Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Prabhupadanuga Farm in Fiji-VEDIC VILLAGE REVIEW # 26

July 16, 2013.  New Jayapur, Prabhupadanuga Farm in Fiji
Passion fruit is a vine that requires a trellis, fence, or rack upon which to grow and produces round fruits up to 3 inches in size. They are used widely in fruit juices and condiments. We use them to make a juice drink for deity offerings (and subsequently, lunch prasadam!). The taste is superbly heavenly; there are yellow and purple varieties. Two years ago one of the first things I planted was 7 vines and Jordan built a rack . However, the bush sticks he used rotted quickly and we had to crawl underneath to look for fruits, an inconvenient and dirty chore. So it was time for a new rack, which was much larger, taller, and built from buabua posts (the longest lasting hardwood in Fiji) with strands of #8 wire. With leverage by long sticks, pushing by bodyweight, rerouting by tedious handwork, the myriad of tangled vines was propped up onto and hooked or tied to the new rack wires and poles.
It reminded me of the miracle that Srila Prabhupada performed on my worthless self as he caught me, propped me up onto the transcendental platform, and tied me down with responsibilities and sense of duty in furthering his mission. Gradually the passion fruit vines began to grow on the new structure and became more secure, just as my gradual performance of devotional service resulted in attachment to Krishna and Prabhupada. Little by little, the old rack below (what remains of it) is left behind and the new rack above becomes the residence of the plant’s activities and growth. Similarly, my previous inferior activities and propensities have been abandoned in favor of the superior and higher activities of transcendence. After some time, the passion fruits will have fully adapted to the new rack, covering it completely, and we will be able to walk underneath, through the “tunnel”, and collect the fruit globes hanging down in plain view. Ramesh Saigal brought two more baby plants from his backyard vinery, and they are like children born in the sankirtan movement, and will not have to change their life habits from lower to higher, a difficult task for those of us joining Prabhupada’s service in mid-life. They will grow directly onto the new and superior rack, as our children directly exert all their energy in a Krishna conscious and superior environment, called New Jayapur…
In early March we planted about an acre of rice, a local variety called “chorta-mortka,” meaning short and fat. Bill did shallow plowing with the disc harrow on the tractor, broadcast the seeds by hand, then dragged a log over the seeds to cover them with some soil. A bright green haze appeared in a few days, as seen from above on the dharmashalla veranda. Soon the acre of rice was waving in the breezes, and after some time the seed heads appeared, filling out and drooping. With every heavy rain, the rice was pushed down a little more as the heads became heavier, but the plants always uprighted themselves in a few days. As the rice grains turned yellow and matured, they began to lean away from the regular sea breezes coming from the south. Last week there was a two day heavy on-off rain storm which flooded our river and flattened the rice too. Typical, no problem, assured my workers.
Now, in early July, it was harvest time. If we waited longer, the rice seeds to start to fall off and be lost. Any rice that was still green would turn yellow and dry properly after harvesting. Jordan and Isaac began cutting the stalks with small sickles (just like on Russia’s flag), and a feeling of deep pride and satisfaction pervaded my chest and mind. Prabhupada would be happy at our feeble, baby-step accomplishments on the road to self sufficiency. In 1975 when Prabhupada was walking around the New Talavan farm in Mississippi, he asked me, “Why you are not growing grains for humans?” I had just pointed out a large field, saying, “In this field we are growing grains for the cows.” Thirty eight years, and finally some rice…
The cut bundles of rice stalks were collected and arrayed in a circle on an 8 by 8 foot platform, like a straw hut, and covered with a tarp. (More soon…)
There are various farm skills that are practiced and perfected by those of us living with nature and farm animals. How to swing the machete effectively (and safely!), how to tirelessly squeeze four cow teats in extracting milk from an udder (not me as yet-no cows, so far), how to grab and pull weeds without leaving back the roots, and… how to thumb-snap water cress stalks and simultaneously gather them in fist bundles before dropping them into a plastic bag held by the other hand. This latter skill was being practiced as I meandered around the water cress patch in my rubber boots through the 5 inch running spring water. Each Sunday I escape to this solitude and loneliness, hidden off the farm road and through some thickets and a mushy grass field. Towering rain trees (vaivai) intermittently drop one or two of their tiny leaves which flutter and spin downwards like wayward souls blooping into the material world.
As my right thumb decapitated heads of water cress, I thought about our project’s progress. We started the  development in May 2011 with the purchase of the property. It was surprising to me what Krishna has arranged in just over two years. My mind reviewed the accomplishments. The two story dharmashalla, built from our own hardwood timber and milled by gauged chain saws, has wraparound verandas with a concrete section for six full bathrooms and two laundry rooms. Six guest rooms, a milk kitchen and farm grocery shop, large storage space, museum, garages, and power room were downstairs with temple room, office, and our family residence upstairs.
My left elbow leaned on my knee as I hunched over to reach a section in the center of a wider strand of water cress. The stream divided and flowed through many water cress islands rooted in firm gravel, the sunshine glinting upon the reddish pebbles. There is something mystical about moving water… I thought about the roads we had built with our excavator. There was the main farm road from the public road to the dharmashalla, plus branches to the river, pastures, orchards, and overgrown farm fields. The total was now over 4 km of roads. Some passages were cut into very steep riverside slopes, almost cliffs; others hugged the foot of the hills or crossed minor streams and wet spots fed by springs. At first we had little idea how to make proper roads, but we learned by experience and advice from some friendly local contractors. The key was drainage and a firm base, otherwise it is potholes, ruts, and impassibility.
Water cress spreads as it grows and chokes the water channels that are rivulets feeding it the nutrients coming from deep down into the spring’s origins. I would need to open these channels again soon, as it was the required maintenance for this crop that was started maybe fifty years ago. I thought about the orchards- I had just recently finished pruning the fruit trees, numbering in the hundreds. I was anxious to see if the satsumas would be the same as those I remember picking and buying in the Louisiana bayous, back in the late seventies. They are a super sweet, juicy mandarine with a skin that falls off in one shell-like piece, the slivers almost seedless. Also, I wondered if we would really get the rambutans, lychees, and longons that we used to buy in the farmer’s market in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii- yes, of course we would, maybe in 2 more years when they start to bear. And the mangosteen… sapadillos (called naseberry in Jamaica)… the jackfruits (for vegetable dishes)… and many others. Already I was making weekly rounds to collect Meyer lemons (year-round fruiting), West Indian and Thai limes, and kumquats- all for the deity’s juice drinks.
Packing up two large snap containers (for our kitchen) and four bags of water cress (to sell in town), I returned to the truck and back to the dharmashalla perched above the ocean. SriGovinda (7) runs up, with enthusiasm that I greatly envy, to be the first with “the good news”- they have picked the first six strawberries! Big ones too! And they are very red! Recently we had put the dozen potted strawberries into a spacious raised bed, and they are doing great! Add that to the project progress as well, I thought.
WEATHER REPORT: July 14, 2013, New Jayapur, Fiji
Very cold, down to maybe the coldest day of the year, at 72 F (22 C)… We got out some light sweaters, put on socks for the first time this year, and closed some windows. This is winter in Fiji, the southern hemisphere. Socked in with low cloud cover, rainy and drizzly, wind from the west at 5-15 mph, a good day to do some writing indoors. Solar power system’s batteries down to 80% due to less sunshine today. Low tide about 6 pm.

760731r2.par Conversations
Prabhupada: Harer nama, harer nama. Everyone is happy, the children, the woman. They don't demand anything, that "Give us this, give us that." They have simplified, automatically they have simplified their life. And gradually develop, make little cottages, grow little vegetable, little barley or wheat and milk. That is sufficient. We don't require much. We don't want luxury. We want just to subsist. Yavad artha prayojana. We hate the idea of luxury, unnecessary.
760731rc.par Conversations
Prabhupada: No, our life is simple. We don't want luxury. We don't want luxury, but as we are accustomed in so many ways, as far as possible. But life should be very simple. To increase unnecessary things unnecessarily, that is material life.

Yours in Prabhupada’s service,
Nityananda das
New Jayapur, Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands
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Hare Krishna! All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!
PHOTOS: Roads, seaviews, clearing land, rice harvest, Sri Sri Radha Govinda
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