by Nityodita das

Srila Prabhupada wanted NV residents to live directly from the bounty of Mother Earth and Mother Cow. He especially wanted devotees to grow their own food to offer to Krsna. In the winter of 1974, I moved to New Vrindavan attracted by that simple vision and immediately joined the garden crew under Tapapunja.

My first service was to help construct a greenhouse at Bahulaban to grow food and flowers for the Temple. That spring and summer I worked outside in the garden and fields, planting, mulching, weeding and harvesting. Prabhupada gave us a vision that we have to be prepared for thousands of people coming to our farms! So we worked hard and made many mistakes wondering how we were even going to feed ourselves!

In the fall, I was transferred to the Palace crew and never looked back! Decades passed and although I organized and participated in potato harvesting marathons when I was Temple President, I was seriously out of touch with the earth. As Varsana Maharaja puts it, I was no longer an earthling!

This spring, having been liberated from hands-on management of the temple, I planted a small vegetable garden at my house. Not wanting to repeat the mistakes of my past gardening experience, I studied the principles set forth in a great gardening book called Square Foot Gardening.

I followed the step by step method of creating my little garden. I made drawings, built the raised bed boxes and then, made my own soil! Yes! I mixed 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 peat moss and planted corn, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, basil, thyme, parsley, okra, etc!

Everything grew nicely and I had very few weeds! In studying about enriching soil with compost, I learned that proper composting kills weed seeds by the high temperature generated in the process and therefore is a safe way to enrich the soil.

When I was making my soil mixture, I asked devotees if we had any compost at NV. I was disappointed to learn that although yearly we have tons of manure and tons of kitchens scraps and leftover prasadam, we do not have a single community compost pile or system. And although we have old piles of manure around the farm, they are sure to be loaded with thousands of unwanted weed seeds! Thus my interest in composting for Krsna was born.

Last week Tapapunja Prabhu and I drove a half hour into Ohio to visit a commercial composting facility. We were greeted by Stanley, the owner, a wizzled old hippie from the 70s, who proceeded to enthusiastically give us a tour of his facilities. He has known Ranaka for years as NV used to buy grain from him for our hundreds of dairy cows years ago. He explained that years back he was also running a 400 cow dairy. To deal with all the manure, he had purchased and set up the equipment to efficiently process hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw cow manure to make what he called, the BEST compost!

The process is simple but requires mixers, pumps and an expensive unit called an extractor. The extractors job is to squeeze the water out of the manure because manure is 85% water! What’s left after the extraction process is the essence, a stackable form of the original cow manure. That is then moved and piled in long rows called windrows.

Over the next 4 months it sits there and is occasionally turned using a skidster to oxygenate it. With the action of millions of microbes the manure turns into beautiful compost, perfect to enrich any soil used in gardening, farming or landscaping! It needs no further screening because the cows stomachs have already done that work.

And what happened to all that nitrogen rich water that was squeezed out of the dung? Stanley leads us to a pond that used to hold hundreds of thousands of gallons of the effluent where it was held until it he sprayed it onto the fields. This manure tea is a better fertilizer than raw manure as it has NO weed seeds in it BUT all the nutrition!

A very nice process, indeed.

When Stanley decided to get out of the cow milking business, he realized there was still plenty of money to be made in…….. compost….but with no manure, what to do?

Well, Stanley…..knows that compost making is basically nature’s process that takes “useless” material such as manure, leaves, sawdust, food scraps, paper waste, grass clippings, branches, etc and turns it into a USEFUL soil amendment, the foundational building block for Eco Logical sustainability.

So Stanley made deals with major grocery stores in WV and other sources of “useless” waste and trucks in tons of raw material to his farm. With a mechanical grinder, he blends these materials together, piles them in windrows, turns them over and lets nature take her course. Then he screens out any larger pieces and produces enough first class compost to be THE major supplier of compost for all the local nurseries, landscaping companies, parks, coops and serious gardeners in the area! In fact NV Community and individual devotees have bought compost from him for years!

Now Stanley is willing to help NV set up our own composting operation. Of course, he would like us to buy his retired equipment at very reasonable prices. If we are seriously interested, he is willing to come to NV, assess our present facilities and equipment, advise and guide us and even engineer the whole operation! He is very qualified to do so, having an engineering degree from OSU and many years of hands on experience.

He and his wife have also recently received Lord Jagannatha’s mercy. At last years NV Rathayatra festival, after hearing how it would bring him good luck to pull the Lord’s cart, he and his wife rendered service to Lord Jagannatha by joining the parade, taking up the ropes of the Ratha Yatra cart and chanting Krsna! Krsna!

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Reader Comments

Haribol! Prabhu!
May I know the publisher and writer of your mentioned book “Square Foot Gardening”

It is wonderful that you are bringing this to NV. Composting is an easy way to continue to build and improve your soil replacing nutrients that growing produce remove. Composting is good for any soil and I am so encouraged to hear of devotees engaging in such activities. Thank you prabhu
Revati dd

HAri bol.
Thanx for helping the ecology by composting waste. It’s the need of the hour and if everyone does that, prabhupad will be so happy.

Subhash Palekar searched in Vedas and found out all about vedic agriculture:


let me know what u think!


He is thinking in the right direction for his circumstances, IMHO.