collected and distributed in Auroville.
The harvesting season is a very important time of the year. From April till August the community is busy with the harvesting of tamarinds, mangoes, pineapples, as well as other produce that is harvested throughout the year like lemons, papaya, green pepper, guavas and custard apples. Jams are produced with excess stock.
Seasonal tree planting consists of around 1000 seedlings per year. Over the last 10 years, roughly 10,000 trees have been planted. Now most of the land is fully planted and bunded as well.
After Cyclone Thane, in December 2011, the area was naturally cleared of the pioneering species (mainly acacia) and more TDEF species have been introduced since then.
Occasional selling of timber is done only when trees naturally die or if they have to be removed (mainly acacia and eucalyptus).
For 5 years the Baraka community has organized the Baraka Fair, an initiative to fundraise for the horse expenses as well as the forest maintenance needs. This is an event that brings together the Auroville community at large. Children organize a performance with the horses. A flea market with crafts as well as beverages and snacks are enjoyed by many.
The main challenges faced over the years is the protection of the land from cows, goats, theft and encroachment. Keeping the finance in balance is also a difficult task.
An aspiration for the future is to create a green corridor, consolidate more land and work toward Auroville food self-sufficiency.
Nine PalmsNine Palms is an expansive forest that was started in the early days of Auroville, around 50 years ago. It protects a major canyon system and allows for percolation of rainwater. The Nine Palms dam systems hold large amounts of water as well. Agricultural activities are undertaken in certain areas, and livestock are also kept.Acreage: 62 | Stewards: Shivaji, Shanti
Shakti Nursery and HerbariumRe-creating the Indigenous ForestRain Tree, planted in 1985, with a circumference of 218 inches and a crown span of 38 m Shakti Nursery is part of a wider project that aims at re-creating the indigenous forest in the Green Belt area of Auroville.Acreage: Stewards: Walter and Luk
Siddhartha ForestA Thriving Woodland CommunitySiddhartha Forest started on a plot of 12 acres at the beginning of 1998. Siddhartha Forest has an established woodland that provides seeds for various communities, both within Auroville and outside enterprises. It is used by many as a Seed Bank as it has a large variety of trees and many rare species. The Auroville Botanical Garden and other Auroville forest communities visit Siddhartha Forest in order to collect tree seeds at least twice a year.Acreage: 12 acres | Steward: Boobalan