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Permaculture, DIY and Circular Economics | The Odd Gumnut

Continuation of our series, see previous post.

Hello friends!

We are The Odd Gumnut ; a living breathing plant-filled Permaculture place in Panchgani, India. As a couple of Indian-Australian-American hybrids – the globe-trottin’ type – we bring the world’s seeds, artifacts, guests, ideas, and experiences to our land. The farm supports our organic diet and is the platform through which we spread Permaculture and self-reliance with workshops, courses, tours and consulting.

We arrived here almost 2 years back, motivated to prove our conceptual knowledge about Permaculture and regenerative land management. We, with the support of many rotating volunteers, have built this farm up from
scratch, upskilling as we go! We’ve learned from volunteers, books, Youtube, and friends.

Instead of getting stuck in the inaction of ‘we have never done that before’, we employ the permaculture principle of make ‘slow and small changes’ and ‘observe and interact’ and ‘use waste as resource.’

Thinking this way makes seemingly huge projects possible and have resulted in successful completion of a greenhouse, a composting toilet, a chicken coop and run, a wood-fired oven (rocket oven), a big brick outdoor staircase, a workshop, and all kinds of furniture and other DIY hacks.

The ¼ acre of intensive vegetable production and 30+ happy chickens support the backbone of our organic diet. Permaculture is not at all limited to just growing veggies, it’s about always thinking holistically and applying the principles to all aspects of your life. Living a ‘permaculture lifestyle’ means lots of home and behavioural retrofits. The creation of grey water systems on site have pushed us to make all of our home cleaning products and body/beauty projects from scratch, and all natural.

It feels like such a reclamation of power to make everything we need from natural things already around the house rather than buy plastic-wrapped chemical products from the shops. We’ve really honed our skills in fermentation as a solution to bounty harvests from the garden or from other farmers. Sharing food with others is a trice daily  opportunity to commune with the earth.

The organic consumer market is young and growing in India, but not yet developed enough to count on making a living growing and selling vegetables. On our small acreage, we knew we would need another solid stream of income. An underutilized breezeway became the production space for our kombucha brand – Rise Up Kombucha. We
brew this delicious probiotic beverage in 4 natural flavors, always brewing in glass and using the best quality organic raw ingredients (tea and sugar). Rise Up is run on the principles of circular economics – meaning we consciously create systems to produce no waste.

Instead of sticker-coated plastic bottles, our kombucha is packaged in upcycled Bacardi Breezer bottles that have been etched with our logo and details. No waste. For sales within our region, we use reverse logistics to get those bottles back to the farm where we sanitize and reuse them. All water from our production branches directly out to young trees on the property. Throughout production, we clean with bioenzyme (made with the lemon peel waste from flavouring our ‘lemon zinger’!) and use boiling water to sanitize, instead of chemicals.  Circular economics principles guide our business decisions and steer us to come up with creative solutions. Yes, it’s a tougher path, and yes, it’s a necessary one for all businesses today.

Next up on our docket is to learn natural building techniques beyond bamboo and cob, and elevate our game to construct multi-use spaces around the property to host long term volunteers, community events and healing arts. These last two years have proven to us that we, with 4 hands and 2 minds, are capable of a great many things. Many
smaller projects have paved the path for us to now take on big building projects with confidence.

There is a lot going on here, it’s a dynamic and living place, but always guided by one main goal: to share knowledge and inspiration with you! The knowledge of producers, makers and do-ers. Imagine with me, if we allow the death of chronic consumerism and find our joys in things made and grown!? Let’s level up, reskill ourselves and our communities in order to detach from wasteful systems.

Garden as an act of revolution! Become loyal to soil! We must take responsibility for what we produce, how we consume and how we show up for others.

This kind of radical re-alignment is necessary evolution to meet the current planetary needs. This is what we are committed to; this is what we are practicing and teaching at The Odd Gumnut. Get connected with us; let’s build on this community together!

Laura & Kunal Khanna